Art Basel Miami Beach 2023 Preview: An Unprecedented Spree of Brand Activations and Picture Buying…Just Like Every Year.
Your guide to achieving synergistic nirvana when the annual art fair and marketing bonanza kicks off in South Florida next week.
By Nate Freeman
There is, of course, a lot of very good art on view in Miami next week. On Monday night the Bass Museum will open a sprawling survey of work by local hero Hernan Bas, followed by a fête for the artist by his gallery, Lehmann Maupin, at Casa Tua, the beloved Miami members club that’s set to open in New York in 2024. Nina Johnson, who’s held down a year-round gallery for over a decade, will open shows of work by Katie Stoutand Yasue Maetake at her Little Haiti space, and then have friends over for barbecue at her Architectural Digest–approved, Charlap Hyman & Herrero–designed Craftsman in nearby Shorecrest.
Let’s take the start of the calendar a day at time.
Tuesday. A full day before the main fair opens and things are already hitting peak art insanity. Tuesday will see openings at the De la Cruz family’s home on Key Biscayne and the De la Cruz family’s private museum in the Design District. NADA, the longtime satellite expo for more emerging galleries, opens two days earlier than usual, leapfrogging the main fair. There’s all the museum openings at the ICA Miami, which still looks spiffy after launching its new building six years ago. And Larry Gagosian will team up with Jeffrey Deitch for another big-tent group show bound together by a big-picture theme—this year it’s “Forms,” as in artists who do cool stuff with shapes. Think Tauba Auerbach, Carol Bove, John Chamberlain, Albert Oehlen. Scoff all you want, but the Larry x Jeffrey shows always rule.
And then, a neighborhood over, in Allapattah, the Rubell Museum opens the shows of its most recent artists in residence, Basil Kincaid and Alejandro Piñeiro Bello, plus a show of LA artists in the collection. And then, after that, there’s—checks calendar—approximately one thousand dinners to attend, many of them on the beach, most featuring stone crabs and/or a surprise performer, all somehow absolutely essential to attend.
Wednesday. The mob scene at the convention center. Billionaires in sunglasses waiting in line next to their frantic art advisers. Where to first? Perhaps to David Zwirner’s booth to see a pair of Robert Ryman works, as well as The Schoolboys, a canon-level painting by Marlene Dumas—it was in the collection of the Museum Gouda in the Netherlands until it sold at Christie’s for about $1.6 million in 2011. Or to Hauser & Wirth, which has on offer new paintings by Uman, whom the mega-gallery now represents equally with Nicola Vassell, which started showing Uman in 2020. Van de Weghe will bring the expected mélange of 20th-century masters, including Andy Warhol’s Dollar Sign (1981), which last sold at Christie’s in 2017 for $7.2 million. It is “one of the best large-size dollar-sign paintings,” the gallery said. David Kordansky Gallery will inaugurate its representation of Sam McKinniss, a remarkable painter of modern life, with a few works at the booth ahead of a solo booth at Frieze LA in February 2024 and a solo show at the flagship gallery in 2025. I’m quite excited to see the presentation of work by Sedrick Chisom at Matthew Brown’s booth, ahead of his New York solo debut in May 2024 at Clearing.
But there are hundreds of booths across the various sectors of the fair, making it impossible to size up the entire fair in one go. And bear in mind, this is just the VIP opening—the fair doesn’t open to the public until Thursday. Which is why most of the hangers-on and brand activators show up not for the opening of the fair, but for the weekend, when most of the collectors are already back in Palm Beach or on Park Avenue. When one major airline announced it would be chartering its first-ever invite-only private flight, they set it to arrive not in time for the VIP opening, but for general admission on Thursday.