Homes for the Holidays

New York

Left: Artists Louise Lawler and Cindy Sherman. Right: Dealer Jeffrey Deitch and collector Dasha Zukhova. (All photos: Linda Yablonsky)

THE BIG DIFFERENCE between art parties at Christmas and other times is that everyone attending is off duty. Relaxed, fueled by bubbly, anxious at the prospect of separation, and elated by the prospect of same, bedfellows familiar and strange gathered in New York last week for the year’s final revels together.

Dealer Gordon VeneKlasen brought a personal touch to his holiday cocktail on Tuesday, December 17, by opening his Washington Mews house to inspection by artists, curators, collectors, dealers, and museum directors. With no particular agenda to pursue, most conversations began (and sometimes ended) with a where-are-you-spending-the-holidays inquiry—the common currency of exchange everywhere that week. Mexico, not St. Barts, appeared to be the getaway of choice, with Paris, London, Aspen, Los Angeles, and hot spots in Cuba, Panama, and India following close behind. Elizabeth Peyton, however, was looking forward to ten days in Japan.

That subject matter exhausted, the conversational tide turned to the other people in the room. “Do you know who that is?” asked collector Shelley Fox Aarons, when a tall man dressed in a tall, furry black hat and a Union Jack motorcycle jacket with the letters UK emblazoned on the back strode through. “Have you seen that man before?” curator Clarissa Dalrymple inquired, as did Peter Saul and at least a dozen other people. No one knew—not Whitney chief curator Donna De Salvo, collector Andrew Fabrikant, White Columns director Matthew Higgs, David Zwirner director Ales Ortuzar, curator Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, collector Dasha Zhukova, or even Jeffrey Deitch, soon to depart for Los Angeles, but, he said, just as soon to return to New York to plan the opening of his ginormous new space in Red Hook, Brooklyn. “You know me,” he said. “I want to do very big shows.”

Left: Artist Bing Wright and dealer Paula Cooper. Right: Dealers Jose Martos and Gavin Brown.

VeneKlasen assured me I had to meet the mystery man. He turned out to be Johnny Rozsa, a disarming, Nairobi-born Englishman who lives in the East Village. “I’m a celebrity photographer,” he said. Refreshingly, he prints only untouched, non-Photoshopped pictures of his prey. (His 2010 book, Untouched, is about to come out in a new edition.) “He was part of the Leigh Bowery circle,” said Centre Pompidou adjunct curator Sylvia Chivaratanond, the only person at the party to know his true provenance. “This is the first time I’ve seen him without makeup.”

Meanwhile, her husband, Dia director Philippe Vergne, reflected on the history of VeneKlasen’s house. “It used to be Dan Loeb’s,” Vergne said, speaking of the sometimes hackle-raising financier and collector. “And,” he added, glancing upward, “that used to be a Turrell Skyspace. Loeb took it with him.”

Wednesday brought biting cold. The best escape was within the hearthlike warmth of Gavin Brown’s holiday party, held on the enclosed roof deck above his SoHo gallery. “Spectacular tree, Gavin!” collector Beth Swofford complimented the garrulous host, who sported a headband appointed with little Santas. Indeed, the tall evergreen at the center of the deck bathed the already beaming guests in splendid, flattering light. The whole room was lovely—benches around the tree, buckets of beer and soft drinks here and there on the floor, and at several stations around the sides of the room were tables with smoked fish, ham, and, most delicious, pots of salt potatoes.

Left: Artist K8 Hardy and Artists Space director Stefan Kalmar. Right: Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye performing at the Museum of Modern Art.

“Who are all these people?” asked Artists Space director Stefan Kalmár, looking over a party that had suddenly filled up with posses of young arrivistes. “I hardly know anyone here,” marveled Interview editor Christopher Bollen. “I don’t recognize a lot of people either,” dealer Alex Hertling concurred. “Maybe they heard about it on Twitter?” suggested fellow dealer Alex Zachary. “We just came from the Marina Abramović show,” said designers Ange and Gabi Asfour of the Robert Wilson–directed spectacular, The Life and Death of Marina Abramović at the Park Avenue Armory, another holiday-week event.

That wasn’t the only public entertainment on the calendar. At noon on Thursday, Michael Stipe appeared in the atrium of the Museum of Modern Art to introduce Patti Smith and Lenny Kaye for Smith’s seventh annual Jean Genet birthday concert. “This show is dedicated to the great Lou Reed and Peter O’Toole,” he said. “And to the great Joan Fontaine.” (All had passed to the other side in preceding days. In fact, the week had begun with an unforgettable and exhilarating tribute to Reed at the Apollo Theater, organized by Laurie Anderson, that was by turns funny, soulful, rousing, and beautiful.)

Smith began her hour-long set with Reed’s “Pale Blue Eyes,” then alternated songs with readings of poetry and prose. “I just want to give us a little atmosphere of Jean Genet,” she said to the couple of hundred listeners seated on the floor around her. “We’re all Genet,” she told them, in one of her more poignant ad-libs. “All of us have a little bit of swagger and sorrow. We’re the cries of moments and of dreams.”

Left: Artist Lorna Simpson and collector Jennifer McSweeney. Right: Artists Rirkrit Tiravanija and Ken Okiishi.

That evening, it was Paula Cooper’s turn to host a holiday party, at Blaue Gans in TriBeCa. “Try the eggnog,” she said, as gallery artists Wayne Gonzalez, Bing Wright, and Tauba Auerbach appeared at her side. “I think I’ll have another one.” A few blocks away, on Walker Street, the “Twelve Trees of Christmas Party” was in progress. Temp Space, Y & S, and the online-based event producer Gertrude had collaborated to invite twelve artists and curators, including Rob Pruitt, Haley Mellin, and the collectives Jogging and Family Dinner, to decorate a tree, with guests invited to add their own touches to some. All the trees were twelve feet tall, cut down in upstate New York by Dylan Brant, one of the party’s curators and the spitting image of his mother, Stephanie Seymour. “I’m just glad it all worked out and everyone’s happy,” he said.

Friday night, Cooper was back in her gallery on West Twenty-First Street to present composer Petr Kotik’s “Many Many Women,” in a five-hour concert by his S.E.M. Ensemble of six singers and six musicians (flutes, trumpets, trombones). It began at 7 PM and ended just past midnight. I arrived during the fifth hour, when fifteen or twenty attentive people remained in the audience. The work is based on an eighty-page novella by Gertrude Stein, for each word of which Kotik composed a note. It was first performed in 1975. It has 173 sections and many repeated phrases, like, “She was sitting and she was saying what she was saying.” Or, “Anything that was beginning and ending is not like continuing.” I couldn’t help but admire the performers’ stamina. “Could you do it again now?” I asked Kotik. “Sure!” he said. He didn’t have to say it twice.

