Art Basel Miami Beach 2023 was busy with numerous satellite fairs and events. There are events and exhibitions everywhere, from Wynwood to South Beach, with the event hubs of the week being in Mid-Beach at Soho House, The Edition Hotel, and Faena. Here is a selection of some of the art and activations during the week.
Harland Miller gave a candid talk at Soho House on Monday and signed copies of his book, In Shadows I Boogie, produced by Phaidon. He recounted many personal anecdotes and spoke about the impact of death on his work. Miller shared a story about being six months into working on a body of work that would be at White Cube Bermondsey when his mother passed away. When he returned from Yorkshire, he couldn’t relate to the previous work as it started to represent the time he could have spent with his mother. He jumped over at that point and used the pressure of the upcoming show to make deeply personal and revelatory pieces; pressure does make diamonds. Eleanor Cayre, Nate Freeman and Benjamin Godsill hosted a packed house in the Edition lobby bar on Monday evening. The room was full of artists, dealers, and enthusiasts, including Ellie Rines, Elena Soboleva, Molly Gottschalk, Sean Green, Chellis Baird, Nick Olney, Eric Gleason, Jason Wallace, and Valentine Uhovski. If anyone wanted to know how the art world was doing, a quick survey of the room could provide an answer, given the volume of art world insiders there.
Design Miami opened on Tuesday to plenty of fanfare. The aisles were packed, and the booths were full of high-quality presentations. Some that stood out were Friedman Benda, Future Perfect, Carpenters Workshop Gallery, R & Company, Emma Scully Gallery, and Land of Light by Victoria Yakusha. Fernando Laposse had a whimsical installation in partnership with Perrier-Jouët that was 3-D printed and included coloured sand that resembled pollen falling from the flowers. Laposse also gave an insightful talk at Soho House on Tuesday, sharing more about his collaboration with Perrier-Jouët. He spoke about finding inspiration in how wildflowers attract pollinators, which can, in turn, rebalance the environment. Laposse further mentioned that observing dance movements when bees found nectar was inspiring. Katherine Bernhardt and David Zwirner hosted a book signing at the Edition Hotel shortly after, and she was accompanied by her son Khalifa. There was fun in the air as Bernhardt gave attendees plenty of attention and spoke with everyone, not just those collecting a copy of her new publication. Hans Ulrich Obrist celebrated his new book Remember to Dream!: 100 Artists, 100 Notes at the Faena. The event was hosted in the Mammoth Garden, situated between the beach and Damien Hirst’s sculpture Gone But Not Forgotten. White Cube Gallery hosted its highly anticipated annual A-list dinner and fête at the Soho House beach tent. This was another packed house of collectors, artists, and connoisseurs.
Wednesday was the opening of the leading fair at Art Basel. The mood was tepid as gallerists brought out all the stops to entice collectors to continue to snap up prize pieces. The gallerists I spoke with all sounded happy with their first-day sales results, so the strategy seems to have worked. That evening, Mickalene Thomas and Shop with Google co-hosted an energetic gathering at Tropicale at the Edition. Janelle Monae belted out tunes in the most electric performance of the week. Her set list included Make Me Feel,” “Come Alive,” and “Float.”
Guests entered and exited the tent by interacting with artwork Kanvas: As We Are by Lyne Lucien. Attendees walked on a mirrored surface through a brightly colored installation with both abstract and figurative scenes honoring Haitian heritage. Later in the evening, Juvenile performed a feverish 16-song set at Soho House in an event that Dwyane Wade and Porsche co-hosted. Fresh off his mesmerising performance on Tiny Desk, he was accompanied by a band that kept the energy high. Juvenile closed the performance with perhaps his most famous song, “Back Dat Ass Up,” and the crowd went wild.
Thursday was a great day to visit NADA after all of the action of the VIP days. Some standout solo presentations included Swivel Gallery with works by Kiah Celeste, Regular Normal with Pedro Troncoso, and The Valley with Amelia Lockwood. Local Miami galleries KDR, The Hole and Carbon 12 had powerful group presentations, including Johnny DeFeo and Adam Parker Smith. Rising Star Abbott Stillman and Morgan Stanley hosted a dinner Thursday evening in the private dining room at Carbone. Stillman, new on the art scene, is already selling paintings in the six-figure range. His paintings are stunning examples of abstract works utilising tones and subtle architectural elements. After the dinner, it was back to the Edition, where Young Collectors revelled in a Basement party late into the evening. The event was hosted by Sophia Cohen, Lily Mortimer, Fernanda Mesta, and Thor Shannon. Guests bowled, ice skated, and danced as the music blared in a celebratory mood.
