Tuesday, 8 December 2009

South Beach, Miami

Snow may be falling in Texas, but Miami still basks in the high 20s celsius. I’m back in the city with The Art Newspaper working on a daily edition at Art Basel Miami Beach, the premier US fair that hosts more than 250 international galleries. The art market lives on, despite everything. The figures, like the temperatures, are high, but not as outlandish as previous years: “five hundred thousand is the new million,” said one gallerist. A Warhol priced at $2.25m sells, but most are relatively cheaper, although outlandish enough.

The beach is one focus of the fair: there are works on the sand, in the sea even. The buying mentality continues at the non-commercial Bass Museum, where a couple viewing a show by Chicago artist Dzine view one large work while broadcasting a conversation about the possibility of commissioning a work by the artist for their “top landing”. The beachside walk weaves its way through palm trees past towering hotels towards Ocean Drive, the strand of art deco hotels and shops, and Gianni Versace’s former residence, the scene of his murder in 1997. The Art Deco District Welcome Center is locked and less than welcoming.

The cafes, of course, spill on to the pavements, making them perfect for people-watching and drawing. The palms are as exotic and alluring to draw as they were for me on my visit last year. There are palms in Torquay, though. There the similarities end.