MIAMI - Special installations were all over Art Basel in Miami Beach this year. Booths and other spaces were decorated, transformed, built upon and generally gussied in ways both extraordinary and surprising.

Take, for instance, the exotic casbah created by Berlin gallery neugerriemschneider, famous for taking an unusual and provocative approach. The outside of the booth was fully walled-up, and the motif appeared to be colorful paper envelopes. Inside, it was a riot of color and fabric, as if a modern art showroom and a sultan’s lair had exploded. Turns out the furniture pieces were all custom made by the gallery’s big-name artists like Isa Genzken (of the current MoMA show), Jorge Pardo and Ai Weiwei.

Installation view of neugerriemschneider.

Galerie Gmurzynska decided to unleash a big-time starchitect on their space: “Booth designed by Richard Meier,” the sign read. It wasn’t too different from a regular booth aside from the nice wood floors. Tucked in the back was a small show called “Timepieces: 50 Years of Collage,” filled with Meier’s little-known work in that medium. Some had a slightly bawdy edge, with female pin-ups in the mix.

Scotland’s Ingleby Gallery had a very serious and thoughtful take on the special booth concept—there was whole Caribbean shack reconstructed on site. The reason was the single-artist show of Frank Walter (1926–2009), a talented Antiguan painter whose work has been recently rediscovered by the architect Barbara Paca. Inside the recreation of the shack where he lived and worked were Walter’s actual possessions, including a bed made out of a door. The paintings were extraordinary, and comprise the first American show of Walter’s work. This is a can’t-miss booth.

The Frank Walter show at the Ingleby Gallery.

The Fondation Beyeler devoted its whole booth to an ingenious art-charity hybrid concept: Olafur Eliason’s Little Sun. A food truck was parked there, but it wasn't selling tacos. For $30 you could buy a little yellow solar-powered lamp in the shape of a happy sun. It was designed by Eliason and the engineer Frederik Ottesen, with an eye to promoting and funding clean, solar-based power in developing nations, particularly in Africa. A great cause, and they were selling like hotcakes.






Tags:Art Fairs, Contemporary Art, Miami