MIAMI BEACH, Fla. — The prestigious Art Basel Miami Beach doesn't open to the public until Thursday.
But pieces like gargantuan, wind-powered skeletal creatures, an installation of calcified, obsolete 20th century media devices and works from the elusive British graffiti artist Banksy are already on display.
The fair, now in its 13th year, will feature paintings, sculptures, photographs and films from 267 art galleries in 31 countries at the Miami Beach Convention Center.
Art Basel, a U.S. extension of the contemporary art fair held each June in Basel, Switzerland, officially opens Thursday and runs through Sunday. But established galleries, museums and pop-ups are already hosting VIP parties and showing off works across the city.
Evocative spray painted messages, a black-and-white work of two kissing British police officers and a pile of stone rubble fashioned into a sphinx are among the works by mysterious British graffiti artist Banksy. Several were created during his month-long New York city residency last year, which were featured in the HBO documentary "Banksy Does New York."
"Banksy" is a pseudonym for the artist who rose to fame in the 1990s for his provocative silhouetted figures and spray-painted messages known to appear in unexpected places. His works have fetched as much as $1.8 million at auction.
He's both an elusive street punk and an art-world darling and is credited for the evolution of graffiti art. During his New York stint, he created a new picture, video or prank daily throughout the city, stirring controversy until his last day when he tagged a building old-school style with his name in giant bubble letters made of actual balloon-like inflatables.
Presented by the New York-based Keszler Gallery in collaboration with Art Miami, the curated collection will include Banksy pieces from 2005 to present.
Heavy rains didn't dampen the party at Wynwood Walls, the unofficial kickoff to Art Basel. This year's theme, "The Art of Collaboration," brought together artists who, in some cases, had never met or worked together before to inspire mind-bending color and dimension to concrete walls. Chinese artist DALeast and Los Angeles based Cryptik collaborated on a gold-hued medallion wall.
The solo exception was graffiti artist Swoon, whose watercolor-esque turquoise and pink wall with Batik imprints featured a breastfeeding mother.
The Miami City Ballet gave an impromptu swing dance performance to a Frank Sinatra number and the Miami Street Band revved up the invitation-only crowd.
A pock-mocked earth filled with black, white and graying obsolete 20th century media devices is the theme of Daniel Arsham's installation "Welcome to the Future." Digging a hole through the gallery's concrete floors, Arsham's relics include rotary telephones, steering wheels, 1980s boom boxes, film reels and pop culture references like a football and Felix the Cat clocks.
Arsham, who was heavily influenced by the destruction he saw as a child during Hurricane Andrew, presents the recent past as archaeology, a world of technological objects whose obsolescence was built into their design and petrified like the figures of Pompeii.
"Welcome to the Future" is showing at Locust Projects through December 6.
After a nasty divorce from the Museum of Contemporary Art in North Miami, Wynwood is finally getting a museum of its own. The new Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, may have a gritty back story, but the 37,500-square-foot gallery and 15,000-square-foot sculpture garden being built next to the existing de la Cruz Collection, will show how "contemporary art can change lives," said Irma Braman, co-chair of the museum's board of trustees.
A hefty gift from Irma and Norman Braman and land donated by developer Craig Robins financed the gallery. The museum, the first U.S. project for the Spanish firm Aranguren & Gallegos Arquitectos, won't be completed until 2016, but will have a temporary two-year home until then.
Tuesday's grand opening will include the debut of "As I Lay Drying", an installation of new and recent works by New York-based artist Andra Ursuta, as well as Pedro Reyes's participatory installation "Sanatorium".
Haitian-born artist Adler Guerrier returns to his Miami home with a layered look at city living, exploring an individual's tranquil backyard escape and how it blossoms as neighbors interact in shared space on small and large scales, creating culture and clashes of culture. "Formulating A Plot," which is showing at the Perez Art Museum Miami, is the first solo museum exhibition for the young artist.
His photos, prints, videos and mixed media images evoke familiar Florida themes through the pink Art Deco style homes, a simple Hibiscus bush black and white wall print, layered with images that imbed in a community over time including political posters and home sale signs. The themes of racial riots and social injustice in troubled Liberty City emerge in untitled works based on a fictionalized radical, African-American group.
It's all about how "individuals find the place they want to root themselves," and making sense of "living communally and being conscious of what that means," said Guerrier.