Art Basel Miami Beach 2013: Winners and Losers



The convention center has closed. The fairs are breaking down. This morning, Wynwood is a lot more colorful — and a lot quieter.

Art Basel 2013 is officially over. And now it’s time for the rehash.

This year’s mega arts fest was arguably the biggest in Miami history, with the opening of a new major art institution coinciding with art_basel_miami_bitch_tshirt_credit_ciara_lavelle.jpgan increasingly crowded art-fair scene and a ton of big names on display at museums and galleries across town. We had art stars. We had celebrities. We had cocktails and live shows and parties upon parties upon parties.

So who won the week? Who should’ve just stayed home? And, for crissakes, who is buying these godawful T-shirts? Read on to find out.

Vanessa Martin


The Pérez Art Museum Miami was Basel’s most highly anticipated work of art this year. But with so much hype, was the museum selling itself too high?

Short answer: No.

PAMM’s opening drew raves from media outlets around the world (including New Times) — a particularly epic feat given the controversy over naming the building after Jorge Pérez in 2011. And thanks to the museum’s “free to locals” policy throughout Art Basel, art professionals weren’t the only ones impressed; Miamians packed the place throughout the weekend, taking in the art of Ai Weiwei and taking advantage of the near-perfect weather in the museum’s pristine outdoor space.

Madame Tussauds
If you’re the kind of person who spends $40 on a ticket to take pictures with lifelike figures of famous people in places like Las Vegas or Niagara Falls, you were in luck this Basel. Eerily realistic sculptures of life-size people were all the rage this year, from the Marc Sijan booth at Art Miami to the gigantic Andy Warhol head at Scope. And let us not forget Shen Shaomin’s I Want to Know What Infinity Is. Not that you could.

Speaking of bare ladyparts, vaginas at Basel are so hot right now. Vajayjay, vaj, pink fortress, hoo-ha, meat wallet — however you like to say it, female genitalia was one of the most common themes at this year’s fairs. Confidential to purveyors of art vadge: Vaginas have come a long way (no pun intended) in their acceptance. They’re no longer shocking or seen as taboo. You are not shocking anyone with these pieces.

Seth Browarnik, World Redeye for Grey Goose Vodka

Marina Abramovic
From opening the Untitled fair to starring in an art film portrait at YoungArts, Abramovic made Basel her bitch this year. She somehow maintained that serene, enigmatic poise through Miami’s awful traffic, annoying party people, and staring into the ghostly visage of an aging Val Kilmer. Tell us your secret, woman. 

Dave Chappelle
We thought no mortal could interrupt Miami’s obsession with Art Basel last week. ThenDave Chappelle announced a series of three shows at the Fillmore late last Wednesday, and all of a sudden Miami was like, “Kanye who?” It served as a nice reminder that the fun in Miami doesn’t end when the New York gallerists pack up and go home.

Remember when Time magazine named “You” its Person of the Year? This year, You were the Person of Art Basel. Works on display included plenty of mirrors (perfect for selfies) and interactive pieces such as David Datuna’s Viewpoint of Billions, which requires viewers to use Google Glass to become part of the project. You even became a part of the Wynwood street art scene, with a community mural project last weekend that invited anyone to contribute. Congratulations, reader. You have truly arrived.


Thumbnail image for HER_JonzeandDietch2.JPG
Carolina del Busto
Jeffrey Deitch (right) with Spike Jonze.



Jeffrey Deitch
The Art Basel celebrity blunder of the year wasn’t a Lindsay Lohan nip slip or a VIP nightclub freakout by Kanye West — though it did tangentially involve Yeezy. At the convention center, former MOCA Los Angeles head Jeffrey Deitch strolled up to a guy he thought he knew and said, “Hi, Kanye.” Turns out it was Diddy. The mistake made Page Six and a headline on just about every pop culture and art-related blog on the internet. Oops.

Celebrity stalkers
If you were on the lookout for famous faces this week, you were likely disappointed. Lady Gaga, rumored to be hosting an event last week, never showed. The celebrities who did, like Kanye, were nearly impossible to track down. With no Beyoncé and Jay Z love-fest at the convention center like last year, Miami celebrity stalkers were forced to make do with the likes of Lindsay Lohan, who stole the Basel spotlight for all the wrong reasons. C’mon, you guys. We are better than this.

South Beach residents
The good news for Miami drivers this year was that traffic on the mainland seemed to be down from last year. The bad news: That’s probably because so many people were tied up in Alton Road construction and associated detours. Turns out that instituting a major construction project on one of South Beach’s busiest roads during its biggest event of the year was exactly as bad of an idea as it sounds. Thanks, Miami Beach. You owe us at least 12 hours of our lives back.

Have you seen this mural?

Phil Fung
What kind of asshole steals an in-progress mural off the wall? A Miami asshole. Artist Phil Fung was the latest victim of this town’s recurring disrespect of public art last week, whenhis $6,000 mural was stolen off the side of a building in Wynwood. We said it last year, and we’ll say it again: This is why we can’t have nice things, Miami.


The Living
Surviving Art Basel is so last year. In 2013, all the cool kids in Miami are dying. Creatively. Bleeding Palm’s Art Basel Death Count lists the tragic deaths of dozens of prominent Miami arts community leaders from causes such as “irony deficiency,” “Basel butt,” and “[choking] on the name of a famous artist he was trying to drop into a conversation.” The count this morning stands at 63 and includes prominent locals such as Sweat Records’ owner Lolo Reskin, Borscht filmmaker Lucas Leyva, gallerist Brook Dorsch, and O, Miami founder P. Scott Cunningham. Guess it’s a good year to be a dead guy.

Your liver
“You” might be an Art Basel winner, but there’s at least one part of you that suffered some serious losses last week: your liver. Each year of Art Basel brings more and more events to town, and those events seem to bring more and more liquor sponsors. You couldn’t elbow your way through a Vernissage or VIP party without knocking over a tray of champagne glasses or cocktails made with some booze you’ve never heard of this year. At the time, it probably felt like winning. But now it’s Monday morning and you’re still headachey and exhausted. You lose again, liver.

— by Ciara LaVelle, Jose D. Duran, Vanessa Martin, Carolina del Busto, and Carlos Suarez De Jesus

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