Art Basel Miami Beach 2016: The Highlights

The last day of November, Christie’s Art, Law, & Business M.A. students left the cold and rainy New York City behind for the sunshine and vibrancy of Miami Beach. Here we spent four jam-packed days investigating one of the art world’s biggest events of the year, Art Basel Miami Beach.

The first day in the sunshine we headed bright and early to the Art Basel main fair in the convention center for a conversation with Julio le Parc. Le Parc was in many ways the star of the weekend with the first major North American retrospective of his work taking place at the new, incredibly impressive Perez Art Museum Miami. From there we dove right in and explored the 269 booths Basel had to offer.

I’ve listed my absolute favorites, but it was so hard to choose!

Tobias Rehberger at Galerie Bärbel Grässlin

There was a small room of Tobias Rehberger neons that I absolutely loved at Galerie Bärbel Grässlin. I had never heard of the gallery nor the artist previously so it was a fun discovery.

Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery

I love Anish Kapoor sculptures; they are always inviting. I find works such as this corner piece force viewers to pause and look at them in order to investigate the optical illusions created. His works were on view at Lisson Gallery next to a blue Carmen Herrera, which I found to be an interesting pairing as Kapoor’s work are so flashy next to Herrera’s geometric subtlety.

Mary Weatherford at David Kordansky Gallery

I am always drawn to combinations of neon and painting and have loved Mary Weatherford’s works for a while now. I could not stop looking at this one above, as upon the first impression it looked black and white but the more you looked, the more colors, particularly different shades of purple, emerged. I really enjoyed this David Kordansky Gallery booth and found I was drawn to most of the booths from Los Angeles.

Katherine Bernhardt at Xavier Hufkens

My final favorite from the Art Basel main fair was Katherine Bernhardt’s huge and immensely fun work outside the Xavier Hufkens booth. The booth also had an awesome neon by Tracy Emin whom I was star-struck to see walking around the de la Cruz collection the next day.

On Friday morning out class visited The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse, which was the absolute highlight of my trip. I have been to his collection four-five times now and meeting Martin Margulies was truly amazing.

Martin Margulies in front of Geroge Segal, “Subway,” 1968

I found his words and perspectives so relatable and straightforward. He emphasized how much he enjoyed reading about art and artists and how intrinsic it is to his collecting style. In a wonderful quote that seemed so obvious yet just as insightful Martin said, “if you know what you are looking at, you can see it better.”

After the Warehouse we continued onto a wonderful tour of Le Parc’s exhibition, the de la Cruz Collection and the Rubell Family Collection. All of which I highly suggest visiting if you are in Miami. The vision of each of these collectors was so unique and wildly different.

3 Thomas Houseago works & Albert Oehlen, “/36,” 2013
Harold Ancart, “Untitled,” 2015

Highlights included the light-filled first floor of the de la Cruz collection bustling with people and guarded by three of Thomas Houseago’s sculptures adjacent to a dynamic by Albert Oehlen. The second floor of the Rubell Collection presented a number of new acquisitions under the timely theme, “High Anxiety,” which includes a stunning room of Harold Ancart’s energetic oil slick works.

On the final day of our trip we did some exploring of our own into the different satellite fairs, including PULSE, Untitled, Scope, and X Contemporary. I loved the energy, diversity and approachability PULSE provided. So many of the booths at the fair were welcoming for new, young collectors such as ourselves. Again, it was so difficult to choose favorites!

Donald Martiny, Dyugun, 2016.

I loved this Donald Martiny sculpted painting at the Pentimenti Gallery booth at PULSE. He has two monumental works that he created on site at One World Trade that I will have to check out.

Jonathan McCree & Tim Garwood at Sim Smith

Sim Smith, a London-based gallery, had their artist, Tim Garwood, decorate their eye-catching, colorful booth which took it to a super-playful next level. I was asking a few questions about the works and it turned out that I was talking to Tim, the artist of the works I really loved, which was a fun surprise.

What a whirlwind it was, such wonderful people, experiences, conversations and most of all — art!