In addition to artists and industry professionals, collectors also flock to Art Basel to gauge the current market milieu and discover new talent.
“Fairs are great idea incubators and provide a critical overview of the market,” says New York art consultant Wendy Cromwell. She considers Art Basel Miami Beach one of the premier contemporary art fairs in the world, second only to the original Art Basel in Switzerland.
Justin Adian installation featuring (left to right) Fortune Teller, Orange Crush, and Side Piece
Photo courtesy of Skarstedt, New York
Bacchanal, Mark Flood.
Photo courtesy of Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London
This year, Cromwell will be looking for a few key trends—and suggests collectors do the same. Latin American art tops her list, given a recent saturation of Cuban art on the market. Innovative uses of nontraditional materials are rising in popularity, she says, so search for ceramics by Brie Ruais and Thea Djordjadze (at Sprüth Magers) as well as hybrid works that blur the line between painting and sculpture by such artists as Justin Adian (at Skarstedt Gallery).
Artists and styles of yesteryear also are experiencing resurgences and will be in high demand at Art Basel, Cromwell predicts. Once-prominent movements are reverberating within contemporary works: The legacy of Pop Art is apparent in Mark Flood’s paintings, Sam Moyer’s abstract multimedia projects evoke the tenants of Minimalism, and Virginia Overton explores the boundaries of Earth Art. Finally, Cromwell urges Art Basel visitors to search for works by artists best known for pieces they created 30 years ago. “Artists of the ’80s whose careers are being reinvigorated due to superb new work—such as David Salle, Julian Schnabel, Barbara Kruger, and George Condo—should be on the collector’s list,” she says.
Untitled, Sam Moyer
Courtesy of Rachel Uffner Gallery and artist
When it comes to novice collectors, Cromwell suggests they look for work that speaks to them—and then evaluate why. “A new collector should ask questions about what they see on the stand and look at additional work,” she says, adding to “ask about price, compare and contrast things they like, and form their own opinions about what they love.”
Above all, collectors should learn from dealers but not feel pressured to buy until they’ve done their due diligence. “Follow up with the things that really stay with you, and keep an open mind,” she says.
On December 3, the Society of the Four Arts will host an Art Basel trip led by art historian and contemporary art adviser Lacy Davisson Doyle. At this year’s festival, she expects to see a return to figuration (recognizable forms and subjects) and an explosion of creativity in ceramics.
Doyle suggests dividing Art Basel into manageable bites, both in time and art. “Pace yourself. Frequent breaks at the cafes sprinkled throughout the fair help ease art overload,” she says. “Art Basel is divided into sectors such as Nova, where one, two, or three artists present work from the last three years (a great way to see up-and-coming artists’ works), and Positions, where a single artist presents one major project. You can select a focus that interests you and take in the fair through that lens.”
Palm Beachers have the opportunity to attend Art Basel alongside curatorial leaders from the Norton Museum of Art. Both Cheryl Brutvan, the director of curatorial affairs and curator of contemporary art, and Tim Wride, the curator of photography, will lead groups of Norton Museum members on fair excursions.
For those looking to return to Palm Beach with new pieces, Brutvan suggests checking out as many galleries as possible. “Go to new galleries rather than the ones you see regularly and take advantage of the whole sweep of art,” she says. Wride seconds that notion, adding: “All of the private collections are open, and they’re wonderful places to see a huge range of work.”
More to See
As part of its international draw, Art Basel has generated a number of related concurrent fairs taking place in the Miami area. The most prominent of these is Art Miami (305-517-7977), a contemporary show now in its twenty-sixth year. Drawing more than 80,000 visitors, this year’s fair will take place December 1-6 at the Wynwood Art District. The show also has two sister fairs, both of which display the work of up-and-coming and established artists: CONTEXT, also held in Wynwood, and Aqua Art Miami, taking place at Miami Beach’s Aqua Hotel.
“Use the fair as an opportunity to meet new people and see everything,” says Rita Krauss, a veteran New York art dealer now based in Palm Beach. “Go back a second time, and go early.” Krauss believes new collectors need a three-year learning curve to ease into the process, but they should be mindful of their price range and buy only pieces they love. “Buy with your eyes and your heart,” she says.
Sun Splashed, Listri Sulla soglia, Nari Ward
Courtesy of the artist and Galleria Continua
Bonnie Clearwater, director and chief curator at the NSU Art Museum in Fort Lauderdale, embraces the opportunity that Art Basel gives to “extend the art scene north.” Museums are the end point of the chain of an artist’s work through the evaluation process, she explains, taking a scholarly approach considering movements and regional influences.
While in Miami for Art Basel, consider visiting these museums for special exhibitions coinciding with the fair:
The Pérez Art Museum Miami’s (305-375-3000) 200,000-square-foot facility offers sweeping views of Biscayne Bay and houses international contemporary art. This month, PAMM will display a number of shows, including “Nari Ward: Sun Splashed,” a mid-career retrospective of the Jamaican artist, and “Project Gallery: Sheela Gowda,” featuring a site-specific installation.
The Bass Museum of Art (305-673-7530) is closed for renovations but will host bassx, a series of solo exhibitions, at the Miami Beach Regional Library. During Art Basel, bassx will present Swiss performing artist Sylvie Fleury and her exploration of the intersection of visual art, sound, and movement.
Mural Fragment (Chimbote), Hans Hofmann
Works by Hans Hofmann used with permission of the Renate, Hans and Maria Hofmann Trust
The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum at Florida International University (305-348-2890) prides itself on education but wows with a permanent collection that ranges from Pre-Columbian pieces to works by today’s most preeminent Caribbean and Latin American artists. Its annual exhibition roster is also varied. Art Basel visitors can escape to the Frost to glimpse wonders from the New York Botanical Garden, walls of color by muralist Hans Hofmann, and romantic maps of water landscapes.
PBI guides you through the divine madness of Art Basel.