We Went to Every Party at Art Basel Miami Beach & These Are the Best 10

Many moons ago, we came across this untranslatable proverb in Esperanto: “Navigante inter du aŭ tri arto partioj en sola tago estas formidable kapableco, sed tuj ĉiu unuopa partio ĉe Art Basel Miami Beach estas granda arto.” Now here’s what that means in English: “Navigating between two or three art parties in a single day is a formidable skill, but going to every single party at Art Basel Miami Beach is a high art.”

So, in the late fall of 2014, when we heard that Art Basel Miami Beach would be bigger and better than ever, and that UBER was finally coming to Miami, we jumped at the chance to make the finest work of art party coverage the world has ever seen [cue the evil laugh] —  which just so happens to take the form of a listicle…or, if you will, a #Basellisticle.

That’s right. We sipped and dipped at Basel’s finest cocktail parties; we dined and dashed at Basel’s best dinners; we darted for doors at enough Baseliscious bashes to make Jonathan Cheban blush; and we hopped from pop-up club to pop-up club like two horny roommates from Saskatchewan who just so happened to be simultaneously turning twenty-one and throwing their joint bachelorette party down at Art Basel Miami Beach (tiaras not included).

Why did we do it, you ask? You know why. Because we love you, silly. And when you love someone as much as we love you, you want to serve them Art Basel Miami Beach, raw, on a gilded platter. #NoFilter. Straight from the party horse’s mouth, in as many words as the party horse decides to use, because you know that your beloved’s got nothing better to do than listen to you blab about parties. So relax and let us feed you 10 choice cuts of uncooked and super spicy steak tartArt Basel.

But hey — enough of our yakkin’ — let’s boogie!

1. Artsy Dance Party at the Moore Building

With one epic Chanel-powered bash on the beach at Soho House in 2012 Artsy was launched into the rarified upper echelon of #ABMBPTFTBRW (for those of you who may not be familiar with our ARTbreviations, that’s “Art Basel Miami Beach Party Throwing Force To Be Reckoned With”), long before they had even launched their website!

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Ben Rosser/BFAnyc.com

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Wendi Murdoch, Ivanka Trump, Carter Cleveland, Lauren Remington Platt. Photo: Ben Rosser/BFAnyc.com

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Here’s Felicity In 2012 Pretending They Handed Out Chanel iPhone 5Ls (L for Lagerfeld)

Now that the Artsy app is getting thumbed around in just about every place where art hangs — from the halls of the Louvre to the caves of Lascaux — the Artsy party has become the sort of event that can make your whole Art Basel in just one night. So it should come as no surprise that this year’s fête justified the trek down to Miami’s Moore Building.

As the intelligentsia fixed their gaze upon the dance performance choreographed by Shen Wei (whom the Washington Post has called “one of the great artists of our time”) and tech world elites debated whether Artsy’s founder Carter Cleveland is the “Jeff Bezos or the Steve Jobs of the Art world,” a handful of sexy plebes gawked at the likes of “Jessa from Girls!” (aka Jemima Kirke) and Ivanka Trump (who is “so nice and completely down to earth”) and asked questions like, “is that Theophilos guy actually from London or is it just a name?”

2. Miley at the Raleigh

While we’re on the topic of “greatest artists of our times,” we wish to deposit our two cents: Miley Cyrus. And those aren’t even cents — they’re not even words. They’re a Movement. We’re proud to declare that we’ve been on #TeamMiley since “Party in the USA” (and before that even, but one of us has insisted that we stop mentioning that because he’s been repeatedly warned that it sounds creepy for him to say that he was “really into Hannah Montana.”)

Let’s just put it this way: If one says that an artist has “killed it” when said artist puts on a good show, then one could call Miley’s performance, featuring Flaming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne: “pure genocide.”

Some rude oligarch had the nerve to remove what looked like the wood-paneled Bentley of electronic cigarettes from his mouth to ask us the following question from behind a plume of bacon-flavored vapor: “Did you understand this? You look like you have fun, but I don’t think that you understand this.” And here’s how we responded, in unison (in Children of the Corn Voices): “No, sir. We didn’t. But neither did the first people who saw The Persistence of Memory? Yet they too had witnessed something sublime.”

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Courtesy of Miley’s Instagram

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Andre Saraiva talks to party guests

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Post concert shoe-mosphere

3. Horse Meat Disco + Yabu Pushelberg in the Basement of the Edition Hotel

The Basement of the new Edition Hotel was the place to be at ABMB. Wait, before we go any further, we just want to clarify that by, “New Edition Hotel,” we don’t mean that Ricky Bell, Michael Bivins, Ronnie DeVoe, Johnny Gill, Ralph Tresvant, and Bobby Brown got the old group back together and started a hotel. Oh no. #CoolItNow.

