As any art fair regular knows, the mass of traditional booths and dull abstractions of art covered white walls stretching endlessly in all directions, can bring on ennui (if not a bout of jaded disinterest). Three art aficionados and long-time friends decided to do something different at this edition of Art Basel Miami Beach 2015.
Benedetta Corsini, an independent art consultant and Old Masters Paintings Specialist based in Milan, and former President of the renowned Old Master paintings gallery, Piero Corsini, Inc., New York has collaborated with Paul Philippe Vögele, the proprietor of the Hibiscus Island Residence and Founder of Miami Art Masters, along with contemporary art veteran Karen LaGatta, to re-invent the buying experience by staging an exclusive, invite only showing within a 12,000 sq foot private residence on Hibiscus Island, located between South Beach and Downtown Miami. Designed by award-winning architects, Touzet Studio, the residence provided a spectacular backdrop to a curated selection of Old Master paintings and drawings, along with contemporary art and design objects.
The Miami Art Masters was an experience unlike any other, not only through the diverse presentation of historically important works of art but also by participating in an active contemporary dialogue merging elements of the past along with those representing our current time. The exhibition and sale spanned 500 years and fifty works of art, ranging from the 14th Century to the 19th Century, by prominent historic artists such as Jean-Honoré Fragonard, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Lo Scarsellino, Filippo Tarchiani, and Jean-Baptiste Oudry.
Further complementing this selection of Old Master works, the team of specialists integrated an assemblage of contemporary art and design, by internationally acclaimed galleries and designers such as Ralph Pucci, Herve Van der Straeten, and Paul Mathieu in conjunction with artists such as Tracey Emin, Cecily Brown, and Candida Höfer, among others.
Curator Benedetta Corsini repurposed the stately contemporary residence creating a mixture of Salon hangs in some spaces, with traditional museum style galleries in others. Corsini says she spent weeks selecting pieces and plotting their positions. And as much as the hang had been carefully orchestrated to create surprising alignments, she shared that the paintings had a singular nature of the display vying for sexy not stodgy. The point being to show how a liberal mix of paintings can add to the home of wealthy buyers in the modern age.
The interior design plotted by Linda Zarifi, who specializes in high-end residential hospitality design, polished the space with contemporary bespoke pieces artfully arranged in each room. Zarifi, of Zarifi Design, brought her extensive background of NYC design scenes into play to create the atmosphere of contemporary wonder, married with the eclectic century-era pieces selected for the hang.
And Corsini was right, the effect was sexy. Sexy being the word used throughout the night which began with wealthy buyers, and ended with gentlemen in bespoke suits and ladies in slinky black dresses and Louboutin heels enjoying a selection of canapes at the outdoor garden, replete with a Miami style bar and an ultra-blue lap pool framed by palm trees and the Miami Beach skyline.
Art Basel Miami Beach is on view in Miami from 2–6 December 2015. For more information, visit Miami Art Masters.