One repeating event, without which no Christmas in the art world would be complete, is the party Cindy Sherman gives at her home each year. Last Saturday’s was by all accounts one of the best. “So warm, so generous, so much fun,” were some of the comments I heard. “Cindy really does bring everyone together each year,” said Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg. And Sherman, clad in a bright, rhinestone-and-feathers red dress by Dries van Noten, really did.

Left: Artist James Welling with Performa founder RoseLee Goldberg. Right: Artists Tauba Auerbach and Andrew Greene.

Her old Hallwalls pals Robert Longo, Nancy Dwyer, Charlie Clough, and Michael Zwack didn’t have to talk just to Pictures generation colleagues Louise Lawler, Troy Brauntuch, and Laurie Simmons, or Sherman’s longtime dealers Helene Winer and Janelle Reiring. Lining up for a Moroccan buffet attended by a fez-topped serving crew were a swarm of ever-hots—Marilyn Minter, Shirin Neshat, Tony Oursler, Kara Walker, Sarah Sze, Chuck Close, James Welling, and Lisa Yuskavage among them. “Matt Dillon is here,” publicist Gina Nanni told her husband, Glenn O’Brien. So was Deborah Harry, Jewish Museum director Claudia Gould, New Museum director Lisa Phillips, collectors Jennifer McSweeney and Nedda Young, writers Dodie Kazanjian and Calvin Tomkins, critics Roberta Smith and Jerry Saltz, fashion designer Narciso Rodriguez, and Art Production Fund cofounder Yvonne Force Villareal. Everyone talked to everyone else, about—what else?—where each would spend the holidays, and what was hanging on Sherman’s walls.

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that the artist who put together one of the more fascinating segments of Massimiliano Gioni’s Venice Biennale would surround herself with artworks that please and puzzle. No one could identify who did what. “I know I’m going to feel like a fool when Cindy tells me,” Dwyer said. As a low-key sort of Auntie Mame, sans pretension, Sherman was absolutely in her element. “I do enjoy throwing these things,” she told me later, “even though I hardly get to talk to anyone for long.” Sure—that’s part of the fun.

And so the year came to a close as it began—with parties to celebrate the community that both inspires and infuriates us. It’s smart, it’s rich, it’s perplexing, pretty, embarrassing, forgiving, serious, silly, stupendous, loving—and bigger than ever. Let’s hope 2014 is the year it decides to make a difference.

Linda Yablonsky

Left: New Museum director Lisa Phillips and artist Sarah Sze. Right: Curator Clarissa Dalrymple and artist Uri Aran.

Last Call


View of the US pavilion at Venice, featuring Sarah Sze's installation Triple Point. (All photos: Suzanne Hudson)

I AM NOT SURE what I expected to find in Venice the weekend the Biennale closed. The prospect of the city subsiding into its lagoon, and tilting ever eastward into the Adriatic Sea, is real, if occurring on a scale asynchronous to that of a six-month exhibition. Still, other postdiluvian scenarios were in ready supply: abandoned gardens and art left for mulch. In moments of undue hilarity, I imagined said gardens beset by feral dogs. Such was my conditioning by an economy of instant obsolescence in which shows open only to be met with a headlong rush to consensus and forgetting, often before they are even accessible to the public. To be sure, months of installation in damp palazzos and exposed pedestrian plazas inevitably (and maybe in some instances intentionally) resulted in less than pristine material conditions, as in the case of the conspicuously weathered cork furniture lining Joana Vasconcelos’s floating Portuguese pavilion docked alongside the Giardini. That the penultimate day saw torrential rains probably didn’t help to refocus my orientation from sites of decay. Tattered and long-since functional umbrellas lay in cliques, metal rods askew in the unforgiving mud. The hottest-ticket item in the bookstore was a unisex plastic poncho. The tea served up for free in “English Magic,” Jeremy Deller’s submission for the British pavilion, became the object of fierce determination.

Less specifically, lapses of maintenance—gossamer spiderwebs crossing Roberto Cuoghi’s hulking sculpture, Belinda, 2013, in the Arsenale; dead insects littering the vitrines containing Shinichi Sawada’s clay menagerie nearby—were admissions of another kind, as were bathrooms depleted of toilet paper and far from fully stocked cafés. This is to say nothing of the absence of satellite events, the truncated runs of which meant that they were long gone by November. Most regrettably, the Palazzo Ducale’s already legendary “Manet: Return to Venice,” a collection of dozens of Manet’s works (assembled jointly by the Musée d’Orsay, the Uffizi Gallery, and the Venice Civic Museums), and the Prada Foundation’s “When Attitudes Become Form: Bern 1969/Venice 2013,” Germano Celant’s restaging of Harald Szeemann’s watershed exhibition of Minimal and process art for the Bern Kunsthalle, had shuttered by the time of my arrival. I knew this schedule in advance, of course, and decided to go anyway, to see the art despite this, but more to understand what and who was still there. I have dropped in on plenty of exhibitions the last week, weekend, or even day of their hang; but while these eleventh-hour outings might have been intentional acts, they were never performed. Neither reactionary stance, nor self-conscious position, these attempts to catch things before it became too late to do so in person were more commonly the result of happenstance, oversubscription, and poor planning.

This trip to Venice was something else. My curiosity about what happened after the official story ended got the best of me. (Plus, Gioni’s theme of “The Encyclopedic Palace,” appropriated from the self-taught Italian-American artist Marino Auriti, who conceived a building that would house all the knowledge in the world, suggested the impossibility of the comprehensiveness from the outset, unwittingly mitigating the gravity of omissions of sight and knowledge.) For the narrative of “Venice”—both exemplary and unexceptional—comprises two distinct if inextricable parts in most framings: The opening anticipates nothing and achieves its own satiety; it is but a memory to be activated in the context of conversation. The second act involves the publication of related press. Some coverage is indistinguishable from social media promotions (endless tweets, selfies, and Facebook status updates) that constitute a mode of default journalism, while the more scholarly, formalized criticism appears in paper monthlies in September, the return of the repressed. By then, everyone has moved on to the fall schedule, or the next like project helmed by someone else. Indeed, coincident with my writing of this piece came the announcement that Okwui Enwezor will succeed Massimiliano Gioni as Visual Arts Director of the next Biennale iteration, in 2015.

Left: Massimiliano Gioni, Visual Arts Director of the 55th Venice Biennale, and Venice Biennale president Paolo Baratta at a press conference. Right: A panel on “Museums and Biennials” at the Venice Biennale.

Still, Gioni’s curatorial premise of a temporary museum has implications for the writing that attends it, rendering this delay more apposite than I would have expected, perhaps even structurally commensurate with the show’s project. If one takes seriously Gioni’s claims for the international pavilions as representing coexisting temporalities within the contemporary—and here he seems to borrow liberally from Terry Smith, among others—the fact that the heaviest traffic occurred sometime else might not be as surprising. Materials I received at a press conference held the final morning enumerate the following statistics: 28,386 people visited the last week of October versus 20,424 during the preview. The issue is one of demographics. Appended to this quantitative data was the following quote from the Biennale’s president, Paolo Baratta: “After the opening five days of the exhibition, the yachts all departed and the following six months were characterized by the presence of the backpack crowd. Many of those who came for the pre-opening returned to visit a second and third time; this is another important element, which makes our glorious Vernissage no longer the paradise but the purgatory of super experts in the field.”

