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Basel art fair hits the beach in Florida

Mobile exhibition spaces on Miami Beach (Art Basel Miami Beach)

Art Basel - regarded as the world's most important art fair - has spread its wings to Florida with a new sister event called Art Basel Miami Beach.

As in Basel, Miami's focal point is the presence of leading galleries from North and Latin America, Europe, Africa and Asia, showing art from the 20th and 21st centuries.

But there are differences: Art Basel Miami Beach features more contemporary art than its Swiss counterpart - which concentrates on modernists - and it's slightly smaller.

Unlike in Basel, major private collections are being shown to the public for the first time, and the ocean setting is totally unlike that of the art fair in landlocked Switzerland.

For example, shipping containers have been converted into mobile exhibition spaces and set up on the beach for young, avant-garde galleries.

In total, Art Basel Miami Beach is featuring about 5,000 works by 1,000 leading artists of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Global interest

Forty-four per cent are from the United States and Canada, 48 per cent from Europe, with the remainder coming from Latin America, Asia and Africa.

Prices start at a few hundred dollars for multiples and works by young artists, with museum-quality masterpieces bearing price tags in the millions.

The art fair includes works by Pablo Picasso, Fernand Léger, René Magritte, Joan Miro and Andy Warhol

Peter Vetsch, marketing and communications manager of Art Basel, is one of several officials from Switzerland helping to organise the Miami event.

He told swissinfo: "The mild December weather and the intimate atmosphere of Miami Beach, with its lively art scene, contribute to its appeal.

"We believe that its success will reflect on and strengthen the appeal of Art Basel to dealers, collectors and the public."

swissinfo

Key facts

Art Basel Miami Beach is the counterpart of Art Basel, which has a 32-year history.
It is organised by Art Basel, a division of Switzerland's leading Fair and Convention company, Messe Basel, and a host committee of local community leaders as well as leading Florida collectors.
Some 160 galleries from all over the world are represented at the event, which ends on December 8.

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