We gave an overview of Art Basel in Miami Beach before the fair opened last week. Now hundreds of private jets are disbursing from Florida as the art world returns to New York, Europe, and Latin America. The 13th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach, and about twenty other fairs that opened for Miami Art Week, concluded tonight. Here’s our recap.
About 75,000 attended the main fair this week. Some 267 exhibitors had art valued at $3 billion, and sales were abundant. Van de Weghe sold a work by Jean-Michel Basquiat for $5.6 million. Mnuchin Gallery sold a sculpture by John Chamberlain for $3 million. White Cube sold a pill cabinet by Damien Hirst, possibly to a museum, for $4 million. Galerie Gmurzynska (whose booth this year was designed by Baz Luhrmann) sold a work by Picasso for $1 million. Other notable works included an Alexander Calder mobile at Helly Nahmad Gallery for $35 million, an Andy Warhol Mao portrait at Acquavella Galleries for $15 million, and an unfinished Jeff Koons sculpture at Gagosian for $5 million.
Meanwhile, it is impossible to overstate the party scene that coincides with Art Basel in Miami Beach. Let’s get this out of the way with a few hedonistic highlights. Miley Cyrus performed at the Art Basel opening, which was co-hosted by Tommy Hilfiger, Jeffrey Deitch, and V Magazine. The Paper magazine party had Kim Kardashian in celebration of its #breaktheinternet issue. The Pérez Art Museum Miami celebrated its first year with a performance by Future Brown. Artsy hosted a dance party in the Moore building, the temporary home of the ICA Miami. Savannah College of Art and Design presented a show by André 3000. Daniel Arsham and Usher turned up at Delano in South Beach… Take a breath.
Perhaps to offset so much excess, Art Basel in Miami Beach hosted a Salon program designed for some avant-garde edification. The most talked-about panel considered Instagram as an artistic medium with MoMA PS1’s Klaus Biesenbach, Serpetine Gallery’s Hans Ulrich Obrist, and the art dealer Simon de Pury. Marina Abramović participated in an artist talk moderated by the Director of the Fondation Beyeler, and also had a presence for the Marina Abramović Institute with a rice counting installation (on a Daniel Libeskind-designed table) in the Miami Design District and a bizarre public nap area in the Fondation Beyeler space.
In contrast to the privilege and consumption at the fairs, some social unrest was on display in Miami. Art Basel opened with NetJets pilots protesting Berkshire Hathaway and corporate greed outside the main entrance, and on Friday the “Shut It Down” protest against police brutality blocked the causeway that connects the Miami Beach island to the rest of the city.
A social commentary with a lighter theme appeared when conceptual artist Ryan Gander surreptitiously hired two armed bodyguards to follow Nicholas Baume, the curator of Art Basel’s Public sector. The discomfort of the unsuspecting curator and the behavior of fairgoers around him highlighted the spectacles of celebrity and visibility that were exhibited otherwise throughout the week.
Also see our pre-opening overview at codylee.co/art-basel-miami-beach/