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Friday, December 13, 2013

Audemars Piguet, Swarovski and Gemfields Woo Art Lovers At Art Basel Miami Beach

An aerial view of the “Curiosity” exhibit, commissioned by Audemars Piguet for Art Basel Miami Beach.

Luxury brands like to be where the wealthy mingle which leads them to support events like the recently concluded Art Basel Miami Beach. Among the companies jockeying for a marketing advantage by associating with the finest works in modern and contemporary art were Swiss luxury watch manufacturer, Audemars Piguet, luxury crystal manufacturer, Swarovski and colored gemstone, mining and marketing company, Gemfields.

A closer view of the “Curiosity” installation. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

Audemars Piguet has been out front in its support of Art Basel. In May, the company announced that it has signed on as a “Global Associate Partner” with its three fairs in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach and Hong Kong.

A close look at the "snow" covering the chalet and the drawing of the wood grain. Photo credit: Anthony DeMarco

In Miami, the company partnered with contemporary Parisian art gallery Galerie Perrotin by presenting a new site-specific work by French artist duo Kolkoz. The installation, titled “Curiosity,” came in the form of floating snow covered Swiss Chalet placed off the pier of the Miami Marine Stadium on Virginia Key.

The graffiti-filled site has been closed for more than 20 years and at first glance didn’t seem like a suitable place for an art installation befitting a luxury watch brand. However, it turns out that was one of the reasons the site on nearby Virginia Key was chosen. The other was the water and the heat of a typical South Florida day, which also contrasts with the snowy winter scene. The “snow-covered” chalet and pier from a distance appears to just pop up out of the water. Up close it’s easy to see that the pier is covered in a white fabric while the “chalet” is an inflatable house similar to an inflatable play station for children.

Clever and playful, this installation provides a proper setting in a number of ways. It alludes to Audemars Piguet’s wintry home in the Vallée du Joux and it gives focus to the marine stadium. The stadium, which was forced to shut down following the destruction of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, is being slated for a complete renovation.

The watch brand also had a large display of its watches in the Art Basel Miami beach “Collectors’ Lounge,” which included a retrospective of its Royal Oak watch.

An art collaboration with Brazilian architect and designer Guilherme Torres and Swarovski Crystal Palace.

In the contemporary art world South America is hot and Brazil is the epicenter of this hotness. Taking advantage of this, Swarovski Crystal Palace—a program created by the crystal company where it collaborates with artists, architects and designers to create works of art with Swarovski crystal components—teamed with Brazilian architect Guilherme Torres to create the roots of a Mangrove tree in an installation titled “Mangue Groove” that focuses on conservation for Design Miami, a contemporary art show held alongside Art Basel Miami Beach.

The installation takes the form of an abstract diagram that describes the division of spaces into cells with corresponding focal points, combined with the mangrove-root imagery. The artwork used design angled structures of acrylic tubes filled with amber-colored Swarovski crystals and illuminated from within by LEDs. The metal joints of the structures are covered with dodecahedron-shaped wooden caps. These “root” structures, which Torres wanted to look “as if they were made of crystals,” are set into shallow pools of water, against a backdrop of projections of an Amazonian sunset.

Torres used the 2014 arrival in Brazil of Swarovski Waterschool, a project that teaches children about water conservation. Water is a key component in the manufacture of Swarovski’s crystals, as the theme. However, he said he didn’t want to make obvious references to it.

Gemfields made its presence known not with an art installation but with a movie project titled, “React to Film,” by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. The emerald and now amethyst mining and marketing company sponsored an event at the outside orchid gardens of the Delano Hotel (still cool after all these years). The event featured three five-minute documentaries of three groundbreaking modern artists, John Baldessari, Ed Ruscha, and David Hockney, by young filmmakers, Henry Joost & Ariel Schulman, Lance Accord and Lucy Walker.

The event gave Gemfields the opportunity to show its own promotional film of its Kagem emerald mine in Zambia, starring its ambassador, Mila Kunis. It provided an opportunity for a company that owns the Fabergé luxury brand and commissions one-of-a-kind jewelry from internationally known designers to associate its company with great artists.

Assistant Editor Maria Ling contributed to this story.

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