I never found out how many people moved through the turnstiles on November 24. The sun had come out, and while I would not describe the audience as populous, the place was far from deserted. Partly contributory was the draw for the concluding panel in a series, “Meetings on Art,” which spanned the duration of the biennial. Here, an impassioned Baratta introduced the topic of “Museums and Biennials,” arguing, among other things, for the agency of a single curator within a structure that not only values risk but effectively grants the privilege of autonomy in the first place. While he saw committees as deeply compromised, the speakers that followed—Gioni moderated Cristiana Collu, Alfredo Cramerotti, Bice Curiger, Abdellah Karroum, Achille Bonito Oliva, and Vicente Todolí—confirmed differences of opinion to a person. Gioni reiterated his notion of the biennial as a temporary museum; Curiger pleaded to subvert installations of historical exemplars with contemporary items (and vice versa); Oliva begged for a “mongrel, mixed-race” approach to the adoption of artists beyond the bounds of a nation-state; and so on. Despite the inclusion of so many “outsider” artists in “The Encyclopedic Palace,” the conversation here remained safely art-world, leaving the challenge of moving outside or beyond language, sociality, and aesthetics peripheral to the conversations making—or reinscribing—meaning.

The panel concluded, I gave the Arsenale one last look. Rounding the corner at gallery thirteen, where Christian Marclay’s The Clock (the winner of the Golden Lion award at the 2011 Biennale) had been installed, I became aware of my pace quickening in real time. At about 5 PM, gazing into the distance beyond Walter De Maria’s Apollo’s Ecstasy, 1990, I saw a photo shoot featuring Baratta mugging for a camera crew before the vast expanse of parallel bronze rods. He and Gioni slipped outside for a smoke. With blue light falling over the grounds, I set out for Ragnar Kjartansson’s Icelandic fishing boat, which ferried a crew of uniformed musicians back and forth between two shipyard docks. The dinghy’s name, S.S. Hangover, comes from a boat-shaped bar that appears in a 1935 film, Remember Last Night?, directed by James Whale, which was itself based on a novel, The Hangover Murders—the plot of which turns on the investigation of the killing of one of a group of friends who were too drunk to recall what had happened. An emblem of forgetting, the piece was evocative, even poignant to behold as the clock struck 5:45 PM and the loudspeaker announced, as though in a store, that we only had fifteen more minutes before the doors closed. A short while before, Gioni, who was perched beside the water nearby, took out his phone and documented the vessel’s procession. This all will be—has been, was made to be—archived, but will it be remembered? And how?

Suzanne Hudson

Massimiliano Gioni photographs Ragnar Kjartansson’s S.S. Hangover.

Ink Tank

New York

Left: Artist Cai Guo-Aiang with Vivienne Tam. Right: Outside the Metropolitan Museum. (Except where noted, all photos: Lee Ambrozy)

ONE MET. MANY WORLDS. The Met’s slogan is emblazoned across Fifth Avenue over banners that cover its facade and the now under-construction Koch Plaza. The phrase heralds the museum’s globalist vision, but in Chinese characters it reads slightly different, roughly translating to: Visit the Met. See Multiculturalism. Last week, invoking the grand narrative of “Chinese tradition,” the arbiters of the world’s cultural heritage launched a provocative foray—the Met’s first major exhibition dedicated to contemporary Chinese works—with “Ink Art: Past as Present in Contemporary China.”

The title itself is a tad disingenuous, and prompted some humorous musings. (Does the exhibition comprise tattoos, we wondered? Māori symbols?) The show, which features seventy-some works by thirty-five artists, is surrounded by one of the most important collections of classical Chinese ink painting outside of China, so expectations were understandably high. Inside the empty beaux-arts Great Hall, women in festive qipaos walked up the grand staircase at the speeds their slender dresses would allow; at the top of the stairs, ushers in more pragmatic blue blazers pointed the way to the Asian Art galleries. More than six hundred people had been invited to the opening, and the throngs poured into the galleries.

Left: Long March Space’s Lu Jie with China Guardian International Auctions senior specialist of contemporary art Zhang Xiaoming. Right: Metropolitan Museum of Art Chinese painting department curator Joseph Scheier-Dolberg .

Staring at the ceiling to take in colossal ink paintings by Yang Jiechang and Qiu Zhijie, I nearly collided with Claudia Albertini, director of Platform China’s space in Hong Kong. Together we paused to admire the works’ awkward juxtaposition, uncomfortably close to each other and playing off the monumental Buddhist sculpture. In the next hall, Han dynasty funerary urns shared space with Ai Weiwei’s Coca Cola Urn and Map of China, around which a small crowd of Fifth Avenue locals had gathered, breathlessly remarking on the fine craftsmanship.

Rushing by in a down jacket, artist Sun Xun paused for a hello. Recently profiled in the New York Times, he seemed unfazed by the opening’s glamour. Sun is finishing a three-month residency in the city, and to celebrate, Xin Wang, a member of the “Ink Art” curatorial team, had organized a party––cooking crab and getting drunk while doing it––at Sun’s studio the night prior. “She had me here this morning at 10:30,” he lamented.

At the entrance to the painting galleries, the show’s curator Maxwell K. Hearn received a steady stream of locals with admirable diplomatic demeanor. Collectors like Qiao Zhibin, along with dealers from Asia were making detours home from Miami. Jane Debevoise, chair of the board at the Asia Art Archives, was gushing about a stunning installation of Wu Shanzhuan’s Red Humor International, she herself being an ink-painting maven and collector.

Left: Miriam Basilio, associate professor of art history and museum studies at NYU. Right: Associate publisher of Jing Daily Philana Woo with artist Wang Jianwei and UCCA curator Paula Tsai.

In the next room, exhibiting artist Qiu Anxiong stood next to a vitrine containing Chinese handscrolls. What did he think of the whole scene? He was easy-breezy: The show was historicizing, of course, but he didn’t expect such an institution to be cutting-edge. Inside the adjacent container, Duan Jianyu’s ink paintings on flattened cardboard boxes caught my eye, their corrugated lines and cola can rings still visible. Cardboard or garbage-based media sharing a consecrated vitrine space with masterpieces of classical Chinese paintings—the comparison collapsed time in an intriguing way.

For specialists, much of what is on display has been seen before, although some works had a freshness that appealed to New York’s most critical viewers. Jonathan Hay, a Chinese art historian with an excellent connoisseurial eye, looked approvingly at a photo “handscroll” by Xing Danwen. Columbia University’s John Rajchman mused on the sorts of curatorial challenges the Met must have dealt with in a show where artists could talk back.

