Art Basel Hits Miami Beach
from New York Times
Art Basel Miami is the United States’ version of the storied contempory-arts trade fair that has been held since 1970 in Basel, Switzerland.
In 2002, Art Basel made Miami Beach its American home, bringing with it an international circus of high-powered art dealers, collectors, curators, critics and art lovers. Lasting less than a week a year, this high-wattage art fair, one of the biggest in the world, has nevertheless infused the burgeoning contemporary-art scene in Miami with an unmistakable swagger.
Since Art Basel’s Miami debut 10 years ago, dozens of new galleries have opened, and scores of artists have relocated to Miami, lured by the relatively low rents and, partly, by Art Basel itself. The fair gives artists, collectors and gallery owners a rare opportunity to see world-class art but, more important, to hobnob with the leading players of the international art world.
The city, for its part, has used Art Basel to show the world that it is no cultural backwater, with museums, galleries and private collections all putting on their most ambitious shows of the year in time for the fair.
While many of the fair’s players stay close to the convention center, where most of the art is displayed, a sizable number wander to check out local works and the private collections in neighborhoods across Biscayne Bay.
Most galleries are clustered in two once-impoverished neighborhoods just north of downtown Miami that now serve as popular art enclaves, luring the expert and the curious alike.
First came the Design District, known foremost for its furniture and design showcases, and then Wynwood Art District, its still-gentrifying neighbor, which has grown from about 4 galleries eight years ago to about 45 in 2011.
Along with galleries and artists, Miami’s stock of private art collectors — many of whom house their collections in museumlike buildings — has also risen in the last decade.
Despite the growth of the art scene, collectors and gallery owners say the city must continue to capitalize on the fair’s power by reaching beyond what is hip and trendy to what is lasting.