What exactly is “Art Basel”?

The Rubell family, new owners of the Lord Baltimore Hotel, are collectors who are deeply involved in the art world. Just a few weeks ago (December 5-8), the Rubells took part in a global art show called Art Basel that first began over forty years ago, in 1970:

“Art Basel stages the world’s premier art shows for Modern and contemporary works, sited in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Defined by its host city and region, each show is unique, which is reflected in its participating galleries, artworks presented, and the content of parallel programming produced in collaboration with local institutions for eachedition. In addition to ambitious stands featuring leading galleries from around the world, each show’s exhibition sectors spotlight the latest developments in the visual arts, offering visitors new ideas, new inspiration and new contacts in the art world.”

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The show’s Miami Beach debut was much more recent, in 2002. From the Art Basel website’s historical overview of the event:
“2002: Art Basel debuts in Miami Beach. At the nexus of North America and Latin America, the show reflects the city’s multi-cultural identity, presenting a diversity of work from the galleries and artists of the region. It immediately establishes itself as the premier show in the Americas, and ranks among the favorite winter-time events of the international art world. Positions introduces a radical new sector, with galleries exhibiting young artists near the beach in temporarily concerted shipping containers.”
The Rubell Family Collection opened their new show called “28 Chinese” during this year’s Art Basel. In this interview, Don Rubell discusses contemporary Chinese art:
“Culture follows economy, historically. When Greeks ruled the world, you saw Greek art. When Romans ruled the world, you saw Roman art. As the West controlled the world, you saw Western art. You look at the United States, and as late as the 1960s or ‘70s it was still not a world power in art. As all of these places achieved economic power, they achieved an art power. That only partially answers your question, but it’s part of it.

The Chinese are feeling very comfortable in their own skins, in their own positions, and they are being much more aggressive in all areas. They want the best planes, they want the best highways, they want the best industries, and they’re looking to themselves for a lot of it. Again, when we first went to China, the way people showed their wealth was by wearing Western clothes. Now, there’s much more of an influence of the Chinese on the Chinese. And I think this is reflected in the fact that, before, you couldn’t have a gallery system because nobody was collecting art, so it made the galleries more likely to cater to the tourists.

Now, almost every good gallery has groups of Chinese collectors. It’s still a little bit different from the West in that you tend to have collectors who are a little more loyal to one gallery, one critic, one curator, and they don’t cross over. So when we first went there, the galleries, critics, and artists were always our main sources of information—but if you asked someone from Gallery A, he would only list his cronies. Now you get a sense that there’s a broad agreement there about who is making the most interesting work.”

Art Basel Miami Beach seems to have been a success this year, according to the Miami Herald:

“Fairs reported record attendance and strong sales during Miami’s 2013 Art Basel art week.

At namesake fair Art Basel in Miami Beach, more than 75,000 visitors attended over the fair’s five days — a 7 percent increase over the previous year. In a release issued by Art Basel’s organizers, a number of gallerists reported contact with existing and new collectors, often resulting in sales that met or exceeded expectations.”

Have a question about the Lord Baltimore Hotel or the new owners, the Rubells? Email stories@lordbaltimoreotel.com and ask!
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