Art Basel Invasion!

Screw the recession. The nation's number one art fest is bigger than ever.

One of Materazzi's shots depicts a woman with her noggin stuck in her purse. It is the perfect metaphor for the thousands of dealers swooping into town to chase big bucks.

For her part, Materazzi says that in the past she has found Basel to be overwhelming and the artwork difficult to appreciate. It will be different this time around. "I think for artists and viewers, a less chaotic affair will be more enjoyable," she says.

In a new project by Swiss artist Olaf Breuning, the Sagamore will offer a contemporary take on Miami Beach sand sculpture. A 150-ton sphinx looms over a stretch of beach directly behind the hotel. The artist is also transforming the lobby using an absurdist wall mural.

Lee Materazzi's Purse
Lee Materazzi's Purse
Anri Sala, from No Barragan No Cry
Anri Sala, from No Barragan No Cry

Details

Click here to view our full Basel events listing.

Back on the mainland, Eric Charest-Weinberg is among many new dealers planting their flags in Wynwood during Basel. The 24-year-old hopes to defy economic gravity by featuring a stable of edgy artists that he's banking collectors will take a risk on.

He is popping the cork on his eponymous gallery (250 NW 23rd St., #408) with a sprawling solo show by Canadian provocateur Marc Seguin. The artist's fierce paintings fuse images of human beings with taxidermied roadkill to convey a sense of existential anomie.

"I think the works speak for themselves," Charest-Weinberg muses. "This is a very interesting time. To me it's all about wholeheartedly supporting these artists."

Basel spokesman Bob Goodman dismisses notions that attendance will fall off this year. "We have discount prices for groups of 10 and seniors and students," he says. "We are also having free film events, lectures, and public art projects people can look up on our website. We are expecting major celebrities like Steve Martin and Tony Bennett to return this year, and we will be featuring more than 200 of the world's finest galleries again.

"All the museums from Miami to Palm Beach are putting up special shows. I haven't seen any indication of a letdown or that the goose won't lay a golden egg."


ART BASEL EVENT LISTINGS

Aqua Art Miami: 44 galleries with a strong representation of West Coast dealers. Dec. 4-7. 206-399-5506. Aqua Hotel, 1530 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-538-4361. In Wynwood, 50 more galleries will exhibit contemporary art Dec. 3-7. 42 NE 25th St., Miami, 206-245-8598.

Art Asia: Miami's first international Asian contemporary art fair will make its debut, bringing together more than 60 leading international galleries. Dec. 3-7, noon-6 p.m. Art Asia Pavilion, 3000 NE 1st Ave, Miami, 212-268-6148.

Bridge Miami Wynwood: Building on three successful years in Miami Beach, Bridge will host this event Dec. 3-7. 3401 NE 1st Ave, Miami, 312-421-2227.

Art Miami: More than 115 contemporary art galleries present a selection of art, special exhibitions, outdoor sculptures, and video installations. Dec. 3-7. $15 one-day pass, $20 multiday pass, $10 students and seniors. NE 1st Avenue between NE 32nd and 31st streets, Miami, 888-772-8926.

ArtCenter/South Florida: Kaiju Monster Invasion Miami Beach 2008: An exhibition featuring Japanese monster-inspired interpretations, curated by Harold Golen. Wed., Dec. 3, 8 p.m. 305-674- 8278. ArtCenter/South Florida Gallery, 800 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, 305-674-8278.

ArtSouth: Enjoy artwork by resident artists, refreshments, and live music while you browse four galleries and open artist studios. Children are welcome. 3 to 7 p.m. Mon., Dec. 8. ArtSouth Sanctuary, 240 N Krome Ave, Homestead, 305-247-9406.

Bass Museum Reception: Hosted by Arte al Dia International magazine. Dec. 3, 8-10 p.m. 2121 Park Ave, Miami Beach, 305-673-7530.

Bayfront Park. Giants in the City: 30-foot-tall giant inflatable sculptures descend on Bayfront Park. Dec. 2-7. 301 N Biscayne Blvd, Miami, 305-572-0040, 305-358-7550.

Miami Beach between 17th Street and Lincoln Road. Olaf Breuning's Sculpture: Untitled shows a huge bikini girl with a Klee-inspired face. Starting Dec. 3. Daily.

Catalina Hotel & Beach Club. Bridge Miami Beach: Browse nearly 80 rooms of the freshest and most innovative works in international emerging and contemporary art. Dec. 4-7. 1732 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, 305-674-1160.

The Cavalier Hotel. Full House Pool Art Fair: The show will comprise young contemporary art dealers, artist agents, emerging galleries, artists' collectives, and nonprofit organizations. Dec. 5-7. $10 suggested donation. 1320 Ocean Dr, Miami Beach, 305-531-3555.

Charcoal Studios. Gen Art Vanguard New Contemporary Art Fair: Booths featuring emerging and renowned artists and their installations. Dec. 4-7. 2135 NW 1st Ave, Miami, 305-695-8200.

Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation. Visit and Breakfast @ CiFo: Concerts, performances, and panel discussions. Dec. 3-7, 9 a.m.-noon. 1018 N Miami Ave, Miami, 305-455-3338

Colony Theater. Art Loves Film: presenting the new film Herb and Dorothy by Megumi Sasaki. Fri., Dec. 5, 8:30-11 p.m. 1040 Lincoln Rd, Miami Beach, 305-674-1292.

Design Miami: A forum for collecting, exhibiting, discussing, and creating design. Includes galleries, exhibitions, talks, and the Designer of the Year Award. Dec. 3-6. $20. Miami Design District, NE Second Avenue and 39th Street.

Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden. Brunch: See Mark di Suvero's monumental sculpture garden. Sun., Dec. 7, 9 a.m.-noon. 10901 Old Cutler Rd, Coral Gables, 305-667-1651.

Fountain Miami 2008: A guerrilla-style art event dubbed the "Anti Art Fair" for its brash, off-the-wall offerings. Dec. 3-7. Suggested donation of $5. 2505 N Miami Ave, Miami, 917-650-3760.

Fratelli Lyon. White & Black Truffle Celebration for Art Basel Season: A five-course, $325 tasting menu featuring both white and black truffles. Wine pairings available for an additional $100. Dec. 3-6. 4141 NE 2nd Ave, Miami, 305-572-2901.

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