Inside Art Basel Miami Beach

Leading gallerist Sean Kelly offers tips for navigating the city during its high-profile Art Week.

WORDS By Nick Remsen
November / December 2017

Installation view of Kehinde Wiley: Trickster at Sean Kelly, New York; photo: Jason Wyche, New York

United Kingdom-born Sean Kelly is revered in New York City art circles. His eponymous gallery, founded in 1991 and now housed in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards neighborhood, represents names including Marina Abramović, Antony Gormley, Candida Höfer and Kehinde Wiley—a balanced portfolio of subtle-meets-provocative. Here, Kelly weighs in on all things Miami, as Art Basel Miami Beach—the annual December fair that is arguably the United States’ most important—and its satellite events return to the city. 


“The Faena, which opened in 2015, is an exciting addition to Miami. Alan Faena and Ximena Caminos are visionaries who have done a remarkable job of integrating a luxury hotel experience into an emerging new arts area with exhibition and performance spaces open to the public. Last year, they staged an incredible art parade featuring Los Carpinteros's Conga Irreversible. Los Carpinteros worked with both Cuban and local Miami musicians and dancers to stage a radical reinterpretation of a traditional conga that originally debuted in Havana—by the end of the parade, everyone was dancing in the streets, literally!”


“I never come to Miami without checking in with my friend—and wine guru—Christian Margesson, who runs Cult Wine Exchange. I am passionate about red wine. It is the perfect accompaniment to art, design and architecture. Christian is a person who informs, illuminates and feeds that passion.”


“Miami isn’t just about the art—there is also great shopping. I always make sure to stop by the Chrome Hearts store in the Design District (pictured above). Chrome Hearts is not your typical retail experience—it is in a class of its own. The owners, Richard and Laurie Stark, have a unique aesthetic and always have some special project up their sleeves. Plus, they know how to throw a great party!”


“Many people think of Miami primarily for the beach, but it has an amazingly diverse art scene. I love to visit the Pérez Art Museum Miami. They are very lucky to have Franklin Sirmans at the helm; he is a visionary director and a leader in the arts community. I am also looking forward to seeing the renovated Bass museum, which is a stone’s throw from the Art Basel convention center.”


“I am an architecture geek, so when I heard about Alchemist, a high-end store on the fifth floor of the Herzog & de Meuron-designed garage at 1111 Lincoln Road, I had to check it out. Alchemist, owned by Roma and Erika Cohen, does not disappoint. They have impeccable taste.”


The Lido Bayside Grill at The Standard

“The food is excellent and the setting is idyllic and restorative. There is nothing like enjoying the breeze on the bay.”


“You feel like you are instantly transported to Greece.”


“The Venetian cuisine is outstanding, as is the consistent level of service and the restaurant’s excellent wine list.”

Four Seasons The Surf Club

“We recently discovered this hidden gem, which has a beautiful bar. Just opened this year, it is not yet one of the normally frequented destinations—I hope none of my colleagues read this and catch on!”


“My team and I try to have at least one meal here during Art Basel Miami. This classic, located in Little Havana, is an unpretentious antidote to all the fancy parties and finger food.”

Sean’s Art Basel Miami Beach 2017 Program

“This year we are focusing on new bodies of work by artists showing at the gallery. These include Brazilian artist Iran do Espírito Santo, known for his rigorous conceptual practice, Japanese artist Mariko Mori and British artist Idris Khan. I’m also looking forward to Kehinde Wiley’s traditional Sunday-night fish fry. Kehinde is a serious fisherman besides being an important artist. He catches all of the food for the party, which has a family BBQ feel.”


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