Last weekend marked the 10th edition of one of the most noted contemporary art festivals, Art Basel Miami Beach. The US site of the international festival held in Switzerland each summer has become a winter favorite of art enthusiasts and a major highlight of the winter art and design social calendar. Art aficionados and savants descend on South Beach each December to see major exhibits from the top galleries and acquire the latest and greatest pieces for their own collection. Some of the artists adored and supported by All Black Everything had great showings this year, with the first four paintings sold at the event the work of black artists! The visibility of black artists at the festival this year across galleries speaks to the increasing presence of this generally under celebrated group in the contemporary art world.
One of the most noted showcases this year was from Theaster Gates, the multifaceted Chicago artist who recently was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University. Gates’ work was displayed at the Kavi Gupta Gallery, which sold out of 35 of Gates pieces by the end of the festival. His performance piece “A Sermon on Art History” was also a patron hit at the festival’s Art Public opening. This rounds out an impressive year for Gates, who also has an exhibition at MOCA in LA that closes in January 2012 and another at the Seattle Museum of Art through summer. Check out his next showing at the Smart Museum of Art in Chicago coming in February 2012.
The Jack Shainman Gallery presented works by black artists Hank Willis Thomas; Carrie Ann Weems (who’s work ABE covered here); Ghanaian artist, Lynette Yiadom-Boakye; Toyin Odutola; Richard Mosse, and Barkley Hendricks. For the ABE followers in NYC, Richard Moose’s exhibition Infra is on display until December 23, 2011, definitely worth a browse in between holiday parties and shopping.
Also celebrated was Brazilian artist, Paulo Nazareth. Art critics and supporters alike celebrated the increase of Latin American Artists, hailing from Brazil, Argentina, Columbia, Mexico, and Peru. There were 6 more galleries from Latino nations this year than before.
Many blogs and articles have recounted the increased presence of blacks at this year’s festival and the impressive sale’s by many black artists. With Gates, Kehinde Wiley, and Hank Willis Thomas being talked about the most from the black community. Overall the festival made a huge financial comeback in the wake of the recession, with the largest profits since 2008. For the art community, this bodes well for 2012.
Also noteworthy was the large turnout from the Hollywood community, with many celebrities showing up to browse and add to their own collections, sparking many reporters to suspect Art Basel Miami Beach to be the new rival to the ever-anticipated Sundance Film Festival. From the black celebrity community, visitors included hip hop mogul, Sean Combs; noted actor, Will Smith; singer, Solange Knowles; supermodel, Naomi Campbell; neophyte rapper, Theophilus London; Grey’s Anatomy actor, Jesse Williams; basketball superstar, Dwayne Wade; actress, Gabrielle Union; producer, Pharrell Williams; and business entrepreneur, Russell Simmons. The Rush Philanthropic Arts Foundation also announced the winners of their Sapphire Artisan Series, an annual competition to discover the next big name in urban photography and multi-media art. The 2011 winners, Miguel Ovalle and Lerone Wilson, will have their work on display at the Rush Arts Gallery from February 9 – March 16, 2012.
In the end, Art Basel Miami Beach continued its success as the premiere art event in the United States. Hopefully the black presence at the festival is a great forecast for the upcoming years. All Black Everything is excited for the seasoned and new artists to watch on the radar.