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For Art Basel, Miami’s Swankiest Garage Becomes a Gallery Yet Again

By Kevin McGarry

Right now, the art world and its glamorous interlopers are revving their engines for this year's Art Basel Miami Beach, which opens to the public on Thursday. Meanwhile, at the city’s premier automotive temple, grease monkeys are putting the final touches on an exhibition of cars as art.

The Swiss-minimal garage at 1111 Lincoln Road, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, has become the apogee of Art Basel lavishness and excess since opening in 2010, with pop-ups galore (like this year’s Colette-sponsored Art Drive Thru, which opened yesterday), and events like 2011’s Ferrari fete, during which hot rods paraded up and down the structure's seven levels of open-air ramps all night long.

This week, the rightful inhabitants of the car park (cars) claim the space again for Piston Head: Artists Engage the Automobile, a project organized by the Upper East Side gallery Venus Over Manhattan and supported by Ferrari. Starting tomorrow, 17 sculptures will be parked on the top floor and viewable to the public through Sunday. There will be colorful kitsch, courtesy of Kenny Scharf, Keith Haring and Damien Hirst; an entire emerald Renault compressed into an elongated cube by the French artist César; a rusted-out shell of a pickup reclaimed by the young artist Lucien Smith, who found it shot to death at a machine gun rally; and, the show's oldest work, from 1968-69, a one-million-euro single-seat race car plucked and refinished by the Arte Povera artist Salvatore Scarpitta from his own dirt track racing team. (It is emblazoned with “CASTELLI N.Y.,” after the legendary New York gallery Leo Castelli, which sponsored the team.) Only one woman is in the driver’s seat for this show: the New York sculptor Virginia Overton, who is exhibiting a 1993 Dodge Ram with a rear cargo transformed into a red bay of light.

“Piston Head: Artists Engage the Automobile” is on view from Dec. 4 to Dec. 8, 1 p.m. to 8 p.m., at 1111 Lincoln Road, Miami Beach.

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