A booth at Art Basel Miami Beach 2021
Miami Art Week brings more than two dozen fairs and over one thousand artists to “the magic city” annually, and this year is no exception.
In fact, this year’s week-long showing is bigger than ever before, with a multitude of openings, pop-ups, concerts, and VIP events staged from Miami Beach’s shoreline to the Design District, Little Haiti, and beyond.
If you’ve never attended before, but are in the market for art and hoping to grow your collection, read blue chip art advisor Todd Levin’s “Rules of Engagement” for proper fair etiquette. Like most subcultures, the art industry operates within a distinct set of standards that can feel frustratingly opaque for the uninitiated.
That being said, the best part of any art fair week—be it in Miami, New York, London, or elsewhere—is the opportunity to see a huge range of contemporary and modern art from all over the world, meet gallerists face-to-face, and develop direct relationships, which are still the most important pillars of the art industry and broader cultural ecosystem.
If you are an artist and looking to network, it’s important to understand that a fair might not be the ideal setting to introduce your work to a gallery. Still, being prepared with business cards, flyers showcasing your work, or other promotional ephemera is highly recommended—because Miami Art Week’s concentration of art professionals is unrivaled worldwide and you simply never know who you might meet. For more networking tips for artists, read this.
Here’s our rundown of the best places to visit during the world’s biggest art party.
Every fair that should be on your must-see list
Considered by many to be the world’s most illustrious fair, Art Basel Miami Beach (ABMB) celebrates twenty years with its largest event ever, featuring more than 200 galleries. This year’s event includes a heavy focus on South American galleries and Latin American art, paying homage to the city’s reigning cultural ethos, but the exhibiting galleries also represent more than XX countries.
ABMB’s multiple sectors are spread across Miami’s imposing convention center, where one can easily spend an entire day or more exploring the museum-quality works on view.
Must-see exhibitors: Night Gallery, Peres Projects, Hauser & Wirth
Untitled Art Miami’s beachfront venue, image courtesy Untitled.
By far the airiest and most spacious of all the fairs, Untitled also has one of the best locations, being located directly on the beach. Unlike the moody interior lighting one finds at Art Basel, Untitled basks in its oceanfront location, features renowned galleries as well as emerging artists, special-curated projects, talks and more. The mood, like the venue itself, typically feels bright and optimistic.
Untitled also runs a jam-packed program of performances and special events throughout the week. Additionally, ticket holders can access the venerable De la Cruz Collection in the Design District for a massive group show featuring many of contemporary art’s most celebrated names.
Must-see exhibitors: Anna Erickson Presents, Bitforms, Carl Kostyal Gallery, Library Street Collective
Scope is arguably the most fun of all the fairs. The art is unpretentious and often irreverent, with a large selection of street art (or street art-adjacent) works, although that’s not to say the artists on view at Scope are any less dedicated than their counterparts next door at Untitled. Celebrities like Diddy (aka Sean Combs) have been seen enthusiastically buying at Scope, and the overall vibe is palpably upbeat, energetic and youthful.
Because the artists (and galleries) tend to be on the more emerging side at Scope, the art on display is priced to sell and waitlists are rarer than at the other fairs. If you’re a budding collector, Scope offers a valid entry point into the art market, without the intimidation factor of other “more serious” events.
Must-see exhibitors: Knowhere Art Gallery, Bahnhof Gallery, Cut Art Gallery
The curator’s art fair of choice, NADA consistently features the art market’s up-and-coming stars—before they hit the big time. Known for edgy and conceptual work, NADA undoubtedly caters to serious collectors, but at price points that are more accessible to a broad range of art enthusiasts.
Founded as the New Art Dealers Alliance in 2002, NADA is considered a “feeder fair” for Art Basel and is a right of passage for ambitious young gallerists on the rise. NADA’s venue is on the mainland, so it’s recommended to pair a visit with a trip to the Rubell Museum, Art Miami or PAMM.
Must-see exhibitors: Stems Gallery, The Valley Taos, Fierman, The Hole, Franz Kaka
Art Miami’s evening atmosphere, image courtesy Art Miami.
