I Went to Art Basel, and All I Got Were These Lousy Photos

For one magical week every December, the stupidest and shittiest rich people imaginable descend on Florida to get good deals on wildly expensive art pieces. They call this ​Art Basel Miami Beach.

Nick Gazin

Nick Gazin

For one magical week every December, the stupidest and shittiest rich people imaginable descend on Florida to get good deals on wildly expensive art pieces. They call this  ​Art Basel Miami Beach. I went down to Basel too, but I didn't buy anything. I just had a very nice time and took a lot of photos.

I stayed at this island called Star Island. It is full of mansions where famous people live. Puff Daddy has a vacation home there, and Shaq used to own a house there too. It's also apparently  ​haunted, but what island isn't full of ghosts these days? 


​I arrived on Wednesday and went straight from the airport to ​Gramps, where I did the opening DJ set before Odd Future. Gramps is the only good bar in Miami, as far as I can tell. This photo is during the portion of my set where I hold a twerking contest. 

This is ​Serena Domin​guez, standing with the mural she painted outside Gramps. She also did a drawing for our ​Robin Willia​ms memorial blog a few months back. 


On Thursday, I went to SCOPE with a bunch of ​Mishka people. SCOPE was the first of the satellite art fairs to pop up around Art Basel like a bunch of fun barnacles latching on to a big whale made of money. It's located on the beach—literally on the beach, as you can see.

​Swizz Bea​tz was hanging out because he'd curated a booth of photos of boom boxes. Swizz Beatz is a very friendly but low-key man. A few years back I gave Swizz a portrait I did of him. He claims he still has it but I am not convinced. 

Each fair tends to have one unifying trend that becomes apparent once you've explored about a third of the art. The theme of SCOPE this year was shiny circles. Shiny circles were very in. Here's one that I saw. 

Here's another shiny circle from SCOPE. 

This shiny circle was inside a rectangle.

This is the best thing I saw. Dan Hort Projects was showing off a lot of original art by cartoonists, animators, and fantasy artists. It was nice to see some of the art that broke people made before it got repurposed and turned into pop art by millionaires. 

This original Frank Frazetta painting blew my mind. According to the gallerist, Frazetta would make colorful, abstract backgrounds and then just paint the characters in. 

This is a distorted Yi Hwan-Kwon sculpture from Gana Art in Seoul. All these statues are very realistic but are distorted so that they look like optical illusions when viewed from most angles. 

This is a giant, hyper-realistic sculpture of Dali's head by Kuzu, a Japanese makeup and special effects guy turned fine artist. It is very convincing, except that it is four times the size of a human head. A lot of the sculptures at SCOPE had some novelty aspect to them. 

This is a cute little miniature bodega by  ​Drew Leshk​o. He made some other miniatures too. They didn't blow my mind, but who doesn't love miniatures and dollhouses? Fuck you if you don't love a good dollhouse. 

​Prin​ce Rama were also hanging out at SCOPE. I like their music a lot. 

When I left the SCOPE art fair, I saw this building that looked like a boat. The palm trees were all getting blown around by the wind. Even the grimiest places in Miami are sort of pretty and scary and feel prehistoric.

I went to an event at the Soho Beach House to try to interview Russell Simmons. 

​That didn't get to happen because Simmons was mainly only talking to women. I can't really blame him—I wouldn't want to hang out with me either. He runs a ​ great chari​ty that provides art education to kids, though.

South Beach, basically. 

​ Bow-tied boys.

Miguel performed to a bunch of awful and disinterested rich folks at the charity event. I got the sense that most people at the party were incapable of feeling joy or being interested in things. 

I left the Miguel show through the side entrance and saw the ocean looking like this. 

I also saw this lady with this great head. 

​I went to a hotel called Edition, where  ​Freeman and Lowe were doing a live lecture followed by a fashion show, with music performed by the Black Bananas. 

The show was an incisive, funny, and beautiful skewering of Art Basel. At no point did I stop thinking, Wow, I can't believe I get to see this for free. Also, this naked lady came out at the end. Afterward, someone said, "I'm so sick of seeing her naked. She gets naked at everything."

People didn't stop talking during the entire performance and at one part started doing "the slow clap." I was so mad that I wanted to throw chairs and punch this guy on his cellphone in the back of his head until my fist came through the front of his face. 

This is  ​Black Ba​nanas, whose noisy set accompanied the bizarre fashion show. The lady on the left is Jen Herrema, previously of Royal Trux and RTX. She is probably the coolest person I've ever met. 

​Leo Fitzpatrick had some great pins. Flexing hard with his no-flex zone pin. He had this amazing show which was just a hotel room with a giant puddle of puke in the middle. Check out his gallery  ​Hom​e Alone if you're in New York. 

​This is famous artist and Santos Party House co-owner ​​Spencer Sweeney, dressed in sort of casual cosplay as a character from Alien

​These guys were just waiting in a hotel lobby and asked if I had seen any famous people. Apparently they hang out at hotels and events, hoping to meet show-biz people. 

Black Bananas, Spencer Sweeney, Leo Fitzpatrick, and I all had a drawing party at the dive bar next door.

I drew Spencer as a demon. Spencer drew me as a man who looks like a fat old loaf of bread. Kurt drew a lot of guitars. 

Leo Fitzpatrick drew the red faces and named it Mt. Crushmore. I drew the black faces. 

Here is Leo's "fuck the world" tattoo that he got before FTW was an internet abbreviation for "for the win." This tattoo is way more "fuck the world" than any other "fuck the world" tattoo I've ever seen.


​​Gavi​n Brown, who runs Gavin Brown's enterprise in Manhattan, got 2 Live Crew to perform at his party. Seeing​ 2 Live Crew perform in Miami is like seeing the Pope perform a mass in Rome. 

