Art Basel Miami Beach
The big idea: As it turns 18, the OG Miami Beach art fair comes of age in 2019, still housed in the Miami Beach Convention Center. That hall, though, has been radically renovated over recent years to better host high-profile shows like this, the art world’s answer to the Oscars: It now attracts almost 270 galleries from more than 30 countries.
Don’t miss: Basel is previewing a new section — Meridians — in the convention center’s new 60,000 square-foot Grand Ballroom. This programming, overseen by Mexico City-based curator Magalí Arriola, will showcase 30 projects, each intended to challenge how art can be seen and enjoyed beyond the conventional, box-like layout of an art fair. Expect oversized sculptures, installations, films and performance art.
Icebreaker: “Did you bring your bathing suit?” Those selfie-takers are gathered ’round the latest project from witty art duo Elmgreen & Dragset: “Bent Pool” (left). It’s a trippy riff on their signature motif (which New Yorkers should recognize from the ear-shaped vertical pool they installed in Rockefeller Center three years ago).
Star power: A-list browsers Sean Combs and Beyoncé are both regulars, while Britain’s Princess Eugenie is a director of gallery Hauser & Wirth.
The big idea: This middle-market fair — which toasts its 15th edition this year — is an exciting place to pick up artists on the rise; galleries often segue to the main Art Basel Miami Beach floor after earning plaudits enough here. Like last year, Pulse will take place at Indian Beach Park in Mid-Beach.
Don’t miss: For 2019, Pulse has announced an unexpected — and very welcome — theme: Calm in the Palms. Alongside a reconfigured floor plan aimed as much at connecting people as selling art (think: lots of room to sit and chat), Pulse promises an oasis amid the frenzy. Head to the 3,000-square-foot Wellness Lounge (right on the oceanfront) for gourmet food from Malibu Farm Miami Beach, the nearby restaurant from locavore chef Helene Henderson. Save room for a Frosé or two — this year’s signature cocktail.
Icebreaker: “Finalmente, en español!” Pulse is also debuting Perspectivos this year, a dual-language program that offers talks and tours in both English and Spanish to better serve the Miami community.
Star power: Leonardo DiCaprio once snapped up a piece he spotted on Pulse’s Insta feed — and will no doubt be doing some art-gazing again this year.
The big idea: The eighth edition of this highbrow showcase is the only Art Miami fair to truly take place on Miami Beach — seaside at 12th Street and Ocean Drive. It features more than 120 exhibitors from a range of far-flung places, from the Philippines to Ethiopia.
Don’t miss: The greenspace of Lummus Park has been commandeered for public art displays under the auspices of the fair, all of them large-scale works — look for the kinetic sculpture from Miami-based artists Antonia Wright and Ruben Millares. Make sure, too, that you pick up a copy of Untitled News — or whatever writer-in-residence Osman Can Yerebakan chooses to call the daily dispatch he’s been tasked with producing about the fair and its fairgoers.
Icebreaker: “Those photos are fire.” Never-before-seen portraits by Tom Bianchi (known for his male nudes) at the Benrubi Gallery are particularly well-suited for the site, as the beach adjoining the fair has long been Miami’s unofficial gay sandbar.
Star power: What the deuce? Last year, tennis ace Andy Murray took time out from recuperating to browse during the preview.
The big idea: This showcase, originally staged in the Design District (which was developed by the fair’s founder, Craig Robins), has now decamped to Miami Beach. This year, it will occupy the newly constructed, 6-acre Pride Park, a onetime parking lot turned urban greenspace that offers easy access to the main fair right across the street.
Don’t miss: This year’s edition spotlights African-inflected contemporary design, including the ceramics of US-based Donté K. Hayes and the trippy creations of South African Porky Hefer. Look, too, for a focus on glass commissions, like Robert Wilson’s “A Forest for Paul Thek,” which the director-turned-artist produced in collaboration with the Corning Museum in upstate New York.
Icebreaker: “Who’s next?” Design Miami’s director Aric Chen — a journalist-turned-curator — will end his one-year tenure after this year’s fair and be replaced by another yet-to-be-named director, also tapped for just one year. By making the post akin to a personal pop-up, the fair hopes to keep the show fresh.
Star power: Robins’ powerful Rolodex includes Elle Macpherson, George Clooney and Miranda Kerr, all of whom have been spotted shopping in the Design District; hopefully, he’ll persuade some of them to come browse the fair.
The big idea: This al fresco, year-round art gallery was the brainchild of Tony Goldman, one of the earliest boosters of South Beach. He tapped street-art icons like Kenny Scharf and Shepard Fairey (of Barack Obama’s “Hope” election-poster fame) to bring color and energy to this warehouse nabe. Each year, the newest additions to this “Museum of the Streets” are unveiled during Miami’s Art Week; since Goldman’s death in 2012, the project has been masterminded by his daughter, Jessica.
Don’t miss: Expect supersized celebrations this year in honor of Wynwood Walls’ 10th anniversary, including a retrospective group show, new murals (including one from Brooklyn-based collective Faile) plus a solo show from Fairey toasting his 30-year career. (Keep an eye out for an undercover Obama.)
Icebreaker: “I saw her in New York first.” Goldman Properties also owns the Houston Bowery wall in NYC (first made famous by Keith Haring); the family invites emerging muralists (including graffiti artist Queen Andrea) to show off their work there as well.
Star power: The Walls could lure Madonna and Pharrell Williams, both avid street-art collectors and Miami mainstays.
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