The 15 Best Booths at Art Basel in Miami Beach

Molly Gottschalk and Scott Indrisek
Dec 7, 2017 2:37AM

The 16th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach opened its doors to VIPs on Wednesday. This year, the fair sees 268 galleries from over 30 countries spread across the newly renovated ground floor of the Miami Beach Convention Center (exterior renovations are still in progress). This offers 10 percent more exhibition space than in the past but also means a completely redrawn floor plan—no gallery is in the same place it has exhibited from before.

From a 30-foot-long Robert Rauschenberg that crowns Edward Tyler Nahem’s booth to Eva Presenhuber’s stunning presentation that entirely eschews traditional booth walls and 20 galleries brand new to Art Basel’s Miami fair, there’s an exceptional amount to take in. All this amidst the art world's busiest week, which sees the opening of the ICA Miami’s permanent building, reopening of the Bass Museum, and some 20 further art fairs spread across the city. Need help making the most of your time at Art Basel in Miami Beach? Below are the 15 booths you won’t want to miss.

Tanya Leighton

Nova, Booth N17

With works by Sanya Kantarovsky and George McCracken

Installation view of Tanya Leighton’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Take a careful look at the colorful, Hawaiian-style button-downs hanging on a rack in Tanya Leighton’s booth: Nary a pineapple or floral motif can be found. The array of shirts and jackets, created by artist Sanya Kantarovsky with former RISD classmate and fashion designer George McCracken, are patterned with watercolor imagery of the aging, white male leisure class. A button-down decorated with nude men sprinting through a field of cacti hangs beside a shirt patterned with old white men, donning patriotic colors, as they strangle one another to get to the top. Though the pair have planned this collaboration for a while, and conversations around sexual harassment have been brewing since the Trump campaign, the three-piece collection debuts at an incredibly timely moment as powerful white men face a dramatic reckoning across American culture. And with shirts and jackets on offer for $800 (edition of 25 + 5AP) and $950 (edition of 20 + 5AP) a pop, respectively, you can wear one home.

Arredondo \ Arozarena

Positions, Booth P11

With works by Israel Martínez

Installation view of Arredondo \ Arozarena’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.


Among the few performance works at Art Basel in Miami Beach, Mexico City gallery Arredondo \ Arozarena’s sparse booth sees Israel Martínez present Stealth and murmur (2017). Stand and watch as the two performers engage in a sort of slow-motion wrestle, one holding a megaphone, and you might suddenly be approached an have a “secret” whispered in your ear. Mine: “This year is the anniversary of the massacre of thousands of students in Mexico in 1968; 43 students are still missing, most likely they were murdered by the government; there is a systematic murder of women and girls in Mexico.” The work’s unexpected intimacy forces you to tune in to atrocities that might otherwise filter past your attention in the overwhelming stream of information present today, and possibly listen in a bit more intently in the future.

Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Galleries, Booth I4

With works by Ugo Rondinone

Installation view of Galerie Eva Presenhuber’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Ugo Rondinone inaugurated Miami’s newly renovated Bass Museum in late October with a band of lifelike, emotive clown sculptures, an exhibition that Zürich and New York-based gallerist Eva Presenhuber has celebrated by giving over her entire wall-less booth to the renowned Swiss artist. Extending high above the crowds, the sprawling presentation brings together some of the artist’s most recognizable recent works—from an 18-foot-tall aluminum cast of an olive tree (hunger moon, 2013) to the comparatively small stacked-boulder mountain sculptures, 30-foot counterparts of which have inspired road trips to his Seven Magic Mountains near Las Vegas, Nevada, and selfies amongst his day-glo totem in Miami’s Collins Park.

Sadie Coles HQ

Galleries, Booth I7

With works by Michele Abeles, Darren Bader, Shannon Ebner, Urs Fischer, Sarah Lucas, Elizabeth Peyton, Richard Prince, Borna Sammak, Ryan Sullivan, Jordan Wolfson

Installation view of Sadie Coles’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

The London powerhouse presents big-ticket works but doesn’t necessarily play it safe. The booth’s grimacing centerpiece is House With Face (2017), a blood-red resin sculpture by Jordan Wolfson that would be silly if it weren’t so horrifying. An oversized candle portrait by Urs Fischer (meant to eventually burn and dwindle) dominates the space—this one depicts his fellow artist, Adam McEwen. And two works by lesser-known Borna Sammak—one is a mad collage of t-shirt iron-on appliques, the other is a mangled replica of signage from a tax preparer's office—round out an admirably offbeat presentation. These attention-grabbers are offset by a tiny work by Elizabeth Peyton, as well as some conceptual readymades—involving sand and candies, respectively—by prankster Darren Bader.