The Edition — the venue for a whopping 30% of the parties on this list — is Ian Schrager’s new project. And his is a name that makes us say “ho-tell us more” because he just so happens to be the hotelier who put South Beach on the map of greatest hotels in the world (such a map does in fact exist, and we’d love nothing more than to link to it and submit if for your review, but it’s actually only available in a single physical copy that’s kept under lock and key in a vault in Lausanne) with his launch of the renovated Delano in 1994. So it t’was a bit of high drama with him coming back to town and going fête-a-fête with his O.G. Grand Budapest, which had some exclaiming, “oh DelaNO he didn’t!” We haven’t experienced Schrager drama like this since over 10 years ago when he teamed up with artist Julian Schnabel to launch the Gramercy Park Hotel like ten blocks away from his original hotel with the Morgans Hotel Group. And he pulled out all the stops with this one. It’s got a bowling alley. But we said all the stops. This hotel, in Miami, has an ice-skating rink. That’s the sort of move that might prompt Andre 3000 (whose OutKast tour jumpsuits were on display just a few blocks away): to ask: “What’s cooler than cool?” And respond: “Ice Skating in Miami.”

But back to the Basement. It’s the diametric opposite of Rose Bar. This place is gritty, and flashy, and dingy, and dark. Very dark. Did we say sexy? No, we did not just say, “sexy.” But that’s illustrative, for this is a place that perfectly captures that sort of “I’m not exactly sure what’s going on but I’m having so much fun and may have just whispered the word ‘sexy’” sort of vibe. It’s apparent that Schrager really dug deep into his formidable oeuvre of canonical east coast clubs to cook up this one. Long before the Gramercy, before the Delano, before the Last Days of Disco, Schrager, alongside Steve Rubell (his soon to be partner in Studio 54), opened a disco in Douglaston, Queens called “Enchanted Garden.” Of course we’ve never been there! We weren’t born. Heck, we’re not even sure if Steve Lewis has ever been there! Yet, for some reason, a space as raw and amazing as this Basement somehow nevertheless brings to mind all those enchanted disco infernos of yesteryear.

And the space and the crowd was brought to a salt-sprinkled boil by Horse Meat Disco. “Ebullient.” That word literally means “boiling over.” It’s an important concept for the medieval mystic, Meister Eckhart. And it’s the perfect word for expressing the primal fecundity of pure orgiastic abandon experienced in this blessed basement.

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Hannah Bronfman + Brendan Fallis. Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

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Harry Brant. Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

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Harley Viera Newton, Atlanta de Cadenet, Leigh Lezark. Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

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4. Snarkitecture + Alchemist + Alfa Romeo at 1111 Lincoln Road

At the end of Lincoln Road — or at the start of it, depending on which way you’re facing and perhaps whether you’re an optimist or a pessimist — stands 1111 Lincoln Road, a masterpiece by Herzog & de Meuron. Yes, it’s a parking garage. But let us question you thusly: were it not a parking garage, would you have as much fun making fun of all those philistines who don’t seem to “get” its status as an iconic building? We dare say: no.

But now we can’t help but suspect that you wish to question us thusly: dearest Felicity and Mark, amidst all the pedantry and posturing that undoubtedly permeates the architecturally exceptional parking spots of the plutocracy, could it really be a fun party? A fine question. A fair question. And here’s your answer: beeb beeb, beep beep, yea!!!

Especially when the party is being thrown by Snarkitecture — the project of Alex Mustonen and art world wunderkind, Daniel Arsham — and features massive NBA Hoops Basketball Arcade Machines (a project called AIRBALL) and truckloads of appetizers the were — from what our eyes, noses, and taste buds were telling us — bomb ass Bosco Sticks.

5. Roger Vivier at the Edition

If there were a French expression for expressing the cheerful enjoyment of a fashionable life, it would be: Joie de Vivier!

While some revelers cling to the position that parties and lovemaking are best enjoyed when it’s dark, we say, “lighten up! It’s so much fun to do it in the daytime!” That’s our pervy way of declaring that this was the best daytime party at Art Basel this year.

We sipped sinfully potent cocktails that made it all but impossible for our lushy American tongues to pronounce the names of our hosts, Ines de la Fressange and Ambra Medda.

Translation: pure Joie de Vivier!

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Ines de la Fressange, Ambra Medda. Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

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Freida Pinto, Bruno Frisoni, Ines de la Fressange. Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

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Felicity with party favor fan

6. Nordstrom Dinner at the Standard Hotel

We laughed so hard during this waterfront dinner, and cracked so many silly jokes about the fleet of drones Nordstrom had hired to capture our festive faces — “that one’s married to a roomba!”; “That one’s last job was delivering pizza!” “That one’s momma was a snowblower” — that we almost forgot to eat. Which was unfortunate because all the grub was off the chain — from the burrata to the branzino.

And just when we thought our night was all about food, folks and drones, Nordstrom’s Olivia Kim, architect of the “pop-in” store at the Standard, announced that we were about to munch on some serious swag! Nordstrom had arranged for a raffle! Mark won a bright blue french press. Felicity won DJ equipment, and therefore will likely be a DJ by next year’s ABMB. And then the big celebrity sitting next to us (who begged us not to reveal her identity) won a freaking kayak. #SoJelly.

