Art Basel, the annual social event of Miami saw a who’s-who of notable artists mingling with the likes of bigwigs from the worlds of business and entertainment. From Dec. 6 – 9, Miami Beach hosted the 11th edition of Art Basel, the most prestigious art show in the country. More than 260 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia, and Africa took part, showcasing works by more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
As usual, there were numerous parties, such as Cricket and Martin Taplin welcoming an estimated 2,000 guests for an annual art brunch at their hotel, the Sagamore, on Saturday, Dec. 8. This year the Taplins have four loaned works by Emil Lukas on display. “She’s a beautiful mix of insanity and super focus,” Lukas said of his host. Across from Lukas’ creations, a circular blue-and-yellow light sculpture composed of crushed headlights by Jacopo Foggini, which the Taplins bought on a recent trip to Italy, hangs from the ceiling.
Andy Warhol has always had a presence at Art Basel but even more so this year. From Warhol originals on display to contemporary artists’ own riffs on his work, Warhol made an appearance at every major art event in town.
The exhibiting galleries are among the world’s most respected art dealers, offering exceptional pieces by both renowned artists and cutting-edge newcomers. Special exhibition sections featured young galleries, performance art, public art projects, and video art. The show is a vital resource for art lovers, allowing them to both discover new developments in contemporary art and experience rare museum-caliber artworks.
New York magazine called the event “the art world’s 96-hour party.” Among the celebrities in attendance at Art Basel were Demi Moore, who arrived in oversized black rimmed glasses and a color-block frock to attend a party for fashion photographer Terry Richardson. Lenny Kravitz, Kellan Lutz, Paris Hilton, Kim Kardashian, Chelsea Handler, and Kanye West were also spotted making the rounds at various parties. Jay-Z and Beyonce attended a show and screening for José Parlá & JR’s book The Wrinkles of the City, Havana, Cuba. To commemorate the release, José Parlá built an interactive installation, which was called Cafécito Neptuno and included Cuban food to bring it all to life.
An afternoon tea for Stella McCartney, the well-known fashion designer and daughter of music legend Paul McCartney, was one of the week’s early highlights, held at the Webster and hosted by Laure Hériard Dubreuil. An Interview magazine party followed in the evening, where Owen Wilson was spotted chatting with Peter Brandt.
Art Basel has a sister event that originated in 1970 and is held every June in Basel, Switzerland. It was founded as an alternative to Art Cologne and within three years superseded Cologne as the largest art show in the world. For both fairs, the selection of galleries is made by a committee – composed of twelve renowned international gallery owners – which convenes up to 30 days out of the year. The jurors, who are selected by the directors, typically serve for five to ten years. Dealers must submit proposals to the committee. In the past, Art Basel aimed to include about 25 new galleries each year.
In 2007, Annette Schönholzer, Marc Spiegler, and Cay Sophie Rabinowitz took over for the former director of the exhibition, Sam Keller. Rabinowitz became artistic director, Schonholzer became charged with the organization and finances, and Spiegler became responsible for strategy and development. Rabinowitz became the artistic director for both festivals. In less than a year, at the end of April 2008, the resignation of Rabinowitz was announced. Art Basel’s leadership was subsequently given to its former co-directors, Schönholzer (formerly director of operations and finance) and Spiegler (formerly director of strategy and development), each with the new title of Co-director, Art Basel and Art Basel Miami. The owners of Art Basel have just signed an agreement with Asian Art Fairs to purchase a majority stake in the Hong Kong fair ART HK.
Art Basel receives corporate support from such companies as UBS, which is the main sponsor, as well as BMW, Absolut Vodka, Condé Nast, and Swiss International Airlines.