It’s that time of year again: Art collectors, gallerists, artists and celebs flock to South Florida for the 12th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, the premier contemporary art show in the Americas. From Dec. 5 through 8, the city is taken over by art, and with so many satellite fairs, it’s impossible to see all that Art Basel has to offer—plus checking out those hip sideshows and attending buzzworthy parties—in just four days. Luckily, we’ve put together an insider’s guide to Art Basel Miami Beach, so you’ll know how to tackle the mammoth art fair.
What to Know
As one of three outposts of Art Basel (the other two take place in Basel, Switzerland and Hong Kong), this Miami show reflects the city’s multicultural DNA. Nearly 260 galleries from 31 countries will convene to present contemporary and modern work throughout the four-day extravaganza in eight sectors (Galleries, Nova, Edition, Positions, Kabinett, Magazine, Public and Film). In addition to those participating in Art Basel, the area’s leading museums and private collections time their strongest exhibitions to coincide—so even if you haven’t snagged tickets, you can still admire some fantastic artwork.
The Miami Beach Convention Center is the nucleus of Art Basel, hosting the majority of the sectors in its 500,000 square feet of exhibition space. Two portions of the fair are primarily off property—Public is at nearby Collins Park and Film is presented at both SoundScape Park and the convention center. Many of the events (including talks, films and public works of art) are free and open to the public, while tickets for the main attraction start at $32.
Now that you know the basics of Art Basel, it’s time to figure out which portions you want to check out. The 258 galleries make up the eight sectors, each of which has a unique aspect to explore.
The focus of the show is undoubtedly Galleries, which is comprised of 195 of the world’s leading galleries (such as Pace/MacGill Gallery and Hauser & Wirth), and includes works ranging from paintings and drawings to film and installations. And not everything comes with a crazy price tag—you’ll find inexpensive gems by relatively unknown artists to multimillion-dollar masterpieces.
If you’re looking to discover a new favorite gallery, we suggest scoping out Nova, which features younger galleries showcasing work produced in the past three years by as many as three artists. This year’s Nova sector spotlights 34 artists, including Charles Atlas, who is represented by the Vilma Gold gallery, and Saâdan Afif, courtesy of the RaebervonStenglin gallery.
For an even more concentrated experience, venture to the Positions sector. This portion of Art Basel Miami Beach directs your attention to 16 curated booths presenting a single artist. Here, you’ll find Tang Contemporary Art, a new Asian gallery reflecting the show’s growing ties to Asia (the first Hong Kong show occurred in May 2013), which will be highlighting Wang Yuyang.
New to Miami Beach this year is the Editions sector, which was added thanks to the success of a dedicated portion for prints and limited-edition works in Basel. There will be 13 exhibitors, including first-time Art Basel Miami Beach participant Crown Point Press.
Those scouting out up-and-coming artists should make a beeline to Kabinett, which is made up of 25 galleries chosen by the show’s section committee. Each gallery stages a focused exhibition within a designated area of the booth. This part of Art Basel is great for both gallerists and attendees because it provides a strong platform to show off the curatorial aspect, while allowing people to find unknown artists as well as rediscover famous names. It’s also interesting to see a single artist’s long-term work, as shown in Luciana Brito Galeria’s never-before-seen photos of the Brazilian countryside by Marina Abramović.
Though not a very large part of Art Basel, there is the Magazines sector to consider. Top art publications (think Art+Auction and The Art Newspaper) from around the world convene to display editions. Oftentimes, editors and publishers are present and offer presentations in the show’s Conversation series, which is full of lectures and discussions by a wide range of speakers.
Outside of the Miami Beach Convention Center, the art continues. Nearby Collins Park is redefined as an outdoor exhibition space, thanks to the Public sector. Curated by Nicholas Baume, the director and chief curator of Public Art Fund, and produced in tandem with the Bass Museum of Art, this portion of Art Basel is free and open to the public. The park is filled with large-scale sculptures, live performances and installations.
The eighth and final sector is Film, which takes place at two venues: Miami Beach Convention Center and SoundScape Park. Selected by Zurich collector This Brunner is the U.S. premiere of Nan Goldin – I Remember Your Face by Sabine Lidl, which will be shown at Colony Theatre at 8:30 p.m. on Dec. 6—it’s free, but seating is limited. The other collaborator on the sector’s program is David Gryn, director of London’s Artprojx; his portion contains more than 70 film and video works from the show’s participating galleries framed in eight distinct screening programs.
