Celebrating art in Miami with Art Basel

Temperatures in the vibrant streets of Miami are much more favourable this time of year. What better place to celebrate art with Art Basel between 2-4 December?

Art Basel was founded by a group of gallery owners in Basel, Switzerland in 1970. Today, the acclaimed international art fair is held at three locations around the globe each year: Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong. Many preparations were on their way last year for the 50th anniversary of Art Basel, but physical events were cancelled due to the pandemic and the entire fair migrated to the digital platform. Following an extended interval, Art Basel’s Miami Beach edition is back to compensate for the silence. This year’s Art Basel Miami Beach will be the first publicly attended edition since 2019. As usual, there will be plenty on the showcase, from rare and historical art objects to the work of contemporary rising stars.

December is definitely one of the best times to be out and about in Miami. Soon, the city will be hosting crowds of art enthusiasts, cultural trendsetters and party-goers. So, without further ado, let us take a quick look at what to expect at Art Basel Miami Beach.

Miami Beach Convention Center (MBCC) will be hosting more than 250 galleries from 36 different countries, 43 of them making their debut appearance at the event. Housing and Nicola Vassell from New York, Southard Reid from London, Proyectos Ultravioleta from Guatemala, First Floor Gallery Harare from Zimbabwe, Rele Gallery from Lagos, Daniel Faria Gallery from Toronto, and Pequod Co. from Mexico City are only a few.

From painting and sculpture to photography and digital art, the event embraces all forms of artistic expression. Femininity, nature, environment, race and colonialism are some of the captivating themes of the year. Art Basel’s global director, Marc Spiegler, says:

‘There is enormous excitement within the artworld on both sides of the Atlantic about Art Basel Miami Beach 2021. Not only because it’s our first fair in two years in the Americas, but also because the show has never before featured such a diverse range of voices.’

Like its contemporaries, Art Basel Miami Beach will employ a hybrid format due to the pandemic. Following the success of Art Basel Hong Kong and the broadcast of ‘Art Basel Live’ in Basel earlier this year, this time Art Basel Miami brings the excitement and energy of performances to the event. The digital version of the fair will also be open to the public on ‘Art Basel Live’. Galleries who intend to appear at the Miami event will be able to remotely communicate with visitors with the help of technical assistants provided by the organisation at the private booths set up inside the MBCC. The fairground is divided into sections each with a specific name. These being the main hall featuring the galleries, Positions for solo presentations, Nova for new work, Editions for paper and mixed works, and Survey for work made before 2000.


As the core of the fair, the galleries section is a space where leading international contemporary art galleries showcase the work of artists ranging from young talents to 20th century masterminds. This year, 185 galleries have dedicated themselves to present paintings, sculptures, drawings, installations, photography, video and digital works of superior quality. Nova, features galleries presenting artistic work made in the last three years. There is also a section dedicated to young galleries showcasing ambitious solo presentations by emerging artists. Positions stands out as the ideal arena to exhibit potential and promising talents. Survey is a section devoted to galleries highlighting artistic practices of historical relevance. Edition is the area to take a closer look at editions.

This year, the Meridians section will see an exhibition curated by Magalí Arriola, the director of Mexico’s Museo Tamaya who has made an exclusive selection of 16 large-scale projects by famous and emerging artists. Todd Gray from Gallery David Lewis and artist Jacqueline de Jong presented by Gallery Pippy Houldsworth are only some of these extraordinary works. Most of the artwork featured in the Meridians section questions traditional representations of class, race, and power with the aim of resisting social conventions and bridge the physical and cultural boundaries that have recently emerged in society.

Curated by art dealer and author Edward Winkleman, ‘Conversations’ will see ten panel discussions that bring together artists, galleries, collectors, art historians, and curators. Inspiring discussions are bound to resonate in the Grand Ballroom during these panels that will also be broadcasted live on Facebook.

Needless to say, besides the main schedule, Miami will also host a number of exhibitions, celebrity performances, outdoor installations, hotel collaborations, and experiential pop-up events. One of the popular pavilions that caught my attention was a forest-covered, multi-sensory labyrinth located in Miami’s Jungle Plaza. Constructed in partnership with Chanel and British artist Es Devlin, the ‘Five Echoes’ pavilion will open on November 30 to coincide with the launch of the 2021 Miami Art Week. Es Devlin supports this year’s theme in her statement about ‘Five Echoes’;

“The word labyrinth originally referred to human movement: it was a dance before it became architecture. If our behavior can define our architecture, then perhaps our art and architecture can alter our behavior. If works of art can help us to see ourselves as part of the biosphere and symbiotically fused with it, if we can start to see plants and animals as equal protagonists as ourselves in life, I believe we have a better chance of making the fundamental behavioral shifts that are necessary not only to avoid climate chaos, but also to live in a more just, equitable, and joyful way.”

A new exhibition at the Rubell Museum will take place to coincide with the premiere of Art Basel Miami Beach. There will also be an inspiring, must-go event called ‘There is always one direction’ in Miami showcasing the private art collection of Rosa and Carlos de la Cruz titled ‘de la Cruz Collection’.

The programme scheduled for Art Basel Miami Beach promises to bring a unique perspective to local artists, galleries and key trends. The sheer number of public and cultural artwork presented in scope of Art Basel in the first week of December is just one of the many reasons we look forward to Miami Art Week each year.