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Art aficionados gear up for December's Art Basel in Miami Beach, with an anticipated record breaking attendance and $3 billion worth of contemporary art on display.

Since its launch in 2002, Art Basel in Miami Beach has become what many consider the most prestigious and influential art fair in the Americas. Last year saw more than 70,000 international visitors descend on Miami for the four-day event, and the 2015 edition promises to surpass that figure, with 267 galleries from 31 countries exhibiting an estimated $3 billion worth of contemporary art from December 3 to 6.

The spectacular growth of Art Basel in Miami Beach is directly related to the health of global financial markets over the last few years, which has encouraged more collectors to invest in fine art, particularly in contemporary emerging artists. The postwar and contemporary segments of the art market accounted for 48 percent of all sales by value last year, according to the European Fine Art Foundation. With the US representing nearly 39 percent of the market by value, Art Basel's American fair is at the epicenter of the international art world.

“The Americas have been paramount to the global art market for a long time,” says Noah Horowitz, recently appointed director Americas for Art Basel. “What we're seeing now is the proliferation of dynamic regional art scenes across the Americas. All these places are developing culturally in such unique and interesting ways, fostering local talent, begetting new galleries, and nurturing emerging collectors—feeding creativity and renewed energy into the larger ecosystem.”

Horowitz promises to bring a special vivacity to Art Basel in Miami Beach, something he proved quite adept at as director of New York's prestigious Armory Show. “I will oversee the Miami Beach show while also dedicating much of my time to engaging with the art scene and its key players across the Americas,” he says. “I'll be working to further strengthen relationships with collectors, museums, and institutions across the region, while also creating new opportunities for galleries and their artists in Miami Beach as well as throughout Art Basel's global network.”

Marc Spiegler, the director of Art Basel, is enthusiastic about what Horowitz will contribute to the fair. “Noah has demonstrated a deep understanding of the art world, especially in the United States and Latin America,” Spiegler says. “With him on board, Art Basel will be able to engage even more with emerging and established collectors, as well as our galleries throughout the Americas.”

Art Basel is well known for bringing artists and works from some of the world's most venerable galleries to its fairs. Less well known is how much effort the organization puts into presenting small independent galleries and the new artists they represent, as well as established artists who may be familiar to art-world insiders but who lack exposure in the marketplace.

“We have introduced sectors that are specifically designed for younger galleries and that are subsidized by the fair,” Spiegler explains. “In addition, we also have sectors that are dedicated to single-project booths, giving new and younger artists and galleries the opportunity to participate in the show. These sectors are designed to be more experimental than the main Galleries sector. We created the Survey sector in Miami Beach last year, as we noticed that there was a real interest in looking back at more historical positions, artists who had been overlooked by the market but that other artists and connoisseurs kept returning to. And then, of course, there is the continued surge of so-called ‘digital native' artists, who now have really come into their own."

What is Horowitz most looking forward to at his first Art Basel in Miami Beach? “I'm very excited about Nova, which provides younger galleries with a platform to present new work by up to three artists,” he says. “We have several first-time exhibitors, including Ignacio Liprandi Arte Contemporáneo from Buenos Aires, presenting work by Nicolás Bacal, Tomás Espina, and Jorge Pedro Nuñez, and Essex Street in New York, with Park McArthur and Cameron Rowland. There are also some excellent new galleries in Positions, which is our other young sector focusing on single-artist presentations. I'm also looking forward to the second year of Survey, whose inaugural edition was spectacular. This year's iteration features 12 exhibitions of historically informed works, including Castelli Gallery's presentation of iconic sculptures from the 1960s American artist Keith Sonnier, and the first US survey of Brazilian artist Roberto Burle Marx at Galeria Bergamin. Finally, Public is always a major highlight of the Miami Beach show and will be curated again this year by Nicholas Baume of the Public Art Fund.”


-Tess Thackara


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