Art Basel

Art Basel Miami Beach: the 12th edition

When Art Basel Miami Beach opens the turnstiles next week for its 2013 edition, show goers will find a new section dedicated to works produced in editions, an expanded — and extended — Art Public exhibition in Collins Park and new galleries amid familiar stalwarts.

Once again, 250 of the world’s top galleries, chosen through a highly competitive process, will showcase works in the Miami Beach Convention Center that, for the most part, are available for sale. And once again, they’ll be split into sectors that have now become familiar to art-show regulars. In the galleries, show goers will find drawings, sculpture, paintings and installations by more than 4,000 artists. The Nova section highlights works created in the last few years. Positions focuses on works by emerging talents, while Kabinett exhibitions focus on specially cerated thematic shows and solo exhibits from rising starts.

This year, a dozen galleries will be grouped in a new Editions sector, featuring prints and other works produced in multiples. Some — such as Gemini G.E.L. and Poligrafa Obra Grafica — are longtime exhibitors. Others are new. “It’s something we’ve had in Basel for years,” explains fair director Marc Spiegler. “It’s been quite successful there.” Because limited editions typically are more affordable than original works, expanding the section allows more art enthusiasts to pursue collecting. And, says Spiegler, it encouraged participation from galleries specializing in multiples that previously didn’t attend the Miami Beach fair. Expect also to find an increased influence from Asia, where Art Basel opened its initial Art Basel Hong Kong fair earlier this year.

The Film program once again is free and outdoors, bringing a wide array of video and film projects to the giant screen at the New World Center. So is Art Public, the outdoor sculpture exhibition in Collins Park in front of the Bass Museum of Art, curated this year by Nicholas Baume of New York’s Public Art Fund. (See article, page 146.) This year, thanks to help from the Knight Foundation, many of sculptures will remain in place through March.

At the Convention Center, many of the panels and talks will include presentations by some of the contemporary art world’s most respected living artists. Doug Aitken talks about his ITAL Station to Station project involving a three-week train journey from New York to San Francisco in which the train became a moving light sculpture and catalyst for art, music, food, literature and film. Danish artist Olafur Eliasson talks about his ITAL Little Sun, a small solar light designed for the developing world. Tracy Emin, whose one-woman show will be mounted at the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, will appear on the Art Basel Salon stage, as will John Baldessari, Naomi Fisher, Jim Drain, Rashad Newsome and Ry Rocklen, who designed ITAL Night Court, this year’s Absolut bar on the sand at 21st Street and the ocean. (Some are free; some are included in the cost of the Art Basel entry. For details, see pages 160-161.)

Even if you confine yourself to wandering the aisles in the Miami Beach Convention Center, you’ll find plenty that’s new. Contemporary art is, itself, as much as about philosophy and ideas as it is about beauty and craftsmanship. Don’t worry if you don’t understand it all; few do. Gallerists are happy to explain.