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By: Shayne Benowitz

Art Basel Miami Beach is North America’s largest and most comprehensive international contemporary art fair, with over 250 galleries from 36 countries showcasing works by 4,000 artists. After an unprecedented hiatus in 2020 due to the pandemic, Art Basel Miami Beach is returning to the Miami Beach Convention Center from December 2 – 4, 2021.

Since its inception in 2002, Art Basel Miami Beach routinely draws more than 80,000 visitors to Miami, from art dealers to artists, collectors and aficionados. It’s become the splashiest cultural event of Miami’s social calendar, with parties and events galore attended by celebrities and tastemakers.

And while Art Basel Miami Beach is the singular fair held at the Miami Beach Convention Center, Miami Art Week encompasses more than 20 satellite fairs for a whirlwind week filled with art and parties perfectly suited for late fall in sunny Miami.

Art lovers enjoying an outdoor Art Basel Miami Beach event
Art lovers from around the world unite at Art Basel Miami Beach

The History of Art Basel

A sister fair of the original Art Basel, founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1970, the Miami Beach edition has been an annual fixture in early December since 2002. The brainchild of a trio of Swiss gallerists – Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt – their vision brought together the artists they represented, as well as collectors, curators and critics from all over the globe for the first Art Basel in Switzerland. Their vision was a success, with over 16,000 people attending the first fair.

Miami was selected as an ideal sister destination in part due to its unique position at the nexus of North America and South America. Over the years, with the boon from Art Basel, Miami has become a thriving year-round arts destination in its own right, boasting a vibrant gallery scene, cutting-edge museums and world-class street art.

A third edition of Art Basel launched in Hong Kong in 2012, as the city sits symbolically at the crossroads of Eastern and Western culture.

Various walls of art to explore
Discover a new artist in the gallery curatorial spaces

About Art Basel Miami Beach 2021

At Art Basel Miami Beach 2021, the exhibition space at the Miami Beach Convention Center is divided into sectors, which include “Galleries,” “Nova,” “Positions,” “Edition” and “Survey,” as well as “Kabinett,” “Meridians” and “Conversations.” Galleries serve as the centerpiece of the show. It’s where 186 of the world’s leading international galleries showcase the work of the artists they represent.

The sectors divide the fair into separate curatorial spaces. For instance, “Positions” brings together 19 solo presentations by emerging artists. Highlights include four paintings by Sungi Mlengeya on the lives of four Black women from East Africa and their views on womanhood from first-time participant Afriart Gallery, and Claudia Peña Salinas’ project exploring Aztec mythology presented by Curro.

With 25 presentations this year, “Nova” provides a platform for galleries to present new work by up to three artists, while “Survey” is dedicated to art history projects ranging from solo shows to thematic exhibitions with works created before 2000. “Conversations” refers to a series of discussions ranging from panel discussions to lectures taking place throughout the week.

People admiring Miami Mountain sculpture
Explore Ugo Rondinone's Miami Mountain at The Bass

A public showcase takes place in Collins Park in collaboration with The Bass. It features thought-provoking sculptures and site-specific installations. It’s free and open to the public, while tickets to Art Basel at the convention center typically start around $65 per person.

PAMM's exterior with hanging garden
Perez Art Museum Miami's award-winning architecture was designed by Herzog & de Meuron

Miami’s Art Scene

Miami’s premier art museums also showcase their most impressive exhibits of the year during Miami Art Week, when the international art world turns its gaze on Miami. A visit to Pérez Art Museum Miami, designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron and overlooking Biscayne Bay, is a must. Their exhibitions on display during Miami Art Week 2021 include ‘Allied with Power: African and African Diaspora Art from the Jorge M. Perez Collection.'

Additionally, don’t miss the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, Wolfsonian-FIU, The Patricia and Phillip Frost Art Museum-FIU and the Lowe Art Museum, University of Miami, for special exhibits during the month of December.

Kusama display of silver spheres for the Narcissus Garden
Don't miss Rubell Museum's spectacular collection, Kusama's Narcissus Garden

Miami is also home to some of the world’s most impressive private art collections, including The Margulies Collection at the Warehouse and the De la Cruz Collection, as well as Jorge Perez’s new El Espacio 23 and the Rubell Museum’s cutting-edge new space, both in Allapattah.

The entire city transforms into a canvas for ephemeral installations and art happenings. Take a leisurely stroll through South Beach, Midtown, Wynwood, Downtown or the Design District at anytime during Miami Art Week to take in the sights during this exciting week.

Design Miami/ 's entrance
Plan for a day at the Design Miami/ satellite fair

Miami Art Week 2021 Satellite Fairs

In addition to Art Basel Miami Beach 2021 at the Miami Beach Convention Center, there are a number of must-see satellite fairs. As the official sister fair to Art Basel Miami Beach, the Design Miami/ tent is adjacent to the Convention Center, showcasing the world’s leading galleries that specialize in collectible 20th and 21st century design.

People walking up to Untitled's tent entrance
Check out Untitled, Miami Beach's 10th edition

Scope Miami Beach and Art Miami actually predate Art Basel Miami Beach and feature an impressive array of galleries with modern works. For more cutting-edge contemporary work, check out Volta Miami (previously Pulse), NADA Miami and Untitled, Miami Beach.

Miami Art Week 2021 promises to be a major bacchanal with VIP parties, dinners and events thrown every night and art fairs galore, museums and public art to visit during the day.

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