2001-2011: Art Basel Grows with Satellite Parties, Fairs

By Mitra Sorrells July 27, 2011, 9:08 AM EDT

Photo: Juerg Schreiter fo

In the past decade, Miami has become something of a cultural capital, and there’s no doubt that Art Basel Miami Beach has been a primary factor in that transformation. The annual four-day contemporary art exhibition is largely unchanged from the first one in 2002—it remains a big-draw show for wealthy art collectors from around the world. But in the years since Art Basel began at the Miami Beach Convention Center, there has been an explosion of concurrent corporate events, satellite art fairs, and parties that have magnified its impact and made a lasting impression on the region.

“The way people look at Miami today has changed dramatically due to Art Basel,” said George Neary, vice president of cultural tourism for the Greater Miami Convention & Visitors Bureau. “It has given people the sense that Miami is on the world stage. Now we have five-star hotels that we didn’t have. We have people moving here from all over the world. It’s really had a long-term effect on the community.”

UBS signed on as a main sponsor in the beginning, building on its long-standing relationship with the original Art Basel in Switzerland. In the jewelry category, sponsors have included Bulgari and Cartier. For its first outing in 2008, Cartier constructed a 4,000-square-foot, four-story Cartier Dome on the grounds of the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens to house David Lynch’s “Diamonds, Gold, and Dreams” film installation alongside its jewelry.

In 2009, EventStar built a 45,000-square-foot pavilion on the sand for automotive sponsor Audi. The project, managed by Siinc Agency, showcased art from the Rubell Family Collection and an installation from designer Tom Dixon, and marked the South Florida debut of the Audi A8.

The combination of brand promotion and artistic flair has been evident since the early years. In 2005, Tara Ink. worked with Perrier Jouet on an event inspired by the bottle’s flowers at the Delano. Hollywood designer Doug Boyce built an enormous white anemone that floated in the hotel’s pool, while models sported tattoos of the flower. The fashion industry has also embraced Art Basel: Designer Todd Oldham took a turn as DJ at the Wolfsonian Museum’s party in 2004; a colorful Pucci-filled brunch at a private estate in 2007 celebrated the designer’s 60th anniversary; and Gucci launched its Icon-Temporary sneaker store in 2009.

Satellite art fairs have popped up, too. One of the largest is Design Miami, a showcase of prominent design galleries that debuted in 2005 in the design district, moved into a 35,000-square-foot tent in 2007, and upgraded to a 40,000-square-foot tent adjacent to Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2010. Since 2007, Graffiti Gone Global, presented by Sushi Samba, has convened an international ensemble of street and graffiti artists, and since 2009, organizers have extended the reach of that event by producing a hardcover book commemorating the participating artists.

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