AO Onsite – Art Basel Miami Beach 2009 Round- up – “A lot less ornament and a lot more substance”

December 7th, 2009

The entrance to Art Basel Miami Beach 2009

“There’s a lot less ornament and a lot more substance,” declared Micky Wolfson Jr., founder of Miami Beach’s Wolfsonian Museum – this phrase sums-up many reflections on the eighth edition of Art Basel Miami Beach closed on Sunday, December 6 where smaller parties dominated and collectors purchased cautiously. In keeping with tradition edgy Contemporary pieces were bestsellers at Art Basel Miami Beach with larger, museum-targeted pieces dominating the booths along with traditional works by Popular Latin American artists such as the Mexican artist Gabriel Orozco. Interestingly, while many Asian and European buyers skipped the fair, additional Portuguese speakers were hired to aid Latin American buyers who were out in force.

Santigold performs at the Raleigh Hotel

Much more text, images and a full round-up of related links after the jump….

Pae White’s Oceanfront at Art Basel Miami Beach via The Art Newspaper

Ai Weiwei in Conversation at Art Basel Miami Beach

This year the site of the steel shipping containers at Collins Park, which previously housed Art Positions, became Oceanfront – the site of ABMB discussions, films and music. The area, produced by Creative Time, was turned into a “glowing village” by the Californian artist Pae White. Our favourite Oceanfront events included a ‘Conversation’ with the renowned Chinese artsist Ai Weiwei, Shepard Fairey’s conversation with curator Pedro H. Alonzo and the Thursday night videos by Tom Sachs and the Neistat Brothers. One of the most talked-about and anticipated events at the new site was the preview of Tamara Davis’s documentary Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child which is to be premiered at Sundance later this year.

Art work and Art Basel Miami Beach Catalogue burn at “Art Burn”  via

While the selling of works is paramount at Art Fairs, a side event this year at Art Basel Miami Beach sought to avoid this altogether. Art Burn, organised by the New York street artist El Celso,  exhibited more than three dozen pieces by both well-known and up-and coming artists and later burned them a few hours later “for the public’s viewing pleasure.” This anti-capitalist, anti-consumerist feeling was reflected in a sign by Claire Fontaine stating “Capitalism Kills Love.” The sign, part of Art Basel’s Art Projects, was removed from its intended location on the side of a building on the corner of 21st Street and Collins Avenue by the property’s owner who stated it was “too political.”

Sylvester Stallone poses with his painting at the Galerie Gmurzynska booth via LA Times

The presence of works, painted by one of the most iconic movie stars of our time, Sylvester Stallone, some of which sold for around $40,000, was not the only story surrounding the Zurich-based Galerie Gmurzynska. Following an insurance dispute with New York dealer, Aasher Edelman, the gallery’s booth was visited by 12 US Marshalls who seized works by Yves Jelin, Joan Miro, Edgar Degas and Fernand Leger, worth an estimated $6million, only 90 minutes before openeing. Two days later, the dispute was resolved and the works were returned to the stand.

Yayoi Kusama at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden via The Art Newspaper

A new sculptural ensemble, entitled “Flowers that Bloom at Midnight” by the Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama was unveiled at the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden on December 5 to coincide with ABMB.

Ladybugs roam Art Basel Miami Beach via ArtInfo

Thousands of ladybugs were released into the VIP lounge at Art Basel Miami Beach on the morning of December 3. It has been reported that the insects were brought to the fair in plastic bags – more unopened bags were found in a men’s bathroom. Meanwhile, a local man Jorge Alberto Gonzalez was arrested after he stole more than $1million worth of art from local art dealer Jorge Zaragozi. Police found Gonzalez but the works, including paintings by Albert Gleizes, have yet to be recovered.

While pranks, feuds and celebrities stole headlines at the main event of the week – Art Basel Miami Beach – greater attention was paid to actual art work, and as a result fluctuations in the art market, at the 19 surrounding Satellite fairs. After a lull in 2008, quick sales restored faith in gallerists exhibiting at Pulse – a spot not many rushed to visit. The story was similar at Scope Art Fair where sales were not spectacular but encouraging enough for nervous exhibitors who had little idea of what to expect. The Satellite fair that stole the spotlight was the New Art Dealer’s Alliance (NADA) – many of the fair’s booths, exhibiting contemporary art from talented rising artists from around the world, had sold out by the end of the VIP preview on Thursday morning.

Members of the Bruce High Quality Foundation at the dinner hosted in their honor at the W Hotel via NY Times

Happy Endings – Bruce High Quality Foundation’s exhibition located at the W Hotel was curated by Vito Schnabel and showcased a number of sculptural pieces by the secretive society ranging from $12,000 to $60,000.  A dinner was held in honor of the collective on the lawn of the Hotel and was attended by John McEnroe, Stephen Dorff and the artist Francesco Clemente.

The W Hotel played host to a number of the week’s top parties, on Thursday night Peter Brant, Alberto Mugrabi and Aby Rosen invited just about every art world powerhouse to a dinner at the hotel’s restaurant Soleá and was followed by dancing hosted by Vito Schnabel, Alex Dellal and Stavros Niarchos at Wall.

