#MaddieinMiami: What Art Basel Is Like for A Newbie

Last month I went to Art Basel Miami Beach on behalf of Mason Lane. As a newbie to that fair /entire scene, there was a lot to take in. I went to 9 fairs, 2 private collections, and 1 beach across 4 days, and here’s what I learned:


1. There are many newbies who know nothing about art. Being in that camp is 100% acceptable.

2. Wardrobe-wise, anything goes. Except heels, which are a terrible idea.

3. Two fairs per day feels comfortable. More is overwhelming and less is unproductive.

4. Going with a friend is a good call.


During Basel, there are 15+ fairs across the city and they vary in art pricing and quality, and type of venue, ranging from full blown conference center to tent on the beach.  

My favorites:

1. Untitled

2. Basel

3. Nada

4. Art Miami

Private Collections

Several Miami-based mega collectors open up their museum-like spaces to the public for the week.  My favorite by far was the de la Cruz Collection because the art is a STUNNING combo of different, memorable, and beautiful.  Plus this family finds these young, primarily American, emerging artists and so many of them end up being the top contemporary artists in the world so that’s incredible on it’s own.  And the space feels like a manageable high end museum without the crowds. So yes, two thumbs up for all of the above.

Galleries I want to Source From in 2019:

These galleries have artists that would work for our clientele -- collectible, interesting work in the $5k-$50k price range that overall stands out from the crowd.

1. Marc Straus Gallery, NY, NY

2. Erin Cluley Gallery, Dallas, TX

3. Maybaum Gallery, San Francisco, CA

4. Eduardo Secci Gallery (Florence, IT)

And finally: Favorite Art

These are from a range of fairs and galleries, many of which are named above. Out of the thousands that I saw, I loved these the most.

1. Anna Leonhardt (Marc Straus Gallery, NYC)


Leonhardt work is made using numerous layers of oil paint application, and on top are her signature vertical and horizontal lines she affectionately calls “Raumzeug” (which means “space stuff”).  These are creating using palette knives and are heavy impasto, which is thickened paint, so they have a nice dimensionality to them.

2. Jim Verburg (Zalucky Contemporary, Toronto)

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Verburg works with mylar and applies a thin layer of paint (with a paint roller) to each sheet of mylar sheet to create different levels of opaqueness and translucency.

3. Corrine Jones (Situations, NYC)

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Jones is all about pieces that AREN'T 4 sides (so no squares or rectangles). Her paintings all have 7 sides which is loads o’ fun but the works on paper were my personal fave.

4. Omar Barquet (Arroniz Arte, Mexico City)

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Omar Baroquet Detail.JPG

Barquet’s pieces are a bit crazy -- they’re intricuate, colorful and metallic (so on trend), but the use of more muted and natural tones make them easy to look at. They have a kind of formality and elegance that would be perfect in a dining room.

5. Steven Salzman (Bernaducci Gallery, NYC)

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To be honest, I wasn’t into this when I first saw it.  I passed by pretty quickly but found myself coming back to it after a few laps around the fair.  I liked it more and more. The off-center bold color blocking gives it this unexpected balance and I started seeing it as an unexpected edition to a ton of our current client projects.  The conclusion: into it.

Who else has been to ABMB and what tips do you have? And if you haven’t gone but want to, what questions do you have!?