Art Basel Miami 2016: Recap

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Art Basel Miami 2016: Recap

Art Basel Miami closed Sunday after drawing over 77,000 attendees. Leading galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Asia and Africa showed significant works from the masters as well as a new generation of emerging stars. Paintings, sculptures, installations, photographs and films were on offer along with ambitious large-scale artworks and performances that became part of the city’s outdoor landscape.

Art Basel’s Conversation and Salon talks launched with Premier Artist Talk featuring artist Julio Le Parc and Estrellita B. Brodsky, the collector who curated Le Parc’s major exhibition at the Pérez Art Museum Miami (PAMM). Hans Ulrich Obrist introduced his Artists & Influencers series to Miami Beach, featuring Glenn Ligon in conversation with Claudia Rankine; while Sebastian Cwilich, Simon Denny, Laurent Gaveau, Christiane Paul and András Szántó discussed digital innovations in ‘Debating Disruption: Has Technology Really Changed the Artworld?’

Participating galleries reported slow but strong sales, especially for Trump-inspired works. AFC praised several pieces while recognizing the irony of a show that is essentially a shopping mall for collectors who mostly voted Republican. Endless parties featuring performers like Kendrick Lamar kept the 4-day event moving, but critics reported the overall climate feeling somber as artists and collectors wrestle with what a Trump presidency means for the art world.

Less than a week before Art Basel opened, President-Elect Trump tweeted “Nobody should be allowed to burn the American flag – if they do, there must be consequences – perhaps loss of citizenship or year in jail!” Our Politics writers have carefully examined the history of the U.S. Government suppressing free speech and whether or not it is indeed legal in the United States to burn a flag in protest. It is. If Trump wanted to top his reality tv show host days by rebranding as a performance artist who burns Mexican flags to the sweet sounds of ‘Mike Pence Sings Hamilton’, he has a constitutionally protected right to do so.

Creatives are rightfully alarmed by his censorious rhetoric. But the show must (and did!) go on – just as provocative artists, musicians, galleries and collectors must do in the face of attacks on free speech and the silencing of dissent. Here’s a look at some of the pieces, people and parties at Art Basel 2016.

Emily Ray is Paste’s Assistant Design Editor. All she wants for Christmas is for you to back Paste Quarterly on Indiegogo.