In the pandemonium of Art Basel Miami Beach—or any of the major art fairs—it’s easy to forget that before there can be billionaires, brand managers, and Beyoncé, there must first be ideas, ideas that percolate in solitude in a quiet room and mysteriously, miraculously, find their form. Brush hits canvas, a shutter lets in light, a 3D printer molds plastic, and suddenly there are these things, these useless, beautiful things. How is it then that they end up, however many years and miles later, at the Miami Convention Center, where they are viewed, admired, instagrammed, tweeted, leveraged, loved, bought and sold?
“It is, in some ways, what galleries do,” Tamsen Greene, Senior Director of the Jack Shainman Gallery, explains. “We’re like these mediators. We are the ones who get to know artists really well and hopefully bring the work into a wider context.” And never has the context felt so wide. The unofficial art fair circuit, which includes Frieze London and New York, Art Basel in Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach, The Armory Show and the slew of smaller satellite fairs, has grown over the last decade into a major commercial platform as well as individual snapshots of the contemporary art world.