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Label: art basel

Wednesday 26th November 2014Art Basel in Miami

We've frequently discussed the recent worldwide trend towards the art fair, and how it's growing to supplant traditional gallery sales. Some gallery owners absolutely love it, and some gallery owners find it crude and tasteless, but no matter which side of the fence you're on, it's impossible to deny that they have taken centre stage in the art world. Popping up in cities all over the world, the art fair has become a staple. Arguably, the fair that started it all, Art Basel, is just about to launch its next iteration in Miami.

Art Basel Miami may seem a bit of a confusing principle - after all,  Basel, the town which the fair is originally named for, is located in Switzerland, hardly the same type of environment as Miami. However, that may be its strongest selling point, as it also has a regular branch in Hong Kong. The Miami fair seems to be a relatively unique event, though, growing to become the newest must-be-there party slash mardi-gras slash celebrity birthday bash, where star-spotting is easier than spotting the next up and coming artist. In fact, the art almost seems to get lost behind the headlines that grab viewers, usually about which celebrities flew their private jets there, who they met, who they fought with, and so on and so forth.

The effect it's had on Miami itself is a rather remarkable one, however. Craig Robins, one of the people who were instrumental in launching the Miami branch of Art Basel, told the Guardian recently, “The idea that a city can market itself around culture was launched in Miami. We’ve tried to integrate the art side into the business side, and success there gave us capital to do more culturally.”

There was, of course, some resistance at first, especially from the mayor of Miami in the 1990s, who couldn't envision an art fair - so Don and Mera Rubell, collectors who are also movers and shakers in the Miami art scene, sent him to Basel to see the fair first hand: “Money, visibility – he saw what a huge scene it was. You have to remember that art is now global and art fairs are the only way to connect.”

It's become so popular there's even a name for the impact the fair has had on development around the city: the Miami Effect. Not exactly creative, perhaps, but the developments sure are.

Posted on November 26th 2014 on 04:32pm
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