Edward Tyler Nahem

Galleries, Booth E4

With works by Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha

Installation view of Edward Tyler Nahem’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

In 1979, a division of the National Endowment for the Arts commissioned a 30-foot-wide, 14-foot-tall painting by Robert Rauschenberg to hang in the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Washington, D.C.. Five years ago, a renovation and restructuring of the building landed the work in storage—until this week. The work, titled Periwinkle Shaft, is part of Rauschenberg’s “Spreads” series (1975–81) and stretches across five canvases—and an entire booth wall at Edward Tyler Nahem. It quickly became one of the most talked-about pieces at the fair, but, at an asking price of $8 million, had not sold as of Wednesday evening.

Helly Nahmad Gallery

Galleries, Booth A4

With works by Alexander Calder, Jean Dubuffet, Fernand Léger, Pablo Picasso

Installation view of Helly Nahmad Gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Helly Nahmad has had its fair share of unconventional fair booths, most notably the remake of a Parisian collector’s flat at Frieze London in 2014. But sometimes, it’s worth sticking to the classics, and it doesn’t get much better than a giant Alexander Calder centerpiece. The untitled mobile sculpture, which can rotate 360 degrees and clocks in at nine feet tall and 11 feet wide, was made by Calder in India in 1955 as a commission for a collector there. Previous success selling large sculptures in Miami spurred Nahmad’s decision to offer the Calder at the fair (for $6.8 million), though its sale had yet to be confirmed as of late Wednesday afternoon.

Galerie Thomas Schulte

Galleries, Booth F23

With works by Richard Deacon, Angela de la Cruz, Julian Irlinger, Idris Khan, Allan McCollum, Michael Müller, Pat Steir

Installation view of Galerie Thomas Schulte’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Berlin’s Galerie Thomas Schulte has lined the walls of its eye-catching booth with Allan McCollum’s installation Each and Every One of You, which comprises 1,200 small, black-and-white prints that display the most popular men’s and women’s names, in order, according to the 2000 U.S. census. (In case you’re wondering, James and Mary were the most common; Quinton and Janine were the least.) McCollum often looks at the relationship between the unique individual and the mass-produced in his work, and this particular installation (on offer for $210,000, unframed) is especially relevant today despite having been created in 2004. Reflecting on the increasingly divided society present in the United States, the gallery thought it was the perfect time to show a portrait of society in which every individual can find themselves.

David Castillo Gallery

Nova, Booth N22

With works by Lyle Ashton Harris, Kalup Linzy, Xaviera Simmons

Installation view of David Castillo Gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Wherever you are in the aisles, make your way to David Castillo Gallery’s booth at 3 p.m., when, each day of the fair, Kalup Linzy is performing in drag as his fictional personality “Katonya” (one of around 30 fictional characters that feature in his practice). Donning a blonde wig, he’ll draw and sketch through the hour, turning the booth into his studio, after which those works will be available for sale. (I arrived 10 minutes early and found the artist carefully applying mascara using a hand mirror.) Linzy’s performance is but one of the highlights of a booth that explores identities, including sexuality, race, and gender, through imagined characters—including work from Lyle Ashton Harris’s “Blow Up”series (2004–present) and Xaviera Simmons’s ongoing series “Characters in Landscape.

Foxy Production

Nova, Booth N8

With works by Sascha Braunig, Sara Cwynar

Installation view of Foxy Production’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

The work of photographer and video artist Sara Cwynar makes a slightly unlikely, but wholly satisfying, pairing with small oil on paper works by Sascha Braunig. Cwynar has enjoyed a burning-hot career ascendance with an aesthetic that mingles aspects of graphic design as well as fashion and product photography. The works on view here are technically portraits, but only in the most unconventional sense. (Large prints, in an edition of three, are offered for $12,000; smaller works are $4,500). Braunig’s modest paintings, presented in handsome, artist-designed frames, are fleshy and sensual, despite the absence of any actual human figures. Bodily silhouettes and shapes curl, bend, and unfold against richly patterned backgrounds; she makes every crease, dot, and shadow matter.

Jessica Silverman Gallery

Galleries, Booth H9

With works by Judy Chicago, Matthew Angelo Harrison, Julian Hoeber, Dashiell Manley, Nicole Wermers

Installation view of Jessica Silverman Gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

A simple piece by 2015 Turner Prize nominee Nicole Wermers bisects the booth: It’s a red metal bookshelf, priced at around $30,000 in an edition of two. The design is modeled directly on a 1970 model by Shiro Kuramata; its empty shelves are filled with kinetic sand. If you don’t know what that is, exactly, make sure to touch the work to get a feel for this indescribable texture—you’re allowed, within reason, but no sneaking sand home in your pockets, please. This work is joined by riffs on African masks by Matthew Angelo Harrison, produced using a 3D printer he built himself (and priced between $12,000 and $15,000); early sculpture by feminist pioneer Judy Chicago, ranging in price from $60,000 to $130,000; and two painted-wood constructions by Julian Hoeber, one of which features a realistic cast of his own face secreted in its interior.