Party hosted by Vito Schnabel, Alex Dellal and Stavros Niarchos at the Wall via Art in America

The Mondrian Hotel was taken over by Interview magazine who hosted a series of events and performance throughout the week. On Thursday evening we toasted Clarissa Dalrymple and Jack Pierson at Interview’s cocktail evening sponsored by LVMH on the mezzanine floor of the hotel – the crowd, who included Leigh Lezark, Olivier Zahm of Purple Magazine, Ryan McGinley and Terence Koh – were silenced by Nils Bech’s rendition of Mark Knopfler’s Private Dancer.

The Raleigh Hotel was another hot spot for entertaining with Performance Art high on the agenda. On Friday night Klaus Biesenbach and Diana Picasso had an impressive lineup that included Kalup Linzy, Ryan McNamara and Terence Koh. Then on Saturday night synchronized swimming performance was central to the entertainment on show at the Raleigh Hotel for Maybach’s presentation David LaChapelle’s ‘Bliss Amongst Chaos.’ More traditionally, after a very busy day at the VIP preview on Wednesday we attended a stellar performance by Santigold hosted by Jeffrey Deitch at the Hotel’s poolside.

This week Deitch also hosted an outdoor mural project Wynwood Walls with Tony Goldman – the project featured the outdoor murals on the walls of a warehouse by fifteen influential artists including Aiko from Japan, Os Gemeos from Brazil, Shepard Fairey and Kenny Scharf.

The bar at Max Fish in Miami via ArtNet

Gang Gang Dance at Max Fish, Miami via Miami New Times

This downtown aesthetic was echoed at a series of events and exhibitions organized by Miami gallery OHWOW who celebrated the 20 year anniversary of New York’s legendary bar Max Fish with a number of late-night parties including a show my Gang Gang Dance. Max Fish’s was not the only legendary night spot to ravel to Miami during Art Basel New York’s The Box took over Nikki Beach and most notably, Le Baron of Paris took over at the Delano and became the most popular dancing spot of the week. OHWOW also hosted two shows at their gallery space, It Ain’t Fair – an international group show featuring works from over 30 artists alongside photographs by Musical visionary Danger Mouse and filmmaker David Lynch taken from their project Dark Night of the Soul. The longest line we saw during the week was at the entrance to Lance Armstrong’s STAGES which was hosted by OHWOW in a large warehouse in downtown Miami - we are not sure if people were waiting in line to see the show featuring Rosson Crow, KAWS, Dustin Yellin, Erik Parker, José Parda and Shepard Fairey or to catch a glimpse of Lance Armstrong who spent most of the night being trailed by a host of photographers and determined fans.

Opening reception at OHWOW’s ‘It Ain’t Fair’ via

A scene  from the Box  via Miami New Times

The DJ at Le Baron at the Florida Room on Saturday Night – photo Art Observed

The parties may have been smaller and more intimate, but the number of visitors to Art Basel Miami Beach this week returned to its 2007 figure of 43,000 delivering another boost of confidence to the art world after a period of stagnation in 2008.

Related Links:
Art Basel Miami Beach 2009 – Slideshow
[NY Times]
Miami Fair: Big Pieces, Smaller Fair and Relief
[NY Times]
Art Basel Miami: After Performa the Show Goes On
[NY Times]
Art Basel Miami Beach: Doing More with More
[NY Times]
Art Basel Miami 2009 | Party Central [NY Times]
Wall to Wall: Art Basel Miami
Art Basel’s New Power Players [WSJ]
Wilbur Ross Buys Gold Chimp, Stallone Sells Superman in Miami [Bloomberg]
US Marshals Sieze Degas, Miro Works at Miami Fair
The Wynwood Walls/ Outdoor Mural Prject/ Wynwood Art District Miami
[Vernissage TV]
Art Basel Miami Beach 2009 [Vernissage TV]
Galerie Gmurzynska and Edelmand Arts resolve dispute
[Art Info]
Skip the Fair [Art Info]
Collectors, Dealers Find their way to Miami [Art Info]
Michael Jackson Horse Portrait Sells at Auction
U.S. healthcare debate inspires artist to create morbid sculpture [LA Times]
“Star Power” at Art Basel [Miami Herald]
The Art World’s Back, Baby! [New York Magazine]
Santigold Standard
Moon over Miami [Art Forum]
Mas Que NADA [Art Forum]
Art Basel Gets its Boring On
[Art Fag City]
NADA Art Fair Provides Great Art and a Relaxing Pool
[Art Fag City]
Pulse Miami Fares Fine
[Art Fag City]
Major Outdoor Exhibition by Internationally Acclaimed Artist Yayoi Kusama
Art Basel Miami Beach 2009 [Art Daily]
Brighter Mood as Blue Chip Art Finds Buyers in Miami
[The Art Newspaper]
Art Basel Miami Beach: Much bigger but is it better? [The Art Newspaper]
Latin American Flavour Infuses Miami Beach
[The Art Newspaper]
Art Basel Miami Beach Photo Blog
[Art Lurker]
The Sunday Video: Art Basel Miami Beach 2009 [Art Lurker]
Jason Edward Kaufman talks to PBS’s Newshour about ArtBasel Miami Beach [Art Market Monitor]

On The Road: Art Basel Miami Beach
[Lindsay Pollock Blog] 
What Happens in Miami Does Not Stay In Miami
[Shala Monroque's Blog (Larry Gagosian’s Girlfriend)]
Miami Mania 2009 by Walter Robinson editor of ArtNet Magazine
Art Athenaeum]
Selected paintings from Scope, Aqua, Pierogi, and Pulse [Two Coats of Paint]
Art Basel Miami Beach in 90 Minutes [World's Best Ever]