After a 7 year itch in 2008, this year’s 8th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach proved that “the art fair as a species is not endangered”. Karen Rosenberg, New York Times
The biggest economic shock in decades seemed to get little attention at the world’s most prestigious contemporary art fair on America’s soil. The Miami Herald headline read, “Less Bling, More Ka-Ching”, Lydia Martin, Miami Herald
First day sales at the Marlborough Gallery were $2 million and overall the sales and dollar figures increased significantly over the previous year while discounts were available along with perks like free shipping.
Celebrity sightings continued with both silver screen buyers and artists in attendance. Rocky resurfaced in the form of a serious artist named, Sylvestor Stallone who showed his paintings publicly for the first time ever in a booth hanging next to both a Botero and Miro…quite impressive for a hobbyist. At first I took a double take, then realized it was really Rambo. He was an approachable, articulate and humble artist who took the time to meet, greet and pose with all the paparazzi without a bodyguard in site. I personally liked his Neo-Expressionist paintings and the meanings behind them that he shared with us during the vernissage.
Jeffrey Deitch of the New York gallery, Deitch called the presence of celebrity artists a “collapse between the avante-garde and mainstream pop culture.” He said, “What’s happening is that there is this completely new audience of young people who are coming to art in the way they used to come to rock music or hip-hop…and that’s a very positive thing.”
The New York Times’ Style Magazine called this year “Party Central”. “As much as Art Basel Miami 2009 was about who showed, who sold and for how much, it was all about the art of the party. And a few of the week’s fetes served up a particularly potent cocktail of patron saints, bigwigs, bad boys and ‘It’ girls.” Jeffries Blackerby
On Monday, I hosted my signature kick-off party on Star Island titled “Eco Artland 2009” while Audi unveiled their new A8 model in a 45,000 square foot temporary exhibition space. Tuesday, Vanity Fair hosted the MOCA Museum night. Wednesday was the vernissage night with parties here, there, and everywhere. Thursday Wynwood shined with galleries galore opening their doors. I went to a private gathering at collector, Marty Margulies’ Warehouse with some heavy-hitters. Friday, I attended Russell Simmons charity event at a Michael Capponi’s home and then the new W Hotel for the Art Nexus party. W became the unofficial pitstop daily and nightly for many. Then Saturday yet another waterfront mansion for a Vogue Versace fashion show hosted by Loren & JR Ridinger with their special guests, Jennifer Lopez and hubby, Marc Anthony. Following that came Casa Tua and and David La Chapelle’s party at The Raleigh Hotel. Visionaire had a party at The Delano, but I missed that one. Just can’t do them all.
Sunday, I tried to see as many satellite fairs as possible soaking up the remaining hours of showtime. Then it was time to check out a “green yacht” of the Marco Polo () series designed by Ron Holland at the Miami Beach Marina followed by the final closing party back at the W Hotel.
Other celebrities making the charity or collecting scene included Lance Armstrong, John McEnroe, Patty Smith, Todd Oldham, Naomi Campbell, Eva Chow, Calvin Klein, Val Kilmer, and Nicky Hilton among other A-listers.. And top collectors were not in shortage either from Eli Broad , Steve Wynn, Michael Ovitz, Pearl Lam to Miami based Don and Mera Rubell, Jorge Perez and many many more. The Rubells, cleverly served up donuts as both breakfast and art at their warehouse open house by hanging them by nails on a wall. Who says fried dough isn’t art?
Even the Beatles showed up where they first landed in 1964 at the Deauville Hotel before appearing on the Ed Sullivan Show, but this time in photograph form floating in the pool with their shaggy hairdos. Michael Jackson was also iconically presented in Rubenesque paintings by Kehinde Wiley, Barack and Michele Obama also were there in two dimensional form as well as France’s First Lady, Carla Bruni Sarkozy in the nude.
And the fair has a few characters show up on cue annually like Eva and Adele, the gender-bending bald twins.
The new power buyers were Brazilians ringing the cash registers this Basel with their booming economy.
Swarovski was shimmering as usual with 1,500,000 multi-colored crystals with a Crystal Cathedral centerpiece at Design Miami, another offshoot of the main Basel fair. Collectors, Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz opened a new space showcasing their collection in the Design District.
Fairchild Tropical Garden is a far away journey, but worth the jaunt to see the sculptures of Yayoi Kusama in a lovely outdoor settting. Other outside art not to be missed were the Wynwood Walls Murals commissioned collaboratively by Tony Goldman and NYC’s Deitch Gallery by graffiti artists including Fairey, Scharf, Futura and a dozen more. Next door is Joey’s restaurant run by Tony’s son, Joey Goldman which is great food at a fair price.
Pop up shops appeared in the Design District to keep the fashionistas happy with Fendi, Gucci , Tomas Maier and more. Victor & Rolf made an appearance at The Webster in South Beach while dead carcasses showed up a lot, perhaps relating to the state of the world economy or lack of climate control.
Artist, Tom Dixon threw a steel chair into Biscayne Bay after Basel 2008 to save on storage costs, dredging it out to display again this year in its barnacle encrusted state. He will repeat the process removing the object once the recession is over and then hopes to sell it for lots of money! Yes, art appreciates in funny ways. Another odd display was a torso with two sets of legs struggling, but going nowhere. The Bass Museum had a show titled “Where do we go from here” which was from the renowned Jumex Collection from Mexico City being shown in the U.S for the first time.
Everyone’s Basel experience is unique. No one can do it all. With the main fair alone consisting of 250 galleries exhibiting work by 2000 artists plus 15+ satellite fairs, museums exhibitions, lectures, panel discussions, tours of private collections, performance, film, video, concerts and of course the requisite arty parties the selection is endless. You pick and choose and run here and there and everywhere til you can no longer remember who, what, where, when, why….and then know enough is enough. As one Wall Street Journal writer stated, “Sleep is optional”. Candace Jackson
During Basel Week we are all in a state of perpetual arrival and departure seeking the best place and party to be at. Mornings after arrive with hangovers and coffee klutches conveying what you missed the night before.
New York Times writer sums up Art Basel Miami Beach this way, “It is a delicate organism. It requires sunlight, optimism and an abundant supply of collectors with open wallets.” Karen Rosenberg
Well, this year we had it all!
HOPE GAINER, President of Hope International is a global imagemaker, marketer and branding expert with 30 years of lifestyle experience with a focus today on the luxury market. She produces unique, upscale events around the world. Gainer is a founding member of the Florida Luxury Council and a contributor to several luxury magazines including Elite Traveler, Haute Living and Social Affairs. She also represents spectacular ‘trophy’ real estate properties.
For more exclusive pictures from Hope’s week during Art Basel, visit our events page.