The major lender to this exhibition, Uli Sigg, circulated with the upper-crust VIPs, but in the series of tiny crowded galleries, I could hardly see the forest or the trees. The Sigg Collection has been shaping a European understanding of “Chinese contemporary art” for nearly a decade, and this show is heavily indebted to that vision. Ai Weiwei was present in almost every gallery, and in the next room I came upon his “Provisional Landscapes,” photographs printed on giant rolls of photo paper and hung to imitate vertical scrolls. “It’s a Shanghai Tang kind of moment,” said Philana Woo, associate publisher of the New York–based Jing Daily.

Left: White Cube Hong Kong’s Laura Zhou and artist Qiu Anxiong. Right: Artist Yang Jiecang with curators Britta Erickson and Christopher Phillips.

From a vantage point in front of Wang Dongling’s gestural brushwork (“Looks like a Robert Motherwell!” “Abstract Expressionism!”), the transnational nature of the “Chinese” art scene was apparent in one glance around the room. Yang Yongliang, Shi Guorui, and Wang Qingsong were in from Shanghai and Beijing, but increasingly the “Chinese art world” hails from New York: Cai Guo-Qiang, Zhang Jianjun, and Gu Wenda, to name a few. Many other artists, including Xu Bing and Liu Dan, spent formative years here. New York–based critic Barbara Pollack, who has been writing about Chinese artists for more than a decade, excitedly chatted about her jaunt to Beijing next month. Laura Zhou from White Cube Hong Kong was in New York interviewing one of her Brooklyn-based American artists, and as we strolled without stopping through this iteration of Xu Bing’s canonical Book from the Sky—thousands of pages of unreadable woodblock-printed texts, and perhaps the most frequently cited work of recent Chinese art history—Beijing-based dealer Waling Boers asked, “How many copies of that thing are there?”

After a long tour of the Egyptian galleries, we arrived at the reception unfolding around the Temple of Dendur. Most of the professionals congregated here. Thomas Berghuis, who recently relocated to the Guggenheim to take up a permanent curatorial position, chatted with New York–Beijing dealers Christophe Mao and Lu Jie. Wang Jianwei, in town preparing for his solo exhibition at that institution next year, surely saw the night as forecasting the reception of Chinese artists in this town.

But not everyone was so sanguine about the anodyne lineage of Chinese cultural orthodoxy presented here. Paris-based independent scholar Francesca dal Lago, who was instrumental in first bringing Chinese artists to Venice in 1993, unapologetically vented her dismay at the show’s forced curatorial framework: “Come on, how ‘inky’ is Ai Weiwei?” Likewise, Beijing-based performance artist Yan Xing was unconvinced that the “Past as Present” narrative evoked anything contemporary about his world, and suggested “Past as Imaginary” as an exhibition subtitle instead. Of course, not all the provocations that Chinese art is capable of are suitable for public display in such an institution. This stealth exhibition hints that a door has been opened, and this in itself is a triumph.

Lee Ambrozy

Left: Pekin Fine Arts' Meg Maggio (left). Right: Artist Yan Xing with UCLA professor of Chinese archaeology Lothar von Falkenhausen.

Hep Hep Hooray

New York

Left: John Zorn (right). Right: Cover of Semina magazine at Boo-Hooray gallery. (Photos: Jude Broughan)

“THERE MIGHT BE no hepper hepcat in the history of post-war hep than Wallace Berman,” writes counterculture archivist Johan Kugelberg. “He’s like a Neal Cassady who actually did stuff.” Born on Staten Island, Berman moved west with his family in the 1930s, and it was here that he became an artist. Relocating from LA to San Francisco in 1957, he developed the “Verifax” collage technique, using Kodak’s early photocopier to layer and juxtapose magazine clippings in grids of variations. Though Berman was never an A-list name (he “remains obscure,” continues Kugelberg, “compared to all the biters who subsequently bit his originality and style”), the artist did achieve some notoriety after the police, having found one of the works in his first exhibition at Ferus Gallery to be “lewd and lascivious,” closed down the show. Arguably, this hepcat’s importance originates as much in being at the center of a web of connections as it does in his aesthetic—something bourn out by the stellar list of contributors to his journal Semina.

Published in miniscule editions between 1955 and ’64, Semina was the assemblage pioneer’s “scrapbook of the spirit,” a flurry of image and text mailed out to Beat-generation mates like William S. Burroughs and Alexander Trocchi. The home-produced, hand-printed zine combined photography and collage with poetry and other writing in an ever-changing but always compact and collectible form perfectly suited to postal dissemination. Last Sunday afternoon, Kugelberg’s Boo-Hooray Gallery launched an exhibition showcasing all nine issues, related ephemera such as a Sony ad that Berman appropriated and reworked multiple times, and a book reproducing the publication’s entire run. Berman was killed by a drunk driver in 1976, but as one of those cultural figures who popped up, Zelig-like, in some unexpected places—he had a bit part in Easy Rider and graces the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s—I still half-expected to clock him here.

But while the artist himself attended purely in spirit, Kugelberg, an individual of commendably diverse tastes who this summer collaborated with Gavin Brown’s Enterprise to catalogue and preserve hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa’s vast record collection, was on hand, joined on this occasion by Berman’s son Tosh and an assortment of friends and associates that included artist Dylan Stone, critic Carlo McCormick, and Living Theater veteran Tom Walker. As snow began to fall outside on a bustling preholiday Canal Street, early visitors munched on salted pretzels and mustard and the event assumed a cozy, familial air. Adding to the air of nostalgia was a selection of Berman’s photographs from the ’50s and ’60s depicting the likes of Allen Ginsberg, Russ Tamblyn, and painter Jay DeFeo, the last spread-legged in front of her famously hefty magnum opus The Rose.

Once a decent crowd had gathered, Kugelberg announced the entertainment—a musical interlude par excellence courtesy of downtown thrash-jazz legend John Zorn. Looking compact and youthful in T-shirt, camo pants, and dangling tzitzit, the just-turned-sixty saxophonist and composer, accompanied by a similarly deft and imaginative double bassist, treated us to a blistering twenty-minute ad-lib—though not before a brief altercation with one onlooker to my left. Snapping away in contravention of earnest pleas that we live in the moment by ditching our ’phones and cameras, the hapless individual soon came to regret his hubris. “You didn’t pay one bit of attention, did you?” snarled Zorn, lunging forward to bat the camera out his hand. “What is with these motherfuckers?” Later, a beaming Kugelberg congratulated the pair as they packed up: “Gentlemen, you guys just fuckin’ killed it, didn’t you?” Berman, a lover of all things improvised, would surely have concurred.

