Art Basel Kicks Off In Miami Beach

Over 4,000 artists will come together for the elite Art Basel Miami Beach fair as it opens to the public on Thursday, December 4th. The fair, now in its 13th year, will offer $3 billion of art, including paintings, sculptures, photographs, films, and more from 267 art galleries in 31 countries.

“This is a big marketplace, a huge time of the year for the dealers to sell work,” said the fair’s director Nick Korniloff, “but it’s also an opportunity for art enthusiasts, people that love art, to come and see the work firsthand from some of the great masters.”

Housed in the Miami Beach Convention Center, the event is known as a U.S. extension of the contemporary art fair held in Basel, Switzerland, as well as in Hong-Kong. Among VIP galleries, there are also invite-only dinners, poolside parties, and pop-ups. Trophy works from big name artists like Andy Warhol, Georg Baselitz, Alexander Calder, and Sigmar Polke will be presented at the four-day-long event, which is themed “The Art of Collaboration.”

“People love to come to Miami,” said dealer Van de Weghe to Bloomberg. “They like to look at art, go to the beach, go to nightclubs.”

Currently, graffiti artist Banksy – whose formal identity remains unknown – already has pieces on display; his works, which consist of silhouetted figures and evocative spray painted messages, have generated as much as $1.8 million at auction. Presented in collaboration by the New York-based Keszler Gallery with Art Miami, the curated collection will showcase the British artist’s pieces from 2005 to present.

Outside the convention center, the fair will also feature “Public,” a section situated in Collins Park that will transform to an outdoor exhibition space with 26 large-scale and site-specific installations by leading and emerging artists from 13 countries. Nicholas Baume, Director and Chief Curator of Public Art Fund, will curate the section, which is themed “Fieldwork.”

Attendance in Miami for the event is expected to exceed last year’s 75,000, organizers reported. NetJets Inc., the private jet company owned by Warren Buffett, said round-trip flights to Miami are up 16 percent – around 250 flights – from last year.

“It’s going to be a very strong fair,” anticipated dealer Christophe Van de Weghe, whose booth boasts a Christopher Wool painting for over 6 million and a Jean-Michel Basquiat piece for $5.5 million. “There’s a lot of collectors coming from so many different parts of the world, and all have a big appetite to buy art.”

Art Basel Miami Beach runs through Sunday, December 7th.