This week, the world’s leading modern and contemporary art galleries come together for Art Basel Miami Beach, a five-day fair that transforms Miami into an art mecca. Celebrating its 12th year, Art Basel is an exploration of the senses. The art festival, which runs December 5 to 8 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, features more than 200 galleries from around the world, displaying everything from paintings and drawings, to sculptures and digital art installations by more than 4,000 artists. Recently, we caught up with Art Basel Miami Beach representative Bob Goodman to talk about the event’s glorious past and what new additions art lovers can expect this year.
How has Art Basel evolved in Miami over the past 12 years?
Art Basel began in Switzerland as an art fair over 40 years ago. About 13 years ago, while visiting the U.S., fair leaders had the idea to start a fair in the U.S. Miami happens to have a very strong group of art collectors, some of whom had traveled to Basel to buy art. Organizers thought Miami, as the nexus of North America and Latin America, would be ideal and that they would host it here in December — six months from the one in Basel in June and, of course, the weather is very nice here at that time. So they decided to launch an Art Basel here in 2002.
How has Art Basel’s presence in Miami impacted the area?
Art Basel has helped to transform South Florida in many ways. It has brought in many international and national visitors and the buzz creates excitement. Last year, we had about 50,000 visitors, many from outside the U.S., and about 130 international museum and institution groups. The area is now more culturally rich, and having Art Basel here has also helped bring in more art fairs. About 15 to 20 independently owned fairs will also be here during the same week of Art Basel, which further encourages more people to come and enjoy.
What are some of the gallery highlights we can expect this year?
There is a selection committee comprised of major, respected galleries from around the world that reviews applications from galleries. Last year, we had over 800 applications, and we will have about 250 galleries here. There are eight different sectors with each one displaying different types of pieces, and everything at the fair is for sale. For the last few years, we’ve also had about two to three Miami galleries at the fair, too, including the Fredric Snitzer gallery.
What else can we expect to see this year?
There are a lot of exciting additions at the fair this year. There will be free outdoor film screenings taking place at SoundScape Park. Art Public, which shows major pieces, outdoor sculptures and performances at Collins Park, is also free — the sector is a collaboration with the Bass Museum of Art. There will also be young emerging artists. We have a great Conversations program and Salon section with talks and lectures. There are many tastes for people, so everyone can enjoy and look at different things.
Photos Courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates, Galleria Continua, Nari Ward, kurimanzutto and Monika Sosnowsks