by sue hostetler | November 29, 2013 | Lifestyle
Ai Weiwei’s “According to What?” installation includes images Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn, 1995/2009 and Colored Vases, 2007-2010, and will be on view at Pérez Art Museum Miami
“Art fairs have become increasingly important to our business,” says New York–based megadealer Marianne Boesky, referencing the upcoming Art Basel Miami Beach. “Even with the tremendous traffic we get all year at our Chelsea location, five days in Miami still puts our artists in front of more curators and collectors from around the world in that tiny concentrated period of time.”
Boesky speaks to an important trend. With the globalization of the art world, top fairs have become a vital nexus for collectors and artists alike. According to an art market report conducted by Arts Economics, dealers now earn more than a third of their revenues from art fairs. For some, the number is even higher. Gordon VeneKlasen, a New York dealer, recently told The New York Times that two-third of his revenues come from sales on the road, rather than in his galleries.
Thus important fairs have become critical for a gallerist’s bottom line. Even with the annual fall whirlwind of auctions, exhibitions, and institutional galas, Art Basel Miami Beach stands out. Launched in 2002, the show quickly established itself as the most prestigious in the world, drawing the crème de la crème of international curators, collectors, artists, and dealers (like Boesky) every year. The show, which helped transform Miami into a cultural hub, has grown to include not only selections from 258 galleries and representation from 31 countries, but also cutting-edge performances, films, talks, and music.
You Loved me like a distant Star, by Tracey Emin, 2012
One of the most impressive examples of art transforming the public sphere in Miami the past couple years has been the show’s Public sector, staged in Collins Park in collaboration with the adjoining Bass Museum of Art. It will be curated this December by Nicholas Baume, director of New York’s Public Art Fund. “We are delighted to be working with Nicholas,” says Marc Spiegler, director of Art Basel. “I have known him for almost 10 years, and we have been following what he has been doing since joining PAF with great enthusiasm. We think he will bring a similar brilliance, as seen in his Tatzu Nishi Columbus Circle project last year, to the Public sector in December.”
The Miami show, running December 5–8 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, will conclude a year of incredible excitement and growth for the Art Basel brand. “We launched our first show in Hong Kong in May—a moment the whole team had worked toward for the past three years,” Spiegler says. “It was very special seeing everything finally come together. And in Switzerland in June, we were able to make use of the new exhibition halls designed by Herzog & de Meuron, the renowned Basel architects, for the first time. Now we are looking forward to Miami.... It will be an amazing show with a particularly strong lineup of galleries from the United States and Latin America, plus new galleries from Europe and Asia, including Tang Contemporary Art from Beijing and Singapore Tyler Print Institute.”
All eyes will be on the Pérez Art Museum Miami (formerly the Miami Art Museum), which has been under construction for almost three years in the former Bicentennial Park. The hotly anticipated grand reopening (also a Herzog & de Meuron–designed structure), built on what looks like stilts—a “storm surge protection” measure, we’re told—is set for December 4 and will feature exhibitions by several artists, among them “According to What?” a multimedia work by Ai Weiwei, China’s most provocative artist. Keeping visitors inside may prove difficult, though; the museum boasts a dramatic wraparound terrace, extensively landscaped grounds, and incomparable views of Biscayne Bay.
Genesis, by Barnaby Furnas, 2013, is one of the works that the Marianne Boesky Gallery will bring to Art Basel
But the real attention-grabber in December may be Miami’s newest resident artist, notorious British bad girl Tracey Emin, who will be celebrating her first US retrospective at North Miami’s Museum of Contemporary Art. Emin, who recently bought an apartment in South Beach and now splits her time between Florida and England, will show a collection of her renowned neon sculptures in “Angel Without You,” also opening December 4. To honor the occasion, the Fontainebleau Miami Beach hotel has adorned all its beach towels with the words kiss me kiss me cover my body in love, a message from one of her featured works.
Boesky says that “as an exhibitor, nothing compares to opening day at the Convention Center. The energy is fantastic, and it’s my chance to show off my artists’ incredible work.” Boesky says she’s also looking forward to revisiting top private collections, “like Rubell, Margulies, and de la Cruz,” while in Miami. “The sheer force of will that these visionaries dedicated to art collecting display gives me a potent annual reminder of why I love what I do and love being part of the art community.”
Spiegler thinks attendees, particularly younger collectors, are going to be most intrigued by the newly added sector, Edition, dedicated to limited edition pieces and prints presented by 13 galleries. These works tend to be more moderately priced and represent an attractive entry-point into the collecting market. Introducing new collectors to contemporary art is actually top of mind for the Basel team. “Art fairs— especially international ones like Art Basel—are definitely becoming more and more important in this context,” Spiegler explains. “They provide a global platform for galleries to meet new collectors from around the world, make new connections with museum directors and curators, and introduce artists to new audiences. Our shows do not become bigger because of a strong market, they become better.”
photography courtesy of the artist and marianne boesky gallery (art); Cathy Carver (installation); Courtesy of white cube, london and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong ©Tracey Emin (you loved me like a distant star)