In the same way that the Olympics are interesting, even if you don't really care about sports, Art Basel has a way of bringing the die-hards and dilettantes together. It's also noteworthy for the way in which it infuses the city of Miami with energy—not just during the show, which takes place over four days from Dec 4 to 9, but long afterwards thanks to an influx of new restaurants, hotels, and bars (including the spiffy new Hyde Lounge at the American Airlines arena).
The Miami program has been gaining steam since it was launched in 2002 as an offshoot of the original Basel festival in Switzerland. It is one of the few international art events that is as much for the public as it is for the industry. This year, more than 260 art galleries from almost every continent will showcase select pieces from established artists and up-and-comers alike. Media runs the gamut from photography to painting to public art projects. Tickets are expensive ($42 a day, $90 for a permanent pass), but there are a few exhibits that will be free of charge, such as the sculpture showcase in Collins Park.
In addition to the art on display, there are films exploring the field of art, salon talks on various art-related subjects, and receptions in the evening. Also taking place over the same period: Design Miami, the interior design counterpart to Art Basel, and the UR1 music and art festival, which will feature acts such as Kanye West, Animal Collective, and Jane's Addiction.
If a visit to the Miami is in your future, Art Basel is an event you should have in your vocabulary—if for no other reason than to understand part of what makes this city such a cultural hotspot.
The details: Public show days take place from Thursday, December 6 through Sunday, December 9. A one-day ticket is $42, a permanent pass is $90. Miamibeach.artbasel.com
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