Picassos, Drag Queens and a Pink Party: Art Basel 2016 Rages On Day 2

An exhibit featuring sexually-charged art work by the likes of Jeff Koons and Harmony Korine was the talk of the Design District while a couple of drag queens named Miss Toto and Kelly Raspberry were the star attractions at the Edition's Pink Party in South Beach.

Despite the fact that the actual Art Basel Miami Beach fair was still a day away from opening, the party circuit surrounding the annual event had already kicked into high drive on Tuesday night.

“It used to be when it started things would happen on Saturday and Sunday, and now suddenly everything is happening on like Monday and Tuesday,” said the writer Christopher Bollen. “Everyones moved a step backward from the days of the actual fair. Now it’s like Thanksgiving will be celebrated here by everyone, and they’ll leave before the fair even starts.”

Bollen was at the 1 Hotel South Beach for a party Interview magazine, where he's editor at large, was throwing for Paloma Picasso's 35th anniversary designing jewelry for Tiffany's. The pairing made sense, in a Warholian sort of way.

"I could see why Andy loved her so much because Paloma is super brilliant and has a wonderful backstory," Bollen continued. "She comes from such good bones but achieved a certain status in her own right. If you think of a Picasso besides Pablo, you kind of only think of Paloma."

Ah, the burden of a famous last name. Paloma, as it turned out, was not the only Picasso in town. They were in fact multiplying all over the place. Earlier in the night, at Zaha Hadid's Moore Building in Miami's Design District, there was not just Paloma but also Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, the painter's grandson and the husband of French gallerist Almine Rech. They were all there for their relative, Diana Widmaier Picasso, who curated a sexually-charged,very va-va-voom exhibit with Jeffrey Deitch and Larry Gagosian called "Desire" featuring the most provocative work by the likes of Jeff Koons – from the series with his former porn star wife Cicciolina – Urs Fischer, Tom of Finland, Helmut Newton, Robert Crumb and Richard Prince. Diana, who was described by Deitch as "one of the great art historians," worked over six months to put together the exhibit, which features over 50 artists and 150 works, including some site-specific pieces by the filmmakers Gaspar Noé and Harmony Korine.

"It's arousing," she said of Korine's contribution. "When you ask something of Harmony you have to be ready to be surprised and so I was."

The older Picasso, meanwhile, hoped to spend the rest of the week, her first at Basel, actually catching up on the art. "Hopefully I'll discover some new artists that I don’t know," she said.

Fashion has infiltrated the art fair in recent years, with luxury labels becoming more and more ambitious about bridging the two worlds together. Elsewhere in the Design District, Jonathan Anderson, who's made it a signature of his tenure at Loewe to incorporate art into store designs, was showing off newly-installed works by the painter William McKeown and the sculptor John Ward at his store, while Dior was displaying for the first time the results of a collaboration with seven artists to make over the iconic Lady Dior handbag.

But the most telling of the partnerships was between the younger Picasso and Saint Laurent and new creative director Anthony Vaccarello, who was throwing a nearby dinner in her honor with W that drew the largest contingent of artists this side of the Miami Beach Convention Center – Fischer, Korine, Mickalene Thomas, Dustin Yellin, Daniel Arsham, Hope Atherton – and the likes of Martha Stewart, ubiquitous this week, Jean Pigozzi, Stavros Niarchos, Virgil Abloh and Jean Pigozzi.

Diana seemed pleased with the reception to the exhibit, whose subject matter seems more vital than ever in a post Donald Trump election.

"A few years ago we would not have been able to do this show," she said. "Art and eroticism are unavoidably linked to our society and while there's been a lot of evolution, we need some more, particularly in America."

Of course, even on a regular Tuesday night Miami is the kind of town that keeps the party going until 5 a.m., so for those who hadn't quite gotten had their celebratory thirst quenched, there's always the late night circuit.

The Haas brothers took over the Basement at Ian Schrager's Edition hotel and dressed it up in a "Pink Party" theme, with pink balloons scattered everywhere. The venue is already notable for having a bowling alley and indoor ice skating rink on premises, but the Haas boys upped the ante by placing an 8-foot tall pink balloon sculpture they had named Mr. Skinny to greet guests at the door.

Most didn't seem have time to change beforehand into the pink dress code, but a cadre of local drag queens with names like Miss Toto and Kelly Raspberry were very one trend in everything from pink face paint to pink cowboy hats.