Art Basel Miami Beach, a Visual Whirlwind

Art Privee
Jan 8, 2014 4:48PM

How do you train to see the massive amount of art fairs, private art foundations, museums, and pop-up installations available during Art Basel Miami Beach

We tried very hard. Our first stop was the new Pérez Art Museum Miami designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The opening show is a spectacular Ai Weiwei retrospective called “According to What?” that was co-organized by the Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. Many of his iconic works are shown, such as his porcelain crabs and pottery with the Coca-Cola logo. 

Back in Miami Beach, the main fair is thrilling and you can feel the energy and excitement as you enter. One needs to go many times to see it all. The best strategy is to study the map beforehand and have a choreographed idea of which galleries you want to see. It is easy to get distracted by the abundance of visual riches—works by Anish KapoorMarina AbramovićPedro ReyesSarah LucasTom Sachs, and hundreds upon hundreds more art world superstars.  

We had the “best seat in the house” when we took a break and sat across from Regen Projects‘ booth as we drank our coffee and enjoyed a frenetic video by Ryan Trecartin. Maybe the most shocking works were the Richard Meier collages—who knew that the architect of such pristine buildings also makes provocative art? Will Cotton’s cake sculpture was heaven—like a Wayne Thiebaud on steroids. Not only does it make me happy, it makes me drool! Next stop, across the street from Art Basel is Design Miami. The award-winning design by architects Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose is a large pile of sand with an aluminum roof on top. Inside this tent, one felt a Zen relief from the intensity of the main fair. The designs were beautifully curated and very compelling. 

I love to go to the Rubell Family Collection on the Thursday morning of Art Basel Miami week. Jennifer Rubell, the daughter of Don and Mera Rubell, creates a breakfast art installation every year. In previous years, she engineered homemade yogurt with honey dripping from the ceiling, and in 2010, covered an entire gallery wall with donuts hung on nails.  This year, her installation featured custard pies on a white slab that resembled a teeter totter. When you picked up a pie to eat, the change in weight on that side might cause the slab to move up or down. The collection of spectacular works by 28 Chinese artists at the Rubell Family Collection was also exciting. 

The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse got “most improved” space. We loved the Tony Oursler piece, as well as ”Wisdom of the Poor: A Communal Courtyard,” by Song Dong, featuring a maze of doors enclosing sculptures by several famous artists that you had to navigate to get to the next room. 

The De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space was as spectacular as ever. The many different faces on works by Rob Pruitt are fantastic. The site-specific Aaron Curry installation is still on view—and the artist seems to be everywhere, his outdoor sculptures can be seen at Lincoln Center in New York CityCIFO, Ella Fontanals-Cisneros’ Collection, shows works by Latin American artists—a growing trend in the art market we’ve been following this year. At the Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, Tracey Emin has a show of her neon pieces. It is the first exhibition of her work in the United States. The Bass Museum always has great shows. This year they are highlighting Piotr Uklański. The title “ESL” references “English as a Second Language.” The artist emigrated from Poland to the United States.  He has a very diverse style, as you can see by the photographs.

It is impossible to do everything associated with Art Basel Miami Beach, but our top five favorites are:

1) The Main Fair
2) Pérez Art Museum Miami 
3) The De La Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space
4) Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami
5) The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

Five things we wish we had time to see:
1) The Craig Robins Collection at Dacra
2) Debra & Dennis Scholl Collection at World Class Boxing (WCB)
3) Tour of Wynwood Walls
4) Conversations—Doug Aitken
5) World Premiere of “A Portrait of Marina Abramović”

Art Privee
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Jenna Gribbon, Luncheon on the grass, a recurring dream, 2020. Jenna Gribbon, April studio, parting glance, 2021. Jenna Gribbon, Silver Tongue, 2019