Art Basel Miami Beach 2017 Anticipates Record Sales

Art Basel Welcome Reception - Publicity -H 2017
Courtesy of Subject

The prestigious annual art confab adapts a Latin flavor this year, raising its profile with more L.A. galleries and a higher quotient of international exhibitors.

Following the historic exhibition PST: LA/LA, a survey of Latinx art in more than 70 galleries and museums, Los Angeles can rightly call itself the U.S. capital of the genre, newly named by curators to define artists in North America with roots in Latin America — male, female or gender-nonconforming. But a new voice echoes from Florida as Art Basel Miami Beach 2017 gets underway Dec. 7-10.

“A lot of these people who are in PST: LA/LA now are mainstays in our show,” Director Americas Art Basel Noah Horowitz tells The Hollywood Reporter. He’s referring to artists like Helio Oiticica and Abraham Cruzvillegas, who participated in LACMA’s Home – So Different, So Appealing earlier this year.

Leo DiCaprio. Tobey Maguire, Ellen Degeneres, Neil Patrick Harris and music producer Swizz Beatz, husband to Alicia Keys, are just some of the collectors Horowitz hopes to see there. “We’re really focused with people who are serious and actively engaged collectors.”

While global sales have been soft in recent years, the strong showing at Art Basel, Switzerland in June, which had a whopping 291 sales on opening day, including numerous million-dollar paintings, has generated optimism for the Miami show.

“There’s a lot of discussion in our field right now about some of the issues that middle-market galleries are having. There have been some gallery closures over the past 12 to 24 months, costs are rising, competition is increasing,” Horowitz confides. Among the fair’s discussions is a panel called “Is Innovation Enough for Middle-Market Galleries?” “Our goal is to really work together with our gallery partners to create the best possible opportunities for them, and to ensure that the great collectors and museums from all over the world continue to come to our show.”

The 16th edition of the art confab boasts a growing contingent of L.A.-based galleries among the roughly 200 or so, including 11 new exhibitors from Europe and the Far East. Over 4,000 artists will be represented in every medium from painting to sculpture, installation and digital art.

L.A.-based galleries like Blum & Poe, Kohn Gallery, Regen Projects will be there. And, for the first time, Anat Ebgi will join them to present artist Jibade-Khalil Huffman’s video presentation, My MTV Cribs, which examines the image of black men in pop culture and literature. L.A. artist Jill Mulleady’s solo show at Freedman Fitzpatrick’s booth is a social drama enacted through six new canvases.

A short walk from the show’s home at the Convention Center, Design Miami opens the day before Basel, whetting the appetite with more than 30 galleries of furniture, installation and objet d’art with modernism as the underlying esthetic.

It runs concurrently with Untitled Art Fair, the other must-see show in town, a self-described “architecturally designed curated fair.” The difference here is a panel of selected curators to vote on who participates, instead of the usual decision by a committee of dealers. After five years on the scene, Untitled can still be found in a beachfront tent, albeit the one with the crowd.

The New Art Dealers Alliance is the only major American art fair established by a nonprofit, advocating for emerging artists and artist-run spaces. Pulse Miami is another satellite fair, as are Fridge Art Fair, SCOPE (street art), Aqua Art (tattoos and performance), Art Miami (for all tastes, good and bad), Red Dot and Spectrum (curatorial theme FUSION). And street art mecca Wynwood Walls will unveil 12 new installations.

Independent art critic and curator Philipp Kaiser will present an outdoor exhibit in Collins Park with 11 site-specific works by established and emerging artists. Among them is Jim Shaw whose The Wig Museum stole the spotlight at the opening of L.A.’s the Marciano Foundation last spring. His band, D’red D’warf, will premiere The Rinse Cycle, a progressive rock opera Shaw’s been working on for over a decade.

Bjork headlines the concert series at Mana Wynwood on Dec. 5, with Wu-Tang Clan taking over Dec. 9. By invite only there’s the Bombay Sapphire annual party at the Villa Casa Casuarina (nee Versace Mansion). But no invite needed for Coyo Taco’s Rum and Bass block party. Womens Wear Daily’s Art of Fashion opening night party will be at Paradise Plaza in the Design District, just one of the many celebrations at galleries and museums across the city.

“We’re very intensive about keeping our show as differentiated as possible,” sighs Horowitz as he counts down the days to opening night. “We want different. We want to insure that if you’re a visitor coming from Los Angeles or Italy or the Middle East, when you come to Miami you see things that you wouldn’t necessarily see elsewhere.”