Michael Wilson

Real Talk


Boychild at MoMA PS1 + YoungArts's party at the Delano Beach Club. (Photo: Kay Goldberg)

OVER THE PAST FIVE ART BASEL MIAMI BEACHES—I first attended in its worst-selling, most-fun year, 2008—the insiders have changed, but their complaint remains the same. It is uttered in an anal, intransigent outside voice, the voice of someone doubtless named Johan, and it’s this: “All these hipsters/rich kids [who are young and beautiful] are flying to Miami [where it is sexy and wildly nice out] in December [when it is disgusting and cold in most of art’s first world] to drink free vodka and eat [or get] crabs while having [blitzy, filmic] sex on the [literal] beach—and they’re not even going to look at one piece of contemporary art!”

The complaint would contain its own riposte, except it is not really about Basel or art. It is about the anxiety of influx in the art world. The assorted philistines who come to feed off the industry’s plethora, then vomit at the feet of its gods, are considered “fake” fairgoers; the relatively diminishing number of serious dealers, collectors, and curators are the “real” ones. One camp takes selfies with/of a Scott Reeder sculpture that spells REAL FAKE in silver balloons in the fair’s Public sector, while the other hangs at private previews of family collections, debating the authenticity of Nick Paumgarten’s sources in a New Yorker profile of gallerist-heir David Zwirner, and I have to say, when I’m picking at my nail polish in the latter conversations, I miss being on the other side. To those who make culture for a living, Art Basel is the playground of class war.

“Every year the fair makes me realize I love Abstract Expressionism and hate art,” said Glenn O’Brien on Thursday at the Standard Hotel. He was unveiling Penance, a new book of other people’s confessions, and his own mea culpa was that all he wanted from five hundred thousand square feet of booth space was a 1960s Michael Goldberg and a 1960s Joan Mitchell. What an old-guy opinion! “No!” he retorted. “I think your generation is the best one yet. You have the most interesting tools, and you are not as obsessed with selling out.” Fair, I said, and turned around to show him a Cy Twombly tattoo on my back.

Left: Lily Cole and artist Scott Campbell at a celebration of Spike Jonze's HER at The Standard Spa. Right: Glenn O'Brien at the release party for Penance at The Standard Spa. (Photo: Philipp Draxler)

Twombly, C. Schneemann, and Berlinde De Bruyckere were my Goldbergs and Mitchells this year. I went to the fair on Saturday, when it’s crowded like hell, because I can’t stand the hushed, who’s-that attention of the VIP day. On Saturday you can feel what you really think. And I find that I cannot distinguish between real and fake, only between dead and alive. The lighting makes all work feel like bodies at a morgue. The gallery girls (and boys) are still dressed for the death of painting. So when I see something I love at Art Basel, it is usually because I recognize the artist—but in a quick, subcutaneous, not superficial way. Real artists are human in extremis, and their life clings to objects the way life does to stars.

An assistant at Galleria Continua’s booth told me that De Bruyckere’s bleeding antlers, parceled off from her work at the Venice Biennale, were selling for $125,000 and $150,000, depending on how much material was used. It was a shock: Who would have thought that the worth of a work at an art fair might correspond to its weight? A drippy Sigmar Polke on paper, for example, was sold by Michael Werner for $1.4 million.

“It’s like going to the butcher shop,” said Scott Campbell at a dinner for Interview and OHWOW, his gallery, on the rooftop of the Boulan Hotel. Scott is one of the good guys making stuff, so I was thrilled to hear him say it—or maybe just relieved to recognize someone. When he introduced me to Neville Wakefield I said, “Hi Alex,” as in Alex Olson, and when Harmony and Rachel Korine walked in I thought Jesus, Leslie Mann is really going hard in the plastic. Was it only Wednesday? Basel’s pure wattage can burn out your facial-recognition system in a blink.

Left: Evan Yurman, Brant Publications president Dan Ragone, and friend with filmmaker Harmony Korine at the Interview x OHWOW party. (Photo: Carly Otness/ Right: A$AP Rocky at the VFiles + DIS party. (Photo: Bramble Trionfo)

On Friday, I recovered from the curiously substandard NADA by hitting up UNTITLED, now in its second year in a tent on south South Beach. There I found work I loved instantly by a Swiss boy, Julian Charrière, represented by Dittrich & Schlechtriem. Charrière’s suprareal images of ecosystemic collapse remind me a little of Cyprien Gaillard, whose show at MoMA PS1 was a favorite this year. But Gaillard drinks champagne with Vladimir Restoin-Roitfeld, and Charrière—who lives and works in Berlin—bought paper-bag whiskey to slug with us in a car snailing Standard-ward (for the charming PICA + DIS magazine soiree, in celebration of Jennifer West and Trajal Harrell). I just hope he never moves to New York.

“Is everyone here from Manhattan? God! It’s like the Hollywood of the art world!” proclaimed a bleached Lindsay Lohan who, in close-up, turned out to be the notorious Warhol blonde and Adderall diarist Cat Marnell. Luckily, no Lohan is more quotable than Cat. It was either the Interview and OHWOW afterparty or the Hole Gallery and Shore Club afterparty, and I asked her, because she knows, about the graffiti scene far from South Beach. “Like, you mean Wynwood? Wynwood is over,” said Cat. “It’s for tourists. I mean, I am here for glamour. I love fake beauty and all that shit. But if you want to see real art that isn’t in the market or the museums or anything, you have to go driving at 5 AM to see my friends”—she means the artists Mint & Serf—“just taking spray paint and PCP and fucking up the walls of all the fancy hotels.”

Left: Writer Cat Marnell at the Interview x OHWOW party. Right: Artist-choreographer Trajal Harrell and PICA artistic director Angela Mattox. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

At one of them, the Fontainebleau, I crawled through the service entrance into the champagne room of a head-pounding, nerve-ending club. “You look familiar,” said the real Lindsay Lohan, who is a redhead again, I’d forgotten, and I thought: Even if you’ve seen me before, it couldn’t possibly be true. Lindsay, whom I’ve always loved from afar, is not one of those works who has verity under ultraviolet light.

Two days later, she was accused of ordering Ray Lemoine to beat up Paris Hilton’s kid brother. (The kid’s Instagram, showing a face carved up by the sunglasses he had on when punched, should be a lesson to all dealers wearing blackout shades to candlelit dinners.) The story isn’t true: Ray ordered himself to do it, then labeled it a “performance" titled Lohan Thug, marking the hundredth time in five days I heard a friend or acquaintance describe their participation in something absurd or beneath them as either “performance” or “installation.” That too is false. Miami is where New Yorkers go to show our real faces and call them masks.

LIV at the Fontainebleau during the 12th Art Basel Miami Beach.

Stars exist only for night. Marnell is one. A$AP Rocky is another, and so is Jacolby Satterwhite—the young performance artist absorbs the spotlight at every party he attends, by which I mean every party… there is, and yet when I saw him by day, at UNTITLED, it took me three tries to place him. I think my new friend Hari Nef, an 89-plus-approved bad vivant, will be one: During a boychild/Korakrit Arunanondchai/Ben Wolf Noam performance at Friday night’s MoMa PS1 party, I watched, from across the pool, Nef’s face shimmer in recognition of themself—and no one else—and it felt like a baptism or a relief.

