We round up ten of the best art exhibitions and events on view during Miami Art Week.

The 2017 edition of Miami Art Week was a smashing success with a bevy of fairs, parties, and events going around the clock. With so much to see and do, we made sure to keep tabs on the best of the best, from the artworks, the exhibitions, the films, talks, installations, and performances that were simply unforgettable.

Earlier this year, Jean-Michel Basquiat made headlines with the $110.5 million sale of his painting at auction, setting records that put him in the company of Pablo Picasso and Francis Bacon. In the 30 years that have passed since his untimely death at the age of 27, Basquiat’s star has only continued to soar, as the enigmatic African-American artist’s work has become a touchstone for generations both young and old.
Director Sara Driver delved into the mystery of the man behind the paintbrush, the legendary figure whose prolific output in a short period of time continues to be the subject of great fascination worldwide. Her film, Boom for Real - The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat (2017), screened at the Colony Theatre on Friday, December 8, as part of the Film sector of Art Basel in Miami Beach.
Here, Driver explores Basquiat during the years 1978 through 1981, as he was coming up in New York, transforming from street artist SAMO® into a fine artist who would soon take the art world by storm. The film looked at the city’s environment had a tremendous impact, as near-bankrupt New York was on the cutting-edge, producing Hip Hop, punk, and disco, as well as dealing with major issues like political corruption, systemic oppression, and crime, as well as the oncoming specters of AIDS, Reaganism, drugs, and money that would changed everything for the young artist during the 1980s.

In October, African-American artist Kehinde Wiley was the talk of the town when it as announced he was commissioned to paint President Obama’s official portrait. But this coup is just the latest feather in the cap of the California native, who has been at the top of the contemporary art scene for the past decade.
Best known for his large scale paintings recasting classic works of Western art to feature unknown African-American men and women, Wiley flipped things earlier this year with a new series titled Trickster, in which he painted portraits of his artistic contemporaries from the African diaspora, including Crave faves Kerry James Marshall, Glenn Ligon, Rashid Johnson, Carrie Mae Weems, Derrick Adams, and Lynette Yiadom-Boakye.
Using Francisco Goya’s infamous Black Paintings as the departure point, Wiley explores the way the artist works as a trickster, taking on different shapes to change the way we see the world. Taken a step further, Wiley explores the link to code-switching, which allows Black folks to navigate different strata of society, and finding the space where previously hermetic worlds are destined to meet. In the hallowed halls of Art Basel in Miami Beach, Portrait of Nick Cave, Nadezhda Polovtseva (2017) stood tall Sean Kelly, graciously awaited a patron of the arts ready to recognize its worth.

Polish artist Paulina Olowska transforms nostalgia into an art, tapping into our love of for the glories of the past as seen through the shiny patina of memory, where all strife and struggle is forgotten in favor of pure pleasure and sentimentality.
Whether working in painting or sculpture, film or photography, Olowska’s work embraces an unlikely mix of Pop art, fashion, graffiti, and Soviet propaganda to stunning effect. In her work we see the fundamental human desire for beauty as a thing to have and hold, to be and become, to gaze upon endlessly in whatever form it may take. That Olowska focuses on styles of the past only makes us more wistful for a time that on longer exists.
Her painting "The Swan" (after Norman Parkinson Foundation) (2017) at Simon Lee Gallery perfectly encapsulates a desire for escape, for a place where we no longer need to deal with the here and now and the dreadful stresses of reality. In this way, she repositions our anxiety about the future into a gracious netherworld, where we can fondly remember what it was like to watch “Inspector Gadget” and dream of a better world.

There may be no greater unintentional artwork of the twenty-first century than the pure, unfettered genius that is the gif, the constant flow of anonymously made moving snapshots that perfectly encapsulate our feelings, emotions, and reactions. Whether drawing from famous sources are drawing upon a limitless well of cultural effluvia, the gif delights with its inimitable ability to sum everything up in a gesture or facial response.
In large part, that is due to the fact that most communication is non-verbal. While people can easily use words to lie and manipulate, the body is much harder to control, and it is more than likely to tell on itself with its immediate, intuitive response. To that end, is it any wonder that artists are following the public when it comes to reading the signs of the possibility gifs offer the visual arts?
Hailing from Detroit, artist and poet Jibade-Khalil Huffman embraces the possibilities of the digital realm. At Anat Ebgi in the Positions sector of Art Basel, Huffman has created GIF (2013), a 9-minute edit of Molly Ringwald’s famous dance in The Breakfast Club, giving us the remix that is at once both repetitive and mind-numbingly good. The work evokes the sensation that the past never really end – that it is here for us to mine, to plunder, and to prune into fresh new shapes, feeding into our love of seeing favorite icons of yesteryear continue to speak to the present day.