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Dinner atmosphere with photo Drone in background

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Dinner party gifts

7. Moschino Party at the Thompson Hotel

Here’s the Miami party truth that no one likes to admit: Down here, Paris Hilton is a great DJ. Especially when she’s inside a Moschino-designed Barbie house. Let’s just say she was in her element.

But this party, we must concede, did not feel like it was set in vintage Miami. It channeled some hauntingly auspicious Miami-of-the-future vibe — the Miami of Herzog and De Muren, Zaha Hadid, the Faema Art Center, that New Institute of Contemporary Art, etc., etc., unabbreviated etcetera. If we had to represent that not-too-distant land geographically, we’d plop it somewhere betwixt Havana and Milano.

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Moschinomosphere: Barbie House

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Moschino Barbie Box photo booth

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The back of Jeremy Scott inside the barbie house

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Moschino pool mosphere

8. Visionaire 64 ART + John Baldessari at the Edition

Ain’t no party like a selfie party. With John Baldessari. It’s the sort of party you don’t even have to describe, and you can just drop celebrity selfie name bombs like a Samsung B-52, son: James Franco, Gisele Bündchen, Neil Patrick Harris, Drake, Lupita Nyong’o, and Marina Abramovic.

BOOM!!!

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Mickalene Thomas, Klaus Biesenbach. Photo: Benjamin Lozovksy/BFAnyc.com

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Cecilia Dean, James Kaliardos. Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

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The Visionaire Chamber Ensemble, Craig Hartley, performance. Photo: BFAnyc.com 

9. Triangle Walks at the Delano

The Delano’s backyard — from Bianca to the Beach — is about as long as a football field. Or at least that what it feels like when hotel security is hot on your tail chasing you away from the pool that’s for “guests only” (not that that’s ever happened to a certain Hannah Montana fan). So when you throw a party in that large a space, it tends to feel relaxed and restrained, even if hundreds of people are sipping some new cognac next to Philippe Starck’s oversized flower pots. In other words, it’s the perfect spot for a pre-party that requires the appreciation of art that generates stimulating thoughts.

And on the level of thought-stimulation, this party was a cut above the rest.  For the occasion, a fully restored house, designed by modernist architect, Jean Prouvé (whose pièce de pre-fab résistance, Maison Tropicale, Andre Balazs purchased in 2007), was constructed on the grounds of the Delano’s garden. Inside the house, we discovered Bally’s “Function and Modernity” exhibition, which showcased the artwork of the French art due, Kolkoz, the Brooklyn-based artist, Zak Kitnick, and celebrated the worlds of Swiss and French modernist architects and designers in Bally’s private collection (Robert Mallet-Stevens, Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret).

We were so deeply engaged in exhilarating discourse that we barely noticed that the party was being DJed by Harley Viera Newton, and our little modernist house on the Delano prairie was, literally, rocking with celebrities.

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Harley Viera Newton. Photo: Angela Pham/BFAnyc.com

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Photo: Angela Pham/BFAnyc.com

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10. Le Baron Ten Year Anniversary at the Delano (FRD)

Ten years in and Le Baron’s pop-up game is stronger than ever. We’d give them a perfect 10 if it weren’t more appropriate to hand out a Mr. A.

After a couple of years of nomadically roving between an assortment of clubs, it was nice to see Le Baron back at what we view as its rightful temporary home at the Delano’s Florida Room (aka FDR). This low-ceilinged, nooky space just makes more sense for Le Baron’s aesthetic and vibe than some of the massive Miami venues where it has, de temps en temps, popped up over the years (club in point: Nikki Beach in 2012).

The veteran crew ran this show like a well oiled white glove machine. Fresh off his road trip down from New York City, doorman extraordinaire, Julio Montero, managed the teeming crowds at the 17th Street entrance with the grace of Chopin conducting a nocturne.

Inside, the beats (frequently spun by the very hands connected to the very shoulders connected to the very mohawked tête of the head of the Tête D’Affiche transcontinental DJ mafia program, Greg Boust) were energizing and sexifyingly jouissance-inducing, yet they maintained just enough avant-garde edge to remind revelers that art just so happens to be the reason for this party season.

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The New Kid on the Block at Art Basel Miami Beach

At only three years old, the Untitled Art Fair is definitely the new kid on the block at Art Basel Miami Beach. To be perfectly honest, we weren’t even expecting to visit this fledgling fair until we we happened to be walking along South Beach and spotted the extraordinary Untitled Pavillion.

But it’s a good thing we did.

We emerged from the show feeling like we had just come from Churchill Downs because a three-year-old had won our Art Basel derby! Primarily because of the art. It was new and interesting and provocative and genuinely engaging. And it was all exhibited in a way that let us breath and think while we took it all in. More like a luxury boutique than a strip mall.

Everything else at Untitled ruled as well — from the food, to the music, to the way the structure itself embraced its beachside surroundings, plus we ran into some awesome friends.

So we’ve gone ahead and assembled the 15 reasons the Untitled Art Fair stole the show at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach.

