What an impact art can have … For four days the Miami Beach was turned upside down; heavy with traffic, overcrowded parking spaces, and with a nonstop stream of people in the streets. It was a peak period for the local hospitality industry. But Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 is over now. Last Sunday, December 8, 2019, was its final day. As an art lover, it is a must to experience this huge international art fair at least once in a lifetime.
Art Basel is held in three places in the world: Basel (Switzerland), Hongkong , and Miami Beach. It is not just days with trade fairs, but also with conversations, presentations, the possibility to visit artists’ studios, and more. In addition, vernissages are held as well as other private exhibitions only open by invitation for VIP guests, invited guests , and premium card holders. The festival continues in the evening with after-parties at various locations.
The main attraction is the exhibition at the updated Miami Convention Center. There is no required dress code. Some feel happy in their daily casual outfit and others in their office suits, but there are also visitors who dress artistically and thus steal the show. However, this tip should be taken to heart: do wear good running shoes, because the Miami Convention Center with its two stories is bigger than a soccer field. Two hundred and fifty galleries, forty-four thematic exhibitions, and thirty-four project installations together encompass the art fair. In this labyrinth with its endless corridors, the crowds find their way to gratify their yearning for art. Those looking for colors will be disappointed. Art Basel is not a place overflowing with colors; it does so however with free spirits & minds, thus resulting in art which is created out of every conceivable material: canvas, plastic, paper, metal, wood, photo, video, and living material. Some creations arise from an idea, others enclose an entire story. The stunt with the banana stuck to the wall with duct tape made headlines worldwide.
Nevertheless, there are some pieces with smashing colors, pieces which delight the viewer’s eyes with a kaleidoscopic journey. Hence, those are the most photographed, such as The Garden by Portia Munson and The Cocktail Party by Tom Friedman. Among them one finds pieces that make you wonder why those are exhibited – it is hard to discover something artistic in a 3 x 3 cm piece of paper behind a shelf. Art fairs of such a size show that it is not only about great creations, but also about promotion and name. Or rather fame. As a pioneer the now 81-year-old Richard Pettibone may have signified something to the art world, but for his 21 x 21 cm Andy Warhol, Two Elvis, you wouldn’t expect this amount. “One hundred and fifty thousand”, says the gallery owner without blinking her eyes: One hundred fifty thousand US $.
Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 showed a remarkable small amount of ceramics. One interesting piece was made by Manal Al Dowayan from Saudi Arabia. She was in the booth by chance, since one doesn’t come across artists easily – one rather meets gallery owners or their representatives. Her object: The Emerging, is a set of feminine legs in black ceramic (and also on canvas) rising up from the ground. Subtle and familiar; and so is the message. “It also contains something sexual, but with this I want to show that we, the women in Saudi Arabia, are slowly but surely emerging out of oppression. We can drive nowadays, and we don’t have to cover our faces all the time. I don’t believe that our generation will see total liberation, but it will be so for future generations. Her “knees” did not yield a staggering amount. They went to a new owner for seventeen thousand US $.
The fair also housed the Nova sector which has nothing to do with a new direction in art. Recent works were exhibited in this section.
TEXT & PHOTOS Charles Chang, December 2019
Charles Chang has been a full-time writer for various magazines since 2006. He works as a traveling writer for Surinam Airways on, among others, the inflight magazine Sabaku and the blog On Trusted Wings. His main topics are culture and tourism. Art Basel Miami Beach 2019 was his first visit to this major art event.
TRANSLATION Chandra van Binnendijk, December 2019
Social Media Art Basel
Thursday, March 19, 2020, 2pm to 8pm
Friday, March 20, 2020, 2pm to 8pm
Saturday, March 21, 2020, 11am to 6pm
Hong Kong Convention & Exhibition Centre
1 Harbour Road
Hong Kong, China
Thursday, June 18, 2020, 11am to 7pm
Friday, June 19, 2020, 11am to 7pm
Saturday, June 20, 2020, 11am to 7pm
Sunday, June 21, 2020, 11am to 7pm
Thursday, December 3, 2020, 3pm to 8pm
Friday, December 4, 2020, 12 noon to 8pm
Saturday, December 5, 2020, 12 noon to 8pm
Sunday, December 6, 2020, 12 noon to 6pm
1901 Convention Center Drive
Miami Beach, FL 33139