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ART BASEL MIAMI BEACH: SPECTACLE OR SUBSTANCE?

 

 

By Antoine du Rocher 

NEW YORK, 1 DECEMBER 2005—Now as important to style editors as much as the art market, the lavish and somewhat baroque Art Basel Miami Beach (1 - 4 December 2005) continues its pitch as the North American winter edition of Art Basel, the world’s largest and most important trade fair for modern and contemporary art held in Basel, Switzerland each June.

The core of Art Basel Miami Beach is composed of 195 leading art galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia presenting 20th and 21st century art works by over 2000 artists. All of the media (paintings, sculptures,  installations, photography, editions, performances, digital and video art) on show are for sale. Prices start at a few hundred dollars for multiples and works by young artists, with museum-quality masterpieces bearing price tags in the millions.

In past years, Art Basel Miami Beach has included crossover events with musicians, film personalities and sports celebrities such as Lenny Kravitz, Kathryn Bigelow, Ralph Fiennes and Muhammad Ali. In its fourth edition, this new form of art event combines an art show with a programme of special exhibitions, VIP openings and parties, visits to private and public art collections.

This year, the most sought after invitations are those for the "open house"tours of private art collections owned by wealthy local collectors. For many it is not only an opportunity to see who has acquired what, but also the chance to get a closer look at the lives of the south Florida rich and stroll about their spectacular properties. About a dozen collectors will open their homes for tours. Invitations are sometimes available from a well-connected local gallery. This year also marks the debut of design05 Miami (1 - 5 December 2005), a show of contemporary design exhibiting post-war to contemporary museum quality furniture and decorative arts.

Still, despite the long queue of private jets at Miami airport, not all serious art collectors rush to this event. One such New York collector, who preferred to remain anonymous, confided to Culturekiosque  that he had no intention of attending Art Basel Miami Beach because whatever important contemporary art works are currently for sale, he can see them in New York. Serious dealers know where to find him.

 

BOOK TIP

Lack of time, training or interest can be among the reasons that an international luxury clientele call on interior designer Geoffrey Bradfield. He has established his name among wealthy art collectors and property owners from Park Avenue, to Palm Beach to the Rockies and beyond with his special brand of interiors known as Millennium Modern—an appealing fin de siècle concept based on the reinterpretation of designs of the 1930s and 1940s.  No stranger to art fairs, the South African-born designer frequently shops for the accounts of his private clients at events such as the prestigious European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht.

Some may have a horror of decorators no matter how talented or distingushed they may be, preferring to put their own personal stamp on their residence, but even they can find pleasure in this book and its superb photographs, in seeing how to integrate a significant modern or contemporary work of art into a private residence without it overwhelming an interior or simply looking like a work for sale in a Manhattan gallery or on view in a museum. 

Geoffrey Bradfield: Defining Millennium Modern
by John Pellam
Hardcover: 256 pages
Bibliotheque: World Wide (1 April 2004)
ISBN: 1882292324
$45.00
Available at Amazon.com.

Antoine du Rocher is a French cultural critic and journalist based in New York. He is managing editor of Culturekiosque.com



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