Scoping out art all day can be tiring, but break up your gallery strolls with a different kind of art: fashion. Head to Soho Beach House to the ShopBAZAAR pop-up shop (through Dec. 5). Harper’s BAZAAR editors selected all of the items in the store, allowing you to get that magazine look in one fell swoop. You’ll find designer brands such as Michele watches and John Hardy jewelry alongside exclusive goodies such as the limited-edition Jennifer Fisher “apostrophe” earrings. The only catch? You have to RSVP. Dec. 4-5; 11 a.m.-6 p.m.; Soho Beach House.
If you’re more into fashion for the home, check out the ELLE DECOR Modern Life Concept House on Miami Beach’s exclusive Sunset Island II. Top designers (including Brad Huntzinger and Kate McIntyre of Ironies) were selected by the editorial staff to team up with lifestyle brands (such as Design Within Reach and Hunter Douglas) to make over a modern estate. It’s open to the public, so you can gather some ideas for your own home. Proceeds from the showhouse will go to the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine. And if you fall madly in love with it—and have $16.5 million to shell out—the impeccably outfitted mansion can be yours. Dec. 4-8, 14-15; 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m.; $35; 1435 West 27th Street.
Art Basel weekend in Miami is about art of all kinds, even music. Produced by the Overthrow Collective, Basel Castle is an art-centric music festival that combines contemporary artists and musicians through live performances, exhibitions and installations. The music lineup features Heroes x Villains, Travi$ Scott and Chance The Rapper, while visual artists includes Skinner, L’Amour Supreme and Nychos.
Dec. 7; 12-11 p.m.; $20-$50, Grand Central Park.
Celebs flock to the South Florida city this weekend, and there are plenty of star-studded parties. We suggest heading to Delano South Beach’s luxe FDR nightclub, where New York nightlife extraordinaire The Butter Group brings the City That Never Sleeps to sunny Miami with the 1 Oak Art Basel Pop Up. Dec. 6-7, 11 p.m., FDR at Delano South Beach.
Where to Stay
When we said Art Basel takes over the city, we weren’t kidding. Hotels get into the spirit with exhibitions, packages and even artists-in-residence.
Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star The Betsy Hotel acts as a gallery on its own with art displayed throughout the property. And if a certain piece catches your eye, rest assured that it’s for sale and a percentage of all works sold goes to Zara’s Center for AIDS Impacted Youth in Zimbabwe. Artists include William Kentridge, showcasing 20 prints from Universal Archive in the lobby salon, and Christopher Cozier, who has created site-specific works that are displayed in light boxes in B Bar (and is also an artist-in-residence during Art Basel Miami Beach). Of course, the 61 luxurious guest rooms—outfitted with touches such as Sferra linens, Thassos and Carrara marble bathrooms and beautiful hardwood floors—only make this South Beach hotel that much more appealing.
Though not quite as close to the action, Mandarin Oriental, Miami melds the best of both worlds: You can soak up the sun on the Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star hotel’s private beach before retreating inside to immerse yourself in contemporary art. The already stunning atrium lobby morphs into an exhibition space during Art Basel week (through Dec. 7) with works by Latin American artists such as José Bedia from Cuba, Liliana Porter and Julio Le Parc from Argentina, and duo Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla from Puerto Rico. When you aren’t on the beach, perusing galleries at the convention center or eating at the hotel’s Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star restaurant, Azul, unwind in your sleek, Asian-influenced guest room or with a treatment at the ever-relaxing Five-Star spa.
If you prefer to escape the commotion when you’ve finished discovering artists for the day, book the Art Basel package at Forbes Travel Guide Five-Star Acqualina Resort & Spa. About 25 minutes from the Miami Beach Convention Center, this oceanfront stunner’s offer includes two tickets to the show, daily transfers to and from, and a daily $40 Acqualina Spa by ESPA credit for up to two adults that can be used for a body or facial treatment (everyone deserves a little Five-Star pampering, right?).
Photos Courtesy of Art Basel and Mandarin Oriental Miami