Glitz, gluttony, and great art: That's Miami Art Week, where thousands of collectors, curators, critics, and fans flock to dozens of art fairs throughout the city. In the 15 years since Art Basel launched its first Miami Beach convention, satellite fairs in standalone tents, swanky hotels, and echoing warehouses have made a habit of taking over the town for one long weekend in December. This year's festivities include more art fairs than ever before, challenging even the most dedicated connoisseurs to see it all.
Hand-blown glass balls sparkle from a ceiling. An eerie feeling runs up your spine as you enter a re-created teenage girl's room. A pungent artificial scent used by hunters as olfactory camouflage is released in an indoor atmosphere. Art Basel Miami Beach promises all of this and more, with installations by Kaspar Müller, Maggie Lee, and Dane Mitchell, respectively. In 2016, Basel is contending with an art-market crash, residual Zika fear, and construction at the fair's long-standing home, the Miami Beach Convention Center (1901 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach). But all of that has done nothing to sour the fair's reputation as the premiere art event in the United States. Visitors will encounter the same fresh works by young artists and museum-caliber pieces they've come to expect at the world-famous spectacle, with 269 expertly curated galleries from around the world showing their most impressive work. This year's fair will feature artists from more than 29 countries, including South Korea, South Africa, and Switzerland. Tickets start at $50.
But you don't need a ticket to experience Art Basel. Cinema geeks can check out Art Basel's Film sector on the giant screen at SoundScape Park (400 17th St., Miami Beach). David Gryn, curator of the Film sector, says, "I am most often attracted by artworks that affect me like certain music does; a thud in my chest, reverberations through my body, shivers/tingles down my neck and spine... elicit tears and exhilaration."
Gryn dabbles with the idea of "curator as composer" in his program Best Dressed Chicken in Town, a selection of short films by artists who engage with music. The program includes I Am Your Grandma, Miami native Jillian Mayer's short and freaky music video that went viral five years ago.
Just blocks away at Collins Park (2111 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), Basel's Public sector centers on the theme "Ground Control," inspired by David Bowie. Twenty installations will explore how artists invent and imagine new kinds of space. Opening night will feature a performance by legendary drag performer and DJ Lady Bunny, who will perform a spaceship-disco tribute to Bowie. Admission to Public is free.
If you're fond of geometric forms, clean lines, and mass production, Design Miami (Meridian Avenue and 19th Street, Miami Beach) is the place for you. The swanky sister fair to Art Basel shows the best of contemporary design, from furniture to jewelry to housewares and even cars. Design Miami is as famous for its eye-catching entrances, which are commissioned from a different world-class architecture or design firm each year; the 2016 installation by the New York-based SHoP Architects, Flotsam & Jetsam, will break a Guinness World Record with its 1,781-square-foot 3D printed structure made of biodegradable bamboo. Inside, designers will show off unique uses of materials, such as Chilean studio gt2P's table lamps, which are made from lava extracted from the Villarrica volcano in the Andes. Tickets start at $25.
A few blocks east at the Satellite Art Show (Parisian Hotel, 1510 Collins Ave., Miami Beach), artist duo Jen Catron and Paul Outlaw will perform their work F+++ Off in a 3,000-gallon fountain of perpetually pouring milk, a reaction to the excess of Art Basel. "We believe art can be marketable and still have a soul," says Satellite director Brian Whiteley. Located in a retro, Miami Vice-style dive hotel, Satellite will feature a quirky medley of art, music, performance, new media, and technology. Guests can visit the DiMoDA — the Digital Museum of Modern Art — through Oculus Rift headsets. Or make a permanent memory at the Famousonmars Custom Tattoo Parlor, where you can get a real tat, themed with feminism and social codification. Admission costs $10.
Amid the sand and the waves at Untitled, Miami Beach (OceanDrive and 12th Street, Miami Beach), visitors can fully immerse themselves in the art by sitting on artist-designed chairs, wearing shirts printed by Columbia University MFA students that say phrases such as "Up Against the Wall Motherfucker," or writing their own newspaper headlines in a participatory work by Noemi Escandell. "We want to present world-class art and also make sure our audience is having a fun time at the beach," says Amanda Schmitt, director of programming and development for Untitled. To that end, visitors can take a break from the fair to go surfing on a Pussy Riot-inspired surfboard as part of the interactive installation Do We Dream Under the Same Sky, by Rirkrit Tiravanija and Tomas Vu. The artists were even considerate enough to include a shower for art surfers to rinse themselves off when they come back from the beach. Tickets start at $20.
If you want to watch art being made in real time, head to the mainland for Spectrum Miami (1700 NE Second Ave., Miami). "Artists actually come to the show... [and] many also create their next masterpiece onsite... giving you an exclusive peek at the process," says Eric Smith, president of Redwood Media Group, which owns and operates Spectrum. Themed "Elevate," Spectrum has programmed educational art talks and Meet the Artist events, where you can chat with artists as they create their next work. Tickets start at $20 and allow entry to both Spectrum and Red Dot Miami (3011 NE First Ave., Miami), which features only galleries that represent established studio artists and secondary works.
Midtown mainstay Art Miami (3101 NE First Ave., Miami) will celebrate its 27th edition with a lineup of work by titans of contemporary and modern art, including Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Willem de Kooning. "It's a full-day event where everyone who comes has the opportunity to find something they'll enjoy, love, and live with for the rest of their lives," director Nick Korniloff says. High bidders can purchase works for up to $8 million. Tickets start at $45.
Next door, at Art Miami's sister fair, Context Art Miami, director Julian Navarro says his favorite work this year is the 2016 painting Depend on the Morning Sun by Diane Copperwhite: "Her abstraction paintings are complex and energetic, bringing a sophisticated dialogue between time and action in a new era of identities." Complex and energetic could describe much of the work on view at Context, where emerging and midcareer artists take the spotlight. The price point is lower than Art Miami's, with works for sale starting at $1,000. Tickets allow access to both Art Miami and Context and begin at $45.
Art Basel Miami Beach
December 1 to 4 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1900 Convention Center Dr., Miami Beach. Call 305-674-1292 or visit artbasel.com. Admission costs $50 to $115.
November 30 to December 4 at Meridian Avenue and 19th Street, Miami Beach. Call 305-572-0866 or visit designmiami.com. Admission costs $25 to $30.
Satellite Art Show
December 1 to 4 at the Parisian Hotel, 1510 Collins Ave., Miami Beach. Call 917-683-8300 or visit satellite-show.com. Admission costs $10.
Untitled, Miami Beach
November 30 to December 4 at Ocean Drive and 12th Street, Miami Beach. Call 646-405-6942 or visit art-untitled.com. Admission costs $20 to $30.
November 30 to December 4 at 1700 NE Second Ave., Miami. Visit spectrum-miami.com. Admission costs $25 to $85.
Red Dot Miami
November 30 to December 4 at 3011 NE First Ave., Miami. Visit reddotmiami.com. Admission costs $25 to $85.
Art Miami and Context Art Miami
November 29 to December 4 at 3101 NE First Ave., Miami. Call 800-376-5850 or visit artmiamifair.com. Admission costs $45 to $250.