Uncle Luke wasn't there, but Marquis and Fresh Kid Ice were pretty great. They were helped out by three backup dancers who did choreographed moves. I was unsure why ​this music about fuck shops and pussy popping was making me feel so happy, but when they kicked into "If You Believe in Having Sex," I was like, Oh, this is religious music but fucking is the religion of 2 Live Crew and they find it deeply spiritual.

Miami bass isn't just strip club music when you're in Miami. Kids grow up hearing it in roller rinks and at block parties. I saw an army of elementary school kids having a step dance competition in the street to it last year. 

When the 2 Live Crew show let out, we went to a nearby underground ice rink where these show-off figure skaters were doing insane moves for the pleasure of the Instagrammers. If it wasn't for the bougie Miami scum, this would be the greatest night spot imaginable.

Did you know that many digital jukeboxes have dozens of Cannibal Corpse songs on them? For a dollar, you can put on a ten-minute live song that will clear the dance floor. It's pretty great if you're a miserable piece of shit like me.


On Saturday,  ​Picturepl​ane and I ate some pretty good pizza and went to Art Basel, the main and original and most money-making festival. People in New York get all uppity about how good "their" pizza is, but pizza is pretty good everywhere. It's just bread and cheese and tomato sauce. 

The first thing I saw upon entering the main art fair was a bunch of people who had been tucked into bed for art naps. It was pretty cute. 

There wasn't as much bad text-based art or neon as there has been at past Basels, but there was still too much. 

There were also about a zillion original Picasso drawings and paintings. That guy sure made a lot of work. 

This was some sort of art flag hallway with video stuff. 

I liked this panoramic safari painting. 

There were two major themes of Basel this year. The first was square, mirrored art that people loved to take selfies in. This one is a bunch of shallow shelves built onto a mirror, with pills lined up on them.

Here's a mirror on the floor with giant pick-up sticks on it.

Here's another person taking a photo of herself in a mirror. Mirrored art is a meditation on how smartphones have made people increasingly self-absorbed. 

It looks like these girls are taking a picture of paint cans, but the cans were just a photo printed on a mirror. They're taking a picture of themselves.

The other big trend of Basel was hanging mobiles and sculptural stuff hanging from the ceiling. Lots of  C​alder stuff. 

Here's more dangling art. 

These ladies were hanging out around the Baz Luhrman booth. I liked their energy. 

This looked like the smuggest little bastard imaginable. 

I saw a kid get really excited by this because it reminded him of cheese. Kids love cheese.

Design Miami is a fair that is mostly furniture-based. It looks like a more tasteful Crate and Barrel. 

Trash Talk and Denzel Curry played in a scary parking lot. Lee hit some guy in the head so loudly that everyone could hear it over the music. There were cinderblocks all over and the guy he hit started running into the crowd swinging a cinderblock until he was stopped by Alex and Francis from ​Wh​ite Mystery.

This is another guy who got hurt at the Trash Talk show. What a bummer. ​

This was a scary place. 

We went and saw  ​Quintr​on and Miss Pussycat at ​Chur​chill's, an old punk bar where Marilyn Manson got his start. The opening puppet show was an amazing story about Trixie cooking a goblin cake to win a baking contest.


​I woke up Sunday and met ​​Carlos Enriqu​ez Gonzalez, an artist who makes giant sculptures and small toys depicting horrible genital monsters. This is a spread from his sketchbook.

My art fair date for the day was Sucklor​d, from the reality shows Work of Art and Gallery Girls and maybe some others. He makes bootleg toys and then sells them for a lot more than your average bootleg toymaker. Also, his mother was the main pioneer of gay S&M paraphernalia in New York. 

We went to the NADA art fair and met this guy, who encouraged us to check out the band he managed, Skins. Adrian Grenier says, "Go  listen to Skins." ​I once live-tweeted every single episode of Entourage and when I ran out, I live-tweeted episodes that I made up. I didn't mention any of that to Adrian. 

The overwhelming trend at NADA was fabric pieces. Here are a bunch of rugs. 

Here's a bathrobe and some psychedelic hand towels. 

This shirt was gigantic. Way to big for a human being to wear. It would probably fit that Dali sculpture.

Another trend was gallery booths that had all sorts of crazy shit lying around.​ This is the Hole from New York. 

​This is Galerie Joseph Tang from Paris. 

I love this giant laminated sandwich bag of real food. ​It was gross and great. 

I like this series of paintings of empty magazine stands. I miss magazines. 

This was my favorite gallery at NADA—Roberto Paradise from Puerto Rico. They had crazy shit AND fabric stuff.

Next, we headed to Select. It's another art fair on the beach in a big tent. The theme of this one seemed to be corny sexuality.

This nice guy Brian Whitely had all videos of clowns eating till they puked and being face-fucked with popsicles. He gave us popsicles and beer. 

From this corner of the Select Fair it looked like everything was butts and stripes. 

This lady from Vector Gallery would charge your cell phone by somehow plugging it into her vagina. I assumed she had one of those small pocket phone batteries inside her. 

Our final art fair was Aqua. Aqua is a hotel where the rooms are all accessible from a central courtyard, but instead of beds the rooms all have different art inside them. There were some nice art pieces but the nontraditional setting overpowered any effect the art could have. 

Look how pretty this is.

This painting is by Vonn Sumner from Seattle. Nice job!

All of these keyboards were on and it sounded pretty cool. There was a great piece in the Roberto Paradise booth a couple years back where the painting was resting on a keyboard. What's up with leaving keyboards playing infinitely as an art concept?

The neon art trend has been dying down. This sign was on the outside of a CVS in South Beach. I loved looking at it. 

​Sucklord looked so sad as he went into the hot tub for one final splash before having to return to the cold of New York. Goodbye Miami. See you again in not too long!

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