David Lewis Gallery

Nova, Booth N20

With works by Lucy Dodd and Dawn Kasper

Installation view of David Lewis’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Despite more than two decades of friendship and collaboration, artists Lucy Dodd and Dawn Kasper are shown together at Art Basel in Miami Beach this week for the very first time. On the heels of major institutional exhibitions—a solo Whitney exhibition for Dodd in 2016, and the Venice Biennale for Kasper in 2017—their work comes together in a thoughtful installation that sets Kasper’s “Chandelier” sculptures ($25,000–$35,000) against the backdrop of Dodd’s monumental painting, Jupiter’s Jollity (2017). The latter, characteristic of the artist, mixes pigment with natural materials (squid ink, black lichen, walnut, Yerba mate) and leans theatrically against the booth’s back wall. (It sold during the preview for $125,000 as a promised gift to an American museum.) For a special treat, enter the small opening to the painting’s right-hand side, to visit an improvised “back room” space filled with works by Kasper ($4,500–$10,000), including some she made during the Venice Biennale.

Tyler Rollins Fine Art

Nova, Booth N27

With works by Manuel Ocampo

Installation view of Tyler Rollins Fine Art’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

The New York gallery presents a solo selection by Manuel Ocampo, a Filipino artist who cut his teeth in Los Angeles before returning to his home country. Ocampo works in a postmodern mode that jumbles references, and could care less about the distinctions between high and low. He represented the Philippines at the 2017 Venice Biennale, where his figurative paintings were displayed in a grid, almost like tarot cards. In these canvases, artists are crucified while a mob of green ducks looks on; a Yeti hangs out with a space alien; and a trio of disembodied Trump heads floats in space, dumb and vile. One more abstract selection, with pasted-on collage elements and an overall provisional air, bears a text that might summarize Ocampo’s open-ended, curious style: “Work need not complete itself.”

Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe

Galleries, Booth G5

With works by Milton Avery, Willem de Kooning, Helen Frankenthaler, Hans Hofmann, Alex Katz, Robert Motherwell

Installation view of Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Helen Frankenthaler’s gorgeous 1979 painting Basin ($1,850,000) hangs front and center at Ameringer | McEnery | Yohe’s booth. It’s a worthy opener to the gallery’s presentation of seven large works by the beloved Abstract Expressionist painter, whose market has still yet to match her influence (as is the case for many women working during art-historical periods dominated by men). Among a booth priced on the range of $1.5 million to $2.5 million, a major work was sold in Art Basel in Miami Beach’s first hours.

Stuart Shave/Modern Art

Galleries, Booth F14

With works by David Altmejd, Peter Halley, Yngve Holen, Josh Kline, Katy Moran, Julien Nguyen, Steven Shearer, Richard Tuttle

Installation view of Stuart Shave/Modern Art’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Photo by Alain Almiñana for Artsy.

Is civilized society being reduced to rubble? Linger among these new works by Josh Kline, which see cast stone sculptures of everyday objects crumbled to pieces, and it’s not difficult to make a connection to your newsfeed. As part of a new body of work, which debuted in a much-buzzed about show with Stuart Shave/Modern Art during Frieze London, Kline’s imagined a future society in which middle-class aspirations, and certain political decisions, brought the United States into a civil war. The fallout from this war spans the floor of the booth: Among the rubble, a severed sofa is embedded with a Coors Light can, an Apple remote, a box of Marlboro Reds, and a coffee cup. Lining the booth walls, works from Yngve Holen’s “Snowflakes” series of hubcaps, which explore the relationship between technology, machinery, and human interaction, are a strong complement.


Galleries, Booth A11

With works by Ramiro Gomez, Hew Locke, Carolee Schneemann, Betty Tompkins, David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong

Installation view of P.P.O.W’s booth at Art Basel in Miami Beach, 2017. Courtesy of P.P.O.W.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, the last edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach adopted a distinctly political edge. It’s somewhat surprising not to see 2017’s groundswell of action taken by women against sexual harassment and assault reflected more extensively in gallery programming here, but P.P.O.W is an exception. A new series of works on paper by Betty Tompkins appropriates found images and alters them with text, obscuring the female figures with harsh, often condemnatory language: “Easy Lay,” “Cold Fish.” (The men in them, meanwhile, escape without a scratch.) The same pioneering feminist spirit is alive in selections from Carolee Schneemann’s 1963 series “Eye Body: 36 Transformative Actions for the Camera,” which shows an artist not afraid to take chances that—especially five decades ago—were unheard of.

Molly Gottschalk
Scott Indrisek