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BASEL BUNCH story Alex Palmer photography Zach Gross



his month, 267 galleries from 32 countries will descend upon sunny Florida to display works from more than 4,000 artists at the 14th annual Art Basel in Miami Beach (starting December 3). And that’s just for the main fair. Add to that dozens of satellite shows, museum exhibitions, and celebrity DJ–fueled parties, and you’ve got yourself a three-ring circus of art. Here, nine of the event’s most important players talk about their past experiences and what they’re most looking forward to this year.



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Bruce Tang thebuyer

Patricia Hanna Art director for realestate developer The Related Group, founded by Pérez Art Museum of Miami’s namesake, Jorge Pérez ON THE LOOKOUT: “Jorge and I try to keep our eyes peeled for pieces that will be suitable for public spaces within buildings or as outdoor sculptures. It’s different than a collector buying for a more intimate setting. We look for pieces that are a little bolder.” NO PRICE TAG: “Fortunately for me, we don’t have a budget. We’re committed to the quality of art that we place. We’ve purchased pieces well over $1 million for a project, particularly outdoor, large-scale pieces. We also are very fast to support emerging artists—especially from Latin America—that may cost just $10,000.” MIAMI, REPRESENT: “At Related Group, we do a lot of programming with the artists and host events in the mornings, and then the afternoons we can dedicate to visiting the fairs. Art Basel is important for people who are in Miami: the museums, the corporations, the collectors. It’s our time to shine.” 90

Director of shipping and fine art services for RoboVault, a south Florida facility that stores and transports many of the works at Art Basel FLY SAFE: “Art Basel is probably the busiest week of the year for us. I would estimate that our technicians handle several hundred works of art then. My responsibilities include coordinating international shipments to ensure that artworks being flown in for the fair are cleared through customs and collected from the airline cargo warehouses in a safe manner.” HANDLE WITH CARE: “I recall working with a particularly large sculpture: It was probably 15 feet tall and 7 feet wide and looked like a giant superhero figure. It barely fit in the truck and was quite delicate, but rather light because it was hollow. We ended up suspending it in the truck by tying cotton webbing around its limbs and balancing it in the air so it was completely suspended and would not rub on any walls.” PURCHASE POWER: “We like it when our customers are able to sell the works they display, which, in turn, helps support the artists and leads to a flourishing culture of art appreciation. When our technicians deliver newly acquired pieces to the collector’s home, it’s a joyous time.”


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Lindsay Pollock Editor in chief of Art in America therestaurateur

John Kunkel CEO of 50 Eggs, a hospitality group that owns several Miami dining spots, including Yardbird Southern Table & Bar and Swine Southern Table & Bar

POSITIVE APPRAISAL: “It’s not fair to review anything at Art Basel—it’s material for sales and offers good examples of what the artists’ work is like. It’s not about assessing the quality or caliber of the show, but more about letting things wash over you. I take a lot of notes and pictures and get a lot of data points that help us shape the editorial calendar for the year.”

GOOD TASTE: “I can probably speak for almost every chef and restaurateur in town to say it’s one of our favorite events to descend on Miami. It’s a sophisticated crowd that comes for Art Basel—one that appreciates food and wine.”

ENTRY POINT: “The art world is a very niche universe, and it’s not the easiest thing to access. Art magazines like ours try to provide that point of access, and fairs also offer that to people who might not access art throughout the year.”

A FINE FRENZY: “It’s chaotic, for sure. I’m in the restaurants and wanting to see folks and shake hands and then popping from place to place trying to experience some of the shows. As a local, there’s so much to do. You have family and friends flying in for this weekend because it is such an interesting time to be here.”

CRITICAL MASS: “There are downsides. It’s very crowded, and dining out is really an afterthought. I’ll go to Miami later in the winter for pleasure, but going during Art Basel, I’m there to soak in a lot of material.”

TIGHT FIT: “Space is at a real premium—there’s only so much of it. Any space that is able to host anything is in demand. We started getting contacted six months ago for large dinners and buyouts and product launches. We joke that the day after Art Basel last year everybody started planning the next one.” 92


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Ben Pundole Vice president of brand experience at Edition Hotels, including Miami Beach Edition BIG LAUNCH: “From a hotelier’s point of view, it’s a great platform to launch your season. Our hotel opened last year in time for Art Basel, and for opening night, we partnered with W magazine and had Blood Orange playing out by the pool and DJ Harvey at the disco. We had an incredible dinner for 250 people, and then they were joined by another 1,500 people.” SLEEP NO MORE: “My typical day is to go to bed very late and get up very early. It’s a week of no sleep because I coordinate a lot of the social media and public relations efforts for the hotel during that week.” PARTY IN THE USA: “I used to think, ‘I can’t believe people are coming here just for the party, and they aren’t looking at the art.’ But my view has changed completely, and I think now if this art scene is creating such an exciting party scene, that’s sort of an art form in itself. Why wouldn’t people come to feed off that energy and get involved in the party?” DECEMBER 2015