Friday began with another great panel at Soho House hosted by Cultured Magazine, including Tim Blum, Ellie Rines, and Pamela Echeverria. All the panelists spoke with honesty, and we’re as open as I’ve seen at a talk of this magnitude. Blum has been exhibiting at Art Basel since the 90s when, early on, he showed Murakami in Switzerland to much skepticism. He spoke about just how much the fair has changed, especially ABMB. He waxed wisdom, and as a member of the Art Basel Selection Committee, he said, “Now I am the establishment, and I’m into it,” I think the crowd was, too. Ellie Rines likes to do things that others don’t, which is why she exhibited for the first time at ABMB after having done several years at NADA. She has quickly made a name for herself, and her answers were up front while her sense of humour was evident to some of them. Pamela Echeverria, who has now exhibited a few times at the fair, recommended that one takes chances to make a name as an art dealer. She shared how her first booth, with an inflatable sculpture and loud industrial fans, did not sell that year but certainly got everyone’s attention. The piece later sold, and everyone in the vicinity of her booth knew who she was; it also didn’t hurt that she gave all of her neighbour’s tequila as a mea culpa for making so much noise. These three will be a force in the art world for years.
Leon Bridges performed on Saturday at Soho House during a Brunch Celebrating Joy hosted by Ché Morales and OG Magazine. The serenade was a spiritual cleansing after a long and exhausting week. This week was intense; his soothing voice serenaded attendees with songs that induced goosebumps. His set list included Texas Sun, River, and Lisa Sawyer, a powerful song dedicated to his mother and all mothers. Later in the day, Chance The Rapper had a riveting discussion with
Lauren Haynes, Director of Curatorial Affairs and Programs at the Queens Museum, concluded the Art Basel Conversations Program. He has been collaborating with artists Nikko Washington, Naïla Opiangah and Yannis Davy Guibinga on visual works that become a part of music videos. He also spoke about his Black Star Line Festival and a project that hosted a free art and music festival in Ghana, the first liberated country in sub-Saharan Africa. Chance gushed about his love of cinematography and admiration for directors like Wes Anderson, Spike Lee, and Quentin Tarantino. He even went so far as to cite his favourite film as The Brothers Bloom. It is only a matter of time before this multihyphenate decides to make a feature film.
Saturday evening, UTA and Delta collaborated on an immersive exhibition at Herzog de Meuron’s 1111 Lincoln Road, including works by Olivia Pedigo, Emmett Moore, Jillian Mayer, Derek Abella, and Erick and Elliot Jiménez. Each artist utilised plane parts and components in their installations, a challenging prompt. Olivia Pedigo’s deconstructed and painted engine was an example of art meeting engineering. At the same time, Derek Abella’s work transformed the everyday objects of food trays into artwork adorned with birds, people, and palm trees painted in vibrant colours. Maachew Bentley opened with an energetic DJ set before Madison McFerrin performed a soulful medley that had Arthur Lewis, partner and Creative Director of UTA, enthralled the entire time.
Sunday was the last day of the fairs, and Untitled was a perfect way to finish the week. The fair is between NADA and Art Basel regarding price range, but the quality remains extremely high. The fair is in a tent on the beach with intense natural light throughout the day. Yancey Richardson Gallery had a few significant works by Mickalene Thomas and an arresting photo by Zanele Muholi. SGR Galeria had an excellent selection of paintings of horses and people in hammocks from Lorena Torres. Galleri Urbane had a large milieu of small works by Drea Cofield, and Marc Straus had a fantastic selection of iconic works by Jeffrey Gibson, who will represent the USA at the 2023 Venice Biennale.
The art world came out in full force for this ABMB. Not many satellite events involving cryptocurrency or NFT, and attendance by people not in the art world appeared markedly down. One more pass through the Convention Center seemed to confirm that it was a strong year.