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Art Basel Returns

Detail of installation Meltdown by artist Jen Stark. Photo Paul Clemence.

By Paul Clemence

After skipping a year for, at this point, well established reasons, Art Basel is back to Miami Beach this week, attracting collectors, exhibitors, artists, art lovers, art media, critics, and the glitterati, all in search of great art, the newest next big thing and/or the most raucous exclusive parties! But if you still weary of immersing yourself amidst the crowds, not to worry – Miami has plenty of cool art to be found without having to ever set foot inside the halls of the convention center or the plethora of satellites art fairs. Here are 5 top art picks to be found in the city:

Rejoicing and Festivals of the Americas mural by Brazilian artist Carybé at Miami International Airport. Photo Paul Clemence.

1. You can start right after landing, given that Miami International Airport has one of the best art programs anywhere. From the two large scale vintage murals (rescued from the renovations of JFK Airport) by Brazilian artist Carybé to the contemporary color explosion of artist Jen Stark installation, the airport halls are full of surprises. Not to be missed is the South Terminal art selection, with a great piece around gates J and H. And at Terminal D make sure to look down at the sprawling terrazzo floor with inlaid bronze pieces by legendary Miami artist Michelle Oka Doner.

Bent Pool sculpture by artist duo Elmgreen and Dragset at Miami Beach Convention Center. Photo Paul Clemence.

2. At Miami Beach, right across the convention center entrance it’s the sculpture “Bent Pool” by the Berlin based, art world favorite duo Elmgreen & Dragset. The piece makes a corky and insightful commentary on the ubiquitous presence of pools in a city at high risk of floods due to climate change.

Phaphama at Cassilhaus, North Carolina, 2016, a photo mural by by South African artist Zanele Muholi- at Miami Beach City Hall. Photo Paul Clemence.

3. Just south of the Bent Pool, on the walls of Miami Beach City Hall, it’s “Phaphama, at Cassilhaus, North Carolina, 2016”, a striking photograph by South African artist Zanele Muholi. Originally a gelatin silver print, this oversized decal version beautifully interacts with the famous Florida sunshine, giving the duotone image an additional light layer.


Miami Mountain by artist Ugo Rondinone at Collins Park. Photo Paul Clemence.

4. A few blocks East, on the public grounds of The Bass museum, Swiss artist Ugo Rondinone attempts to break the flat Floridian landscape with his “Miami Mountain”, a totemic like sculpture rendered in his signature fluorescent rainbow palette. The piece is part of The Bass program “Art Outside” ( www.artoutsidemb.org) featuring artwork displayed throughout Miami Beach.

Slide Mantra sculpture by Isamu Noguchi at Bicentennial Park. Photo Paul Clemence.

5. For some pre-hype, Miami early days public art head to the very beginning of Miami’s Biscayne Boulevard. There, at Bicentennial Park, you will find “Slide Mantra”, a sculpture by Isamu Noguchi made out of Carrara marble and that was presented originally at the 1986 Venice Biennale. Walking just a few blocks North, is another bay side park, the Maurice A. Ferré Park, where the Perez Art Museum of Miami is located. Here, a few yards from the museum entrance, an oversized sculpture by Catalan artist Jaume Plensa sculpture ( “Looking into my Dreams, Awilda” makes an interesting counterpart to the Noguchi’s piece.

Baccardi Building mural by Brazilian artsit Francisco Brennand. Photo Paul Clemence.

6. Continuing North on Biscayne Boulevard, amidst all the new, mostly generic condo towers, stands the landmarked Baccardi Building, featuring an original tile mural by the late Brazilian artist Francisco Brennand. The mural covers the whole eight floors of the South façade of the 1963 tower, covering an area of approximately 7000 square feet. Rendered in assorted tones of blues, the mural depicts what the artist called “the imaginary flora of the Americas.”


Art Basel runs December 2-4, 2021 in Miami Beach.  Go to Art Basel for more info.


Paul Clemence is an award-winning photographer and writer exploring the cross-section of design, art and architecture. A published author, his volume Mies van der Rohe’s FARNSWORTH HOUSE remains to this day the most complete photo documentation of that iconic modern residential design, and a selection of these photos is part of the Mies van der Rohe Archives housed by MoMa, New York. He is widely published in arts, architecture and lifestyle magazines like Metropolis, ArchDaily, Architizer, Modern, Casa Vogue Brasil and others. Archi-Photo, aka Architecture Photography, his Facebook photo blog quickly became a photography and architecture community, with over 970,000 followers worldwide. An architect by training, Clemence is originally from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and now lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

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