Art Basel & Miami Art Week

109 images Created 11 Oct 2016

Miami has always been a party town. For more than a century, it's been an internationally publicized tourist mecca -- floating on a cloud of booze and gambling during Prohibition -- and always offering sunshine, showgirls, party people, celebrity athletes, movie stars, grand hotels, golf courses, yacht-filled marinas, and nightclubs galore.

But no one ever imagined Miami as a major cultural capital of the fine art universe . . . at least not until the biggest and arguably most important, art show on earth -- Art Basel Miami Beach -- opened in 2002.

The foundation had been laid by a smart preservation movement, which in a 30-year struggle, had saved much of the city's Tropical Art Deco architecture, making Miami Beach hip again and something of an international artists colony and celebrity playground.

Radiating South Beach's revitalized image, the fair featured in a huge convention center the elegant booths of a couple hundred, top international art galleries collectively selling hundreds of millions of dollars of sublime works by Picasso, MIró, Klee, Kenny Scharf, Evan Penny, Murakami, Alexander Calder, Botero, and thousands of other museum class artists.

The private jets of International collectors jammed a nearby airport, and a zillion new, satellite art fairs, gallery and museum openings, and other art happenings blossomed in both the City of Miami and the City of MIami Beach.

A handful of important local collectors opened their own world-class, private museums in renovated warehouses in a formerly desolate Miami neighborhood named Wynwood.

There a sustained burst of high-concept graffiti and magnificent murals by local, national, and international street artists -- with help from the private museums and savvy, pro-art, real estate redevelopers -- transformed Wynwood from a gritty warehouse district into a glittering art and real estate success story.

Small herds of well-heeled Baselistas began searching out artists' studios in Wynwood, or in even newer, hotter, and funkier neighborhoods after Wynwood grew too gentrified and prohibitively expensive for many of the neighborhood's original pioneers.

The international press adored the evolving story. Meanwhile, delighted locals dubbed the ever-expanding fiesta "Miami Art Week" -- in which the original, four-day fair gave birth to numerous new events.

Year after year the art mania, if i can call it that, grew larger, with countless corporations and fashion brands throwing lavish promotional parties in chic hotels, galleries, restaurants and nightclubs.


Miami has always been a party town.

To see captions for this gallery on a desktop computer, click on a large image, then click on the "+" and "i" buttons that appear at the lower left

And click on the Portfolio button or the Index icon in the menu bar to see some of my other work, including portraiture and personal projects about Art Deco and Miami Modern architecture, the Wynwood Walls, and Nepal's Kathmandu Valley.
View: 100 | All

Loading ()...