5 things to know at Art Basel 2019

Written by By Oren Hope, CNN Miami

Art Basel is officially upon us. South Beach in Miami this September marks the 43rd edition of the annual art fair, which has been gaining more and more fans and collectors each year.

The Miami-based fair was founded by Swiss gallerist Hans Ulrich Obrist and British artist Jeff Koons in 1997, and has gone from strength to strength ever since.

This year, the fair will play host to about 160 galleries, some 580 exhibitors, who will be based in the American pavilion at the Miami Beach Convention Center. And if all goes to plan, the fair will bring in around $100 million, according to consultant Michael Goldberg, who will be helping organize it this year.

The 2018 fair drew around 70,000 visitors. It’s far more modest than its predecessor, now-defunct Art Miami , but Goldberg said he expects smaller crowds in 2019.

Some of the pieces on display will be smaller versions of more famous works, curated by Obrist and Koons. In one section, “Big Dreams and Small Walls,” there will be versions of Koons’ iconic work “Balloon Dog,” including a piece from this year’s London International Frieze.

“I think [Art Basel] deserves to grow, but organically,” Goldberg said.

No country is guaranteed an automatic spot among the galleries showing at the fair. The 61th Venice Biennale , which opens in September, will be the third time Basel has taken in some of its top works. At that time, works by artists such as Kay Krill, Takashi Murakami and Christoph Niemann could also be on show.

Here are seven things to know about what’s on offer this year at the South Beach event:

The official 2018 poster from artist and gallerist Philip Kennedy Credit: Courtesy Philip Kennedy

1. The red carpet

Of course, the fair’s most recognizable attribute is the art on display — but don’t expect any celebrities at this year’s fair. Instead, guests will likely be mainly drawn from the museum circuit, local art community, the media and a select few from the deep pockets of the Art Basel grandees.

These include artists Bill Gates and Ivanka Trump’s brother, Eric; JP Morgan’s former global head of art, Alfred Taubman; and Sachs brothers hedge fund billionaire Dan and brother David, who run private investment firm The William R. and Susan Seller Gates Foundation.

2. The best available spots

Gallerists across the US applied for a place at the fair. Participating galleries must already be represented in Miami Beach, and require a deposit.

Be sure to look closely at their booth descriptions, for more specific details. Of course, you don’t have to attend a specific section of the fair in order to appreciate the art. The international pavilion is also available for those who can’t make it to Miami Beach.

The Miami Beach Convention Center. Credit: Courtesy of Art Basel

3. It’s only half the fun

If you want to visit as many galleries as possible, an Art Basel ticket gets you into all locations in Miami-Dade County. Unlike at the other art festivals of the year, there is no limit on how many times you can buy a ticket for a single day, and no problem with waiting in line for art you never see. There’s no direct walk-up booking, and to reserve a seat, artists’ names are called out at the Sayers Club.

4. Everything but the food

While the fair’s distinctively festive atmosphere is perfectly charming, you’re going to have to pay a hefty price tag to stay at some of the hotels the art world loves to stay in. For the purpose of this article, we looked at the SLS South Beach and the top-rated Adrienne Arsht Center hotel. At the SLS, rooms start at around $950 per night. At the Adrienne Arsht Center, rooms start at $700 per night. If you’re looking for a bargain, you can book a room at the Neuehouse, which is close to the fair but a good ten-minute walk away.

5. It’s free, but the wait will be…

If you don’t have a gallery to stay at and want to leave the fair, it’s all yours. The fair has partnered with Miami’s public transportation company, the Metrobus, to offer free, round-trip rides to some of the most popular hotels in Miami Beach — but in order to take advantage of that deal, you have to book an online ticket to the art fair.

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