The 15 Miami Shows You Need to See during Art Basel in Miami Beach

Demie Kim
Nov 27, 2016 6:00PM

Across Miami, galleries and institutions are staging top-notch shows to welcome the influx of art-world power players descending upon South Beach for Art Basel’s American rendition. Below, we’ve selected 15 shows you need to see while you’re there, including the first U.S. museum solos for renowned artists Julio Le Parc and Thomas Bayrle as well as a series of contemporary interventions that reimagine the forgotten histories of the Vizcaya Museum and Gardens, among other must-see exhibitions.

Hernan Bas at Fredric Snitzer Gallery


Images courtesy of Fredric Snitzer Gallery.

The angsty, self-indulgent characters in Bas’s paintings are inspired by the aestheticism and decadence movement in 19th-century literature as well as by Romantic and Gothic imagery. Titled “Tropical Depression” in reference to the relationship between weather and psychology, this new series sees adolescent boys staring sullenly into pools of water or absentmindedly twirling flowers between their fingers amid lush, Eden-like landscapes. The “mood ring” worn by each figure represents his or her inner psychological state, letting viewers surmise the scenarios depicted on canvas.

Titus Kaphar at Lowe Art Museum


© Titus Kaphar. Image courtesy of Lowe Art Museum.


Based in New York, Kaphar is known for reworking historical source material to create paintings and sculptures that “nod to hidden narratives and begin to reveal unspoken truths about the nature of history,” he has said. His experiential installation The Vesper Project results from studies of the Vespers, a 19th-century family whose mixed racial heritage allowed them to pass as white, even though they were considered black from the perspective of the law and by their New England peers. On display are gilt frames, vintage photographs, and old knickknacks once owned by the family, all arranged within fragments of an abandoned Connecticut home installed within the gallery.

“Modern Dutch Design” at The Wolfsonian | Florida International University


Work by Christie van der Haak covers the exterior of The Wolfsonian. Photo courtesy of The Wolfsonian.

Over 200 works—including a purple velvet armchair by architect and designer Michel de Klerk; a piano lamp by J.J.P. Oud, a founder of De Stijl; and an advertisement for tobacco, tea, and coffee manufacturer Van Nelle—are featured in this survey, which traces the emergence of modern Dutch design from 1890 to 1940. Outside, contemporary artist Christie van der Haak will cover sections of the museum’s Mediterranean Revival exterior in her signature batik-inspired patterns, transforming the building itself into a work of Dutch design.

Naama Tsabar at Spinello Projects

NOV 23–JAN 14; 7221 NW 2ND AVENUE

Left: Detail from “Transition”, courtesy of Dvir Gallery. Right: Photo by Krisopher McKay, © Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation, New York.

Once a bartender and punk rocker, New York-based installation and performance artist Tsabar is known for her sensory projects, which use functional, everyday objects to explore the intersection of visual art and music. At Spinello Projects, she makes her Miami solo debut with felt works, canvases, and sculptural installations that examine the role of body and sound in space, as well as the intimate relationship between an acoustic object and its activator.

“Lost Spaces and Stories II” at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens

NOV. 2016–DEC. 2017; 3251 S MIAMI AVE

Installation view of Brookhart Jonquil’s Glass House and Incisible Sun. Photo by David Almeida.

To celebrate its centennial, Vizcaya Museum and Gardens—the grand former estate of agricultural industrialist James Deering—is staging a two-part exhibition revisiting forgotten, or no longer accessible, aspects of the site’s history. The second installment features interventions by local contemporary artists in the gardens and leisure spaces, including an architectural work by Leyden Rodriguez Casanova referencing the Casba pavilion, which has since been relocated. In the Casino, a piece by Brookhart Jonquil surmises the day-to-day lives of the estate’s former inhabitants, while an installation by Kerry Phillips suggests movement, with found furniture spilling out of a marble staircase in the museum’s café and shop area.

Awol Erizku at Nina Johnson

NOV. 28–JAN. 14; 6315 NW 2ND AVENUE

Awol Erizku, Fire & Desire, 2016. Image courtesy of Nina Johnson.

At Nina Johnson, 20 paintings by Erizku all depict an impeccably manicured hand wrapped with a gold bangle and bearing a rose—an image inspired by nail salon signage near the artist’s L.A. studio. With a post-Pop Art sensibility, the various skin tones, rose colors, and shades of nail paint evoke the diverse ethnicities of the urban landscape. Each painting is named after the song playing when Erizku finished it—e.g., Drake’s “Fire and Desire” or Young Thug and Travis Scott’s “Pick Up the Phone”—together which form a conceptual sound collage accompanying the exhibition.

“Tête-à-tête” at David Castillo


Mickalene Thomas, Portrait of Sidra Sitting, 2012. Image courtesy of David Castillo.

Curated by Mickalene Thomas, this group exhibition of 14 artists working in photography and film confronts the myth of the black body, as portrayed in visual media, seen here through the lens of Ariella Azoulay’s notion of the “civil contract of photography”—the conscious meeting of subject, photographer, and viewer in the moment of looking. Among the 14 artists, Thomas’s own work, Portrait of Sidra Sitting (2012), alludes to the art-historical trope of the reclining nude; like Manet’s Olympia, the subject confronts the viewer directly, bypassing the photographer to gain agency over her representation.

