The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Dec 11, 2012

Looking back at the Basel that was

Posted by Anne Tschida

Iván Navarro and Courtney Smith, "Street Lamp," 2012, Paul Kasmin Gallery.

Good, quality art made a come-back at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach. That may seem a simple statement, but for several years now, and after the onset of the recession, the fairs have felt a little stale. This year, brand new work from established huge names and unknowns made splashes at famous and little galleries alike. While at the main fair video and big installation were still missing, other works made up for that paucity, and a return stroll down the numerous isles seemed a popular pastime, rather than rushing through it all.

The satellite fairs were too many to take in, but still, most of them had their own flair – and the inaugural Miami Project fair got special thumbs up from many visitors.

But for those who were not there to actually buy art, and who maybe couldn’t afford the price of admission to each and every one (or even just a sampling), maybe the most enjoyable art experience was the outdoor sculpture park in front of the Bass Museum; free and begging people to just sit around the park, with a breeze off the ocean and at night the pieces all lit up, from an amazing group of international artists.

Ugo Rondinone "I feel, you feel, we feel through each other into our selves," Gladstone Gallery.

For instance, the Ivan Navarro and Courtney Smith neon benches glowed like beacons in the night (sadly, although signs warned people not to sit on them – they are glass – yellow caution tape had to cordon it off). Ugo Rondinone’s white sculpture soared into the night; while Juame Plensa’s “Poets in Miami” was a pleasure, two colorful, lit-up busts high up on pedestals. There were also a number of performance art pieces taking place at various times.

Too bad they can’t stick around for an entire year.

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