Art Basel

Art Basel’s Miami Beach fair is getting something new — and it’s really big

Art Basel Miami Beach’s new Meridians sector will be similar to the Unlimited sector at its Swiss fair, which provides a showcase for monumental works such as this one by Rashid Johnson presented by Hauser and Wirth in 2018.
Art Basel Miami Beach’s new Meridians sector will be similar to the Unlimited sector at its Swiss fair, which provides a showcase for monumental works such as this one by Rashid Johnson presented by Hauser and Wirth in 2018. Art Basel

Art fans will want to explore two new Miami Beach additions to Art Basel come December.

In its most significant update since the fair launched 18 years ago, Art Basel in Miami Beach is adding a new sector called Meridians that showcases works too big for traditional show booths.

“This is about Art Basel presenting ambitious content on a scale with what major art museums and biennales show the world over,” said Noah Horowitz, Art Basel’s director for the Americas. “It allows us to really grow the show for the first time since inception to allow our galleries to do the types of projects they never previously could have done.”

The new sector will be located in the 60,000-square-foot ballroom on the top floor of the renovated Miami Beach Convention Center and accessible via an escalator from the 500,000-square-foot show floor. It will be curated by Magalí Arriola, an independent curator living in Mexico City. She will solicit artists and galleries to present large-scale works, though the fair’s selection committee will make the final determination about which projects are included. All presentations must be affiliated with a gallery already accepted into the juried fair.

The only other commercial art fair with a dedicated sector to such large-scale works is Art Basel’s Swiss fair, which has included its Unlimited sector since 2000. In Miami Beach, as in Switzerland, the sector will include video, paintings, monumental sculptures and installations — suitable for museums, real estate projects and private collectors with mansions or public-access exhibition spaces (such as Miami’s Rubell Family Collection, the de la Cruz Collection and the Margulies Warehouse).

“Art Basel always been an innovator,” said Horowitz. “It’s a competitive market. The art world writ large is more and more event driven...this will be unique in the Americas.”

The renovation of the Miami Beach Convention Center made it possible for Art Basel to incorporate Meridians. It will join existing sectors dedicated to galleries, editions of multiple works and works by emerging artists.

Meridians will include about 30 projects each year, Horowitz said. Because it is indoors, the sector allows for some types of projects that could not be included in the previous Public Sector of sculptures in Collins Park.

But that doesn’t mean Collins Park will be empty this year, as it was in 2018. This year the space in front of The Bass at 2200 Collins Avenue will be home to an outdoor exhibition of works by Argentine sculptors — the result of the collaboration between the city of Buenos Aires and the Art Basel organization under its Art Basel Cities program.

The arrangement, now in its third and final year, was designed to “bring the art world to Buenos Aires and Buenos Aires to the art world” to enhance artist and economic development, said Patrick Foret, Art Basel’s director of business initiatives. The process has included bringing together the different art factions of the fashionable Argentine capital, creating a 2018 Art Basel Week in the city and now, exporting Argentine art to other Art Basel cities.

“Miami Beach was the platform of choice for them,” said Foret.

The number of works will be determined in part by fundraising required to ship and install the sculptures, he said.

The 18th edition of the 2019 Miami Beach fair is slated for Dec. 5-8. The Swiss fair is slated June 13-15.

Art Basel Miami Beach opened on Wednesday morning, Dec. 4, 2018, to the very VIPS invited to the fair for an early look-see. There was no mad crush at the door, no unseemly Black Friday-like rush to the booths as in former years.

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