From December 2-5 Art Basel, the most important art event in the United States and one of the most important art shows in the world, returns to Miami Beach. The sister event to Switzerland’s Art Basel, which has reigned as the world’s most prestigious art fair for over 40 years, Art Basel Miami Beach has opened the door to an entirely new audience.
The South Florida location has allowed easy access to the emergent Latin American art market. It is the access and proximity to Latin America that has allowed Art Basel Miami to perform well despite the global economic slowdown. Sophisticated Latin American collectors as well as avant-garde Latin American artists have played a large role in the recent success of Art Basel Miami Beach.
And the tradition of collecting in this part of the world continues to grow. Says Alejandra von Hartz of the Alejandra von Hartz Gallery in Miami, “There are countries like Venezuela that have always had a history of collecting, but in other countries, as in my country, Argentina, the tradition of collecting is just starting… The interest in expanding, in seeing the similarities with international art, is fairly new.”
A prime example of this new tradition of collecting is found in Argentine businessman Juan Vergez and his wife Patricia Pearson. The couple began collecting the works of emerging Argentine artists but soon expanded their collection to include works from all over Latin America. The purchase of a photograph by Iranian artist Shirin Neshat changed their focus once again. “We had to ask ourselves ‘Who are we as collectors?’ We bought the photograph and we began to develop an international vision, says Vergez.
Their extensive collection is showcased in Buenos Aires’ San Telmo district and includes works from Latin American, European, and Middle Eastern artists. The couple, who call Art Basel Miami Beach “intense, fluid, one of the best [art fairs] in the world today,” represent a growing faction of Latin American art lovers with the means and the desire to develop meaningful art collections. Art Basel Miami Beach provides then with the perfect opportunity to do so.