Ah, if only Thorstein Veblen had lived to see this. It's the consummation of consumption, and the more I walked and the more I looked at people looking at art, the more I approved of it. Sure, it resembles a feeding frenzy among sharks when a big bucket of chum has been emptied overboard, but in the best way.
I'm sure many of the people here were buying art for the wrong reasons, but that's much better than doing lots of other things for the right reasons. And I liked the way they looked while doing it. Well-dressed couples wore lots of color and lots of adult bling. In a way they are doing for WASPs what the Masai do for the Third World.
My ancient mentor Wyndham Lewis said, "Lenin in a top hat is a far greater anomaly than a Zulu chieftain wearing the same costume."
I am bored with boring-looking people and, on the opening day of Art Basel Miami Beach, they were hardly noticeable for all the people making a pleasant spectacle of themselves. You almost felt they had dressed up for the art itself.
Here's one of the best-dressed dealers in New York, Jeffrey Deitch, with a Keith Haring that was only exhibited once, at Paradise Garage, the famous dance club.
On a similar note here's Rafael Jablonka, a distinguished dealer from Cologne, sitting in his booth. I asked him about the work on the wall behind him and he said, "That's the director of the gallery." I know what he means.
Now here's a good-looking civilian. He was wearing heavy linen trousers with buttoned belt loops and a big cargo pocket. Probably the most civilized cargo pants I've seen. He also had on very nice chocolate-brown suede Belgian shoes.
Here's Douglas Baxter, the dapper director of Pace-Wildenstein, standing in front of a sexy Oldenburg. Most men don't know how to wear a shirt collar outside the jacket or combine gray with brown. This is how.
Miami has always been a place where you see Hawaiian shirts—from the lower-end Margaritaville varieties to the real collectors items. Here's an excellent example:
Here are a few avant-gardians who are hardly spring chickens, but who demonstrate that mature men can wear original clothing with the best of them. This chap was wearing a patchwork Comme des Garçons shirt, and it worked.
Here are a couple of cool, calm collectors. Both very smart. Look at the perfect lapel on the more conservative blazered gent on the right. His friend was wearing an exquisite hat and jacket. I think the jacket is raw silk, over a rough linen shirt. The kind of jacket you want to feel.
Speaking of avant-garde seniority, here is the Pope of Pop himself. Mr. Rauschenberg is a little slower getting around, but he was gracious, chipper, and warm. He had works on display at about eight galleries, but not a lot compared to his old friend Andy. I think once somebody gets a Rauschenberg they want to hold onto it.
Oscar Wilde said wear a work of art or be one. There were some ambitious T-shirts in evidence.
One doesn't see a lot of ties in the art world, but John Goode of the Gagosian Gallery (center) is wearing an optically compelling pattern from Paul Smith and sort of flaunting the label. He's seen here with Judy Auchinchloss (in fabulous shades) and Sandy Parkerson, with frames that look an awful lot like genuine tortoise.
There's a time for pinstripes, and one of them is when you're selling minimal or abstract art like Friedrich Petzel of the Petzel Gallery.
As I mentioned before, most dealers tend to staff their galleries and booths with temptresses and super-vixens. Here's my colleague Mr. D'Orazio, the famed photographer, with Nicola Vassell of the Deitch Gallery. She could sell you a painting of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Next to her is Basquiat's portrait of himself with Andy Warhol. It sold.
Here is one of the most stylish dealers of all, Mr. Barry Friedman, a tastemaker for decades. Friedman sells extraordinary furniture, photography, and paintings. Where else will you find a Man Ray, a Boetti, or a Charles Rennie Mackintosh chair? I could be wrong, but I think he's had a hand in reviving, at various times, the Pre-Raphaelites, the Russian Avant Garde, and Art Deco. But he sure knows how to wear what Thelonious Monk called "hat and beard."
Alberto Mugrabi is one of the most important collectors on the scene. He's also one of the most fun. Alberto owns a really great Warhol Mao wearing a jacket exactly the same color pink as his shirt.