20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach: a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

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The cocaine cowboys had barely left the beach and the pool of local and Latin American creators was growing. The original fair, from Switzerland, sought to expand outside of Europe. The mega-gallery show and the local art scene have strengthened each other ever since

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20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach: a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

Art Basel Miami Beach will bring more than 4,000 works of art from 282 galleries for its 20th anniversary. (EFE/EPA/RHONA WISE)

Art Basel Miami Beachturns 20 and prepares an ornate edition: the most ambitious to date, with 282 participating galleries. “The fair has not only reinforced its pivotal position in the region, uniquely uniting the art scenes of North and South America, Europe and beyond, but it has also played a driving role in the profound cultural transformation of the city. ”, summed up Marc Spiegler, its global director.

The meeting of collectors, galleries and artists, unparalleled on the continent will have its preview for guests on November 29 and 30 and will open to the public from December 1 to 3 at the Miami Beach Convention Center. The synergy between the territory and the fair has transformed Miami and its beaches so intensely that today Art Basel is the sun of a much larger system, a week of exhibitions and activities in numerous spaces, the Miami Art Week .

Nobody would have imagined it in 2001, when the opening of the fair had to be postponed for a year due to the national impact of the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers and the Pentagon on September 11

20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach: a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

Art Basel is at the center of other fairs, exhibitions and activities: Miami Art Week. (Cindy Ord/Getty Images via AFP)

The announcement of the opening was published on a platform for specialists in plastic arts and VIPs, a group obviously not too numerous. It read: “The art world's new favorite winter hangout will offer unique experiences and lots of sunshine, too.”

Also, the fact that it happened in December raised a lot of questions among the organizers. , the participants and the authorities: would it really have a call, so close to Christmas and the New Year? But the Art Miami fairit was the dominant one then, and it happened in January. December was what it was.

And December worked. The perfect climate, away from the tropically excessive heat of summer. A transit node between Europe and the Americas. A strong local collector base determined to push the project forward.

Art Basel was an instant success.

20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach: a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

At the Miami Beach Convention Center, but also on the beach (like this work by Leandro Erlich) and on the street, Miami is filled with art. (Telam)

From Basel to Miami Beach

The history of Art Basel began in 1970, when three Swiss gallery owners —the collector Ernst Beyeler, Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt—set out to compete with Art Cologne, the world's first gallery fair, established three years earlier in Cologne, Germany. They brought together 90 galleries from 10 countries in Basel, the cultural heart of northwestern Switzerland.

The first Art Basel was attended by an unexpected number of visitors: more than 16,000 people walked through its halls, attended live performances, took master classes and lost themselves in the splendid parties that multiplied in the city.

< p class="paragraph">The intention of Beyeler, Bruckner and Hilt was to “identify the leading artists of the moment” and make the event “the engine that sustains the role that galleries play in fostering the careers of artists ”. Professionals and the curious mixed around the works June after June, in Messe Basel, a room that is a work in itself, created by the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron.

20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach: a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

Art Basel was born in Switzerland at the initiative of Ernst Beyeler, Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt.

At the turn of the century, the organizers thought of expanding outside of Europe. The multicultural atmosphere of Miami and the beaches interested them, but they also considered other cities: New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Orlando. But South Florida also had a rich local pool of artists from Florida, Cuba and all over Latin America. The potential was great, especially when the years of cocaine cowboys and crime were behind us.

In 2002 the fair brought together 160 galleries from 23 countries, which attracted more than 30,000 attendees. The hotels were full, the traffic was complicated. The rich and famous brightened up the festivities.

Since 2013, the Asian art market also had its local hub, Art Basel Hong Kong. Rising stars and masters of contemporary art also circulate in the partner cities in Art Basel Cities. And in October 2022 Paris+ Art Basel was inaugurated.

Norman Braman and other promoters

20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach: a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

Art Basel Miami Beach is the most important gallery fair in the Americas. (Telam)

The name of the collector Norman Bramanit is the first one that comes to mind when telling the story of Art Basel Miami Beach. “He and his wife, Irma, were among the few Americans who attended Art Basel in Switzerland in the 1980s,” Robin Pogrebin told the fair's official publication. “They had a house on the Côte d'Azur and dealer Jeffrey Deitch, then an art consultant, took them to Art Basel.”

For nearly two decades the Bramans traveled to Basel every year without fail: “We started a tradition of looking for the best works at the fair and buying them for your collection,” Deitch told Pogrebin.

Braman, car dealer and lover of visual arts, pitched his dream to the organizers. And he acted as an intermediary between the fair's director, Lorenzo Rudolf, and the Miami Beach authorities.

20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach: a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

The 2022 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach will be open to the public from December 1-3. (AP/Wilfredo Lee)

Mera and Don Rubell—whose collection spawned the Rubell MuseumThey also intervened. “We organized a delegation of Miami Beach officials, including Mayor Neisen Kashdin and Commissioner Nancy Libman, who accompanied us to Switzerland to see firsthand the world class of Art Basel,” Mera Rubell told the official publication of the fair. “The trip was a success.”

Director Rudolf got some advice from collector Lauren Taschen: “Miami is the gateway to South America. . There you will be able to exhibit a lot of galleries that can't show in Switzerland because they can't afford the expense”. Some gallery owners, such as Fredric Snitzer, they insisted: Art Miami —they argued— did not adequately cover contemporary Latin American art.

Finally the contract was signed in 1999. Other collectors —among them Martin Margulies and Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz—supported development; it was also promoted by journalists such as critic Jane Wooldridge. Taschen took charge of event management, Isabela Mora built a network of loyal collectors and animated a VIP team that today employs more than 30 people.

Art Basel and Miami Art Week

20 years of Art Basel in Miami Beach : a story of synergy between a leading fair and a vibrant city

Art Basel Miami Beach turns 20 and prepares its most ambitious edition, with 282 participating galleries.

In the 2022 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach will showcase painting, sculpture, installation, photography and digital art from more than 4,000 creators. The appointment is at the Miami Beach Convention Center, 1901 Convention Center Drive, Miami Beach, FL 33139, (305) 674-1292. The hours open to the public are from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on December 1 and 2, and from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday 3.

Other notable fairs of Miami Art Week are:

Design Miami/: November 30-December 4

SCOPE International Art Show: November 30-December 4

Fridge Art Fair: November 30-December 3

Art Miami: November 30-December 4

Miami River Art Fair: November 30 to December 1

NOTHING Art Fair: November 30 to 3 December

PINTA Miami: November 30 – December 4

Aqua Art Miami: December 1 to 4 December

INK Miami Art Fair: November 30-December 4

SATELLITE< /b> Art Fair: November 29 to December 4

UNTITLED Art: November 29 to December 3

Prizm Art Fair : November 29 to December 11

Spectrum Miami/Red Dot Miami: December 1 to December 4 member