Congratulations, reader. If you're seeing these words, you made it through Art Basel Miami Beach 2012, the event's biggest, glitziest, and most spectacle-packed edition yet. There were dozens of fairs to check off your list. There were parties galore each night, with free-flowing booze and D-list celebrities in abundance. If you spent this weekend Baseling like a pro, you're probably still nursing that hangover from two nights ago and planning to draw up a petition to make Art Basel Monday a federal, work-free holiday. (We'd sign that petition in a heartbeat, by the way.)
Still, before you go back to your regular life, with its lack of champagne carts, pop-up parties, and creepy sex rollercoasters, take a look back at who came out on top this year -- and who got Basel-slapped in the face.
Serene, tragic, and beautiful, Woodgate's "New Landscapes" marked her debut at the big convention center show. Its painstakingly erased globes and maps haunted Spinello's space in Art Positions -- as well as the minds of anyone who took notice of them long after they'd gone home. Way to make Miami proud.
This year's Art Basel facelift was one of the most dramatic yet, with new murals covering damn near every available surface. Crowds packed the neighborhood nightly -- and unlike your average Second Saturday Art Walk, most people roaming the streets seemed genuinely invested in seeing artwork.
Midtown Tent Fairs
Midtown really stepped up its game this year, perhaps Art Miami and its new CONTEXT fair most of all. Between the two of them, they showed work from nearly 200 galleries, and drew about 55,000 visitors -- those are Art Basel Miami Beach-level numbers right there. Scope and Miami Project both had plenty of buzz around town too, with interesting, engaging, unique works all around.
If you're a fan of pop art, you really liked Basel week in Miami. Works by Warhol have always had a presence at Art Basel, but this year, the man was downright unavoidable. From Warhol originals on display to contemporary artists' own riffs on his work, Warhol made an appearance at every major art event in town.
Art with gun imagery was all over the place last week, and while we're used to that sort of thing hitting us over the head with its message -- Guns are bad, let's destroy all the guns -- this year's weapon-related works seemed to take a less one-sided approach. The Asif's Guns pop-up shop selling cardboard replicas of firearms big and small had gun geeks, well, geeking. And at fairs like Scope, we saw guns beautifully crafted out of cast iron, or covered in delicious-looking frosting.
Do you see this, Miami? This is why we can't have nice things: Not long after the artist's Sugar and Gomorrah roller coaster opened at Art Miami, some hater came out and tagged the thing. Look, you don't have the be in awe of the art -- we found it to be a bit creepy, ourselves. But if you want great artists to have a presence in town, you have to show them that their work's going to be respected here. Giant fail.
If Art Miami came out on top last week, Banksy suffered a loss. Despite calls from some in the street art community to boycott the fair, which showed Banksy works that were removed from their original locations, people still came out in droves, essentially legitimizing the exhibit. Art Miami: 1, Banksy: 0.
If you were behind the wheel of a car this weekend, you automatically lost. Traffic caused delays of an hour or longer between Miami Beach and the mainland. Anyone who decided to be responsible and take cabs between
champagne binges parties was thwarted by drivers who refused to take passengers anywhere but South Beach. We can all agree that Miami needs better public transit now, right?
Pop-up parties had a big week; start-up art fairs, not so much. At JustMadMia, Miami River Art Fair, and others, attendance was lacking -- a sign, perhaps, that we've reached critical mass when it comes to giant warehouses packed with gallery stalls. Speaking of which....
Miami Art Week
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Bigger isn't always better, and last week seemed to prove it. There were just too many events, from the aforementioned new fairs to artist-branded corporate launch parties to South Beach soirees at every hotel on the Collins strip. Individually, most things sounded pretty okay. But happening all at once, they created a kind of distracting white noise, making it difficult to focus on the thing that's brought everybody to town in the first place: the art.
Also, the name "Miami Art Week" isn't ever going to replace "Art Basel," even for events unrelated to the convention center show. Stop trying to make fetch happen, folks.