Art Basel Review

The question on everyone’s mind at Art Basel: What recession? If this year was any indication, decadence is back with a vengeance, and Miami had the megawatt parties to prove it. The weekend kicked with a whirlwind of high-profile vernissages and VIP openings that drew heavy-rollers Naomi Campbell, China Chow, Jeffrey Deitch, Susan Sarandon, Adrien Brody, and Alber Elbaz, all of whom made the rounds for the opening of the main fair on Wednesday, and picked up some choice blue-chip pieces.

And what better way to celebrate a new acquisition than with a party? The whirlwind got started Wednesday night with the MOCA party, which used to be known as the Deitch Projects party. Jeffrey might have defected to L.A., but the spirit was alive and well at the Raleigh hotel, where pretty much everyone in town crushed onto the back deck to catch LCD Soundsystem. According to some, this was their sole reason for attending Art Basel. We’re not sure we believe it.

Things kicked into high gear on Thursday night with the Interview fete poolside at the Delano. Revelers were treated to a water-bound bacchanal that featured synchronized swimmers, water dancers, two naked masked men, and a fully choreographed samba band. The finale performance by artist Mariah Robertson drew the entire fete to the beach for nude dancing and skinny-dipping. Even Jeffrey Deitch tagged along, though we’re not sure how far.

Also on Thursday night, Andre Balazs hosted a shindig for Bruce Weber, who was in town celebrating the ten-year anniversary of his Little Bear Press, as well as a long career pioneering the all-American beefcake. Guests included Ryan McGinley and Calvin Klein himself, whose success might be indebted to Weber’s expertise with tanned and toned bodies. Also on hand were some of the finer specimens from Weber’s arsenal of boys, as well as a few hopefuls who hovered around waiting to be discovered.

Friday night, those left standing shuttled between a number of dueling fiestas, including Visionaire’s annual affair at the W, which drew Wolfgang Tillmans, Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren (Viktor was mistaken for a gallery owner by a confused party-goer), Lorenzo Martone, and Calvin Klein’s Francisco Costa, who earlier that day was spotted mulling over some Star Trek paintings by California painter Luke Butler. Also milling about was Tilda Swinton, fresh from her Pringle dinner at the Webster.

Saturday at The Standard, Jefferson Hack and Andre Balazs teamed up to fete the fashion world’s current muse, Marina Abramovic, while across the way Neville Wakefield teamed up with Playboy for what seemed to be the most unlikely art coupling. But as one well-informed curator noted: “Nudes have a long tradition in art!” Those craving more scooted to the after-hours of choice, Le Baron, whose door crush regularly included the most dedicated of partiers (we’re looking at you, Aurel Schmidt). The basement club was like a velvet-lined time warp, filled with drunken Euros, rising art stars, dealers and celebrities, all raging into the wee hours. But come to think of it, what better place to watch the sunrise than Miami Basel when the market is up?

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