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The Art of Partying (at Basel Miami)

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The modus operandi of serious collectors at Art Basel Miami (Dec 4th through 7th, 2008), may have been to arrive and leave early for everything but it's safe to say that for the rest of the mix of art enthusiasts, fashion insiders and design aficionados - staying out late night was the enduring trend.

While the actual art fair may have seemed quieter than in previous years, the social circuit was still dotted with several A-list parties each night of the week. But, before we start criticizing the bon vivants for celebrating outrageously during these tough financial times, let's consider what the parties do for the art?

Arguably, sipping cocktails and rubbing shoulders with the art world's finest does have a purpose. Any marketer will tell you that a well produced or "curated" event can create the right kind of conversation -- and for the artists, photographers, writers and filmmakers at Art Basel, ensuring there was buzz about their respective projects was essential in staying relevant.

Let's round-up the cocktail party chatter of the week...

On Wednesday night, Kelly Klein and Andre Balazs held court in the garden terrace of the Raleigh with Ingrid Sischy, Ivana Trump and Allison Sarofim for a book signing for Klein's new tome, Horse. While the back of the hotel, called the Oasis, was pumping with music by the band Gossip at a party for the Deitch Projects.

Thursday night brought dueling parties by two fashion and art focused publications. Visionaire and Krug hosted their "Surprise" event at the Raleigh with VIP guests including Pharrell and Rachel Zoe. Interview magazine entertained artist Ryan McGinley, Aaron Young and Mary Kate Olsen at the new Miami Art Museum followed by a fete at the stunning Marcel Wanders' designed Mondrian Hotel.

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Also, at the Raleigh, was an after-party sponsored by G-Star in celebration of the Miami premiere of Che, the Steven Soderbergh film about the legendary Argentinian revolutionary starring Oscar winning actor Benicio Del Toro. While one party-goer joked with Soderbergh that the after-party may have been bigger than the actual screening itself, there was no doubt that the film had been getting major buzz during the art fair. The cast, including Del Toro, Rodrigo Santoro and Santiago Cabrera went on to screen the film in Havana at their film festival a few days later to rave reviews by critics and Cubans alike.

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Those that made the trek to the Wynwood Arts District on Friday night went to the Opening Night of the Gen Art Vanguard New Contemporary Art Fair, which featured live art performances by LEBO who created a 15 ft wide original work of art and Graffiti Research Lab (comprised of duo James Powderly and Evan Roth) who invited party-goers to use their L.A.S.E.R. Tag to create static laser light graffiti on the building's exterior.

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Back at home base (aka The Raleigh), Vanity Fair and Free Arts NYC hosted their annual bash (sponsored by Tommy Hilfiger) with high profile revelers, including Marc Jacobs, Katie Lee Joel, Lisa Anastos and artist Todd Eberle. Guest portraits were projected onto one wall from the digital photo booth while artists' work was shown on another.

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Saturday night presented another contrast in events with an early and elegant cocktail party at the Setai for the launch of KiptonArt Rising which was sponsored by Asprey. Select work by emerging artists Jade Doskow, Sabina Forbes II and Serge Strosberg were shown while guests mingled in the courtyard. Later in the night, the roofdeck of the Gansevoort South, drenched in blue light, played host to Surface Magazine's party, which entertained bold-faced names as Yves Behar, Winka Dubbledam and socialite Fabiola Beracasa. Guests were given the opportunity to view a select collection of works acquired by the Guggenheim Museum Young Collectors Council (YCC), which were displayed across 15 flat-panel televisions throughout the space.

To some, Art Basel may have represented one long, champagne-fueled party but, at least they can say it was all in the name of art.

PHOTO CREDIT: Courtesy of Patrick McMullan, Meg Pukel, G-Star and Surface Magazine

A seasoned event planner, Celia Chen is the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Notes on a Party, an online magazine about entertaining that celebrates Events from the Inside Out™.
For a behind-the-scenes look at other VIP events and tips on party planning, visit notesonaparty.com.