Art Collecting in Miami: Basel and Beyond

Miami is always super duper lit.

Post Malone

It’s impossible to write about art collecting in Miami without mentioning Art Basel. For a week every December, Miami becomes an art collector’s paradise. This year is no different, with over 100,000 art lovers from around the globe expected to descend upon city, as well as the main fair, satellite art fairs, and countless other events and attractions. While Art Basel Miami has come to stand for glitz and glamour, high net worth individuals, celebrities, wild parties, sparkling beaches, and fabulous hotel pools, but in the end, it’s all about the art. And design. And music. And fashion. and food. Basically, all things creative.

In fact, Art Basel Miami is the quintessential art fair of the Americas. Blue-chip galleries offer modern masters like Pablo Picasso and Robert Rauschenberg for sale, as well as the hottest current artists on the market like Kehinde Wiley or Damian Hirst. But the art exhibitions extend far beyond the walls of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Basel is the cornerstone of Miami Art Week. You can also visit a myriad of established Miami museums, and no less than three new museums are opening their doors this week, including The Rubell Museum (formerly The Rubell Collection, they’re moving into a new space this month), Espacio 23, and The Museum of Graffiti. Many satellite fairs that take place all over the city. Some of these satellite fairs are smaller in scale and feature emerging and mid-career artists, and often the work is reasonably priced.

With over 1000 galleries participating in 18 separate art fairs, Miami Art Week can be overwhelming. Today, we’re sharing a few tips about art collecting in Miami at Art Basel and the satellite fairs. Stay tuned as we share our favorite art works from the fairs later this week.

Q. What exactly is going on here?

A. Art Basel is an international contemporary art fair held once a year in three host cities—Basel in Switzerland, Miami in Florida, and Hong Kong in China. Art Basel gives hundreds of galleries from around the world a high-profile platform to present the art and artists they sell.

Q. How did this madness get started?

A. The first Art Basel was held in June of 1970. Founded by a trio of Swiss art professionals: Ernst Beyeler, a dealer and collector, and gallerists Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt, Basel was established to rival Art Cologne, a contemporary art fair that emerged in neighboring Germany just three years prior. In 2002, Art Basel debuted its first outpost: Art Basel in America at Miami Beach. Like its parent, this new addition was an instant hit, with more than 180 galleries exhibiting their art.

Q. But can I even get in?

A. The answer is yes! Art Basel is open to the public from December 5, 2019, through December 8, 2019, although you do need a ticket. Day tickets cost $65, or $45 for students and seniors and are available to purchase online via the Art Basel website. Beginning on the 5th, tickets can be purchased at the box office in the West Lobby of the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Public Opening Hours

Thursday, December 5, 2019, from 3 pm to 8 pm
Friday, December 6, 2019, 12 noon to 8 pm
Saturday, December 7, 2019, 12 noon to 8 pm
Sunday, December 8, 2019, 12 noon to 6 pm

However, the artwork at Art Basel itself tends to be quite expensive (to say the least) with sales prices typically in the five or six-figure range, and some times over 10 million or more. For most of us, the main show is more akin to museum-going, rather than an opportunity to bring home a piece for the living room wall.

Q. So where can I buy art (at a more reasonable price point)?

A. That’s were the so-called satellite fairs come in. The great thing is that there is an incredible variety of art and artists. Everything from painting to drawing to photography and everything in between. You will need to purchase tickets for many of the satellite fairs as well, so it’s smart to do your research beforehand to get a sense of each.

A quick list of satellite fairs — check the websites for specific days and times.

  • INK Miami. Works on paper. Mostly free admission.
  • Pulse. An oasis of calm, tickets starting at $35.
  • NADA. New voices in contemporary art, tickets starting at $10.
  • Aqua Art Miami. Unique hotel environment, tickets starting at $25.
  • Untitled. Diverse roster, tickets are $40.
  • Context. Mid-career and emerging artists, tickets starting at $35.
  • Art Miami. 30 Anniversary show, tickets starting at $55.
  • Scope. Multi-disciplinary creative programming, tickets from $40.
  • Red Dot / Spectrum. Two for one, tickets starting at $25.

Q. What else do I need to know?

Comfortable shoes are critically important in Miami during Basel, as is a well-planned itinerary. Traffic and parking are challenging to say the least; and satellite fairs encompass not only Miami Beach but also the Arts and Entertainment District (aka. Omni), Downtown, Little Haiti, Overtown, and Wynwood. You could easily spend a day in the Wynwood Arts District alone! So take time to plan your trip, and check out this guide to getting around during Art Basel.

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