1. Anastasia Ax Is What Would Happen If Scientists Dug Up Jackson Pollock and Fused His DNA With Urs Fischer and Marina Abramovic’s Imaginary Love Child.
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Untitled, Anastasia Ax (2014)

Yes, that’s our proposed plotline to JurARTsic Park. But we honestly believe that we are refraining from hyperbole by saying that Anastasia’s Ax’s art is far more powerful than the work of those whom we have imagined to be her progenitors. Hers is not the sort of art one sees and thinks, “I could do that.” And it’s not the sort of work one sees and wonders, “What is that?” Anastasia Ax makes the sort of art that forces you to feel colossal feelings. She smashes through your default phone-y-ness and jadedness and makes you once again believe that art may unveil the mysteries of life and death.

Words feel frail in the face of her art. The best we can do is to literally describe what she does: she swallows black ink and then spits it up while simultaneously pulverizing masses of plaster and paper to percussive beats that make Ramstein sound breezy.

2. Norman Mooney’s Windseed Is Precisely the Sort of Stone You Shouldn’t Throw If You Live in a Philip Glass House
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Windseed, Norman Mooney (2014)

It pierced our eyes with pleasure. This belongs on Elysium — right next to the “med-bed” required to heal those blissfully peripatetic souls who unwittingly impale themselves on one of its symmetrical spears.

3. The Feeling of Being Hammered Is Perfectly Conveyed By Pablo Gomez Uribe’s Reality Crumbles.
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Reality Crumbles Representation, Pablo Gomez Uribe (2014)

With soul-pounding simplicity, this hanged our throbbing heads upon the wall. A work this powerful deserves Teutonic praise. Das ist der absolute Hammer!

4. Paul Kremer’s Aim Right / Aim Left Is Para-toxically Hypnotic
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Aim Right, Aim Left, Paul Kremer (2014)

Could one make a protective vest that works through optical confusion? Just as the assailant attempts to focus his weapon, his line of vision would blur more thoroughly than Robin Thicke qua Bill Cosby’s conception of consent. And then maybe those budding King Joffreys might crossbow themselves.

5. Adrian Esparza Stages the Unfurling of Life as a Serape
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Untitled, Adrian Esparza (2014)

In Greek mythology, the three fates spin the threads of life that control our destiny. In Esparza’s work, those threads lie unspun, nakedly displaying the fruits of our teleological loom.

6. In 1967, Alejandro Puente Built a Pasteleporter
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Complementarios Llevados Al Blanco, Alejandro Puente (1967).

A staple of science fiction, the teleporter tends to assume stock shades of functional black and silver — or perhaps the occasional UBERian gray. In Miami, the future of transportation takes on the hues of art deco. Puente’s pasteleporter disingenuously promises to disintegrate and reconstitute your transient particles with the pointed gentleness of Seurat painting you into Watteau’s Embarkation for Cythera.

7. Social Media Onomatopoeia Pops Like a Kaboom from Nina Chanel Abney’s Canvas
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Untitled, Nina Chanel Abney (2014)

That buzz-ing, and ding-ing, and ping-ing, and rattl-ing in our pockets. It’s up there for us to see and wonder how we absorb it all while still maintaining the semblance of sanity. Or so we think…

8. Dennis Loesch Imagines the Sort of Images That Samantha Might Make in Her
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Gradient Type II, Dennis Loesch (2013)

Will it end in fire or ice? Or will it end in the restrained stripings of a robot in love? Alone in those woods on that snowy evening, how was Frost to worry about artificial intelligence? His horse would have indeed thought it queer were he to begin musing about the lovely, dark and deep markings that might one day be made by androids.

9. The Grid Becomes a Cage and the Cage Becomes a Grid in the Work of Alois Kronschlaeger.
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Untitled, Alois Kronschlaeger (2014)

At the main fair we heard Simon de Pury praise the grid while lauding Instagram alongside Kevin Systrom and Klaus Biesenbach. The Insta-ntly canonized grid has Simon thinking like an indentured squarecropper. We were thankful for Kronschlaeger’s counterpoint. In her work, the grid loses its luster. Incongruous objects are trapped in a perpendicular state of panoptic transparency. This work casts a long and needed shadow over the gird’s newfound (and questionably undeserved) gridibility.

10. David Kramer Questions the “Me” In “Meme”
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David Kramer

Kramer brings you face to face with the generic perception of particularity. That’s so true. That’s so me. Yet it’s so you too. Right? And all of us. So how can it still be so “me”? Can uniquely personal resonance be created on a mass scale simply just by placing platitudes alongside an image depicting one of Ekman’s basic emotions? Kramer puts that riveting question on display.

11. The Untitled Pavillion Was Beachtastic
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It felt like an art fair on the beach should feel. You don’t want sand blowing in your face, but you don’t want to feel like you’re in some repurposed warehouse in Williamsburg. The structure, designed by K/R architects is right on South Beach, and its beach-facing wall is transparent. So that big, hot Miami sun shines right through and illuminates all the art within. And those murmuring Miami waves roll on predictably, straight outta La Plage by Robbe-Grillet.

