Sunday , 23 November 2014
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Art Basel in Miami Beach Opens with Large Crowds and Strong Sales

The 2013 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach drew strong praise from collectors, gallerists, critics and visitors from all over the world. With an expanded public sector and a vibrantly diverse line-up of talks, performances and film screenings, the quality of works exhibited was matched by the show’s programming. The 12th edition was described by many observers as the strongest-ever Art Basel show in Miami Beach. Featuring 258 leading international galleries from across 31 countries, the show confirmed its positioning as the leading art fair of the Americas.

Art Basel in Miami Beach, whose Lead Partner is UBS, attracted an attendance of 75,000 over the five show days, a seven percent increase over last year. Over 140 museum and institution groups from across the world – as well as renowned private collectors from the Americas, Europe, Asia and emerging markets – attended the show.

This year while walking around Vernissage, the official Art Basel preview event held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, you saw artists, curators and dealers all engaged in serious conversations. After 12 years of Basel coming to Miami, it is evident that the sophistication of the event has grown year – to –year and it has become more about the art. The amount of art can be overwhelming, but where else can you see a Picasso next to an Andy Warhol and ask questions about it, learn about the artist and then possibly take the art home with you? Also, it has become less about the actual weekend of the fair than the year-round relationships that have flourished between artists and collectors that have developed throughout the year. Many were also inspired with the breathtaking amount of exhibitions at museums, under tents, in permanent galleries and pop-up galleries all over Miami Beach. We were even mesmerized by the quality and quantity of art all over street corners. In its second year and surpassing last year’s critical success was UNITITLED, a premiere art experience on the sands of Miami Beach and the buzz of the arts society. One of our favorite outdoor exhibitions being the grassy knoll in front of the Bass Museum, which showcased some jaw-dropping sculptures. Other events on Miami Beach included the VH1 and SCOPE party, which joined forces to merge the best from the contemporary art and music scenes. The event included a performance from rock stars Tegan and Sara.

The furniture, lighting and decor arm of Art Basel, called “Design Miami” opened under an enclosed, air-conditioned tent next to the convention center where 37 presenters from all over the world showed modern and contemporary design pieces with a “Miami Feel.” One exciting collection was Swarovski Crystal Palace’s Mangue Grove, a gorgeous work of illuminated crystal and wood that artist Guilherme Torres sourced from Brazil and Miami.

Art Basel in Miami Beach began in the late 1990s when Miami collectors and the City of Miami Beach approached MCH Swiss Exhibitions Ltd. about creating another show in Miami Beach. Since 1970, MCH had run Art Basel, the world’s leading art fairs. Each year, Art Basel in Miami Beach spends millions of dollars (estimated at $9 – $10 million) to put on the fair and economists have estimated $400 million to $500 million worth of art sales and related economic impact as a result of the fair. This partnership has had a significant impact in helping to establish Miami Beach and greater Miami as a leading arts town in the United States and first step in establishing Wynwood and the Design District as emerging destinations for artists and art collectors. Additionally, it resulted in local Miami artists selling works on the international market and having major museum exhibitions which never existed before.

Art Basel paved the way to showcase Miami as an up and coming artistic community. Only a few years after Art Basel premiered was there major investment in the communities’ art and cultural institutions. Not only did the Adrienne Arsht Center open in Miami, but the Bass Museum expanded its building and exhibition capabilities. Additionally, it helped in the The New World Symphony’s partnership with the City of Miami Beach to build their new performance space and park designed by world renowned architect Frank Gehry. Herzog De Muron, leading Swiss architects who designed the Olympic stadium in China (the Bird’s Nest), designed a cutting edge parking garage on Miami Beach.

The five days of ABMB, when Miami Beach becomes the most important city in the world of contemporary art, have literally changed not just the way we are perceived by the world, but changed who we are. Now we are more than just a vacation mecca – we are an internationally recognized center of creativity and commerce, with artists and collectors that can hold their own against any in the world. And of course the economic impact is staggering, with billions of dollars pumped into the local economy every year.

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