The best part of creation is the process it takes, drawing from countless sources of inspiration. While it has a great many ingredients, it does not follow a linear path: it is more akin to alchemy than anything else. Perhaps, to those deeply versed in an artist’s life and milieu, the sources, references, and influences might be apparent, but the best of us usually have no clue.
Enter Hans Ulrich Obrist, the Artistic Director of Serpentine Galleries, London, who conceived of the Artists’ Influencers series for the Talks sector of Art Basel in Miami Beach. On Saturday, December 9, he sat as moderator while Crave fave Arthur Jafa, a video artist, director, and award-winning cinematographer spoke with Jason Moran, a New York-based pianist and composer.
Together, they discussed their working relationship, which includes “Listening Session,” a recent collaboration during the final weekend of Jafa’s exhibition A Series of Utterly Improbably, Yet Extraordinary Renditions at Serpentine in early September, wherein a dismembered jazz ensemble performed separately and simultaneously across London. They also spoke about the individual visions and the ways in which they use their arts to address issues like the sometimes empowering, sometimes exploitative representation of Black folk in music, news media, television, and the Internet.

Art can fully immerse you, pulling you in a spell that will awaken your every sense. It can produce an experience all its own, connecting you with the finer things in life. For Art of Daring, Cadillac and REVOLT paired visual artist Saya Woolfalk with musician BJ The Chicago Kid, to collaborate on an immersive event where sight meets sound.
Inside the mesmerizing kaleidoscope of light and shape, rhythm and harmony, Art of Daring invited guests to feel a vibe. The event featured Woolfalk’s captivating artwork and hypnotic projections throughout the night, transforming the way we perceive art in real space and time, creating an irresistible energy to which the guests could respond.
The evening was capped by a live performance by BJ The Chicago Kid, which featured a custom collaboration between himself and Woolfalk that revealed the power of technology when put in service of the human imagination.

Hailing from West Rand Johannesburg, South Africa, Dada Khanyisa makes art that speaks to the world today, creating scenes of daily life that are profoundly relatable. She describes her style as “nakanjani,” which means she uses a wide array of materials such as cloth, wood, and paint to evoke the a tactile sensation of the visible world.
Her painting, Ama #WCW (2017), on view at Stevenson is so now that the only place you’re likely to see anything just like it is at one of the many parties throughout Art Week. Here, Khanyisa gives us a shot of the scene as it going down with a squad of six women at the club doing what they do: posing for selfies, rolling blunts, sipping drinks, and talking smack, with a photobomber to boot.
Then, there’s the tiny detail that makes you realize Khanyisa is a step ahead of the game: one of the people in the picture has already been tagged – indicating this painting might actually be a scene of the very moment the photograph is getting loaded to Instagram. It doesn’t get any more now than this.

Now 91 years old, Rosalyn Drexler hails from the Bronx and started her career as a professional wrestler in 1951. She traveled the nation as “Rosa Carlo, the Mexican Spitfire,” performing everywhere from a graveyard to an airplane hangar, but hung up her boots after wearying of the apartheid laws in the southern states.
A decade later, she was working as an artist, creating Pop Art assemblages that appropriated scenes from magazines, newspapers, and posters into her paintings. A self-taught artist, Drexler was a natural, taking to her new career with gusto, taking on major themes like violence against women, racism, and social alienation at a time when such attention was the antithesis of “cool.”
America in the 1960s was openly sexist, and her career didn’t reached the heights it deserved, yet as Me and My Shadow (1966), on view at Garth Greenan Gallery, shows Drexler was well ahead of her times. She both embodied the aesthetic of the era and prefigured the world in which we now live. What a tremendous blessing it is that she should be alive today to see her due finally paid.

A chemistry teacher by profession, Leticia Parente (1930-1991) didn’t begin her training as an artist until she reached the age of 41. In 1975, she created Marca Registrada (Trademark), a black and white video, in which she embroidered the words “MADE IN BRASIL” into the sole of her foot using a needle and black thread.
The film, which runs 10 minutes and 19 seconds long, was on view at Galeria Jacqueline Martins. Marca Registrada (Trademark) can be taken on several levels simultaneously, beginning with Parente as the object of her very own investigations. She is both artist and subject, creating a new type of self-portrait that embraces performance in a manner that is inherently fearless.
Going it a step further, she uses her body as the site of her critique of sexism in Brazilian culture and the art world itself. Here, women have traditionally been marginalized to the object of the male gaze or the makers of craft (embroidery) rather than fine art. Lastly, her decision to speak of a trademark is extremely prescient, foreshadowing the present era when people gladly turn themselves into brands, willing to sell out to anyone who is paying the highest amount. Fortunately, Parente subverts all of this: she can stand on her own without anyone else’s support.

Sam Durant won Art Basel in Miami Beach in 2016 with his massive electric sign with the blatant demand “End White Supremacy” written in black vinyl letters set against a deep orange backdrop. It was a compelling spectacle, considering its locale, where the White elite quickly waked past it without so much as a second glance, and the Black working class tended to their jobs. Most certainly, it changed nothing but it made visible that which many choose to blatantly ignore as it doesn’t directly affect their lives at all.
Durant is back with a new work, Speak The Truth Even If Your Voice Shakes (2015) at Blum & Poe, a fresh electric sign in turquoise that is even more pertinent today. The quote, which is attributed to American activist Maggie Kuhn, who founded the Grey Panthers to fight against ageism, is particularly appropriate in light of the power of call-out culture and the impact on sexual predators in the work force.
Durant’s sign reminds us that the first step in any significant change is breaking the silence. Although there will invariably be pushback, there is no greater thing one can do in life than to dedicate themselves to the pursuit of justice by any means necessary. It begins with us.