Culture Club

Left: Dealer Iwan Wirth. (Photo: Sam Roeck) Right: Filmmaker Baz Luhrmann. (Photo: David X. Prutting)

ALMOST TWO DECADES after Leonardo DiCaprio and Baz Luhrmann made a movie inspired by Miami’s urban strip of beach, they have come together again to toast a project just as spectacular, a fiction-cum–reality land, complete with multimillion-dollar beachside residences, two hotels, a Rem Koolhaas–designed Art Center, and an art “think tank.” The whole thing is currently under construction. Larry Gagosian has already bought a property. He and his girlfriend, who were among one hundred or so guests at a dinner Wednesday night to celebrate the construction of Faena Miami Beach, looked pleased.

“It is a district for romance, for love, for life—and we are the curators,” cooed real estate developer Alan Faena from under a white cowboy hat. District is a very specific word choice. “We don’t want to use the word club in Miami. Club here connotes partying, and we want this to be a place where people can gather and have a drink, maybe dance some flamenco,” pitched a property salesman.

Luhrmann had been enlisted to design the property’s two hotels. “Len Blavatnik came to me and said, ‘I have something that I think you might be interested in—and it’s in Miami,’ ” said the filmmaker. “And in that moment my mind went ‘Bang!,’ because that’s where I wrote the screenplay for Romeo + Juliet. He said, ‘I’ve got this very small, independent, low-budget project.’ And I thought, ‘Well, that sure has our names written all over it.’ ”

Left: Real estate mogul Aby Rosen with wife Samantha Boardman. (Photo: David X. Prutting) Right: Aby Rosen’s WALL party. (Photo: Allese Thomson)

The audience—which included Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Deitch, Norman Foster, New Museum director Lisa Phillips, Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner, and Bruce Weber—chuckled. Small, independent, and low-budget is not precisely their thing, nor is it the province of Art Basel Miami Beach, which this year was accompanied by thirty-eight separate satellite fairs and (another!) Koons showdown between Gagosian and Zwirner.

Once upon a time (in 2002), this was a relatively small fair with grand ambitions but perhaps simple intentions: sell art in a place with good weather in December. Eleven years later: “This installation,” Faena continued, gesturing at a model of the billion-dollar district’s glass towers of apartments, “is about the interconnection between humanity and nature. It is about art.”

There had been a lot of interconnection between humanity and, well, perhaps not nature, at that day’s VIP preview of the fair. Visitors mingled in the plush chambers designed by Jorge Pardo for Neugerriemschneider’s booth, so convincing that the fire department required the dealers to post a special note stating the booth’s maximum capacity. Hip-to-crit dealers (Reena Spaulings, 47 Canal, and much of the finely curated NOVA section) presented booths that provocatively riffed on the spectacle of ABMB, while others took on market demographics (among the artists at Hauser & Wirth’s attractive presentation, only one was a white man). Others continued their commitment to intelligent, human work, like Lutz Bacher’s glittery installation at Greene Naftali, which demonstrated that just because something’s shiny doesn’t mean it lacks depth.

Left: Dealer Gavin Brown. (Photo: David X. Prutting) Right: LIV’s Basel party. (Photo: Allese Thomson)

The Faena dinner began immediately after the fair’s 9 PM close time. Somewhere under billowy red streamers that canopied over tables next to the beach, DiCaprio smiled underneath a messenger cap. Isn’t it fitting that the genre-bending director has reunited with the actor during Art Basel Miami Beach, a week that essentially bills anything aesthetic as “art”? (“It should be called ASS-thetics,” said Gavin Brown as we set off on bikes one night en route to Aby Rosen’s annual WALL party, said to have one of the strictest lists of the fair, with not one but three checkpoints, each leading to another, more exclusive, holding cell.)

After Faena, it was the OHWOW/Interview party on the roof of the Boulan. We stayed until someone received a text that read: BEST PARTY EVER. COME NOW—a Russian billionaire was throwing a fete for DiCaprio on a private island.

“Absolutely not,” said a friend.

“Oh come on. It will be completely ridiculous. We can laugh at it!”

“My party-chasing days are done,” said another. “I am going to the Deuce, having a beer, and calling it a night.”