But the real spectacle starts when the art party ends. When the list ends, I mean, and both the locals and the philistines loop in. Then you see a hula-hooping Bushwick club kid next to the only girl this kid has ever seen who actually knows how to twerk. You see a guy wearing a Jeff Koons sculpture on his head that is, he tells you, actually a balloon animal (he can make you one for five dollars, which seems high). You hear a Latino bodyguard tell some Johan he’s going to jail if he causes any more trouble at Chez André, and you get a kiss from a stunning black girl that will not come off in the bathroom, it’s like paint, and the drugs do come off so you feel really and truly expired but you’re still twitching in time because a star who shares her name with the city’s airport is singing:

All I wanna do is

All I wanna do is

All I wanna do is

All I wanna do is

Sarah Nicole Prickett

Left: Serpentine codirector of exhibitions Hans Ulrich Obrist with writer Kevin McGarry and MoMA PS1's Jenny Schlenzka and Klaus Biesenbach at MoMA PS1 + YoungArts's party at the Delano Beach Club. (Photo: Sam Roeck) Right: Artist Jacolby Satterwhite at the Interview x OHWOW party. (Photo: Carly Otness/

Culture Club


Left: Dealer Iwan Wirth. (Photo: Sam Roeck) Right: Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. (Photo: David X. Prutting)

ALMOST TWO DECADES after Leonardo DiCaprio and Baz Luhrmann made a movie inspired by Miami’s urban strip of beach, they have come together again to toast a project just as spectacular, a fiction-cum–reality land, complete with multimillion-dollar beachside residences, two hotels, a Rem Koolhaas–designed Art Center, and an art “think tank.” The whole thing is currently under construction. Larry Gagosian has already bought a property. He and his girlfriend, who were among one hundred or so guests at a dinner Wednesday night to celebrate the construction of Faena Miami Beach, looked pleased.

“It is a district for romance, for love, for life—and we are the curators,” cooed real estate developer Alan Faena from under a white cowboy hat. District is a very specific word choice. “We don’t want to use the word club in Miami. Club here connotes partying, and we want this to be a place where people can gather and have a drink, maybe dance some flamenco,” pitched a property salesman.

Luhrmann had been enlisted to design the property’s two hotels. “Len Blavatnik came to me and said, ‘I have something that I think you might be interested in—and it’s in Miami,’ ” said the filmmaker. “And in that moment my mind went ‘Bang!,’ because that’s where I wrote the screenplay for Romeo + Juliet. He said, ‘I’ve got this very small, independent, low-budget project.’ And I thought, ‘Well, that sure has our names written all over it.’ ”

Left: Real estate mogul Aby Rosen with wife Samantha Boardman. (Photo: David X. Prutting) Right: Aby Rosen’s WALL party. (Photo: Allese Thomson)

The audience—which included Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Deitch, Norman Foster, New Museum director Lisa Phillips, Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner, and Bruce Weber—chuckled. Small, independent, and low-budget is not precisely their thing, nor is it the province of Art Basel Miami Beach, which this year was accompanied by thirty-eight separate satellite fairs and (another!) Koons showdown between Gagosian and Zwirner.

Once upon a time (in 2002), this was a relatively small fair with grand ambitions but perhaps simple intentions: sell art in a place with good weather in December. Eleven years later: “This installation,” Faena continued, gesturing at a model of the billion-dollar district’s glass towers of apartments, “is about the interconnection between humanity and nature. It is about art.”

There had been a lot of interconnection between humanity and, well, perhaps not nature, at that day’s VIP preview of the fair. Visitors mingled in the plush chambers designed by Jorge Pardo for Neugerriemschneider’s booth, so convincing that the fire department required the dealers to post a special note stating the booth’s maximum capacity. Hip-to-crit dealers (Reena Spaulings, 47 Canal, and much of the finely curated NOVA section) presented booths that provocatively riffed on the spectacle of ABMB, while others took on market demographics (among the artists at Hauser & Wirth’s attractive presentation, only one was a white man). Others continued their commitment to intelligent, human work, like Lutz Bacher’s glittery installation at Greene Naftali, which demonstrated that just because something’s shiny doesn’t mean it lacks depth.

Left: Dealer Gavin Brown. (Photo: David X. Prutting) Right: LIV’s Basel party. (Photo: Allese Thomson)

The Faena dinner began immediately after the fair’s 9 PM close time. Somewhere under billowy red streamers that canopied over tables next to the beach, DiCaprio smiled underneath a messenger cap. Isn’t it fitting that the genre-bending director has reunited with the actor during Art Basel Miami Beach, a week that essentially bills anything aesthetic as “art”? (“It should be called ASS-thetics,” said Gavin Brown as we set off on bikes one night en route to Aby Rosen’s annual WALL party, said to have one of the strictest lists of the fair, with not one but three checkpoints, each leading to another, more exclusive, holding cell.)

After Faena, it was the OHWOW/Interview party on the roof of the Boulan. We stayed until someone received a text that read: BEST PARTY EVER. COME NOW—a Russian billionaire was throwing a fete for DiCaprio on a private island.

“Absolutely not,” said a friend.

“Oh come on. It will be completely ridiculous. We can laugh at it!”

“My party-chasing days are done,” said another. “I am going to the Deuce, having a beer, and calling it a night.”

Left: SculptureCenter Board President Sascha Bauer and dealer Carol Greene. Right: Collector Mera Rubell (center). (Photos: Allese Thomson)

Ten minutes later, six of us were crammed into the back of yellow taxi zipping over a private bridge. The house resembled a mega-McMansion, decked out in all the appropriate billionaire trappings—jet skis, two speedboats, and a smattering of works by Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons. Inside, girls with tall shoes and glossy lips teetered around looking like baby deer trying to keep their balance. Security guards wore tags around their necks that read ALL ACCESS. Outside, a football field–length pool reflected palm trees lit up by electric red light.

“We’ve got to get out of here.”

Twenty minutes later and we were back in the cab, speeding over the bridge to a new spectacle, the superclub LIV. “It’s all models and bottles. I can’t. I just can’t,” protested one, shaking his head.

Phones were on fire: It was Wednesday night and ABMB was alive: Chez Andre was blowing up (COME! THE DOOR IS TOUGH BUT USE MY NAME), Le Baron was exploding (I CAN GET YOU IN—EVERYONE IS HERE), ACME had just premiered its Miami Basel space (BETTER THAN NEW YORK! AMAZING CROWD).

“I don’t want to party with people that I have to see at the fair tomorrow—we won’t know anyone at LIV.” Turns out we were wrong. Inside, all the way up in the VIP section, we encountered several industry folk, along with the ubiquitous Lindsay Lohan.

Then, flanked by a fleet of dealers and art advisers, bouncers ushered in DiCaprio. A friend looked pained as massive, candy-colored balloons were released from the ceiling, and bounced above a screaming crowd.

