Miami Art Fairs Explained | More than Art Basel!

There is so much hype around Miami Art Basel that it’s overwhelming and almost confusing!  Are people really that all excited about one art fair happening in 1 place in the world? The short answer is no.  The excitement comes from EVERYTHING that started happening around the Swiss art fair that started it all.

The truth is that until you go, you won’t really understand what is happening.  Even after my first time there, I still can’t fully grasp the magnitude of how much is going on in Miami during ¨Art Basel¨or as its referred to now, Miami ART week.

Firstly, we need to establish the extent of how many art-related events, fairs, exhibitions are going on at the same time in one city.  In 2018, the count was over 20 art fairs,  1,200 galleries, and thousands of artists.  Combine that with a beautiful beach, hot weather, thousands of art collectors, art enthusiasts,  partygoers, and typical tourists, we create an international phenomenon.  If ever you go and you see it somewhere, grab it. You won’t regret it (p.s. they are free)

Inside you get the highlights of the main art fairs, other art fairs, exhibitions, events, galleries, and more.  It was really helpful for someone who is trying to discover as much as possible with some guidance.  Here are the highlights of my first and very intensive experience.

Main Fairs

There are four main art fairs during the first weekend of December in Miami.  Art Basel, NADA, Untitled Art and Pulse.  Below is a description of all four.  If you are new to the art scene, interested or just curious I recommend you visit one of these four fairs with a personal preference towards Untitled Art. 

Art Basel Miami Beach

It’s tough not to at least skim the surface of discussing the immensity of this glorious international art fair.  When you walk in the convention center in Miami Beach, you know right away that this is a top-notch event that caters to the best.  It’s no surprise that it is the most visited and talked about art fair of the week.  Originally from Basel, Switzerland, the fair has now two other permanent locations including Hong Kong and Miami Beach.

As a renowned and structured organization, the fair is segregated in various sections. The sections include Galleries (over 200!), Nova, Positions, Edition, Kabinett, Conversation, Survey, and Magazines.  I won’t go through each section but you can expect a mix of new curated artist’s work to strictly gallery curated collections including blue-chip artists.  For more information on Art Basel and the breakdown of the sections,  visit this link

Art Basel Cities

Art Basel Cities is a new initiative launched in March 2016 and in September 2018, the event happened in Buenos Ares, Argentina.  The event aims to engage amidst selected cities during a multi-year partnership to develop vibrant bespoke programs and present the art world with new possibilities.  I think this is a great program that seeks to add value internationally to the art scene and make it more diverse and enriching.

Even though it is not on the same scale, Art Basel did remind me of Art Toronto which we visited in October, you can visit the article we wrote here.

NADA

Located in downtown Miami,  the New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), a non-profit organization, has an art fair that is not to be missed.   Focused on emerging and mid-career artists, the various and fascinating work is apparent and enriching.  Here you will find things you have never seen before!   The quality of the artworks and the professionalism of the exhibitors is apparent and thrilling. In its 16th edition this year, the artwork displayed of rising talent was impressive.

On a practical note, the size of the art fair is also manageable and not overwhelming.  You can relax outside on a hammock and enjoy the weather while sipping your complimentary coffee and enjoying lunch without feeling claustrophobic or cold in the A/C environment. I want to mention the two Montreal galleries that were present, Parisian Laundry and Division Gallery.  Always a pleasure to see fellow Montrealers on the international art scene.

For more information on this fair, click here

UNTITLED ART

OK, so this was my coup de coeur this year.  For many reasons including that it is located directly on the beach and has a beautifully designed interior.  It was a good size without being overwhelming. Including a lounge, restaurant, silk-screen printing workshop, performances, book signings, podcasts, and diverse activities.  Overall, something for everyone to appreciate or be entertained by.  There was even live music the evening I went.

That being said, it wasn’t gimmicky and included beautifully curated artworks.  Approachable enough for a casual onlooker yet delightful for an art connoisseur or enthusiast.  When you walk in, there is a sense of efficiency and welcoming that is enticing.  If there is one fair I want to go back to without a doubt, it’s this one.

For more information on this art fair, visit the link here

PULSE

This fair opens later in the week with a delightful brunch on Thursday morning.  Located on the beach, you can sit and enjoy your bloody mary and croissant before you hit up the galleries, solo exhibitions, and conversation segments. The conversation section struck me the most!  As it showcases two artists where the gallery finds a similar intent in their work to present it together.  I enjoyed asking about what those related points implied and learned along the way.

Featuring emerging artists from all over the world, this fair has a nice variety with artworks that have an appealing price point for new art collectors.

For more information on this art fair, click here

Other Fairs

INK Art Fair

Located inside the Dorchester Hotel, and free to enter, INK is definitely worth a visit!  The hotel rooms on the first floor is transformed into exhibition areas for the art fair.  Guests are welcome to walk around in and out of the rooms, which gives a personable vibe to discovering the artworks. A fun and unique experience.

INK is dedicated to works on paper and is located a few blocks away from Art Basel.  Including emerging mid-market and blue-chip artists, I loved this quaint and ecclesial art fair.

For more information on this art fair, click here

Pinta Miami

Entirely dedicated to Latin American artists, galleries and artworks,  you walk in this fair feeling like you traveled.  I enjoyed the variety and uniqueness of the work here.  It is a definite change in style from other art fairs.  The mix of exhibitors from countries all over Latin America is a great experience that is rare to find in North America.

For more information on this art fair click here

Art Miami/Context Miami

Art Miami is the place you will find a concentration of artworks from mid-market and blue-chip artists that are also commercially appealing.  It has a swanky vibe.  Located downtown Miami, each gallery presents its chosen works and some are very impressive!  You will notice that some artists are represented by multiple galleries which is tad confusing but the pieces are a mostly secondary market.

Context is situated next to Art Miami and is similar but includes slightly less valuable artworks. It has more of an urban feel in some cases which is also quite popular for buyers.  The opening night was a place to see and be seen as many socialites and VIPs were attending.

For more information on this art fair click here

Aqua Art Miami

Associated to Art Miami and Context Miami, this fair is inside a hotel where the rooms were emptied and turned into exhibitions. I love the idea and it was definitely fun to visit (similar to INK mentioned above but in a different hotel style).  The artwork was varied and original but I would mainly recommend it for the experience.

For more information on this art fair click here

SCOPE

Located on the beach, this art fair showcases a mix of contemporary, pop and urban artworks.  Most of it was quite loud and “in your face” artworks that you couldn’t miss!  It definitely had its own style of artworks curated for an edgy buyer! Interesting and provocative at times but fun to go through without a doubt.

For more information on this art fair click here

Red Dot Miami/Spectrum

This fair included galleries from around the world and showcased works from artists that I would consider more entry-level artwork (in general).  There was a mix of art styles at a lower price rate than other fairs.  It’s a diverse and approachable art fair for a newcomer to the art scene who isn’t looking for anything in particular.  Perhaps a first-time buyer that is looking for a coup de coeur? 

For more information on this art fair click here

As you can note, MIAMI has become a go-to for art lovers during art week but year round as well! We love it and hope you do too!  Click this link to learn what you can do year-round in Miami.

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