Art Basel Miami Beach began as a sister event to the mother of all fairs, Art Basel in Switzerland. But as it celebrates its 10th year in Florida, it is probably reasonable to grant it not only full independent status but its own immodest shout-line, “the most important art show in the United States”.
The figures are impressive: last year’s attendance of 46,000 looks set to be topped this year, and in addition to some 260 on the regular roll-call of grand and established galleries from around the world the Art Nova section, a platform for presenting new and recent work by two or three artists, will comprise another 42.
Art Public, a new initiative, will transform Collins Park with 24 works, both sculptural and in performance, and there are talks, sideshows, films, conversations and events galore. Among the many sections is Art Kabinett, where galleries present curated exhibitions in a separately delineated space within their booth – these could be thematic group displays or solo slots for rising stars. Also new is Art Video, a 7,000 sq ft outdoor projection wall on the Frank Gehry-designed New World Center. And that’s not even to mention the parties, meetings, behind-the-scenes trades and dealings, and all the rest.
It was a good idea to bring an art fair to Miami, to say the least. It stands at a unique intersection of the art world, a hinge between the traditional East Coast scene and the emerging energy of Latin America, where both new artists and new buyers have become a significant force in the past few years. In addition, Miami’s own collectors, galleries and art-lovers form an ever-growing power bloc.
Given that solid results are never easy to come by at art fairs, where the buzz and the gossip and word of mouth often count for hard news, it’s easy to judge a fair by the standout exhibits it promises.
And sometimes the most striking are events not officially part of the fair. This year in Miami at Primary Projects, Korean-American performance artist Miru Kim is probably going to hog the headlines with her piece “The Pig That Therefore I Am” – after all, a naked woman in a pigpen is bound to be a striking sight. Putting herself in the zoo, behind glass walls with the animals, the artist will be continuing a series of flesh-on-flesh encounters shown earlier this year at New York’s Doosan Gallery.
And it seems that no art fair site is complete this year without Will Ryman’s mighty roses towering over a park or a nearby road: in Miami it will be his “65th Street”.
For a full list of participating galleries and events, go to: www.artbaselmiamibeach.com
Upcoming art fairs
Art Asia Miami
November 30-December 4
NE 1st Ave (Midtown Blvd) NE 30th St, Miami, FL 33127
Now in its third year, Art Asia challenges typical notions of what “Asian” art is. The fair hosts discussions of art and displays from China, Japan, Korea, India, Iran and elsewhere in Asia.
The Ice Palace, 1400 North Miami Avenue, Miami, FL 33136
Pulse is one of America’s most dynamic contemporary art fairs. Alongside smaller displays, Pulse hosts large-scale installations and performance art events.
Art Stage Singapore
Marina Bay Sands Convention and Exhibition Centre, Singapore
Art Stage Singapore prides itself on its selectiveness and its close links with the major players in the Asian art world. The fair also hosts talks by curators, critics and artists about the Asian art market and its interaction with the rest of the world.
India Art Fair
NSIC Exhibition Complex, Okhla, Delhi
India is one of the world’s fastest growing art markets, thanks to rising numbers of wealthy people. This year’s fair attracted 128,000 people, but 2012 promises to be bigger, with more artists, galleries and speakers.
London Art Fair
Business Design Centre, 52 Upper Street, London N1 0QH
The main fair features work by 20th century British artists. Also scheduled are Photo50, an exhibition of contemporary photographs, and Art Projects, which is dedicated to solo and group performances and installations.
Los Angeles Affordable Art Fair
The Event Deck at LA Live, Los Angeles
The Los Angeles instalment of the Affordable Art Fair showcases a generous range of original local art, all priced between $100 and $10,000.
Bologna Art First
Bologna Exhibition Centre
Besides the main fair, this year’s Bologna Art First invites visitors to get away from the doom and gloom surrounding the global economy and turn their minds instead to something uplifting: 10 spots around Bologna host various artistic installations.
New York Ceramic Fair
Bohemian National Hall, New York
A select group of 36 exhibitors of glass, pottery, enamels and porcelain
from the US, Britain and mainland Europe gather for one of the world’s leading ceramics fairs.