Julio Le Parc at Pérez Art Museum Miami


Op and kinetic art pioneer Le Parc has described his participatory practice not as a series of individual artworks but rather as as a sequence of ongoing “research inquiries” about light, space, and form. Spanning PAMM’s two special exhibition galleries, the Argentine artist’s first museum solo in North America includes more than 100 works produced over his nearly six-decade career, beginning with geometric and color studies from the late 1950s to sculptural works from more recent years, including the spectacular Sphère Rouge (2001–12), an enormous hanging assemblage of reflective plastic squares.

Jason Schmidt at the Margulies Collection at the Warehouse

OCT. 19–APRIL 29; 591 NW 27TH ST

Jason Schmidt, Jason Rhoades, 2006. Image courtesy of Margulies Collection.

At the Margulies Collection’s warehouse space, New York-based Schmidt will present more than 135 color photographs of leading contemporary artists from his ongoing “Artists” series (1996–present). These portraits, featuring both under-known, emerging, and established artists in their studios, provide a personal glimpse into the artmaking process. Together, they also function as a photographic archive of the ever-evolving art world.

Thomas Bayrle at ICA Miami

NOV. 29–MAR. 26; 4040 NE 2ND AVENUE

Installation view of Thomas Bayrle's Wire Madonna. Photo courtesy of ICA Miami.

Bayrle, the pioneering German artist, is renowned for his multimedia practice, which responds to the far-reaching influence of machines and technology on humans and their environment, as in his aerial portrayals of highways and urban landscapes and his depictions of individuals as “super-forms” made up of repeating patterns. For his first museum solo exhibition in the U.S., Bayrle debuts the newly commissioned sculpture Wire Madonna, an industrial rendition of Madonna and Child. Titled “One Day on Success Street,” the exhibition is ICA Miami’s last in the historic Moore Building, pending the museum’s relocation in late 2017.

Alexis Gideon at Locust Projects


Passed Down and Down, 2016
"Alexis Gideon: The Comet and the Glacier" at Locust Projects, Miami

For this dreamlike installation and video opera at Locust Projects, Gideon brings together sound works, clay relief sculptures, glass paintings, stop-motion animations, and live performances that explore memory as an act of creation. The narrative is based on a fictional, “recently uncovered” 19th-century manuscript, The Almanac, which the narrator (based on the artist himself) attempts to recall by creating his own version of a chapter called “The Comet and the Glacier.”

“Missing Documents: The Children of Chernobyl in Cuba” at Mana Wynwood Convention Center

Nov 30–Dec 4; 2217 NW 5th Avenue 

Sonia Cunliffe, Tarara in the present, 2015. Image courtesy of Mana Wynwood Convention Center.

Organized by Peruvian artist Sonia Cunliffe, this exhibition honors the 26,000 children affected by the 1986 Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine, particularly through the humanitarian response of Cuba, which supplied medical support and shelter to the children for over 20 years. Drawing on the research of journalist Maribel Acosta, Cunliffe has gathered photographs, videos, news clippings, testimonials, and diaries that document the humanitarian efforts and, in turn, the position of journalism and the archive in the shaping of history.

“New Shamans/Nov Xamãs: Brazilian Artists” at the Rubell Family Collection/Contemporary Arts Foundation

NOV. 30–AUG. 25; 95 NW 29 STREET

Installation view of Thiago Martins de Melo’s Martyrdom, 2014. Photo courtesy of Rubell Family Collection.

The ground floor of the Contemporary Arts Foundation will host an exhibition of paintings, photographs, sculptures, and installations by 12 emerging and established Brazilian artists, including painters Marina Rheingantz and Lucas Arruda and textile-based sculptors Sônia Gomes and Maria Nepomuceno. Prompted by the Rubells’ research trips to Belo Horizonte, São Paulo, and Rio de Janeiro, the show highlights artists working across media to confront the social, political, and environmental issues affecting their home country and the world at large.

“Desire” at the Moore Building

NOV. 30–DEC. 4; 3841 NE 2ND AVE #400

Ed Ruscha, Desire, 2013. ©Ed Ruscha. Photo by Benjamin Lee Ritchie Handler, courtesy of Gagosian.

From ancient times to the internet age, the time-honored theme of eroticism has evolved with every generation of artist. Erotic artworks have consistently tested their audiences, often by provoking public outrage and revealing the social and cultural mores of their time. Curated by Diana Widmaier Picasso and jointly staged by Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian, “Desire” features approaches to eroticism by some 50 modern and contemporary artists, from Pablo PicassoBalthus, and Man Ray to Marilyn MinterNan Goldin, and Tschabalala Self.

Amanda Ross-Ho at Michael Jon & Alan


Installation view of “Amanda Ross-Ho: STOP BATH” courtesy of Michael Jon & Alan.

Ross-Ho’s solo show, “Stop Bath,” alludes to the last step of the photographic process, which physically and temporally freezes the image. It also references an actual bath—a time to unwind and escape the demands of everyday life. To help unwind, the L.A.-based artist presents sculptural renditions of sleeping masks as well as photo collages pulled from eBay listings of clock faces.

Demie Kim