Life-size cardboard cutout of the mistakenly crowned Miss Columbia. Based on Christopher Columbus’ descriptions of seeing people in the Americas for the first time – saw them as monsters with faces on their chests… By #JuanSebastianPelaez “Adriadna Gutierrez, 2016” in room 4120 #springbreakartfair @lifecreep @juansebastianpelaez @springbreakartshow
There are many art fairs taking place all over the globe throughout the year. And while they’re all fascinating grounds for anthropological studies, there’s nothing quite as glamorous, obscene and glittering as Art Basel Miami Beach, which opens on Thursday. ABMB is to art fairs what the Venezuelan candidate is to a Miss World Pageant. Yet, since most mere mortals can’t afford to randomly fly to Miami in December, here are 10 things you’d very probably see there.
Please note: this list is mostly valid for the preview days of ABMB. One specificity of art fairs is that (like in a dystopian version of totalitarian society) they usually break attendees down into categories, ranging from “so important you will massage her feet if she asks you” to “so irrelevant he probably can’t even spell Picasso”. Consequently, a series of previews are organized for the Hermès-adoring elite before the official openings. That’s where collectors spend money, gallerists network, and the real shit happens, without the nuisance of non collectors asking questions about art or taking selfies in front of canvases worth more than a fleet of private jets.
1. Filthy rich Palm Beach residents
Palm Beach residents on their annual mission to redecorate their titanic, marble-overloaded foyers – they’re usually very white, very rich, and very old.
2. Shiny things
Glossy and mirrored surfaces of various kinds: catalogue covers, Anish Kapoor sculptures, patent leather shoes (probably studded), and curtains of long, tiger-eye colored hair, rejuvenated by some creepy, axolotl-DNA based treatment.
3. Postwar painting
Because SOME venture capitalist will eventually need a Warhol to impress whomever – not with the work itself, but with the obscene price he paid for it.
4. Long lines
Suspiciously long lines for the toilets (and against the usual trend) especially for the men’s toilets. Do fairgoers have particularly weak bladders? No, but some things just can’t be done in public (and I’m not talking about sex)
5. People shouting
A woman shouting “Paul! Come see this! Paul!” while photographing a painting. Paul is probably her husband and will need to pay for the painting, cause it’d work so well in the aforementioned foyer.
6. Gorgeous gallerinas
Gorgeous, underpaid and overly knowledgeable gallerinas; less gorgeous, less underpaid and less charming gallerinos.
7. Bright colors
Hot pink is a favorite, and so are lush, exotic patterns, as subtle as the lyrics of a Pitbull song. This prediction is valid for both for the art and the Pucci-esque blouses being worn en masse.
8. Exquisite design furniture
Exquisite design furniture, often more striking than the art on view, on which the gallery employees sit, frantically write offers to collectors, or cry (after the fair closes).
9. Sculpture by female artists
If you’re lucky, an incredible Isa Genzken sculpture; if you’re not, something by Mel Ramos (usually includes a naked woman and too many shades of pastel)
10. All the joys of the real art world
After a week at #artbasel, here’s a top ten list (just trying to adapt to the trend) of what I got from it (and a pic illustrating pretty sharply a certain aspect of the fair) 1. Too many ugly totebags I’ll wear anyway 2. A menacing gut feeling that my taste really isn’t evolving at all (I most liked the booths / artists I’ve been in awe of for many years, without any mentionable surprise) 3. An art fair cold, as timeless and classic as a Chanel jacket 4. Two blocked credit cards 5. A confirmation that white high quality cotton just looks if not amazing, at least solid on the majority of people (I talked with a director who wore a pleaded, knee-length dress out of the said fabric – perfection. wish I would have been wearing pearls so I could have clutched them) 6. Retroactive #fomo (voice in my head: “well bitch if you didn’t go out every night until 5am you probably missed something didn’t you huh”). 7. Surprisingly satisfying, robust gossip and intel about sales, drama, bitchiness, penis sizes 8. Business cards I will gradually loose without securing the information printed on them 9. A total absence of vitamin D (minutes of sun for the week: 7 / hours of rain: 4 million) 10. Many new, beautiful memories, mostly of people I liked but won’t be able to recall the names of the next time I see them. I’ll be back in 2017, #Basel. #contemporaryart #artfairlife
Altogether, you’ll find a uniquely intense kaleidoscope of what makes the art world: glamour, shadiness, exhaustion, expensive handbags, fat men in navy suits, shiny sculptures for those foyers, laughter, gossip. And yes, I’ll say it, somehow also a particular kind of joy.