12. The Food at the Jeepny Stand Proved that FilipiNO means Yes
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13. Michelle von Mandel’s Beats Made the Untitled Terrace Feel Like the Pool at the ManDelano
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14. Hennessey Made a Convincing Case That One May Indeed Drink Cognac Before Sundown
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Shout out to superstar photographer and DJ Leslie Kirchhoff for hooking us up with our very own bottle.

15. We Opened with Anastasia Ax, and We Want to Close With Her.

Watch this video to discover what we’ve dubbed #AxionPainting:

Is Everyone on Instagram an Artist?

Kevin Systrom speaks with Simon de Pury and Klaus Biesenbach for ‘Instagram as an Artistic Medium’

An incredulous grumble emerged from the capacity crowd of art world luminaries at yesterday’s panel discussion at Art Basel Miami Beach when legendary auctioneer and art dealer, Simon de Pury, announced that “every user of Instagram is basically an artist.” Sensing the collective skepticism, the ever charismatic but never squeamish de Pury doubled down on his argument: “what has happened with Instagram is that every single person has become an artist.”

Klaus Biesenbach, Director of MoMA PS1 — known to those outside the art world as that German dude with white hair who rips lots of selfies with James Franco and Lana Del Rey, and James Franco and pictures of Lana Del Rey, and takes pictures with and of James Franco and Lana Del Rey in the Rockaways — was quick to refute de Pury’s controversial point. “I actually disagree with Simon [de Pury]. We are not artists. Not every single person who Instagrams is an artist. I think every single person who uses Instagram communicates, and I think that’s a huge difference.”

Now we officially had a debate on our hands at Art Basel Miami Beach — the hot heart of the art world in December.

We wondered whether Kevin Systrom would take sides. Is he the sort of CEO who jumps into the fray a million miles away from his home court in Silicon Valley?

Well, the man who built one of the fastest growing social networks of all time did not disappoint. He deftly synthesized what de Pury and Biesenbach had said into an elegant compromise position that the more theoretically inclined members of the audience immediately recognized as the ultimate Hegelian move. “I want to bridge what you [de Pury] said and what you [Biesenbach] said — I believe that everyone  is an artist on Instagram in their own way, but what does art do? It communicates. It communicates an emotion. It communicates a thought.”

But what do you think? Is everyone on Instagram an artist? Or do you have to do more than just rip a selfie or ‘gram your outfit of the day to join the ranks of Rembrandt and Picasso?

Art Basel FOMO: The Belle of Basel, Marina Abramović

Marina cozies up with W Magazine’s Stefano Tonchi. Photo: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

Take a break from any important issue that is happening in real-time right now across our nation and pay extra close attention to the fluff of this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach! The art world is quickly making its way to mainstream media, making artist themselves basically brand powerhouses. Nobody is doing this better than the queen of hyped performance art, Marina Abramović.

Forget Paris Hilton, Marina is hitting the party rounds harder than a newly legal Jenner during Paris Fashion Week. She’s mastered the act of performance art and we’re now left wondering if she uses those talents to balance a glass of bubbly in one hand while snapping a selfie with Kim Kardashian in the other. See below why it is highly appropriate to dub Ms. Marina Abramović the biggest socialite of Art Basel Miami Beach.

1. Marina at the Chrome Hearts Miami store opening. Where she rubbed shoulders and surely had an in depth conversation with the likes of Kate Hudson and Zoe Kravitz.Benjamin-Lozovsky---Chrome-Hearts-Photo: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

2. Marina with Chromeo front-man Dave Macklovitch at Espasso’s Opening of the Em Transito exhibit at The Shore Club.Owen-KolasinskiPhoto: Owen Kolasinski/BFAnyc.com

3. Marina managing to squeeze in a performance between parties.Benjamin-LozovskyPhoto: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

4. Marina striking a pose at the W Magazine party at the Miami Beach Edition Hotel.BenjiPhoto: Benjamin Lozovsky/BFAnyc.com

5. When artists socialize: Marina chatting with photographer Marilyn Minter.THE MIAMI BEACH EDITION HOTEL launches with a celebration for W MAGAZINEPhoto: Joe Schildhorn/BFAnyc.com

6. Marina working her legs and blocking the art-haters with her fly shades while celebrating MAI with Tumblr, Art Ruby and Perrier.Angela-PhamPhoto: Angela Pham/BFAnyc.com

Art That Speaks: The 21 Most Evocative Works at Art Basel Miami Beach 2014

If the answer is yes, our next question is: what did it say?

Here is what the art said…

1. “It doesn’t matter if your glass is half empty or half full, as long as you use a straw either way.”
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Lip Glass, Kathryn Andrews (2014).

2. “You’ll never have this ass.”
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Ron Simms, Robert Mapplethorpe (1980).  

3. “Let me guess, you’re gonna make a 99 Luftballons joke out of me?”
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15 Breaths (Gold), Gimhongsok (2013).

