On October 5, 2017, the city of Miami Beach signed a contract with Art Basel that guarantees the international art fair will stay for another five-year period in its current headquarters, the Miami Beach Convention Center. The fair, which will mark its 16th run from December 7-10, 2017 represents a magical moment for the city, which, for a few days, becomes the epicenter of the contemporary art market and the most coveted platform for emerging and established artists, as well as gallery owners, curators and industry professionals. Art Basel Miami Beach is also the direct point of contact between art buyers and some of the world’s leading institutions dedicated to the visual arts.
The main event, which invariably takes place under Miami’s spectacular winter weather, coincides with a series of satellite fairs (Art Miami, Design Miami, Scope, Context, Untitled…). The confluence of several art fairs showcasing a broad representation of artists plus the presence in town of collectors, curators, critics and art lovers turns into a week of multiple exhibits, brand launches, opening of new art-related venues, cocktail parties, and all types of celebrations.
Art Basel Miami Beach eventually surpassed the number of participating galleries of its namesake in Switzerland, becoming the most relevant contemporary art event in the United States.
Art Basel was created in 1970 by gallery owners Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt in the Swiss city of Basel. From its inception, the concept was met with exponential acceptance and accolades from buyers, galleries, and the general public, affording the fair a place of honor among the world’s most celebrated are events, such as the Venice Biennale, Documenta, Frieze London, FIAC Paris, or the American Whitney Museum Biennial, which attract the art world elite for different reasons.
In 2002, Art Basel created a hemispheric franchise that had its American debut in Miami Beach. The first editions were conceived to attract North American buyers, who are foreign to the practice of bargaining, as well as Latin American collectors, who build their collections according to global art trends.The Florida event, which preceded Art Basel Hong Kong by just over a decade, saw elevated sales and continued success even in adverse economic conditions. Art Basel Miami Beach eventually surpassed the number of participating galleries of its namesake in Switzerland, becoming the most relevant contemporary art event in the United States.
The fair and its entire arts ecosystem, which attracts 77,000 visitors and galleries from over 32 countries, is leaving its stamp on the local population with a vigorous push toward art appreciation, collecting, and bringing a great week of celebration for both locals and foreigners. ■