This is the third year that I have been to Miami for Art Basel and as I packed my bag, carefully choosing each outfit for my schedule as to not over pack, I thought I had it down like a pro. I had watched the requisite films to put me in the mood “The Birdcage” and “Scarface” and as soon as I landed at MIA international airport I pushed play on the Gloria Estefan play list I had made on the plane perfectly timing my drive over the Causeway from Miami to Miami beach with “Conga”…
But I was wrong. I had no idea the scale of what I was about to enter into.
While Art Basel Miami is known as the important art show in America, culturally, the MOCA motto for the affair is “Come for the Art, Stay for the Party!” So I will report on the event in two categories: The art and then what came afterwards.
While normally I would start off talking about the unequalled main event, the name of the entire week and the original draw to Miami, Art Basel, rather surprisingly my attention was drawn to the smaller satellite fairs that have popped up in the 11 years since Basel has been stationed in Miami.
This year in particular, the addition of what was to be considered “The Indie Art Fair”, Untitled, was a new fair held in a temporary tent on the sands of South Beach. Living up to its reputation, originally the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), a rival satellite Miami fair threatened to ban the exhibitors there from future Miami events if they showed there. The hype between the warring art fairs wasn’t a let down. Each space focused on entry to mid-career artists and emerging galleries and surprisingly intriguing, smart, interactive pieces.
The Tent at Untitled was a design by Terence Riley, utilizing natural light and creating a contextualized space showcasing 50 galleries curated by New York’s Omar Lopez-Chahoud. My personal favorites were the colorful 3D pieces Holton Rower’s exhibited by The Hole from New York.
As for the main event Art Basel, sponsored by UBS, was an absolute smorgasbord of beautiful works that were quickly snapped up by private collectors, most likely to never been seen again by the public. Having over 250 galleries represented including some of the world’s largest galleries in the world, I chose to focus on what seems to be the current craze of Calder Calder Calder! Closely associated with his friends and colleagues in Paris at the time, Leger and Miro, it seems that Calder is finally making his way into the fore front of the art world with no less than 5 galleries exhibiting his pieces, drawings, paintings, mobiles and even an eye patch with the prices of his primary colored mobiles soaring into the millions, not a piece unsold.
Normally, one can only expect to see the hoi polloi schmoozing about during anything but the VIP opening of an art fair, but this year on an unsuspecting Sunday afternoon, I looked at a Fantoni along with Michael Eisner, spotted Alejandro Santo Domingo being taken through an exhibition of mid century Brazilian artists and even looked on at a new Tracey Emin with Beyonce.
People say that Miami is all about the parties, but this year it was as much about what came before what happened after.
Parties Parties Parties!!! I have never, ever, ever in the history of Olympics, Fashion Weeks and live hostage exchanges on the news seen more rejoicing than that of the streets of Miami Beach during Art Basel this year.
There was a party for every thing, everywhere, every night with absolutely every single designer, artist, celebrity and collector you can possibly imagine and all looking better than a tear sheet from Vogue. I started out the week at the White Cube Party that opened the fair at the Soho House hosted by Nick Jones and Jay Jopling. The party was packed. It was so packed with glistening beautiful people with hair gently blowing in the tropical winds that when I leaned over to ask for another glass of Champagne, the person giving me a glass back was none other that Owen Wilson, rolling his sleeves up and helping the bar staff. “Have a bottle!” he said as he handed me a bottle of Veuve to pour out to my friends.
The next night’s big ‘must attend’ party saw the Art.sy and Chanel party hosted by Dasha Zhukova and Wendi Murdoch with more shiny shiny shiny. Demi Moore arrived with a kitten, who was later adopted by the Hilton sisters while Lenny Kravitz sipped drinks with Derek Blasberg, and then it really picked up pace. W and Dior, Mr. Porter and Visionaire, every night a different venue and a different reason to turn bottoms up right along with the jams. With the music festival UR1 with headliners like Kanye West, Sven Vath, Guy Gerber and Pete Tong headlining, being cancelled just a few weeks before hand some of the best musicians were turned loose into the clubs of Miami which set the city alight with surprise performances in all of the major nightclubs.
Diddy hosted a party for Naomi Campbell’s Billionaire boyfriend Vladislav Doronin in his Star Island Mansion with Kate Moss, Vivienne Westwood and Kim and Kanye who all then partied down at Liv nightclub to the sounds of Pete Tong.
Invariably, the parties at Art Basel are a combination of a few things: Plentiful, Completely Over the Top and Absolutely Fabulous leaving too many directions to run for just one girl! Next year I’ll have to bring two bodies to make sure that I don’t miss anything…
Contributing Editor: Margo Stilley