4. “Don’t tell a soul, but I’m going to be the poster for Judd Apatow’s This is 50.”
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Untitled (50 – Dentures), Jean-Michel Basqiat & Andy Warhol (1984-85).

5. “I don’t do hi-fives.”
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Blue Glove, Amanda Ross-Ho (2014).

6. “Don’t give your naked pictures to me, celebri-tease ;-).”
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Cloud, Olaf Breuning (2014).

7. “Did someone say ‘Naked Pictures'”?
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Naked Pictures, Jack Pierson (2014).

8. “But seriously, are you?”
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Are You Really Happy, Jeppe Hein (2012).

9. “Take a deep breath, and count to 10.”
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One Through Zero (The Ten Numbers), Robert Indiana (1978-2003).

10. “Are you really that tractor tired?”
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Untitled (Goodyear), Virginia Overton (2014).

11. “Always sell yourself for art.”
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The Road to Hell Is Paved (Kmart), Christian Holstad (2010-11).

12. “But never resell yourself for art.”
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Superflex, Gardar Eide Einarsson (2014)

13. “Beware: Gallerist On Guard!”
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L’etranger, Elmgreen & Dragset (2014).

14. “You look shady to me.”
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Estatua de León Trotsky, Pedro Reyes (2014).

15. “Don’t you dare think of restacking me. Who do you think you are? Anna Kendrick!?”
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Party Cup Pyramid, Matt Johnson (2014).

16. “Ideally your life would be deeper.”
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Ideally This Sign Would Be Deeper, Laure Prouvost (2014).

17. “I call it like I see it.”
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The Flood, Jim Shaw (2014).

18. “That ‘big idea’ is like a lightbulb in a bathtub.”
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Demonstrator, Nina Beier (2014).

19. “I shudder to think what you’ll say about me.”
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Duat, Antoni Tàpies (1994).

20. “No, I’m not a Barnett Newman.”
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Untitled, Günther Förg (1995).

21. “I’m reading you reading me.”
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Woman Reading, Roy Lichtenstein (1980). 

Making the Perfect Holiday Drink with Bombay Sapphire

Throwing a holiday soirée for your posh group of friends? Show them that you ooze intelligence regarding that drink in hand. A signature Bombay Sapphire cocktail spruces up any situation. Whether you’ve hired the chef and are having an invite-only, or your covering the couch with plastic wrap and throwing a rave (no judgement),Bombay is an appropriate liquid.

BlackBook celebrated with Bombay at our party for React to Film during  Art Basel Miami Beach along with LACMA and Gemfields, cocktails in hand while viewing the three short docs featuring artists John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, and David Hockney. Bombay drinks were certainly the best thing to quench our thirst in the Miami heat.

Want to join in on the fun? Here’s that extraordinary drink your guests will all be talking about (or just mix one up to enjoy while watching Netflix.) Of course, overindulge responsibly.

 “Noelia”

2 parts BOMBAY SAPPHIRE® Gin

0.25 parts St Germain

1 part lime juice

0.75 parts Ginger Syrup (ie: Monin Syrup)

2 barspoons of cranberry sauce (ie: Cucina Antica cranberry sauce)

3 droplets of homemade rosemary-pepper infused oil*

1 Fresh rosemary sprig

In a mixing glass place the first 5 ingredients, then add ice and shake vigorously. Double strain into a 10 oz coupe. With a droplet, garnish the cocktail with the infused oil on top creating 3 circles that will remain on top. Spank a fresh rosemary spring in between your hands to release some aroma and put it on top of the cocktail.

*Homemade oil:

8 oz olive oil

4 7-inches sprigs of fresh rosemary

1 dried aji amarillo (Peruvian dried yellow hot pepper)

1 pinch of salt

Put all ingredients into a pan and simmer on low heat for 30 minutes making sure it does not boil. Take it off the heat and place it in a mason jar. Muddle gently to release some of the oils and flavors of the pepper and rosemary. Store it for one day. Strain all solids and place infused oil in a dark bottle. It will last for over 3 months.

Sexuality, Femininity, and Anime in 3-D: Jessica Lichtenstein’s Work

Given that we’ve already talked about porn today, it’s nothing too adventurous that we next turn to Jessica Lichtenstein and her nudes: reappropriated hyper sexualized Japanese anime figures and excessively buoyant 3D-software-born archetypically feminine bodies placed in new environs, aggression and subjection sent packing. First glance reveals the aforementioned nudes frolicking and at play, but a second gander might make the viewer aware of a male-absence. This is a healthily feminine world that Lichtenstein has created – only celebration and empowerment allowed.

So how did Lichtenstein get started, stealing pornographic anime figures from various XXX sites, keeping the bodies unclothed, but changing their message entirely?

“I would cut out and appropriate these women from pornographic comic books,” said Jessica. “I wondered if you stick it in a different context or a landscape, does your idea of pornography change? Growing up, my greatest influences were found when walking around the Louvre. I would stop by the nude bathers, the nymphs, the nude in landscapes, so it hearkens back to the Renaissance, but there’s a modern edge to it.”

