Art Basel Witnesses Dazzling Black Artwork

This year’s Art Basel hosted at the Miami Beach was flooded with admirable Black craft which portrayed both Black struggle and Black love.

Art Basel is a big deal. Branded as the world’s premier 20th and 21st centuries fine arts show, it takes place annually on three continents: Europe in June in Basel, Switzerland; North America in December in Miami Beach; and Asia in March in Hong Kong, the Miami Herald reports. Art collectors and curators attend these fairs to discover new artists and new galleries. They generate sales and encourage collectors and curators to follow the activities of their favorite artists and to discover new ones.

By all accounts the 2015 Art Basel Miami Beach Dec. 1 to 6 was a success. Galleries large and small exhibited the fine arts of traditional and emerging artists in grand style. Contemporary and vintage paintings and sculptures were viewed and purchased. Celebrities, artists, curators, visitors and residents networked in galleries and at parties for nearly a week in an art-filled festive environment.


Numerous established galleries from New York, Chicago and London exhibited works by national and international black artists in Miami Beach and at satellite fairs. Miami-based Prizm Museum showcased works of international contemporary artists from the African diaspora and emerging markets. The Prizm Art Fair in Miami, temporarily located at 7300 Biscayne Blvd., is open through Sunday.

Several miles west of Prizm is the Yeelen Gallery, permanently located at 294 NW 54th St. in Little Haiti. Its Art Basel show, titled “what’s INSIDE HER never dies…a Black Woman’s Legacy,” continues through Feb. 28, 2016. This gallery is owned and operated by a black woman, Karla Ferguson.

Florida Memorial University’s School of Arts and Sciences in partnership with the Contemporary African Diaspora Art Conversations presented the sixth annual Art Basel panel on Contemporary African Diaspora Art. The discussion, “Why Black Art Matters,” was moderated by curator and CADA Managing Director Ludlow Bailey and held on campus at The Nathan W. Collier Library. The panelists were Ethiopian-based curator Dr. Desta Meghoo; Nigerian artist Dr. Ugochukwu Smooth-Nwezi, curator of African art, Hood Museum, Dartmouth College; African-American artist Bernard Williams; and cultural writer Julie Walker from The Root.com.

At the opening of the Historic Overtown Soul Basel reception in District 5, Miami Commission Vice Chairman Keon Hardemon said: “Art and entertainment are at the cornerstone of the Historic Overtown community. It is our mission to enhance the quality of life of our residents. Showcases such as the annual Art Africa Miami Arts Fair attract visitors into the community while highlighting the ongoing wave of redevelopment that is taking place.”

Hardemon is also chairman of the Southeast Overtown Park West Community Redevelopment Area (SEOPW CRA).


Advancing Hardemon’s endorsement, SEOPW CRA Executive Director Clarence Woods said: “We are excited about the return of Art Africa Miami to Historic Overtown and the appeal it brings to Art Basel Patrons. We believe this year’s exhibit was exceptionally strong at the Historic Lyric Theater, and it provided the SEOPW CRA with the opportunity to showcase the redevelopment area.”

The beauty of art is that it starts with one person’s dreams and ideas, which are then realized in a painting, sculpture or other art medium, The Root states. From there it lives on forever, hopefully for all the world to see. That’s one reason it’s so important that the artwork of Black artists, who often document the good and bad of our lives, flourish in this new, emerging worldview.

From police violence to black love, from the Black Panthers to the Jackson Five, it’s all reflected in this selection of artwork from the largest and most important art fair in America, Art Basel Miami Beach, as well as some of the many satellite fairs and shows.


Although some big-name celebrities made appearances, it’s the artists who are always the real standouts. Kehinde Wiley presided over his annual fish fry, where a prompt Lauryn Hill performed; Jacolby Satterwhite was feted by Artsy and Faena; and the New York-based street artist Bradley Theodore was celebrated by the Ivy. Additionally, this year the Art of Black Miami expanded its programming to include even more artists of African descent.

The African-American artists used their craft works to tackle some issues facing the Black community today; from racism to police brutalities at the 2016 Art Basel Miami Beach. Nonetheless, it wasn’t all about the woes of Black people. On exhibition was also some lovely Black moments translated into art. It was indeed a site to behold.

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