A retrospective guide to Miami Art Week

Photo credit: Martin Hidalgo

For the art aficionados and for those that tag along, Art Basel continuously affirms itself to be one of the must-see attractions of the city.

Inevitably, at some point in your UM journey, the opportunity will arise to attend the annual art convention. Amidst all the chaos, Art Basel is but one of the many events that occur during Miami Art Week.

Art Basel

South Beach Convention Center houses the main event.. The state-of-the-art community center is home to Art Week’s largest gallery and attracts the works of titans.

Among the infinite corridors, one can stumble upon paintings by Pablo Picasso, Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring, alongside abstract expressionists like Mark Rothko and Willem De Kooning.

This season, the large quantity of Argentine-Italian artist Louis Fontana’s sprinkled amongst many galleries signals a newfound admiration with the Spatialism movement. His monochromatic paintings are characterized by simple punctured holes and rips, evoking a calculated brutal motion within the spirit of his collections.

With works like Fontanta’s, one should note that it has become readily more diffuclt to find pieces predating the modernists, in other words, any artwork created prior to the twentieth century. If you’re a fan of the contemporrary movements—or if you miss the MoMA while in Miami—this is the event list on your itinerary.

Art galleries like to set up booths that compartmentalize the main floor. Unlike a museum, where exhibitions gather different art pieces with a common narrative, Art Basel showcases different galleries from across the world.

Ever since Art Basel was founded in Switzerland, global buying interest stimulates the creation of a marketplace where galeries reflect the universal art world. If one is interested in a taste of intercontinental art, the convention center is the best place to find galleries from various artistic capitals including Munich (Galerie Thomas), Dusseldorf (Sies + Hoke) New York (Peter Blum Gallery), San Francisco (Berggruen Gallery), and Hong Kong (PearlLam Galleries).

While these galleries do present some sort of narrative within themselves, Art Basel as a whole does not. Nonetheless, art lovers will indulge in a great opportunity to see some powerful and influential art in one multinational bazaar that caters to a wide range of tastes through sculpture, multimedia, tapestry, paint, drawing, installation, and printmaking.

When visiting, It’s important to remember that the main purpose of Art Basel is for dealers to purchase and exchange art. While most visitors do not attend for transactional purposes, there is a lounge section for registered VIP guests and collectors. For this audience, viewing the potential buys of recognizable names is a long awaited and unique experience because of the large concentration of rare pieces.

Since these masterpieces are renowned around the world, Art Basel is structured to attract an international clientele. However, despite this global outreach, some of the year’s largest sales are domestic. For example, the Van de Weghe Fine Art sold Basquiat’s Hardware Store for forty million dollars solidifying the New York and East Hampton based as a frontier gallery for selling the juggernauts of contemporary culture.

Beyond artwork in the classical sense, a major theme for Art Basel in 2021 surrounds the realm of NFTs. Non-Fungible Token artwork took the convention by storm, intriguing art lovers and digital collectors alike through their interactive and unrealized potential. Tezos “Human and the Machine” introduced visitors to NFTs and the evolving world of the metaverse of artistic expression in the digital age.


Untitled Miami

Adjacent to Ocean Drive, the enormous white tent is impossible to ignore as it stands tall on the sandy shores of South Beach. At Untitled, artwork from more than 145 international galleries and organizations is showcased in a colorful and social ambiance.

Like Art Basel, the event is similarly blueprinted into sectioned art gallery booths, but the smaller size and neutral backgrounds create a loftier feel than the distinct differentiations found at Art Basel. In the lively space, the artwork features the efforts of emerging artists, whose quality of the art is bound to create a lasting impression.

Without drawing comparison, it can sometimes be more fun and relevant to see the art of your contemporaries than past giants. They are less bound by the economics of the art market and their present authenticity provides a current reflection to themselves.

The space is right along the beach, providing a casual atmosphere. The art is fresh and often experimental in the most peculiar ways—a great introduction to the heavy hitters at Art Basel.



Miami Design

For those disinterested by traditional artworks or looking for varied inspiration, one does not need to be discouraged. Surprisingly, Miami Design, located across the entrance of the South Beach Convention Center, provides an adventurous experience and may be considered one of the most accessible of events for an interested visitor.

It showcases brands and galleries around the world, trying their hands at anything design ranging from furniture to lighting to decor. The event is interactive, so people can touch and feel some furniture and vessels. You can try avant-garde jewelry among other objects, and plenty of the designs are for sale.

This year, Design Miami featured the Instagram photo opportunity of a futuristic bed and live talk sessions with an incorporated Books and Books pop-up shop.

Regardless of your preferences, Art Basel has something for everyone. It’s a chance to be in touch with the present movements, as well as get a glimpse into the art world market. Whatever the case, it’s great to be seeing art in person again—that alone should be a cause for celebration.

Chiara Padejka contributed to the writing of this piece.