Art Basel 2015: It gave us just what we expected—and some we didn’t

Posted on December 6, 2015

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You are guaranteed two things during Art Basel Miami Beach. 1) Traffic. 2) The best collection of art in a 3-mile radius on this planet.

Art Basel, in its 45th year since starting in Switzerland, and 14th year here in Florida, accomplishes numbers that are mind-boggling.  The Miami Beach Convention Center houses 267 gallery collections from 32 countries under 500,000 square feet of exhibition space with an estimated 75,000 attending. Just expect to quadruple most of your travel times around town during the week.

Anyway, that’s just Art Basel.

DSC_0074Surrounding it are dozens of satellite fairs including Art Miami, Design Miami, Pulse, Context, Red Dot Art Fair, Scope Miami Beach and more. These also draw the tens of thousands who come to this vibrant, funky city which does art the way it should be done. With reverent respect, with parties and revelries. Many agree that while Art Basel features some of the most spectacular and traditionally most highly revered—and priced—pieces from the likes of Picasso, Warhol, Cézanne, Pollock and Munch, many of the other surrounding shows offer more edgy, exciting, energetic pieces that offer a glimpse at the future heavy hitters still to come. Among them was South Florida’s own Marcus Jansen, who showed at Scope Miami, on the the beach just off Ocean Drive. “I really enjoyed the Art Basel Convention Center fair this year. It was fresh, edgy and full of new ideas and most of all it was dominated by real painting. I could have welcomed a bit more critical social commentary as there were very strong painters represented. Other than that, I was pleased to be invited to show at SCOPE right before my museum world tour.” Jansen’s first major monograph “Decade” will be published this year with a release date of January 1. 2016.

NEARLY GUARANTEED
In addition to the guaranteed things you see here, there are a couple other things that you generally also NEARLY guaranteed here. Each, like ingredients to your favorite dish, form the delicious and uniquely unmatched experience that is incomparable to anything else anywhere.

DSC_0260SEX: It is eluded to, shown subtly, show explicitly an outright performed in mass amounts. Miami Beach is probably already the sexiest city in the U.S. But bring in the celebrities, the art weirdos, the masses who work, play and party like rock stars and you are surrounded by it. So embrace it. It is a great thing. Just for fun go search Twitter with the hashtag #ArtBasel. You will see photos from many of the parties. Now scroll a bit down for the story the Miami Herald ran on the straight up orgy in Little Haiti. Many came masked, many came nearly naked and many just came. Diana Thompson, the organizer, was quoted as saying “You can do whatever you’re comfortable with.” We stopped into News-Cafe this year and overheard a couple having a business meeting about their upcoming porno shoot. “I want to use a lot of flowers,” was something we definitely heard.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 3.09.01 PMCELEBRITIES: Ok, it is uncool to namedrop but this year we saw Katie Holmes, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lenny Kravitz, Paris Hilton, Eva Longoria, Elle Macpherson, Sylvester Stallone, Adrien Brody, Lionel Richie,  Will.i.am  and Hilary Swank to name just a few.

NICELY DRESSED FOLKS: Some are dressed to impress, some are dressed to the nines but most are just spectacularly, albeit simply, put together. Think of how folks generally look at a sports event. Now, think of the exact opposite. That is it!

I suppose an appreciation of the arts crosses over to an appreciation for dressing with some style. Safe to say you will like the fashion landscape.

DSC_0052HOT PEOPLE: For some reason it just seems like art brings out the hotties. There are models, stars and celebrities and then there are just hot people coming from everywhere. I can’t explain it but the hot people seem to gravitate here.

GRAFFITI ART: Watching artists actually creating is so satisfying. Spending time around the Wynwood Walls you see a lot of it every year. Again, we expect this but never tire of it.

DSC_0473GREAT DRINKS, FOOD and FUN: There are five star restaurants all up and down South Beach and in Wynwood so be prepared to eat something fantastic. In addition, even the smaller shops get it right. Care for a great café con leche? No problem. I’m pretty sure even the gas stations get this right in Miami. How about all of the pop-ups all over town that are available? There’s a pop-up cafe for famous chefs and delicious culinary delights all over town offering cheeses,  lattes, avacado toasts, slow roasted carrots, salty donuts, caviar, lobster rolls and so much more. Drinks are made right at the hotels and clubs, where you can dance your ass off just about everywhere until 6 in the morning.

NOW FOR THE UNEXPECTED
This year there were a few things that were unexpected, however and they bear mentioning. A couple are dark, just warning you here:

TRUMP: The Donald didn’t make it that we were aware of, but Ivana Trump was spotted at a DuJour magazine party.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 3.03.29 PMINSTALLATION ART THAT WASN’T INSTALLATION ART AFTER ALL: A woman drops and red starts coming out of her neck onto her white shirt near Basel artist Naomi Fisher. A woman is handcuffed and police tape starts to come out surrounding the exhibit. Amazing performance art? Nope. A woman was reported to have stabbed another woman in the neck with an X-Acto knife. The victim is expected to live. Story is here.

GRAFFITI ART ARREST: We so much graffiti art going on it is hard to believe someone actually got arrested for it this year. Yeah, it seems two artists misunderstood and thought they had permission to tag there. They were arrested but reportedly released after promising to paint over their work. Check out the story here.

Screen Shot 2015-12-06 at 3.04.57 PMPOLICE SHOOTING: Yes, it happened during Basel. Right here. You can watch the video if graphic violence doesn’t bother you but just blocks away a man on Alton street allegedly tried to rob a bank, said he had a bomb and started wielding a knife on the street. He was shortly surrounded by officers who were pointing guns at him. Then, all of a sudden as the video shows, he is shot dead. Read more here. Watch it here.

WISH LIST FOR NEXT YEAR
Lastly there are a few things I think we should see more of here. They are:

DSC_0116MEMES: Think about it. We often have very expensive pieces that are simple statements. This year the piece called “Who run this mother” stood tall and proud at the Miami Beach Convention Center this year. Let’s just run a gallery with straight memes. I made one this year I will put off to the side here that I think is compelling.

IMG_7522MORE AFFORDABLE PLACES TO STAY: I mean did you get a room this year? Crazy—right?

HOLOGRAPHIC CLOUD ART: Not sure but let’s get the Racing Extinction crew and see what they can come up with. If they can video up the Vatican and the Empire State, maybe they can do the sky up real pretty.

HOTTER PEOPLE: It may not be possible but how about some even hotter people?

NOW FOR MY FAVORITE PIECES
It is really hard to pick favorites but here are a few of mine from Art Basel 2015. Cheers, E

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Marcus Jansen’s “The rescue ring that I found close by” at Scope Art Fair, Miami Beach 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“The MIxer” by John Whipple at Scope Art Fair 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“Girl with White Collar and Tongue” by Marie Cecile Thijs at Art Miami 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“The Defenders” by Rosalyn Drexler at Art Basel Miami Beach Convention Center December 2, 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“Mousquetaire A la pipe” by Pablo Picasso at Art Basel Miami Beach Convention Center December 2, 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“Just Bread” by Jeff Sonhouse at Art Basel Miami Beach Convention Center December 2, 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“LP 811044” by Adrian Negenborn at Scope Art Fair Miami Beach 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“NY Times Art & Leisure” by Paul Rousso at Art Miami 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

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“Petroleum” by Michael Kvium at Art Basel Miami Convention Center 2015. Photo by Eric Raddatz

—Eric Raddatz is occasionally surprised as to all of the cool events that are happening in #SWFL and likes to share them with you. Follow him at www.twitter.com/ericraddatz for more updates!

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