So the madness has descended upon Miami Beach once again. This year, it seems that those within the commercial and critical circles of contemporary art were anxious to snap up offerings from galleries strewn across the globe.
This edition of Art Basel Miami will be followed by another in 2015, after which the future 2016 edition may be in limbo. Renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center is scheduled to begin in mid-December 2015 and conclude at the end of 2017. With or without this knowledge, though, collectors and curators were brisk in their efforts in acquire works from (as examples) Robert Longo, David Hockney, Gideon Rubin, and Marina Abramović. Perky works from Mel Bochner, Urs Fischer, Will Cotton, Kenny Scharf, and Nick Cave all contributed to a significantly lighter atmosphere than usual: conversations overheard seemed more focused on what to buy rather than what parties to attend (not that seeing Miley Cyrus in a skimpy lamé costume with a tinsel wig would be all that unusual on any given Sunday). Swift sales, light spirits, and sore feet were the catchwords of this year’s Art Basel Miami. Even retreating to the Collector’s Lounge didn’t seem to ease aching muscles as the space teemed with VIPs starting from the first hour of the First Choice Preview at 11 a.m. Dedicated booths from Audemars Piguet, Davidoff Cigars, NetJets, and Ruinart champagne kept eyes and purses shifting about.
The two sole galleries based in Miami within the fair were Fredric Snitzer Gallery (a veteran of every incarnation of Art Basel, including the first Miami edition back in 2002) in the Galleries sector, and Michael Jon Gallery, a young program founded by Michael Jon Radziewicz in the Nova sector. Both programs experienced enormous enthusiasm from fair-goers (especially for Radziewicz, who reported that his booth of artists JPW3 and Sayre Gomez had sold out within the opening hours), a welcomed gesture given the consistent stream of villainous press regarding the effects of the megafair on the local civil and artistic economy. Smaller, less “blue chip” galleries experienced genuine interest from visitors, while larger programs such as White Cube, Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, and David Zwirner banked on famous names (and as with an increasing number of art fairs, experiencing “repeat” works from artists they all share). Moreover, there was a general sense of excitement about exploring the landscape outside the convention center, particularly geared towards the one-year-old Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM) downtown and the newly minted Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) based in the Miami Design District.
Gallery highlights included Sadie Coles HQ (with a lively installation from Urs Fischer), Petzel Gallery (with a chilling charcoal depicting riot police in Ferguson from Robert Longo), Rhona Hoffman Gallery (a respected Chicago-based program with intriguing work from Derrick Adams and Luis Gispert), kaufmann repetto (a Milanese gallery who presented a stunning, low-hanging mirrored mobile from Pae White), Magazzino (another Italian staple with an enchanting fishing net ceiling sculpture from Mircea Cantor), and mother’s tankstation (a gallery from Dublin whose, arguably, most charming works are the brainchild of New York-based painter Atsushi Kaga).
Art Basel Miami opened at eleven o’clock on Wednesday morning, December 3rd to First Choice VIP cardholders, and at three o’clock to Preview card holders at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The fair opens to the public on Thursday, December 4th and concludes on Sunday, December 7th.