The longest-running fair in Miami, Art Miami is the place to discover art from an eclectic mix of movements, genres and decades–from modern masters to the ultra-contemporary. Here you can find original works by Keith Haring, Alexander Calder, Manolo Valdés, Fernando Botero, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and other icons of art history.
If you’re more interested in works by young contemporary artists, there’s no shortage of sculptures by KAWS, paintings by Brazilian twins Os Gemeos and Kehinde Wiley, who painted President Obama’s portrait, as well as a broad variety of more emerging artists. Next door to Art Miami is their sister fair Context Art, which shows ultra-emerging artists at more affordable prices.
Must-see exhibitors: Sundaram Tagore Gallery, Casterline|Goodman Gallery, Zemack Contemporary Art, Mark Borghi, William Weston Fine Art
Museums and Private Collections to Check Out While You Are in Miami
Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, Pulse Topology, installation view, image courtesy Superblue and the artist.
The immersive art platform founded by mega gallery Pace, Superblue is defining a new generation of experiential art. Tickets, it should be noted, are not inexpensive, but the venture—which exists somewhere between a gallery and a “kunsthalle”—is absolutely worth the cost of entry.
This year during Miami Art Week, Superblue will have installations on view by light and space pioneer James Turrell, the Japanese collective teamLab, mirrored installation artist Es Devlin and celebrated interactive digital artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.
The Rubell family is as much a part of the Miami cultural landscape as the art deco hotels adorning South Beach. In fact—and perhaps unsurprisingly—the Rubells own several hotels in Miami, but their most impressive property is undoubtedly their private art museum on the mainland, which opened a new 100,000-square-foot campus in 2019 to showcase their enormous collection of contemporary masterpieces.
The Rubells have the power to make an artist’s career, not only through their acquisition activities but also through their on-site artist residency, which has minted artists including Kennedy Yanko and Amoako Boafo. This year’s artist-in-residence is Alexandre Diop, a figurative painter and mixed media artist whose works reimagine art historical tropes in a distinct visual language that’s emblematic of the artist’s French-Senaglese heritage.
Miami’s Institute of Contemporary Art will offer free entry during Art Week, with new exhibitions on view by Michel Majerus, Nina Chanel Abney, and Hervé Télémaque, among other ongoing site-specific installations and group shows.
Additionally, on Friday, December 2nd, the ICA will host a free concert by Pussy Riot—the infamous female punk performance group from Moscow who have been targeted and imprisoned by the Kremlin for their political protests and social activism. In light of Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine, Pussy Riot has become an iconic embodiment of liberty, freedom, and the courage to rise up against an oppressive regime.
RSVP via the museum’s website is required, but space is extremely limited. If you go, show up early.
Perez Art Museum Miami at night.
Miami’s flagship museum, the PAMM boasts one of the most extraordinary venues for art appreciation that the city has to offer. Located directly on the water, the PAMM’s brutalist architecture offers a striking contrast to Miami’s deco aesthetic, and hosts rotating exhibitions by acclaimed international artists, as well as screenings, performances and concerts.
During this year’s Art Week, the PAMM will feature exhibitions by Christo, Simone Leigh, who recently represented the United States at the Venice Biennale and took home top honors, as well as exhibitions drawn from the museum’s impressive permanent collection.
Damien Hirst’s permanent installation at The Faena. Photo by John Benitez on Unsplash
The Faena is among Miami Beach’s most opulent and extravagant hotels—and has an ambitious art program to match. This year, the Faena presents a light sculpture by Cuban-American artists Antonia Wright and Rubén Millares (known as Wright Millares), as well as a number of digital artworks that bridge the physical world with virtual reality.
Additionally, as part of their nonprofit arm, Faena Arts awards a major prize of $100,000 each year to one artist for a commissioned artwork and also hosts numerous exhibitions and installations across their sprawling beachfront property. The winner of the Faena Art prize this year is Chilean artist Paula de Solminihac, whose site-specific work will open to the public on the beach on November 29th.