The Black Artists You Should Know at Basel

Julie Walker, Paper Mag, December 5, 2019

The art world's annual December pilgrimage to Miami for Art Basel is currently underway. The glamorous mega fair and the more than two dozen satellite fairs that exist in its orbit draw tens of thousands of attendees each year. Some go to schmooze, some go to buy, and everyone arrives ready to party.


So who's invited? Most of Art Basel Miami Beach takes place in a convention center a few blocks from the ocean. Million dollar paintings are sold by blue chip galleries, and over the years the event has expanded to include emerging artists from mid-tier galleries. Other shifts have occurred, too. While Black artists have always had a presence at Basel Miami, over the past several years there has been a significant uptick in representation and recognition.


This cultural shift is essential. It shines a light on the work Black and brown artists create — artwork that often speaks to the Black experience and chronicles the lives we live. Events like Basel help Black artists claim a piece of the billion dollar art market, which historically has excluded pretty much everybody save rich white men.


Below, some Black artists to know at Miami Basel and surrounding fairs this month.


Lavar Munroe


Lavar Munroe's "Church in the Wild" is from his series "Redbones," which illustrates that when our skin is removed, we are all the same underneath. The 37-year-old's art is influenced by his homeland of the Bahamas, where he had a 10-year retrospective at the National Gallery. Munroe has shown at the Venice Biennale and his work currently hangs at the Perez Museum in Miami.