MIAMI/SOUTH FLORIDA This year’s Art Basel in Miami Beach, which took place from December 4 to 8 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, boasted an attendance of 83,000 visitors, collectors, and art enthusiasts, slightly up from the previous year.
The show, with lead partner UBS, featured 268 galleries from 35 countries in the city's fully renovated convention center. Plus, its new grand ballroom allowed Art Basel organizers to host their first large-scale performative installation on site, Abraham Cruzvillegas’s “Autorreconstrucción: To Insist, to Insist, to Insist…".
“This year marks an exciting new chapter for our Miami Beach show,” explained Noah Horowitz, director Americas of Art Basel. “The now completely renovated and state-of-the-art Miami Beach Convention Center enables us to deliver a fair of the highest caliber and sophistication, opening up unprecedented possibilities. ... The quality of work and presentations by our exhibitors has also never been higher and attendance by private collectors and institutions continues to be strong across all regions.”
“The quality of work and presentations by our exhibitors have also never been higher and attendance by private collectors and institutions continues to be strong across all regions.”
The art fair continued to dominate the all-encompassing Miami Art Week, which pushed its neighborhood and thematic boundaries further with a slew of cross-genre events, pop-ups, and satellite fairs.
Noteworthy events included Miami Motel Stories, a Juggerknot Theatre Company production that transformed an uninhabited mid-century motel in the city’s MiMo District into an interactive performance experience where each room featured a mini play. Sponsored by Scotch whiskey brand Chivas, the experience featured two activated bars, as well as Chivas product placement within each of the performance tracks. Miami Motel Stories runs through December 23.
Opening the weekend before Miami Art Week at Magic City Studios, “the Art of Banksy: Unauthorized Private Collection” featured 80 original works, marking the international tour’s first foray into the U.S. market. Co-curator Chris Ford noted that the pre-Art Basel debut was entirely intentional.
“It’s a good time to attract some of the art crowd, but we are here till February and it’s really a show for all levels of Banksy and art fans,” said Ford. “A lot [goes into bringing a show overseas]. From persuading the lovely collectors who own the pieces to loan them to us to the logistics of moving such large-scale works around to laying out the show, hanging it, and so on…. It’s an expensive and complex task but we hope worth it once people have seen the show.”
Banky’s criticism and detachment from the unauthorized exhibit added a layer of intrigue. The enigmatic artist broke ties with the show’s founder Steve Lazarides years ago and denounced anyone who charged to see his work; adult admission to the Art of Banksy show ranges from $32.49 to $39.99. When asked about the criticism, Ford reiterated the expense of creating such an experience. “As I mentioned, it’s not cheap to stage these shows. And until museums start staging shows of his work for people to see for free, I can assure you the show has been put together with the very best intentions as I’m a major Banksy fan myself.”
Throughout Miami Art Week, brands like American Express, Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire, Citi, and Red Bull solidified their annual presence with returning events and revamped activations. American Express presented the second iteration of the Platinum House, a card member- and invite-only pop-up at the 1 Hotel South Beach. Events included a Pharrell concert, a dinner by chef Michael Solomonov of Zahav, and networking events. Off the beach, American Express also backed Jose Andres’s food truck, proceeds of which benefited the chef's nonprofit, World Central Kitchen.
This year, Bacardi and the Dean Collection’s No Commission moved to the Faena Forum with photography-theme programming. Bombay Sapphire’s Artisan Series rang in its ninth year at the Villa Casa Casuarina, formerly known as the Versace Mansion. Red Bull, in collaboration with the Looking Up Arts Foundation, revealed a 30-foot-tall climbable “Rainbow Bridge” inspired by Pac-Man at Wynwood’s new Hive pop-up space.
Citi returned as the Wynwood Walls’ presenting sponsor, unveiling new murals as part of its “Beyond Words” exhibit. The brand also curated Miami’s Citi Bike program with works by Queen Andrea painted on 600 bikes and bike stations. “At Citi, we’re thrilled to return as a sponsor of the incredible Wynwood Walls Art Basel Program,” said Mindy Mercaldo, managing director for Citibank's Central Southeast region. “Vibrant, diverse, and international, it is a true reflection of Miami, one of our most important markets.”
Click through to see more of Miami Art Week’s notable events and exhibitions.