Art Basel Miami Beach 2016 News

Champagne! Caviar! Gucci Mane! Post-Election Dread! A Final Art Basel Notebook Dump

Outside at White Cube party at Soho Beach House.COURTESY GETTY IMAGES

Outside at White Cube party at Soho Beach House.

As we all now know, Art Basel Miami Beach’s 2016 edition was marked by more political work than usual, even if many of the VIPs skipped this year’s southward art collecting hajj, making for thinned-out crowds. There’s an existential crisis gripping the industry after the election, but the rich are getting richer, and that means dealers are selling more art. And, yes, as usual, there were about a thousand events, some of which I attended. Here’s a run down:

  • Monday night, there was a something called a “picnic supper” for L.A.’s MAMA gallery that had early Basel-goers actually sitting on the grass while dining on fare from acclaimed chef Ari Taymor, of Alma in Hollywood. The seating situation caused at least one woman in white pants to freak out. Stains on day one! The “grass” was actually Astroturf.
  • Opening at the World Erotic Art Museum. Strange place! Lot of sex stuff! Neville Wakefield was there so look for sex stuff in Gstaad.
  • Grand opening of Faena Forum, the latest piece of the four-block conga line of buildings dreamt up by Alan Faena and paid for by Len Blavatnik (and still under construction after years and years of constant Basel-time roll-outs). Faena Forum is a swirly sand-colored cone with an oculus at its center that will eventually house performances and such; on Monday it hosted Ukrainians (courtesy Blavatnik) and Argentinians (courtesy Faena) all dancing on a platform at the center of the room.
  • Walked into a party at the Versace Mansion and immediately saw the Swiss Institute’s director, Simon Castets. “Do you like my new house?” he said.
  • Tuesday. Design District. The Moore Building. The opening of “Desire,” the Jeffrey Deitch/Larry Gagosian collabo curated by Diana Widmaier-Picasso. Everyone’s gawking at Dirty – Jeff on Top, the larger-than-life depiction of coitus with his then-wife, the adult film star and politician Ilona Staller. “I mean, if you were him, wouldn’t you make the exact same work?” an onlooker said. Maybe! Maybe not! Artist Chloe Wise—who was in the Deitch/Gagosian joint last year, “Unrealism”—captured the work pretty well on Instagram, with Koons’s face from Hand on Breast poking in from the back.

    Two works by Jeff Koons.

    • Popped over to ICA for its Thomas Bayrle show and, hey now, it’s Thomas Bayrle! “I haven’t seen this in a long, long time,” he said, waving a hand to one of his paintings. A bunch of older women were trailing him, hanging on his every word. “It’s gone from collector to collector.” “So it’s like you’re being reunited with an old friend!” one of the older women said. He walked up to a work with yellow measurement sticks, some curved in a certain ways to evoke a silhouette. “This is my mother, it’s a portrait,” Bayrle said. “My mother died very young. Don’t ask me why I did it with measurement sticks. I just liked the color.”
      A Thomas Bayrle portrait of his mother.ARTNEWS

      A Thomas Bayrle portrait of his mother.

    • Party at the Dior boutique, to celebrate a momentous occasion: Dior’s “Lady Dior” line has a limited edition “Lady Dior Art” line, and this line has a limited-edition line of bags called “Lady Dior Art Bags.” Naturally, all the bags were all designed by male artists. How tone deaf, Dior! The cocktails sucked.
    • Spotted: Jason Binn squiring Martha Stewart around the Rubell Family Collection opening and not talking to Eliot Spitzer. Someone around me mused, at one point, to no one in particular, “All the fashion people, they only care about appearance, they don’t care about any of this.”
    • Query: Those Budweisers in Cady Noland’s awesome This Piece Has No Title Yet (1989)—you think they’re full?
      Cady Noland at the Rubell Collection.ARTNEWS

      Cady Noland at the Rubell Collection.

    • After being detained in South Africa for 11 months and finally released a week ago, Mos Def, where do you want to go? Mos Def went to the White Cube party at Soho Beach House.
    • The fair opened. Art sold. Gagosian Gallery employee Derek Blasberg took selfies in the Gagosian Gallery booth.
    • Also in the Gagosian booth: a Damien Hirst spin painting with Damien Hirst’s credit card in it.
      Damien Hirst's credit card in a Damien Hirst work.ARTNEWS

      Damien Hirst’s credit card in a Damien Hirst work.

    • Every German in town seemed to be to be at the grand unveiling of the BMW Art Car, this year designed by John Baldessari, who was sitting next to speedster, which was hidden away behind a box cover. On stage with the artist were reps from various sponsors—Davidoff, UBS, Art Basel. “It wasn’t really a PR or marketing gig, it was a passion of John’s,” said the BMW rep onstage. He explained that Alexander Calder designed a race car for BMW, and that the Baldessari car would be in the Daytona 500. Even the artist chimed in: “I hope this car is moving rims in Daytona—I’ll be very happy!” You know what? He did seem genuinely happy. Let John Baldessari design his race car, sure, sounds great.
    • Alex Katz put Gavin Brown on one of the shirts in the line he designed for H&M. Left that party early, as there was no way the 89-year-old Katz would come to a shindig at the Edition in Miami Beach.
      An Alex Katz shirt featuring his dealer, Gavin Brown.ARTNEWS

      An Alex Katz shirt featuring his dealer, Gavin Brown.

