Art Basel Miami Beach, December 21 2006

A unique cultural event, the 2006 edition of Art Basel Miami Beach was packed with visual inspiration. WGSN reports.

The sandy shores of Miami South Beach provided a hedonistic backdrop for this dynamic fair, which was an excellent conclusion to WGSN’s arts coverage in 2006. It wasn’t just the promise of endless key lime pie and poolside art parties that lured us (honestly), but the art/fashion hook-ups, the excellent Design Miami showcase, innovative satellite shows such as Scope and the whiff of big spending in the salty air. Sister to Art Basel in Switzerland, the Miami Beach event is growing into an extended cultural affair. Why does WGSN attend? Although many of the art works on sales go for thousands of dollars, the visual inspiration available is priceless.

“The interest in contemporary art keeps growing around the globe. The art market is booming. Art Basel Miami Beach benefited from this situation and attracted a record number of artists, collectors, museums and art lovers. It is the highlight of the season worldwide,” said Samuel Keller, director of Art Basel. “Art Basel Miami Beach has become a runaway success, a meeting place of money and art, fashion and investment, glamour and excitement, ” says the Financial Times. From 20th century masters such as Jean Dubuffet and Marcel Duchamp, to the 21st century’s newcomers, the show is great opportunity to tune in to the latest visual trends. From lingering in gallery booths and tuning into the conversations occurring between art collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts from around the world, to catching a performance by Peaches on the beach at Art Positions, Art Basel Miami Beach is an eclectic affair.

The fashion factor was also high with luxury brands keen to associate themselves with the worlds of wealth, taste and connoisseurship. Bvlgari was one of the event’s main partners, while Jimmy Choo‘s Tamara Mellon also hosted a dinner during the event. Swarovski’s Nadja Swarovski also wined and dined figures from both the arts and design scene, after opening the company’s Crystal Palace display which launched earlier in 2006 at the Milan furniture fair. Moschino also teamed up with Elle magazine for benefit, honouring hot designer Jaime Hayón. Which brings us neatly to Design Miami, which generated just as much as buzz – dare we say it – as the main Art Basel Miami event. Pitched as a “new global forum for collecting, exhibiting, discussing and creating design”, the event took place in Miami’s design district and featured displays from 19 global galleries and talks from Marc Newson, Tom Dixon, Zaha Hadid and Marcel Wanders.

Many of the peripheral events were also key. WGSN particularly liked the youthful energy of Scope Art Fair, as well as Pulse and the great setting for the Aqua Art Fair – the Aqua Motel – where all of the American West Coast galleries exhibiting occupied the motel’s various rooms. Miami also held its first Pecha Kucha co-hosted by InsideOut magazine. The London organisers of the Japanese speakeasy, Max Fraser and Marcus Fairs, pulled in key design names such as Jaime Hayón, Yves Béhar, Bodo Sperlein and Maarten Baas to speak. Each person was asked to present 20 inspirational slides and speak for 20 seconds on each one. The New York Times declares Art Basel Miami Beach to be “more than you can see” – and it’s true. But WGSN brings you a neat snapshot of the event.

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