As a visitor to Art Basel in Miami Beach, you have to give yourself time, recommends Marc Spiegler. After a couple of hours at the fair, the city has plenty for visitors to discover on a short break, after which they can rejoin the fray, refreshed and invigorated. Spiegler is director of one of the most important art fairs in the world. He takes us on a personal guided tour of the year’s most glamorous art event.
- Hendrik Lakeberg
Art Basel Miami Beach was brought to life in 2002. How is it different from the Art Basel fairs in Hong Kong and Basel itself?
Marc Spiegler: Art Basel in Miami Beach was conceived in the late nineties as the second of the Art Basel fairs. The idea was to launch a presence in the United States, long the strongest art market in the world. But Art Basel also saw in Miami a gateway to Latin America. Another reason for choosing Miami Beach at the time was its location and climate – it’s a place where people can go to the beach in December to relax and have fun. None of which is contradictory to being a great place for discovering art.
In what ways has Art Basel in Miami Beach changed its profile over the years?
Spiegler: Originally, the fair was also intended as a crossover from the art world to the broader creative class of design, fashion and music. At the beginning, a lot of galleries assumed it would be best to show flashy pop-oriented art in Miami Beach. Now they realise it’s a place where you have to have high-quality works to succeed.
For somebody who is new to collecting art, what is the best way to approach a fair like Art Basel in Miami Beach?
Spiegler: You don’t have to be an art buyer to get something out of the fair. There is the Film series, for example, and there is the Conversations series. Whenever someone says to me “I don’t like contemporary art,” I challenge them to go to our fairs with an open mind, spend a few hours and see if truly nothing excites them.
But how do you avoid being overwhelmed by the fair and the sheer volume of art that there is to see at the fair?
Spiegler: It’s always good to do research ahead of time. We have an app that includes thousands of artworks that will be coming to the show, and while it is good to have a plan, it is also good, and important, to get lost. Here's the beauty of the Miami Beach show: you can go to the fair for a couple of hours, then head outside to the Botanical Garden and have lunch in the sun and go back inside for a few more hours.
Would you say that the city of Miami itself has changed through this boost to the art scene?
Spiegler: To a degree, in that the fair has helped to transform Miami. Great museums have been established since we came, such as the Pérez Art Museum, built by the architects of Herzog & de Meuron. This year, during Art Basel in Miami Beach, the Institute of Contemporary Art will open its new space in the middle of the Design District. Miami Beach has changed a lot, and for the better. When the fair came here, the city was going through a difficult time. It had a tough reputation. Now many collectors enjoy spending time here throughout the year.
What do you personally like best about being in Miami?
Spiegler: Besides meeting lots of inspiring artists, gallerists and museum directors from all over the world who visit the fair, I love to be outside and in the water. Recently, I had a 7 a.m. meeting with Craig Robins, who is the owner of Design Miami and also the founder of the Design District. I was on a paddleboard and he was in a kayak. That’s a very Miami-style way of doing business.