MIAMI - It’s that time again: the 12th edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach is upon us (Dec. 4-8), and you’re going to need a lot of SmartWater to hydrate as you cruise the aisles of the main fair – not to mention the couple of dozen satellite ones – for a piece to fall in love with, a bargain or a bit of art world gossip.
Before you get distracted by Champagne receptions, openings, happenings, pool parties and exhibits, here are three trends to look for this year.
Long March Space. Hu Xiangqian’s Acting Out Artist, 2012. Courtesy the artist and the gallery.
1. A Beefed Up Asian Presence?
The organizers of the main fair are keen to let the world know that, given Art Basel’s recent expansion to Hong Kong, there’s going to be a stronger Asian presence this year – which would be a twist on the generally Latin-American flavor found at the Miami edition (on top of the usual American-European axis that dominates the art market).
It’s hard to tell from sheer numbers, because the fair counts galleries with branches in Asia – regardless of where the headquarters are – as representative of that continent; by that count, participation is up. And there’s no good data on where collectors hail from (or least it isn’t released by the fair).
But, given the fair’s connection to Hong Kong and the continuing red-hot pace of art sales in that city overall, it’s certainly possible that we’ll see more of an Asian connection this round. It would mean the continuing globalization of the art world, something that’s been accelerating for some time.
A Gentil Carioca. José Bento’s Chão, 2012. Courtesy the artist and the gallery.
2. Better Late Than Never Sales
The conventional wisdom has always been that the major art buying happens very early, at the VIP previews or the first day of the fair. Big collectors like to have the first pickings, and they strike right away. The other days, especially the weekend, are for lookie-loos and tourists.
Not so, I have heard from a very good source of late. Evidently Sunday sales are surprisingly strong, particularly from Brazilians who jet in for the weekend. They’re known to take the red-eye back home to be at work (or at their private foundation, or at the beach) by Monday, and they like to grab a few works on the way out of town.
And the incentive for Brazilians to attend is stronger than ever, given the fact that the Wynwood arts district will be hosting the first ever Brazil Art Fair this year, devoted to the country’s art and design standouts.
3. A Discerning Appetite
The rivalry between the Frieze family of fairs and the Art Basel family has been simmering for some time, especially since 2012, when the former added a New York edition and the latter added a Hong Kong one. Game on!
In the undisputed win column for Frieze has been the food offerings, as you’ve seen me outline previously in this space. By getting top New York eateries like Roberta’s Pizza and London ones like Locanda Locatelli, Frieze has made it clear that you don’t have to eat poorly at an art fair.
Having a fair in a tent, as Frieze does, allows restaurants to do their thing in a flexible space that can be customized. But at a venue like the Miami Beach Convention Center, ABMB is constrained by existing food service contracts.
So they found a way around that, partnering with nationally acclaimed Miami chef Michelle Bernstein on two new off-site projects for this year, both within the Miami Beach Botanical Gardens (right next door to the convention center). Michy’s Miami Beach Pop-Up will have a fancy and experimental four-course menu for $135, and the Garden Café will be more casual.
You can expect reports from me on at least one of those during fair week.