Left: SculptureCenter Board President Sascha Bauer and dealer Carol Greene. Right: Collector Mera Rubell (center). (Photos: Allese Thomson)

Ten minutes later, six of us were crammed into the back of yellow taxi zipping over a private bridge. The house resembled a mega-McMansion, decked out in all the appropriate billionaire trappings—jet skis, two speedboats, and a smattering of works by Keith Haring, Andy Warhol, Jeff Koons. Inside, girls with tall shoes and glossy lips teetered around looking like baby deer trying to keep their balance. Security guards wore tags around their necks that read ALL ACCESS. Outside, a football field–length pool reflected palm trees lit up by electric red light.

“We’ve got to get out of here.”

Twenty minutes later and we were back in the cab, speeding over the bridge to a new spectacle, the superclub LIV. “It’s all models and bottles. I can’t. I just can’t,” protested one, shaking his head.

Phones were on fire: It was Wednesday night and ABMB was alive: Chez Andre was blowing up (COME! THE DOOR IS TOUGH BUT USE MY NAME), Le Baron was exploding (I CAN GET YOU IN—EVERYONE IS HERE), ACME had just premiered its Miami Basel space (BETTER THAN NEW YORK! AMAZING CROWD).

“I don’t want to party with people that I have to see at the fair tomorrow—we won’t know anyone at LIV.” Turns out we were wrong. Inside, all the way up in the VIP section, we encountered several industry folk, along with the ubiquitous Lindsay Lohan.

Then, flanked by a fleet of dealers and art advisers, bouncers ushered in DiCaprio. A friend looked pained as massive, candy-colored balloons were released from the ceiling, and bounced above a screaming crowd.

“You know, we just came here as satire.”

Left: Dealer Daniel Buchholz. (Photo: Sam Roeck) Right: Dealer José Kuri, artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, and dealer Nicolas Svennung. (Photo: Allese Thomson)

Six hours later and two miles north, NADA opened with an exceptional show at the Deauville, a convention center–style hotel with peeling paint, dank carpet, and sweeping, spectacular views of Miami’s aqua-white sea. Fresh-faced dealers happily greeted collectors, selling lots—and quickly. Artists like Lena Henke, David Korty, Anicka Yi, Dave McDermott, and Kristin Calabrese collided different places, ideas, times within single aesthetic objects, tapping into the way categorical distinctions of so many disciplines are slowly disappearing. (“Curator” and “developer” are certainly not the only blurred terms of our time.)

“Have you seen the Sayre Gomez work at François Ghebaly?” one collector asked. “I mean—this is why we go to NADA.”

I walked over to the booth and took in a wall of paintings, each flush with color and covered in text:



Left: Kate Gilmore's piece for Art Public. Right: Warhol Museum director Eric Shiner and artist Kate Gilmore. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Dealers Stefania Bortolami and Emma Fernberger. Right: Dealer Dominique Lévy. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Dealer Lisa Overduin. Right: Team Gallery's Miriam Katzeff and Thalassa Balanis. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Wallspace Gallery's Janine Foeller (left). Right: Art Basel director Marc Spiegler. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Chalet Society director Marc Olivier Wahler. Right: Carnegie Museum director Lynn Zelevansky and dealer Eli Ping. (Photos: Allese Thomson)

Left: Dealers Ash L'Ange and Nicky Verber of Herald St. Right: Independent Fair codirector Jayne Drost Johnson. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Mitchell-Innes & Nash's Nicole Russo with artist Virginia Overton. Right: Dealer Andrea Rosen.

Left: Dealers Alex Zachary and Vera Alemani. Right: Karma’s Brendan Dugan (right). (Photos: Allese Thomson)

Left: Artist John Riepenhoff. Right: Artist Dawn Kasper (left). (Photos: Allese Thomson)

Left: Dealer Katherine Brennan and artist Henry Taylor. Right: Dealers Jessie Washburne-Harris and Michael Lieberman. (Photos: Allese Thomson)

Left: Ryan McNamara's performance for Art Public. Right: Galeri Non's Derya Demir. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Metro Pictures's Allison Card. Right: David Colman's performance for Art Public. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Collectors Zoe Dictrow and Joel Dictrow. Right: Dealer Ron Warren. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Karma International's Karolina Dankow. Right: Artists Jennifer Rubell and Sam Roeck.

Left: Curator Clarissa Dalrymple (center) with Regen Projects's Jennifer Loh. Right: Dealer Simon Preston. (Photos: Sam Roeck)

Left: Artist Olafur Eliasson (right). Right: SculptureCenter director Mary Cerutti. (Photos: Allese Thomson)

Left: Collector Maria Baibakova with dealer Loic Gouzer. Right: Collector Eli Broad. (Photos: Allese Thomson)