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ART BASEL IN MIAMI BEACH theemergingartist

Eddie Martinez

New York City–based mixed-media artist, exhibiting at MitchellInnes & Nash WORK IN PROGRESS: “I’m going to show a really large-scale painting—9 feet tall by 12 feet wide. It’s not done, so I’m not sure exactly what kind of imagery it will be; I’ve been oscillating between figuration and abstraction, so I don’t know exactly what way it’s going to go. Aside from this painting, I might show a suite of drawings. But I’m not interested in having anything hang anywhere that I don’t think warrants it. If I send it, it’s because I think it’s good enough.” ATTENTION, PLEASE: “Showing in Europe, it tends to be more clean and sparsely hung. In Miami, it’s [expletive] American: a big explosion. And there’s so many people there, the gallerists need to catch people’s eyes, so a lot of flashy stuff gets shown. But they also really pull out masterworks. You’ll see crazy Picassos and Dubufes and some really top-quality work.” VISUAL OVERLOAD: “Any fair I’ve been to has a lot of parties, but Miami is special. You see everything down there from Swiss people wearing hot pink rhino-skin shoes to all the topless European women on the beach. It’s a total circus. You also see so much that after just one day, you don’t know what to look at anymore.”


Leandro Erlich Argentine conceptual artist, exhibiting at Luciana Brito Galería, Sean Kelly Gallery, Ruth Benzacar Galería de Arte, and Galleria Continua START ME UP: “The first thing I do is install the work, which takes about two and a half days. Then it’s a jungle. There is so much to see. It’s like when you go to a good restaurant: You may like everything, but you don’t have the time or appetite to taste all of it.” ON VIEW: “At the gallery from São Paolo [Luciana Brito Galería], I’ll be sharing a booth with Marina Abramovic. I’ll have a small installation and a few objects—probably scalemodels of other full-size projects I have done at real scale. My studio is in Buenos Aires, so the fair is an opportunity to meet with a lot of people.” URBAN EVOLUTION: “The city as a whole is changing, from being a place where seniors would go to retire on the beach to a place where there’s art and design and real-estate projects with major architects. Miami is getting more grounded in the arts and less just the one-off event of Basel.” DECEMBER 2015

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Nicholas Baume Director and chief curator of Public Art Fund and curator of Public at Art Basel, an exhibition in Collins Park that features large-scale sculptures and installations BIG NIGHT: “One of the highlights of the week for me is the opening of Art Basel’s Public sector, which I’m curating for the third time. The theme for this year’s exhibition is ‘Metaforms,’ a word I hope captures a sense of how artists take often familiar forms and transform them into works of art that can be interpreted on many levels.” TOP PRIORITIES: “I never miss the VIP opening of Art Basel, but I also try to take in the openings of NADA [New Art Dealers Alliance] and Design Miami. The city’s private collections are spectacular. I’m particularly looking forward to the Rubell Family Collection’s exhibition of women artists.” IF YOU BUILD IT: “In a city with such rich cultural offerings, it’s wonderful to see the great architects of our time creating spaces where music, dance, and visual art come together. A couple of years ago, we had the opening of the Pérez Art Museum and its brilliant Herzog & de Meuron building. This year, it’s the opening of the Rem Koolhaas–designed Faena Forum.”



Tina Kim

Owner of the Tina Kim Gallery in New York City, showing jointly with South Korea’s Kukje Gallery GLOBAL AFFAIR: “The Korean art scene is still underrepresented in certain parts of the world. This year we will be presenting the work of Dansaekhwa masters. We’ll host a focus section of Lee Ufan paintings. These exquisitely beautiful and politically engaged works couldn’t be more relevant during this time of renewed interest in global art.” MEET UP: “Art Basel is always a wonderful opportunity for us to connect with a diverse group of collectors, curators, and critics from around the world. The show’s international scope really sets it apart from other major shows.” FULL ITINERARY: “A typical day at the show for me will start with an early morning walk on the beach, followed by an afternoon of collections visits at the de la Cruz Collection and the Rubell Family Collection. At night, I like to attend the parties. You can’t skip a good party.”

BOARDING PASS Be part of the bunch with a nonstop flight to Miami from Chicago, Denver, Houston, or New York, and convenient connections from hundreds of other cities in United’s global route network.


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The Basel Bunch  

Nine of Art Basel Miami’s most important players tell what it takes to create the high-profile event

The Basel Bunch  

Nine of Art Basel Miami’s most important players tell what it takes to create the high-profile event