“You know, we just came here as satire.”

Left: Dealer Daniel Buchholz. (Photo: Sam Roeck) Right: Dealer José Kuri, artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, and dealer Nicolas Svennung. (Photo: Allese Thomson)

Six hours later and two miles north, NADA opened with an exceptional show at the Deauville, a convention center–style hotel with peeling paint, dank carpet, and sweeping, spectacular views of Miami’s aqua-white sea. Fresh-faced dealers happily greeted collectors, selling lots—and quickly. Artists like Lena Henke, David Korty, Anicka Yi, Dave McDermott, and Kristin Calabrese collided different places, ideas, times within single aesthetic objects, tapping into the way categorical distinctions of so many disciplines are slowly disappearing. (“Curator” and “developer” are certainly not the only blurred terms of our time.)

“Have you seen the Sayre Gomez work at François Ghebaly?” one collector asked. “I mean—this is why we go to NADA.”

I walked over to the booth and took in a wall of paintings, each flush with color and covered in text:



Allese Thomson

Left: Kate Gilmore's piece for Art Public. Right: Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner and artist Kate Gilmore. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Auto Didact


Left: “Pistonhead” bunnies. (Photo: Ana Cecilia Alvarez Ortiz) Right: Artist Damien Hirst and musician Pharrell Williams. (Photo: Mireya Acierto)

ON TUESDAY, DECEMBER 3, the Miami Herald reported that Paul Walker was not in a relationship with local woman Genesis Rodriguez. I read it at the nail salon. Paul Walker is dead in his Porsche. The manicurist says the Miamiest shade of nail polish is Essie’s “Penny Talk,” which looks like sunset on a silver, ridiculous car.

Imagine your name were Genesis Rodriguez. Would you live anywhere but Miami? I adore this place: It’s so fictional that nothing here seems strange. Nowhere else have I seen money float free of class and this close to the sun, and in no other city I know—certainly not in New York—can you say “only in [blank]” and have it be accurate.

Still, not all are so in love with the mirage. On Tuesday, November 29, 2011, for example, the collector-writer-dealer Adam Lindemann went on strike. “Let’s agree to boycott the whole thing,” he wrote in his column for the New York Observer. “Let’s simply not go.... If we succeed in stopping them now, we can then enforce some new rules in this game. First and foremost, art fairs should be for collectors only; if you’re not coming to buy art, get the hell out. Second, gallery dinners only, preferably with a few artists and curators sprinkled in to keep it kosher. That means no parties to sell private jets, no jewelry company Champagne cocktails, not even a Ferrari schmoozer and boozer.”

Left: CEO of Ferrari North America Marco Mattiacci and dealer Adam Lindemann. Right: Artist Virginia Overton. (Photos: Billy Farrell)

A compelling polemic—and one that played well in my head as I ascended to the second floor of a famous parking garage for the champagne-soaked VIP opening of “Pistonhead: Artists Engage the Automobile,” put on by Adam Lindemann’s gallery, Venus Over Manhattan, and sponsored by Ferrari. If I sound uncharitable, I don’t mean it. The car is America’s most perfect machine. You cannot imagine a popular yet also critically acclaimed motion picture starring Ryan Gosling that is titled Sew, or even Thresh. French people think so too: Pistonhead is probably a riff on Museum Tinguely’s “Car Fetish,” which showed at Basel proper the same year Adam Lindemann “didn’t go” to Miami. But there is always room for more autos, especially on the wide and gleaming streets of South Beach, and even when traffic here moves like a rich guy entering the kingdom of heaven. Plus, look at the artists: Ron Arad, Bruce High Quality Foundation, Dan Colen and Nate Lowman, Keith Haring, Damien Hirst, Richard Phillips, Richard Prince, Tom Sachs… I mean, it’s about time for a male group show up in this beach! (Virginia Overton must’ve snuck in wearing overalls, her blonde, tumbling mane tucked under a tough red helmet.)

To celebrate this straight-acting affair, two Playboy bunnies (or Craigslist recruits in Playboy bunny costumes) posed in front of a black car while man after man lined up to have his picture taken. “I’m putting this on my Facebook page,” said one. Another didn’t know how to hold his camera, and a bunny kindly showed him: horizontally. Ten feet away, a woman from Art Production Fund described in detail the specs of a new red Ferrari selling for $1.5 mil. When I asked the name of an artist who had inked, on a massive floor-laid cloth, the flattened parts of a car, she could not remember. “I do know it’s only $10,000,” she said, “which is a bargain, comparatively.” (Yeees, but what is the mileage like?)

Left: Best Buddies International founder and chairman Anthony Shriver with collector Peter Brant. Right: Dealers Gavin Brown, Michelle Maccarone, and Corinna Durland. (Photos: Dimitrios Kambouris)

At the Interview x Porsche Design party, ten blocks away at Temple House, a mother and her daughters posed in front of a white wall hung with many identical handbags. Zoë Kravitz wandered in looking dazed after closing time (8 PM). Then she took the stage. Her voice was dusty in the blacklight; she belongs on something more like a motorcycle. Outside, two blonde Russians climbed into an idling Porsche. “We’re going to the Ferrari party,” said one.

Up the beach and to the left, the Brant Foundation held its Best Buddies Art + Friendship Auction at the home of real estate developer Ugo Colombo. Several members of the Brit aristocracy attended. Three men showed up dressed like midcentury gangsters on a hobby boat, and one of them was Leo DiCaprio. Seven or eight cars—a Peugeot, a Lamborghini, a Bugatti maybe—were the first works I saw outside the house, but they were not for sale, and later I learned that Colombo bought “the Collection” after the government seized it from his ex–racing partner, Armando “Mandy” Fernandez, who was busted I guess for drugs. Now the market is just as criminal, but also legal. A Dan Colen went for $175,000.

Left: Artist Matthu Placek with his mother. Right: Visionaire’s Cecilia Dean. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Did you know that Marina Abramović used to live in a car with Ulay and that they drove in circles for a year when they had no clothes or food and drank from her vagina for sustenance three times annually, but she never once got pregnant? So you can mock The Abramović Method all you like, but it sure beats the pill. Further convincing: Her naked body is still a masterpiece. I know because I saw it—in 3-D—by waiting for an hour to watch Matthu Placek’s five-minute “film installation” A Portrait of Marina Abramović, produced by Visionaire and shown at the National YoungArts Foundation (behind the Audi dealership). During it, she opens her eyes slowly. I used to love Marina’s art, and then I hated it, and now I love it again because I never have to wonder what it’s about.