The nudes Lichtenstein speaks of seeing were depictions of the feminine ideal at the time – the forms shown in her work are again that feminine ideal, but they’re that sort of unattainable, hyper sexualized shape that’s become so omnipresent in our current society. One only needs to look to Barbie dolls, male-focused advertising, or Amanda Lepore for proof.

The bodies Lichtenstein uses may be hyper sexualized, but in a way that’s not intimidating to females.

“I don’t look at that and say ‘god, I wish I was that,” said Lichtenstein. “They don’t make you feel bad about yourself. There’s something sort of empowering in their sexuality that translates to the viewer, no matter how they feel about themselves. People walk away from these with a little more strut in their step.”

In her newer work, Lichtenstein left the pre-fab women behind, setting out to make one ideal form, generated in the Maya 3-D program with built-in joints, making repositioning easier. Pointing to one of the Four Seasons pieces, Lichtenstein fills me in: “This is the same girl, multiplied by like 3,000.”

“I became obsessed with this idea that we’re all sort of petals on trees, we’re these flowers, these blossoms that are going through our cycles, our seasons – sometimes by ourselves, sometimes in groups. We’re petals in the sun trying to grow. All the emotions that go into being a female, in sexuality but also just as a person, our mood changes… these became the idea of Four Seasons,” said Lichtenstein.

The circular shapes she has chosen to house her acrylic-topped works are ultimately feminine: “[They’re] earthy, they remind me of pregnancy.” And every facet – every leaf, even in the smallest detail, is one of Lichtenstein’s women.

In some of her works, Lichtenstein’s women are frolicking on dildo-like boats, or perhaps floating on nipple-shaped hot air balloons.

“Because why not?” the artist asked, smiling. “When I’m in a bad place or a dark mood, apparently I throw up rainbows, because I don’t want to stay in that dark mood. My depth and despair breeds happy, shiny stuff.”

Of her cultural references, Lichtenstein says she’s not bound to this Japanese or American ideal. “In a couple years I’ll probably be taking my influences from other cultures.” By then, she’ll probably have graduated to printing her figures in 3-D. “Maybe a year and a half down the road…”

Whole worlds exist within Lichtenstein’s pieces now. So many details and so many stories exist within the frame – it wouldn’t be a stretch to stare for hours and discover more and more. While it is time-intensive, technology helps; pointing to a hammock, Lichtenstein says “that exists in 3-D, so I can turn it, twist it, move it however I want. Here it’s dead on, here’s it’s twisted to the right.”

We spoke about the themes and messages in her work:

I love the idea of women as nature, as the ultimate mother. It makes sense in your work.

You get it! When you put women in the “wild”, in their “natural habitat”, the fetishism takes off. So I’ll put antlers and tails and ears on all the girls, a little bit of fetishism, it’s actually my take on the nude bathers. Cézanne has his, Picasso had his… these are mine.

…All done by men. I feel like as women we’re in the process of reclaiming the feminine ideal for ourselves. It’s the figures – you’ve kind of taken them back. What prompted you to even start down that road?

I was always fascinated with nudes. Not in a lesbian way, not in a perverted way. It was always just beautiful to me. A lot of times we get caught up in how objectified we are as women, and we become almost defensive. So when we see nude women and nude depictions … we have a tendency to get defensive and we intellectualize it a little too much. I like to get back to the sense of how beautiful and empowering and how lovely it is. It’s not a slight against us – it’s not something that takes us away from being still brilliant, equal to men. We can just exist out there; we don’t have to hide it as much.

I really like the empowering, beautification, not in an objectifying way but in a celebratory way. The people who come in and say, “Oh my god, guys would love his, how do you sell to women?” Those are the people who don’t get it, but those are the people I’m trying to talk to and convert, a little bit. I try to spoon feed them sexuality. Deep down I think they like it, but they don’t want to admit it, or they don’t want to be that person.  So if you take a girl, and instead of having those flesh tones you give it to them in a more monotone way with a beautiful scene – up close you can tell but not from afar – you get women saying “I won’t have that, but I could maybe do this in my living room.” You can see their minds change, maybe they don’t even realize why they have these set interpretations. So when you ask why they object, sometimes they can’t even answer the question. I like dancing with that line. 

The Japanese figures are a little more obvious and something we might oppose. But when you go to the more anonymous figure that you made in 3D…

Even though they say they don’t like it, maybe they say, “Ok, I like the scene”. They try to find a way to justify why they like the nudes. But the right person who comes from my cloth, they see these and think “this is my fantasy land, this makes me smile, and this is a world I want to be in. I want to hang out with these girls; I want to play with them. It makes me happy.” But I like talking to the people who need a little convincing. That’s what makes this art; it’s a conversation, not just happy pretty things on walls.

I feel very Woman Power right now. It’s not aggressively that. But the energy is good in here.

