Art Basel Miami: Day I

They say the art world is always one step ahead, so if this year’s Art Basel is any indication, the recession is bust! With an awe-inspiring line-up of openings, dinners and soirees, the ultimate art fair has regained its position as the social event of December. We’d need an energy drink IV and body doubles to even put a dent in the schedule. But we’ll give it a shot.

Fresh off the plane, we headed straight to the launch party at the convention center. It was an odd relief to see the familiar blue-blood collectors, try-hard celebs and fashion faces. The first booth we hit was French mother ship Emmanuel Perrotin, where all the Frenchies were hanging out, including Lionel Bensemoun of Le Baron. We also spotted Pharrell Williams, who, while very un-French, is presenting a project with the gallery.

The scene was similar over at Deitch Projects, whose booth was more of a mobile museum, with a wall-sized portrait of Michael Jackson by Kehinde Wiley, commissioned by the King of Pop himself. The epic-scaled canvas of the pop icon in heraldic regalia begs for a home at MoMA, or at least a room at Jay-Z’s house.

Later we headed to the Raleigh hotel for Deitch’s annual fete. The guest list was a pre-recession mix of high and low: China Chow, Jeremy Scott, Chuck Close, Peter Som. We also bumped into a certain interior-designer friend (to be honored at the Guggenheim tonight), who divulged some intriguing news from Takahiro Miyashita of Number (N)ine. While it was first reported on Hint earlier this year that Taki was shuttering the much-beloved men’s label, apparently he’s not ready to retire from fashion entirely. He’s just shifting gears, creating a collection of one-size-fits-all pieces, produced in extremely limited quantities and introduced through guerrilla-style presentations at his favorites stores. So, yay.

A special performance by Santigold was as steamy as the weather, and it whipped the crowd into a frenzy. We decided, however, to take it easy this first night. Not that everyone did. On our way out we witnessed up-and-coming artist Conrad Ruiz jump, on a dare, headfirst into the pool fully clothed with drink in hand. Art is back!

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