The twin hobbies of the superrich, dating back far before the Medicis, are art collecting and politics. They’re similar, in that both require staggering amounts of money and a modicum of sophistication—or at least the illusion of it. So it makes sense that Art Basel Miami Beach, one of world’s premier shows for modern and contemporary art, has also become something of a political festival, where people come in the mood to spend.
The art itself has the usual leftish undercurrent, with politically charged pieces about poverty, slavery, and even a woven replica of a census card. But there weren’t any “Feel the Bern” logos among the designer T-shirts worn by the well-heeled crowd. Nothing approached Shepard Fairey’s iconic blue and red “Hope” poster from President Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign in the maze of $3 billion worth of paintings, sculptures, and installations being perused by men wearing scarves on a 80-degree day and women in strategically ripped pants.