December 06, 2006

Art Basel :: Miami Beach

A bird's eye view of the opening of the 2006 Art Basel::Miami Beach Fair

The Miami Herald announced on Wednesday that a record 450 private jets had touched down at the Miami Airport in the last 24 hours bringing dealers and collectors alike to the 5th American edition of the Basel Art Fair. When the doors opened to the VIP visitors at noon, the waiting throngs had been advised to wear running shoes so they could literally "sprint" to their favorite dealer's booth to have first crack at the multi million dollar merchandise. Clearly, what started off as a very risky venture in 2002 - postponed one year in the aftermath of 9/11 - has become THE art fair to see and be seen.

Art Basel::Miami Beach has become almost a caricature of itself. The main fair, held in the Miami Convention Center, features 200 exhibitors culled from over 1000 applicants. Official satellites of this fair are "Art Nova", "Art Video Lounge" and "Art Positions" which comprises 21 converted shipping containers each housing a contemporary art gallery, located at the beach. Success breeds imitation, and for those dealers who could not get into the main fair, an industry of smaller ancillary fairs has sprung up. To date, 12 extra art fairs have been organized in hotels and tents in the Miami Beach and Wynwood Art District. "Pulse", "Scope", "Aqua", "Flow" and "NADA" are some of the other fairs vying for the collectors' attention, and wallets. Add to this an explosion of museum shows, installations, tours of collections, not to mention the parties, and you've got a HUGE event.

The energy and excitement in Miami is contageous. While the art is generally a little "way-out" for a traditionalist like me, it is really something to see. Not to mention the people watching! But to tell you the truth, the best part about coming to Miami is the chance to go swimming in the ocean in December!

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