So excited to share my first Art Basel experiences! But, as predicted by experienced Art Basel aficionados, I’ve been sick in bed with a cold for a week. Not a surprise after the literal art marathon in Miami last week. But I’m still considering returning next year, and possibly for years to come. We have nothing to compare (so vast and grand) in San Francisco. So for me and for you, I’m writing up some tit bits of what I learned and observed, some trends that I noticed, and a few side comments about the people, food and drink.
This summary should help put a trip together for next year, even though there are always changes. I’m hoping to draw in my friends and family, as well as gallerists, curators, jurors, artists, collectors, and fun-seekers who attended, to share their experiences and insights here too.
The fairs are a marathon because there are so many (23+), and there's so much traffic to navigate. One wants to do and see as much as one can, so it’s hard not to over-fill the days and nights. Traveling with a pack (ranging from 3-10), with a van and a driver on some days, helped to keep us on a schedule.
What not to do
Wear uncomfortable clothes and shoes. Most likely will be wearing the same thing day and night (unless you can figure out a midway R&R stop). The floors are mostly concrete. There are very few chairs or rest and recharge areas. Don’t waste your money on fair-bought champagne and water. The temperature varies wildly – it’s quite warm but it gets chilly when it rains. So you can pack light but bring weather gear. Don’t rent a car, get sunburned, drink too much alcohol. If you can afford it, a driver and vehicle is a great addition.
What to do
Fly direct. Take a flight into/out of either Miami OR Ft. Lauderdale. Pack light. Stay somewhere central or at least close to some shows. Prepare in advance. Try to be well rested to begin with. Study up on the different fairs and galleries. Have a schedule in mind. Don’t try to coordinate with too many people. Follow a plan but remain flexible. Spend most of your time with the art...don't get too sidetracked into parties and beach scenes. Study a map and plan your time accordingly. Take Uber, Lyft, taxis, etc. Wear a small-ish light-weight backpack that converts to a shoulder bag. Collect invitations to VIP events and areas. Take advantage of their lounges.
WHAT TO Bring
Business cards, phone chargers, rain gear, a bathing suit, a notepad and pen (take notes), artwear, a change of comfortable shoes, and layers. Bring and drink water. Eat breakfast. Stop to eat a quick lunch and dinner. Bring snacks like nuts and bars. Eat “on the Beach” and get a real Cuban meal. Also Miami pizza is very good and so is the coffee.
Design Basel (has a separate fee).
One full day, on either a Thursday or Friday, at Art Basel
Wynwood Art Walk at night
Brunches and parties
We had a great time at Casa Lin's brunch but missed all the others. They are worth going to for a chance to meet people and talk, relax, and fuel up.
I think I could have missed Aqua and NADA. Read details: https://news.artnet.com/market/art-basel-miami-beach-guide-1032611
Materials, techniques, topics and display trends
We (my little art posse) saw lots of variations of layers and reflections, on clear acrylic, Mylar, Lucite, etc. Another popular shiny substrate we saw lots of is Resin. Techniques from fiberarts were very popular, including weaving, knitting, crochet, and embroidery. Plus we noted lots of stitched canvases and patterned fabric used as a canvas. Some used buttons or bones or beads - traditional materials identified with women's work.
Figurative - Deconstructed
Weaving all types of materials was a big theme this year. This is an example of an unusual material woven together to great effect. I noticed people using raw linen now, too. And there were a number of pieces made with delicately etched and scratched metal.
Paintings were often on fabric used as a paint surface, including heavily patterned fabric. Many pieces were presented as a series or an installation with sculpture and other artforms. It was not uncommon to see multiple panels making up a single work. There were also lots of shaped canvases, especially round ones. Super-realism lives on. So does pretty - with birds, butterflies, flowers, fairies, patterns, and luscious colors. People like to interact with the art. So many selfies and photo ops for eachother. With the kinetic pieces you could play around. With the reflective pieces you could catch sight of yourself.
Fabric and clothing have become an art material. Wallpaper has become an extension of the art for sale.
Quilting has reached a complex art form. This was a very popular series.
Collage of every type, in tiny to grand scale. Old masters redux is always in. Layers and layers with shadow-play and reflections and along with optical illusions were a noticeable trend.
Installation art and composed vignettes. Heavy patterns for backgrounds. So many grids. New uses for lint and felt. And it's glitzy Miami and Miami Beach, so of course so much silver and gold leaf. Performance art popping up here and there was a refreshing change.
Cut paper and books
What they wore (or didn’t) - Women
Lots of skin and major underwear showing; beachwear – diaphanous white; running/workout gear; ripped pants; white; sneakers or really high heels, and long and short together...
More trends: monochrome as a theme, manipulated photos, video inserted, deconstruction, burning and smoke as an art-making tool, concrete, sparkles, mirrors, hair, body parts, and hermaphrodites.
And the trends continue: being black, black women and families, climate change, pretty, guns, breasts, penises, and mundane objects made of precious materials.
Painted and graduated walls
SF is trying! Note what's coming up January 11-14 - our own Fog Art and Design Fair, joined for the first time this year by Untitled-SF at Pier 70, All on the same dates SF Art Week? . https://untitledartfairs.com/san-francisco/ and https://fogfair.com/
Want to dig deeper? Find out about women artists at Miami Art Week. https://hyperallergic.com/416340/timely-exciting-work-by-women-artists-at-miami-art-week/?