Nearing midnight, when the million-dollar cars turn into cabs, there was a pileup of egos at the door of the Soho House, where White Cube and Lehmann Maupin feted Tracey Emin’s show at MoCA North Miami by turning on all the pink lights. The many Baselites not on the list yet claiming a need to get into the party because a) they know someone who knows Tracey Emin, or b) they are interviewing Tracey Emin for a magazine, or c) Tracey Emin is their favorite artist will be gratified to know that Tracey Emin was nowhere to be found. Her old pal Damien Hirst, however, was outside taking a selfie with his twenty-three-year-old date. Hirst making relevant art again? Yes, but only in Miami.

Sarah Nicole Prickett

Left: Artist Tracey Emin. Right: Emin’s afterparty at the Soho Beach House. (Photos: Mireya Acierto)

Cement Mixer


Left: Collector Craig Robins. Right: At the opening of the Jorge M. Pérez Museum of Art of Miami Dade County. (Except where noted, all photos: Allese Thomson)

IN RECENT YEARS, fashion and design have been Art Basel Miami Beach’s most conspicuous partners-in-crime—at least according to the PR blitzes that were bloating e-mail inboxes in the hours and minutes before the fair. But in the days leading up to the twelfth edition of ABMB, some observers had time to witness the way in which the megafair is imbricated with the longue durée forces of architecture and real estate. A few days before the fair’s VIP opening, there were two prescient events: a dinner celebrating architect Richard Meier’s debut Miami project—transforming the historic Surf Club into glass towers of luxury apartments—and the reopening of the former Miami Art Museum as the Jorge M. Pérez Museum of Art of Miami Dade County.

“He gave $40 million?” gasped an artist, staring up at the $131 million Herzog and de Meuron–designed building on Monday evening. “Why not name it the Miami Art Museum at the Pérez building, since taxpayers are funding the majority of it anyway?” asked another. In 2011, the board agreed to sell the museum’s name to the Buenos Aires–born real estate magnate Jorge Pérez. At the time, Pérez was in ill health and the museum was desperate for funds. Of the forty million, over half is valued in his collection of art, and the remainder is planned to be doled out over a number of years. On this evening, Bank of America was hosting the first of several openings slated for the week, to celebrate the Pérez and “Ai Weiwei: According to What?,” the inaugural exhibition. Pérez did not attend the opening, but his name seemed bigger than ever, printed in large letters across the masterfully designed fortress of glass, wood, and steel situated on the water, which in the sunlight acts like a mirror, reflecting the pseudopublic institution’s image across Biscayne Bay.

Left: Eric Lindemann (center) and Silvia Karman Cubiñá, executive director and chief curator of the Bass Museum of Art (right). Right: Christie's Amy Cappellazzo (left).

Not far away, much less conspicuously, another man was busy engraving his name into a different part of Miami, also in the name of art.

“I own 70 percent of the Design District,” said Craig Robins as he led a pre-Basel hard-hat tour of the district. “You can see how we have begun this legacy—and,” he continued, pointing his finger toward the construction, “how we plan to continue it: Dior will go there, Bvlgari over there. Van Cleef and Harry Winston on that side, Louis Vuitton and Cartier there.”

This legacy began in the 1990s, when Robins bought up many of the low-lying industrial buildings and invited artists to use some as studio spaces, free of charge, effectively infusing the desecrated area with creative lifeblood. As the Design District grew, helped also by Design Miami, which premiered in the neighborhood in 2005 before being sold to Art Basel in 2010, Robins sought out a partnership with LVMH. Once the deal was secured, construction began and the free studio spaces disappeared.

“We feel this area is better suited for exhibitions catered toward our new audience,” said Robin. “Nate Lowman and John Baldessari are both creating permanent installations.” WELCOME TO THE MIAMI DESIGN DISTRICT / WHERE CREATIVITY, ART, LUXURY, AND DESIGN HAPPEN read the massive mural over our heads.

Left: Dealers Ben Morgan-Cleveland and Tyler Dobson. Right: Dealers Liz Mulholland and Peter Currie with MoCA North Miami interim director Alex Gartenfeld, art adviser Eleanor Cayre, and artist Matt Keegan.

There is no event on the art calendar more famous for its efficient hedonism than Art Basel Miami Beach. What is exceptional about the 2013 edition is an influx of speculative real estate—these values are being cemented in the soil of this rapidly expanding city. Evidence of the Brobdingnagian impact that an art fair can have over the economics of a developing urban center? Another real estate developer, who recently bought up land around the nearby Miami neighborhood Park West, has begun giving out free studio space to artists. What comes next is anyone’s guess.

Meier’s refurbishment of the historic Surf Club, where Winston Churchill famously smoked cigars and drank whiskey while he tried his hand at art—“beach painting,” he called it—also nods to this trend. “We used to live on Fisher Island,” said one Miamian, who had recently purchased a condo in the building, on Sunday night. “But a Russian billionaire saw our place and made us an offer we could not refuse. They love it here—incredibly exclusive.” Hosted by Harry Winston and Miami’s Cultured magazine, guests included, among others, collectors Mera and Don Rubell, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Design Miami director Marianne Goebl, architect Joseph Dirand, Craig Robins and Jackie Soffer, hedge fund manager Daniel Nir, and the Haas Brothers.

We took in images of the multimillion-dollar apartments, all bright white and floor-to-ceiling glass walls.

“It’s my first project in Miami,” confided Meier over dinner.

“Really?” someone balked. “But your work seems so Miami?”

“No one ever asked me before,” said the architect.

Left: Collectors Jason Rubell and Michelle Rubell with SculptureCenter president Sascha S. Bauer and Guggenheim Museum deputy director Ari Wiseman. Right: Erin Falls and artist Sam Falls.

After, Isabelle Bscher of Galerie Gmurzynska—Meier had also designed their booth for the fair—offered a ride to the Soho Beach House, where advisers Eleanor Cayre and Mia Romanik were hosting a party for dealers in town: Gavin Brown, Mills Moran, and arriviste Tyler Dobson clinked glasses with and artists like Tony Lewis and Matias Faldbakken. It was rowdy, casual, and loose, with the crowd eventually dispersing to Club Deuce—an infamous Miami dive bar, which, despite the rush of development, evinces an era before door lists and VIP tiers.

On Monday, following the opening of the PAM, dealer Massimo De Carlo hosted a dinner at Ira and Rafe Statfeld’s apartment in Apogee, a luxury condominium tower that was also developed by Pérez. Guggenheim deputy director Ari Wiseman, SculptureCenter board president Sascha Bauer, MoCA North Miami interim director Alex Gartenfeld, the Rubells, and Patricia Marshall gathered around long tables on a wraparound deck. Flamenco music played in the background. The waiters wore neat black-and-white suits. The couple’s collection of Boetti, Auerbach, and Wool paired elegantly with tasteful midcentury design.

“We forget how young the art world is,” said Cayre leaning over the glass balcony. The air was balmy and the ocean looked black in the night’s light. “Fairs have really only been going on for a few decades, Miami for just twelve years—there is no precedent for this.”

Allese Thomson

Left: Dealers Ludovica Barbieri and Massimo De Carlo. Right: Collector Rosa de la Cruz.