A lot of people try to categorize this as sexual or erotic. My intention is more playful jubilation. One of my favorite things is when my art is in a window, you have kids like “mommy mommy mommy!” who are just drawn to it. And you have mom on her iPhone holding her kid and her dog, and she puts her phone down, and sees, and realizes it’s more for her than for her child. It’s the idea of a childlike innocence coming out in adults. This is Disneyland for adults. Everything you held sacred as a child – bright colors, shiny, balloons, and trees – PLAY… It’s everything you had as a child but a little bit twisted with the sexuality, which a little bit shows that loss of innocence. Some people put cartoony things but will put a slash through the throat, or distorted figures, but I like to show loss of innocence in a sexual way. And you don’t have to lose that innocence. It doesn’t die.

It evolves.

Yes.

Jessica Lichtenstein’s show ‘After Glow’ is on view at Gallery Nine5 (24 Spring Street) through December 15.

Afterglow by Jessica Lichtenstein at GALLERY NINE5 Jessica Lichentenstein Afterglow_fall_HR

The Hidden Jewel of Art Basel: Artist Emanuele Viscuso

Amidst the cultural whirlwind that is Art Basel MiamBeach, you may find yourself entranced and engrossed in the week’s myriad art shows, nonstop parties, and warm climate pleasures divergent from the cool austerity of most metropolitan cities and cultural centers. But when it came to BlackBook’s journey down south this year, one of our favorite discoveries was lingering just down the street from all Basel’s excitement—the treasure of Emanuele Viscuso and his exotic home on the bay.

As our first decision made in our Art Basel planning, we opted to stay in an Airbnb house rather than one of the scene-centric hotels the city has to offer. Between the fairs (ABMB, Art Miami, Design Miami, Pulse, Untitled, NADA… the list goes on,) the people, and the parties, we already sensed a need for some quiet respite—and what better way to revive our minds and creative spirit between happenings than with some bay side reflection and relaxation?

Upon looking at Emanuele’s South Beach home, we had a feeling there was something special hiding behind his doors. Perhaps it was the house’s proximity to the water—including a pool, private beach, and 180 degree sunset views—or maybe it was the artwork that lined he house (the photos just don’t do it all justice), but we can say with assurance that there is truly something magical about it. As our host, Emanuele played a major part in our incredible experience—his home and stories of his life as an artist a true inspiration and one of the most unique experiences we could have had in Miami.

BlackBook’s home away from home for the past week, Emanuele’s house is filled with creations of his own from nearly 30 years of work as an artist: sculptures that capture and embody the movement of sound; a Frida Kahlo collaboration with the photographer Leo Matiz; trompe l’oeil library wallpaper. The energy in the house is incredible and supremely revitalizing—most of that comes from the artist himself.

With a background in music as a composer and concert pianist, Emanuele’s love of composition comes to life as the physical embodiment of sound through his countless sculptures throughout the home. Varying in color, shape, texture, and scale they’re a sampling of the versions he has housed at the Observatory of Contemporary Art (Bagheria), Paolo Pini museum in Milan, and Milan’s Malpensa Airport (something to look for on your next Milan Fashion Week excursion). The sculptures encapsulate the motion of music’s physicality—each line is a note, the lines together in varying heights, a chord. The sculptures reverberated with us even more strongly after he treated us to a private piano concert, playing pieces by heart from his own compositions that range from neo-classical wonders filled with emotion to songs akin to classic American jazz standards, as well as the compositions of one of his favorite legends Frederic Chopin.

Between the private concerts (with the stunning view of the bay at night), the Frida Kahlo-themed bedroom, numerous sculptures on view throughout the home, picture frames filled with happy, smiling faces ((Emanuele with Richard Gere, Emanuele with Liza Minnelli…) and the backyard space to beat all backyards, it’s clear we found the true hidden gem of Art Basel Miami Beach—and we couldn’t have been more pleased.

tumblr_mxgvlnT9lr1qaxqhho1_1280 Screen shot 2013-12-08 at 3.18.42 PM tumblr_mxgvlnT9lr1qaxqhho2_1280 tumblr_mxgvlnT9lr1qaxqhho4_1280 tumblr_mxgvlnT9lr1qaxqhho3_1280

Emanuele Viscuso’s work can be found here. 

Almost Everything You Need To Know About Art Basel In One Single Image

Ah, the celebration for Jeff Koons and Dom Pérignon at the Wall – perhaps no other event so perfectly summed up the parties of Art Basel in Miami more than this one. Jam-packed and star-smattered, it was sort of a grown up’s version of the world’s most hyperbolic Sweet 16 Party.

In the photograph above we see Zoe Kravitz, left, daughter of Lenny, who later stood in the DJ booth singing, karaoke-style, over his own 1993 hit, “Are You Gonna Go My Way?” Tucked in the background is gallerist and artist Tony Shafrazi; next to him is DJ Ruckus. To Ruckus’s right, with arm raised, is Aerosmith vocalist Steven Tyler (who also gave some self-karaoke assistance to 1989’s “Love In An Elevator.”) Mr. Tyler is flanked by luxury magazine magnate Jason Binn.

And there you have it.

Photo: David X Prutting and Keith Tiner, BFA