Yesterday The New York Times ran a story describing how Art Basel Miami Beach in its relatively short 10 years of existence has transformed Miami into a city to be reckoned with in the worldwide art scene.
And last night while I was out and about celebrating the kick off of the 10th anniversary, I was lucky enough to meet the guy who started it all: Sam Keller. He was chairman of the first Art Basel (in Basel, Switzerland) starting in 2000, and launched the sister Miami Beach fair in 2002. Here’s what The New York Times had to say about his stroke of genius:
…since Art Basel’s debut 10 years ago, dozens of new galleries have opened, and scores of artists have relocated here, lured by the relatively low rents and, partly, by Art Basel itself. The fair gives artists, collectors and gallery owners a rare opportunity to see world-class art but, more important, to hobnob with the leading players of the international art world.
The sculptor and video artist Christy Gast said she moved here in 2008 partly because the yearly art spectacle made the city seem like one of the rare places an artist could succeed.
‘From the outside, Basel has created the perception that Miami is a city where being an artist is a viable thing to do,’ said Ms. Gast, who teaches sculpture at the New World School of the Arts in downtown Miami.
Maimi natives like my dear friend Robyn Ross, who is my partner in crime (as well as this blog) and extremely generous host each year for the art fair, told me she’s been amazed, in a really good way, by the changes Art Basel has brought to her city.
It’s had an amazing influence on the city as far as Miami being seen as an art city. There was always an art scene here but Basel definitely validated it and took it up about 1,000 notches. At the beginning it seemed like an excuse for a holiday in a sunny, central location. But now it’s the most serious art fair in the states. The quality and level of art and the number of satellite fairs and the huge community that’s developed around it I think surprised everyone.
So, Mr. Keller, it seems Miami owes you a big thank you! And I thank you for posing in my photo last night. I think we look rather fetching together, don’t you agree?
(And, seriously, have we not seen enough of this dress? Sheesh, sorry guys.)