The Genteel
January 20, 2021


Randy Polumbo's "Love Stream". Source:
Chris Ofili's Golden Angel Three, 2012. 

Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) is the Cannes Film Festival of the art world, but with more cocaine and millionaires. Taking place in Miami - a city with a naughty past and reputation to match - the contemporary art fair runs from December 6-9. A spin-off Switzerland's Art Basel, Miami Beach's affair has progressively heated up since beginning in 2002.

For gallery owners, curators, artists, dealers and jetsetters from around the world, ABMB is the not-to-be-missed art fair. A total of 257 galleries, which made the cut out of a pool of 680 applicants, are exhibiting this year, hailing from 31 countries on five continents.

Taking place at the Miami Beach Convention Center, ABMB consists of seven official sectors. The Art Galleries sector, where galleries from North America, Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia show off their most talented artists - consisting of everything from painting to film, from sculpture to digital art.Attendees can browse the many galleries, then shift their focus to a select group of artists found in the Art Nova sector, discover hot young talent in Art Positions, or lay down a blanket and watch one of the 60 films in this year's Art Video sector that are showcased on an impressive 7,000 square-foot outdoor projection wall of the cool Frank-Gehry designed New World Center. The Art Public sector, which takes place in Collins Park and features outdoor sculptures, large-scale installations and performances.

With so much art to explore, parties to attend, and pools to lay by - all of which go hand-in-hand at ABMB - the fair is an overwhelming (read: crazy) four days.

With so much art to explore, parties to attend, and pools to lay by - all of which go hand-in-hand at ABMB - the fair is an overwhelming (read: crazy) four days. But, certain art projects jump off the pages of the program; like Asif Khan's Parhelia, an almost magical architectural installations, created with just over one million Swarovski crystals that aims to mimic the rare parhelia, rings that appear in the sky due to ice crystals in the atmosphere and low sun. If you've never seen a work by Banksy in person, CONTEXT Art Miami (a newly emerging art fair) has brought in five, six and a half ton, walls filled with some of the artist's iconic works.

Of course, it wouldn't be an art fair without erotic and sensual works - this is what you get with Chris Ofili's Golden Angel Three. Represented by Berlin's Contemporary Fine Arts gallery, this leather on cardboard artwork features a slightly demonic female in beautiful gold and black, with thin, ornate, line detailing.

New York artist Randy Polumbo is also out to pleasure your senses. His stimulating Art Public project, Love Stream, evokes a sex toy wonderland dream; hundreds of dildos are illuminated by countless LEDs inside an aluminum van parked on a public beach in Miami, tickling Polumbo's interest "in the simple joy of people frolicking in this crazy reflective space that's like a walk-in kaleidoscope." Polumbo's Love Stream is a mirror house of lit-up dildos, inviting you in simply for sheer amusement.

On the digital side, virtual auction house, Paddle8, teamed up with Tumblr to explore interactivity between art and the World Wide Web in Moving the Still: A GIF Festival. With big names attached to the project - such as Michael Stipe, Johny Misheff and Rodarte's Mulleavy sisters - the exhibit celebrates one of the most adored forms of digital media, a current cyber phenomenon, the GIF (it's actually GIF's 25th birthday this year). Moving the Still features originally created GIFs, exhibited in the Wynwood Arts District, a short cab ride away from the hot spot of ABMB, which has earned itself a reputation of being an authentic place for great art and nightlife.

Hermès teams up with Japanese
artist Hiroshi Sugimoto. 


Undeniably, where there is art, parties and celebrities, fashion is just around the corner. This year, Hermès asked Japanese artist Hiroshi Sugimoto to participate in the third edition of "carré d'artiste," just in time for ABMB. Sugimoto's Couleurs de l'ombre is a combination of art and science; using a Polaroid photograph, Sugimoto captured a fusion of hues at dawn through a crystal prism apparatus. The result is a series of Polaroid photographs with varying gradations. One photograph shows a primary yellow that flows into sea-foam blue and eventually disappears into a midnight navy; another boasts a dominating crimson red with a diffused, timid orange stripe at the bottom - no photograph is alike. The photographs were then printed onto the classic Hermès silk scarves, fashioning a collection of very wearable art.

Through the years, ABMB has flourished into one of the world's most prestigious and beloved art fairs. But, what's most important is that ABMB, along with Miami, has created a space that encourages and accepts various artistic tastes and perspectives. ABMB is a place where no artist is too vulgar or too safe, no artwork too abstract or too commercial, and no drink is too strong.



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