Art Basel Miami Beach—also known as a classy excuse for some time at the beach, plus champagne and night life—is now in its 18th year. Luxury brands are knee deep in it all, and the fairs are usually busiest towards the end of their days. Art Basel, although the most prominent event, is just one of the many fairs going on in Miami around the same time. There’s also Design Miami, Untitled, Context Art Miami, NADA, Scope, and Pulse, to name a few. This year, Art Basel is adding a new section—Meridians—to its already extensive fair; Meridians is presenting 34 large-scale works curated by Magalí Arriola, director of the Museo Tamayo in Mexico City (it opens to VIPs on Tuesday, December 3 , 4–7 p.m.).

It’s crazy to think that this year will be my 11th year (in a row) attending the fair. When I was still in university and had just finished my exams, going to Art Basel felt like a reward. Now, well, it has definitely changed—more logos on invitations, way too much to keep up with. It can be hard to know what is and isn’t worth your time. Here, a guide to getting through the week.


The reopening of the Rubell collection: The Rubell family owns one of the biggest privately owned contemporary art collections in North America, and has always been committed to fostering new talent. This December, the Rubells open their newly built 100,000-square-foot complex on NW 23rd St., close to downtown Miami, with a VIP preview on December 4.

Teresita Fernández at PAMM: The New York-based visual artist, an independent feminine force originally from Miami, returns to her roots with a mid-career retrospective at the Pérez Art Museum Miami. The exhibition, like most of Fernández’s work, challenges traditional narratives of identity and place.

The opening of El Espacio 23: In Miami, having your own foundation is quickly becoming trendy. The Rubells, the de la Cruzes, and the Margulies all have their own spaces housing collections that are open to the public. Now, Jorge Pérez, a benefactor of the PAMM, opens his own private museum, which displays his collection in a 28,000-square-foot former warehouse. El Espacio 23 includes apartments for artists.

Sterling Ruby and Yayoi Kusama mania, continued: The Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami hosts an exhibition of more than 100 works by American artist Sterling Ruby. Focusing on medium rather than material, the show explores Ruby’s practice and how it has evolved over the course of more than two decades. Simultaneously, the ICA presents an off-site exhibition by Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama in the city’s design district. “All the Eternal Love I Have for Pumpkins” marks the first time one of her popular “Infinity Mirror Rooms” will be exhibited in Miami.


Miami is never short of temporary installations and exhibitions around the city during Art Basel. Here are a few I am particularly looking forward to this year.

Thom Browne: The American fashion designer Thom Browne, who’s quietly taken up painting in the last few years, unveils his first large-scale public installation, curated by Deana Haggag, president and C.E.O. of the nonprofit United States Artists. Browne’s installation takes the form of a palm tree made of preppy fabric, measuring 21 feet high—think seersucker x pincord x gingham oxford meets South Beach!

Instagram x Studio Swine: In its first project off the social-media platform, @design, Instagram’s design team, has commissioned a work from Studio Swine, a collaboration between Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves. The result is a recyclable bubble structure that promises to hold immersive projects (curated by Fabienne Stephan). After the fair, the model will float to the Instagram offices in the Bay Area!

Les Lalanne: Though a lush garden by the sea isn’t what you might expect from American architects Peter Marino and Raymond Jungles, it’s what you get at Art Basel this year: curated by the Raleigh hotel’s new owner, New York developer Michael Shvo, the gardens of the hotel are once again open for a temporary exhibition by the late French artist duo Claude Lalanne and her husband, François-Xavier Lalanne.

and when you’re ARTED OUT…

Webster: Everyone’s favorite non-art escape, this luxury concept shop—founded by merchandising queen Laure Heriard Dubreuil and housed in a 1930s Henry Hohauser building—is where you run to if you get a last-minute invite to the White Cube party and need something fabulous to wear.

Dr. Barbara Strum and the Beauty Sandwich facials: Exclusively for Art Basel, Dr. Barbara Strum and celebrity facialist Iván Pol of The Beauty Sandwich have teamed up to give you the ultimate “lift and glow” look.

Casa Tua: A Miami restaurant with the most delicious pasta and a serene setting. Being there makes you forget about all the running around you are doing.

Finally… If you’ve still got it in you by Thursday night, don’t miss Vanessa Beecroft’s performance, curated by Neville Wakefield, at the Lot 11 Skate Park. Neville always delivers!

Laura de Gunzburg is an Editor at Large at AIR MAIL