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Reporting live from Miami Beach — Art Basel is in full swing and I’ve been consistently delighted by the contemporary art market’s appearance outside of the white cube and at my usual stomping grounds: cosmopolitan hotels.

My good friend and Basel companion Kimberly Light, founder/owner of art advisory & collection management company LightBox, notes that a prominent theme this year is art displayed out of its usual context — the austere gallery/convention center environment — and placed smack-dab in a vibrant hotel setting, which imbues the work with new life and conflicting layers of meaning.

Following are Kim Light’s top three, out-of-the-cube, Basel picks:

Leading the anti-fair pack is Tim Nye’s pop-up gallery at the chic Delano Hotel, on display through tomorrow, Saturday, December 8. Titled “Rebels in Paradise (R.I.P.),” Nye’s show offers a pointed send-up of the capitalist-leaning contemporary art convention center. As the owner of the vanguard NYEHAUS in NYC’s Chelsea district, Nye, a long-time committed supporter of the art intelligentsia, knows (and critiques) the scene quite well. I love the exhibit’s artsy commercial for faux-parfum BUNGALO Nº5, an ironic play on Brad Pitt’s recent Chanel ads that teases the campaign’s pseudo-serious, sexy and — intentionally or not — ironic aesthetic. As the R.I.P. exhibit is displayed at the hotel’s exclusive Bungalow 5 poolside cabana, I’d say the humor of the whole thing isn’t lost on Nye.

Number two on my list is L.A.-based graffiti writer Retna’s stunning outdoor pool installation at the SLS South Beach Hotel — his graceful pastiche of modern-day hieroglyphic calligraphy exemplifies the various ways we communicate, visually and symbolically. The work completely transforms the hotel’s ambience, evoking exoticism.

Lastly, I fell in love with an architectural work by Corin Hewitt, the poetic Strong Hold, on display at the Deauville Hotel. The piece consists of three neon-yellow resin and fiberglass casts of a rotting piece of plywood straight from a dilapidated Vermont porch. The sensual work plays on themes of decomposition, rotting memory and the passage of time — all heavy stuff rendered beautifully, and in a historic South Beach hotel, no less.

For my own hotel art picks, check out The Travel Curator.

Happy Journeys!

“Rebels in Paradise (R.I.P.)”
The Delano Hotel
1685 Collins Avenue

SLS South Beach Hotel
1701 Collins Avenue

“Strong Hold”
Corin Hewitt
Deauville Hotel
6701 Collins Avenue

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