Dealers the world over are revving up for the sales bonanza that is Art Basel in Miami Beach (ABMB, Dec. 4-7). Coming from cities ranging from Shanghai and Beijing to New York and Los Angeles, over 260 exhibitors greet a flood of VIPs starting on Wednesday at noon; the fair will be open to the public Thursday morning. Dealers will be eager to make good on an investment that includes fees of up to $107,000 for the booth real estate alone.
"They say there are more private jets in Miami in December than anywhere else in the world at any one time," L.A. dealer Michael Kohn told A.i.A. The fair's roster includes stalwarts like David Zwirner Gallery (New York and London) and Gagosian Gallery (with locations spanning eight cities worldwide). Among the first-timers are Clifton Benevento and Simone Subal (both New York).
ABMB comes on the heels of blockbuster auctions in New York last month, led by Christie's $853-million contemporary art sale, which set a record for the largest auction ever.
"The momentum definitely carries over," Kohn said. "When people see big collectors spend big money at auctions, it confirms their faith in the whole system. It absolutely trickles down." Kohn Gallery will show venerated California artists like Bruce Conner, Wallace Berman and Joe Goode, along with younger practitioners like Eddie Martinez, Tom LaDuke and John Bauer, who are new to the gallery.
New York's Garth Greenan Gallery is also a first-time exhibitor. "It's like winning an award," Greenan told A.i.A. of being selected. Greenan is bringing works by painter and sculptor Paul Feeley (1910-1966), currently the subject of "Imperfections by Chance: Paul Feeley Retrospective, 1954-1966," at Buffalo's Albright-Knox Art Gallery. The presentation will include never-before-exhibited works and the artist's final creation, Greenan said.
Traveling around the world for ABMB is ShanghART Gallery (Shanghai, Beijing, Singapore). Gallery founder Lorenz Helbling will have shown at 16 fairs in 2014, but tells A.i.A. that his preparations for this one spanned up to five months. "It's not an easy time in this world," Helbling told A.i.A. in an e-mail, "so I'm not bringing easy works." Xu Zhen's Safe House, a camping tent topped by Latin crosses, he said, "offers physical and spiritual shelter." Zhang Qing's video 886 Boylston Street, Boston, observes pedestrians via surveillance cameras installed at the same spot as the ones which identified the Boston marathon bombers, he says.
Swirling around the main event are the parties, satellite fairs and shows at area museums and private collections.
On many visitors' radar will be the Institute of Contemporary Art Miami, the retooled and relocated Museum of Contemporary Art North Miami, which unveils its inaugural shows under its new name and at its temporary home in the Design District: solos by Pedro Reyes and Andra Ursuta, organized by chief curator and deputy director (and former A.i.A. website editor) Alex Gartenfeld. The museum announced today that it has commissioned Spanish firm Aranguren & Gellegos to build a 37,500-square-foot new facility in the Design District; while the new edifice is under construction, the ICA will remain in the Moore Building, in the same neighborhood.
Tops among the satellites is the New Art Dealers Alliance's NADA Miami Beach (Dec. 4-7), now in its 12th edition at the Deauville Beach Resort and featuring a trim roster, weighing in at 74 galleries. Among those making their NADA debut are Andersen's Contemporary (Copenhagen), Aoyama Meguro (Tokyo), Chapter NY (New York) and LULU (Mexico City).
Celebrity events this week include a Miley Cyrus performance at a fair-opening party Wednesday night, organized by New York dealer (and former MOCA LA director) Jeffrey Deitch at the Raleigh Hotel. Solange Knowles has curated a series of performances for the Select Art Fair (Dec. 3-6), performers TBA.