Art Basel Miami Beach 2017

Art Basel

The art world descends on Miami Beach next week for the annual event - but what is Art Basel? And why have art fairs become so important to contemporary art galleries today?

Art Basel is set to kick off in Miami Beach, Florida next week between December 6 and December 10. Expecting at least 100,000 attendees from around the globe, the Art Basel Miami Beach fair is the centrepiece event of Miami Art Week which also includes satellite fairs, events and parties, and plenty of overflow into the dozens of other art museums, galleries, and collections in Miami. Here is what you should know about this upcoming annual hub of creative commotion:

Inaugurated in 2002, Art Basel Miami has become perhaps the most sensational week of art in the world, on par only with the original Art Basel in Switzerland founded in 1970. The fair is organised into 8 sectors ranging from the 260+ galleries exhibiting over 4,000 artists both rising and renowned, to a myriad of art historical projects, art publications, and films as well. This spectacular showcasing of global contemporary art across media and discipline all starts with an application-based selection process conducted by a jury of art critics and art market professionals. Their decision criteria is intended to ensure that Art Basel Miami hosts the utmost quality and variety of work to delight not only the many collectors, dealers, curators and directors in attendance, but also the vast international audience of students and art enthusiasts who descend on the region each year.

Within easy reach of the Miami Beach Convention Centre where Art Basel is held, visitors can browse through countless more artists and programming at the surrounding satellite fairs, which are equally worthy of recognition. There are up to 19 art fairs this year, and that number continues to grow along with the exponential growth of the contemporary art market in general, and the grand event’s increasing global attention. We suggest dropping into PULSE, UNTITLED, SCOPE and NADA art fairs in particular to catch a glimpse of artists a variety of other renowned national and international contemporary art galleries are exhibiting. 

Most contemporary galleries rely greatly on their exhibitions at art fairs, as much if not (in some cases) more than those in their permanent spaces. As such, art fairs have emerged as key components in today’s art market, giving galleries around the world the opportunity to establish their presence and voice. By no means does this imply all work and no play, however. With the amalgam of fair programming within the context of Miami’s unique location and climate, Art Basel Miami is truly reflective of the arts’ ability to spark curiosity and energise communities.

Words by Michelle Costanza.