Art Basel Miami Beach 2012’s grand opening on Wednesday, December 5, 2012, was truly a world affair.
What is Art Basel?
Founded by gallerists in 1970, Art Basel stages the world’s premier art shows for modern and contemporary works, sited in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong.
Defined by its host city and region, each show is unique, which is reflected in its participating galleries, the artworks on display and the parallel content programming produced in collaboration with the local institutions.
In addition to ambitious stands featuring leading galleries from around the globe, each show’s singular exhibition sectors and artistic events spotlight the latest developments in the visual arts, offering visitors new ideas, new inspiration and new contacts in the art world.
The 11th Miami Art Basel which opened from December 6 through 9, in Miami Beach, Florida continued with showcasing the most prestigious art show in the Americas. More than 260 leading galleries from North America, Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa take part, showcased works by more than 2,000 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The Vernissage — Art Basel’s big, opening night event — was a ball. The scene was more like a midsummer night’s dream. The glitterati from Italy, German, Spain, Holland, Nigeria, The Dominican Republic, Mexico, India and France were there.
Who attended Art Basel?
The billionaire philanthropist and notorious art collector, Eli Broad, was in attendance, as was Las Vegas casino magnate Steve Wynn (a formidable art collector himself). The peripatetic and global art collectors, Mera and Don Rubell and Martin Freiermuth of the Vontobel Swiss Investment Group were there.
The convention center’s acoustics were painted with canvases of Spanish, French, Arabic, German, Yoruba, Chinese and Italian.
The African Diaspora world’s leading artists, museums, collectors, critics and historians were represented in full force at the eleventh edition of Basel Miami Beach. Juanita Hardy, President of the Millennium Arts Salon, came with her entourage of collectors from Washington DC.
Smithsonian Museum Curator and American art specialist, Dr. Tuliza Fleming, was in attendance.
He was there to search for works by both emerging and established artists to potentially populate the contemporary wing of the Visual Art Gallery at the National Museum of African American History and Culture, slated to open in Washington, DC in 2015.
Also in attendance: Jamaican American artists Peter Wayne Lewis and Albert Chong; Nigerian artists, Toyin Odula and Doba Afolabi; African-American artists Nick Cave, Radcliff Bailey, and Hank Willis and the beautiful and talented Ghanaian Artist, Lynette Boakye.
Rap stars P.Diddy, Pharell, Rick Ross and Hip Hop mogul Lyor Cohen were in the house.
What is featured at Art Basel?
Many African Diaspora artists were also represented in some of the most prestigious galleries in the show. The quality of the Africana artists this year was by far the best in Basel’s 11 year history. Marion Goodman gallery had a master work by Ethiopian artist, Julie Mehetru, valued at over $1 million.
Italian Gallery, Galleria Continua had several works by Cameroonian artist Pascale Marthine Tayou. Both James Cohan and Stephen Friedman had outstanding pieces by Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare.
Chicago Gallery Gavi Gupta represented the emerging super star artist, Theaster Gates. Sikkema Jenkins and Company showcased several exceptional works by African-American artist Kara Walker. New York Gallery, Two Palms, had a magnificent collection of vintage Chris Ofili (a Nigerian artist based in New York and Trinidad.)
However, Jack Shainman gallery again this year exhibited the most visible and sought after contemporary African Diaspora artists. Nick Cave, Hank Willis Thompson, Carrie Mae Weems, Lynette Boakye, Radcliffe Bailey, Toyin Odutola, Donald Odili and Barkley Hendricks were all part of the gallery’s showcase.
It’s not clear why Mr. Shainman has become the leading broker of contemporary Africana art in the U.S., but he certainly has a keen sense for quality work. Most notably, Shainman’s cast of African Diaspora artists were mostly in attendance at this year’s fair.
His booth felt more like the epicenter of the Basel universe and was visited by many leading contemporary collectors including Los Angeles’ renowned collector, Eli Broad and Hollywood art connoisseurs, Marti and Tony Oppenheimer.
There were several museum groups that came by, including a group led by Bruce Hartman of the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art. At one stage, there was no way to enter Shainman’s booth as Nick Cave was holding court for a group of enthusiastic fans about a series of intriguing sculptures that he had in this year’s show.
First time attendee, Nigerian artist, Toyin Odutola (one of the youngest members of Shainman’s crew,) was moved by the overall quality of Basel. She said that she “was really pleased to see the number and quality of works represented by women of color,” like Julie Mehtru, Kara Walker and Lynette Boyce. Toyin’s ink drawings were unbelievably outstanding.
Hank Willis, a veteran Art Basel, was excited to see the increased number of African-Americans coming from Washington, New York, San Francisco and Atlanta to attend Art Basel. He also said that “it is now fairly normal to see a large number of African Diaspora people in attendance at the main show.”
Willis also noted that he was delighted to see the significant Nigerian presence at the eleventh edition of the show. The satellite shows Art Africa and Global Caribbean also attracted significant audiences.
The Global Caribbean 1V, staged at the Little Haiti Cultural Center, was curated by Haitian American artist and curator, Eduard Duval Carrie and featured the works of 14 artists from the French Caribbean.
It was arguably one of the best curated shows off the main. This year’s Art Basel has finally taken root in the African Diaspora world.
Photos from the 2012 Art Basel‘s Opening Night
A general view of the Galerie Daniel Templon at the Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 VIP Preview at the Miami Beach Convention CenterHana Nitsche (L) and Russell Simmons attend the Art Basel Miami Kick Off Celebration hosted by Jay Jopling & Nick JonesDiddy and Isabelle Bscher at the Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 VIP Preview at the Miami Beach Convention Center A general view of the mother’s tankstation Gallery at the Art Basel Miami Beach 2012 VIP Preview at the Miami Beach Convention Center African Diaspora artists make a strong showing at Art Basel Miami Beach 2012Artist Hank Willis Thomas poses in front of his work, entitled “Baron at the Crossroad”Ludlow Bailey poses with artists participating in Art Basel Miami Beach A general view of the Gemini G.E.L. LLC Gallery during Art BaselA general view of the Poligrafa Obra Grafica Gallery during Art BaselA general view of the Richard Gray Gallery during Art BaselA general view of works on display at Art Public during Art Basel(L-R) Alex and Aida Mijares attend Alexander Mijares Art BaselAlexander Mijares at his art showingGuests attend Alexander Mijares Art BaselIt’s an optical illusion! Beyonce blends in well with the artsy background as she attends Miami Art Basel in a floral playsuitComing up roses: Beyonce shows off her toned legs in a long sleeved floral playsuit at Art Basel Miami Beach on SundayAn open shell: Kelly Rowland also posed next to the large shell-like exhibitThinking pink: The singer teamed her striking playsuit with a pair of pink high heelsCelebrate with some bubbly: Beyonce sipped from a flute of champagne while looking at one colorful painting
Pharell Williams signs copies of his book “Pharrell: Places and Spaces I’ve Been” and takes pictures with fans during Art Basel 2012Pharell Williams signs copies of his book “Pharrell: Places and Spaces I’ve Been” and takes pictures with fans, during Art Basel 2012Kanye West stops in to listen to Pharell Williams while talking about about design and his book entitled “Pharrell: Places and Spaces I’ve Been”
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- Art Basel Miami Beach Kicks Off (nbcmiami.com)
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- IHT Rendezvous: Art Basel Miami Beach: The China Factor (rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com)
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