If we were to describe Art Basel Miami Beach in one word, it’d be “bananas.” And not just because of Maurizio Cattelan’s infamous banana duck taped to a wall that sold for $120,000, although that’s pretty bananas, too. 🍌🤯
This year, Art Basel went from being a global cultural destination to a hub for viral, buzzed-about artwork. The conversations the event generated echoed far beyond the sunny vibes of Miami Beach, and it was all largely in part to these incredible works of art that went viral seemingly overnight.
Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian
We couldn’t start this off without mentioning Maurizio Cattelan’s Comedian – easily the most talked-about piece of art on view at Art Basel. The conceptual piece sold for $120,000, and things got even more bananas when a performance artists snatched it from the wall and ate it. The owners paid for the concept, though, not the actual banana, so it can be replaced.
While some people might think that spending six figures on something like this signaled the absurdity of the modern art world, after Art Basel everyone had heard about this. Who knows? Maybe a company will pay the owners $1 million to use it in a Super Bowl commercial or something. And it that case, it’s a great investment – as ridiculous as it might sound.
Leandro Erlich’s Order of Importance
Some of the most exciting pieces at Art Basel lived and breathed outside the galleries. Case in point: Order of Importance by Leandro Erlich. This public installation reimagined a traffic jam right on the beach. It was commissioned by the City of Miami Beach and curated by Ximena Caminos.
This year, the environment and the climate crisis were important subjects at Art Basel. Order of Importance gave us a post-apocalyptic glimpse at what Collins Avenue might look like in the near future if water levels keep rising.
Portia Munson’s The Garden
At Art Basel, more is always more, and artist Portia Munson sure delivered. The Garden is a room stuffed with thousands of flowery, pink objects and other cute things like plushy animals and over-the-top decorations that are often associated with the feminine.
Although it seems innocuous, The Garden is a commentary on artificiality, consumerism, and how we tend to drown our feelings with material possessions. Like consumerism, The Garden is at first captivating but quickly becomes suffocating.
Elmgreen & Dragset’s Bent Pool
What comes to mind when you think of a swimming pool? Leisure? Luxury? Design duo Elmgreen & Dragset want you to forget all that with Bent Pool, their literal twist on a pool. The giant sculpture made its debut outside the Miami Beach Convention Center during Art Basel, and it will remain installed permanently (or as long as Miami remains above water).
Again, Bent Pool is another commentary on the effect of the climate crisis. Who’s going to need to take a plunge when everything is already under water? At that point, pools might as well become just for show.
Yayoi Kusama’s Flowers That Speak All About My Heart Given to the Sky
Whether it’s her blockbuster infinity rooms or her gigantic flower sculptures, Yayoi Kusama knows how to make a statement. At Art Basel, it was difficult not to be drawn by one of her fabulous flower sculptures, combining the natural with the artificial, the earth-bound with the psychedelic.
Just like a real flower, these sculptures are best viewed from different angles, encouraging people to move around and catch all the curves, colors, and surfaces.
Fernando Laposse’s Pink Beasts
Some creatures just loved hanging out at Art Basel. Fernando Laposse brought several of his Pink Beasts to do just that all over Miami. These adorable monsters could be seen literally hanging out in Miami’s Design District.
Pink Beasts were produced by a collective of Mayan women in Yucatán, Mexico using organic fibers and natural dyes, proving that there are sustainable ways to achieve bright color that respect both the environment and indigenous craft traditions.
Raúl de Nieves & Cajsa von Zeipel ⠀
Without a doubt, the New York-based gallery Company had one of the most popular booths at the Miami Beach Convention Center. It combined fabulous works by Raúl de Nieves (ornate beaded sculptures) and Cajsa von Zeipel (punk princess mannequins).
Together, these works made the Company booth feel like a wild glitzy party, a brainchild of Grimes, Miley Cyrus, and Paris Hilton – bright pink shag carpet included.