      How wrong I was.

    • By now, you’re probably wondering what’s happening in the penthouse of the Faena. Well, what do you know, it’s Galerie Gmurzynska, hosting a “dinatoire”—because there is no word in English for a party with food and cocktails—in celebration of its booth, which was designed by Claude Picasso and Sir Norman Rosenthal. Sir Norman Rosenthal connected me with his suit guy in London.
    • And that crazy dome on the beach behind the Faena, on which you can project video art? The aptly titled Faena Art Dome, you say? There’s a party for Artsy, the startup that sometimes asks Ivanka Trump questions about what art she likes to buy. It featured a all-encompassing sensory work by Rachel Rossin, who made a splash last year with her VR works at ZieherSmith in Chelsea.
    • Thursday. NADA. Terence Koh walking around in a White Zombie tour T-shirt.
    • In the suite showing work by the Estate of Joel Mesler at the Deauville, there was a copy of the National Enquirer. “TRUMP MUST BUILD THE WALL!” read the lead headline. “President-elect’s construction plans & blueprints INSIDE!” Ah, that’s where those plans are.
      On the table at a suite in the Deauville.ARTNEWS

      On the table at a suite in the Deauville.

    • Went to a caviar tasting honoring Enoc Perez at the Webster, because this is what happens when one goes to Art Basel Miami Beach. One waits around in boutiques in converted Deco buildings for a small bite of Sturia Caviar.
    • Oh, what’s that you say, another party big tent on the beach? Where it’s kind of eerily empty because no one came to this art fair this year, perhaps out of fear of contracting Zika? Or they skipped out on a week of buying art and partying because of the very real danger posed by giving nuclear codes to a man who tweets about Saturday Night Live but turns down national security briefings, who upends decades of foreign policy possibly for the sake of his business interests in Taiwan and thus possible putting us on the brink of war with China—maybe that’s the reason you couldn’t attend the Up & Down x Sante D’Orazio “Polaroids” Book Party at the Nautilus Hotel? Or the Alec Monopoly Art Takeover x TAG HEUER at the Mondrian Hotel? Or the VDKA 6100 party hosted by Laure Heriard Dubreuil and Atlanta de Cadenet Taylor at the Webster celebrating Baseman x Coach?
    • And yet, at least one good thing happened in 2016: Gucci Mane was released from prison. He promptly released three albums (three albums!) and is currently featured in the number one pop song in the country, “Black Beatles”—the song that he performed during a surprise appearance at the annual table-dancing extravaganza that is the Dom Perignon party at The Wall, hosted by Aby Rosen and Vito Schnabel. Rae Strummed wasn’t there to perform with him, but Harmony Korine filled in, standing beside Gucci in the DJ booth.
      Gucci Mane.ARTNEWS

      Gucci Mane.

    • Friday. Schvitz at the hamam at the Standard Spa. Best thing you can do in Miami, apart from eating at La Sandwicherie. Saw Tony Bourdain in the hamam last year. No such luck this time around.
    • Elsewhere at the Standard: a dinner for Kickstarter, where I was seated next to artist Hank Willis Thomas, who designed the placemats, which were to related his Super PAC, For Freedoms. The placemats said either “Freedom From” or “Freedom To” and then a blank space underneath, where the guests—who included artists Rashaad Newsom, Eric Mack, and Dread Scott, among others—could write their response. Thomas asked me what it was like to work for Jared Kushner when I was at The Observer. Under Freedom From, I wrote “Jared Kushner.”
    • Artist Ryan McGinness tried to throw 50 parties at once in that same astroturf-covered part of The Standard to celebrate the release of his book 50 Parties. There was jello wrestling, an autopsy table, hula dancing, and fliers going around for a “sex party,” supposedly held in one of the bungalows. Walked into the bungalow number on the flier, and some guys on the bed were waiting to get spanked by some woman in dominatrix gear.


  • A Hood By Air model approaches the water of the Delano pool.ARTNEWS

    A Hood By Air model approaches the water of the Delano pool.

  • Then to the MoMA PS1 party at The Delano, which included a full Hood By Air show, with a very makeshift runway: the Delano pool. “A million dollars in the pool! HBA!” yelled a hype man into the microphone as the models in Hood By Air walked into the pool until they were completely submerged. “A million dollars of clothes in the swimming pool! HBA! HBA!” The show was accompanied by a performance by Princess Nokia, and before it went down, there was a pretty fiery speech from Grace Dunham, the writer and activist. “Dissolve your inherited wealth!” yelled Dunham, who has as parents Laurie Simmons and Carroll Dunham, and as a sister, Lena Dunham. “If people don’t have a house, let them stay in your house. Dissolve your inherited wealth!”
  • Saturday. Run into a friend at the airport who happens to be on my flight, who said she was up until 7 a.m. Another friend, as we’re boarding: “What’s the opposite of ‘Welcome to Miami?'” “Let’s get the fuck out of here.”

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