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Internet ballet, Tim Burton film, overlooked artists highlighted at Art Basel Miami Beach

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MIAMI BEACH, Florida — Tongue-thrusting celebrities, warring art museums, a Tim Burton film premiere and a ballet that levitates audience members are all part of the lineup surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach, the contemporary art fair that doesn't officially begin until Thursday but already has overtaken parts of Miami.

Now in its 13th year, Art Basel features a mix of modern and contemporary art, historical work and pieces by emerging artists through paintings, sculptures, photographs and films from 267 art galleries in 31 countries at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

On Wednesday, a VIP-only crowd that included Leonardo DiCaprio and Vera Wang got the first peek at the works inside, many boasting pricetags of more than $1 million. The entrance to Catherine Martin and director Baz Luhrmann's curated collection "A Kid Could Do That" was playfully written on a chalkboard. Elsewhere, artists fashioned messages out of drums, neon signs, ropes and wooden crates to convey messages like "Blah, Blah Blah," ''Neon Naked Pictures" and "Bomb." The eclectic offerings ranged from a $2.5 million Keith Haring to bronzed jeans and a video art installation of a naked woman covering herself in what appeared to be blood.

Fair officials added two new programs, including on featuring overlooked 20th century artists, dominated this year by women. It includes works by pioneering feminist experimental filmmaker Valie Export, French conceptual artist Gina Pane and Brazilian artist Lenora De Barros.

PHOTO: Jerel Rodriguez, left, 23, and Monique Bell, 22, both of Miami, look at wall art by Ron English, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, at Wynwood Walls in Miami. Art Basel Miami Beach, the contemporary art fair that doesn’t officially begin until Thursday has already has overtaken parts of Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)
Jerel Rodriguez, left, 23, and Monique Bell, 22, both of Miami, look at wall art by Ron English, Wednesday, Dec. 3, 2014, at Wynwood Walls in Miami. Art Basel Miami Beach, the contemporary art fair that doesn’t officially begin until Thursday has already has overtaken parts of Miami. (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

The other is a performance art piece by Ryan McNamara, "ME3M Miami: A story Ballet about the Internet," in which audience members are lifted audience members on gurneys and wheeled them to various to parts of the theatre where it's being staged.

More than 70 films and videos centered around the theme of playfulness will also be shown, in addition to a screening of Burton's film "Big Eyes."

Plenty of celebrities are also in town for the dozens of parties that surround the fair, including Miley Cyrus, Usher, Joe Jonas, Kim Kardashian and Eva Longoria. Cyrus is being billed as the featured entertainment at a private party Wednesday, while USHER is set to perform at another invitation-only gathering. Rapper Common is plugging a new TV show with Spike TV.

As fair director Marc Spiegler rattled off a list of new museums and galleries, and star-studded events over the next few days, he noted "it's exhilarating, inspiring and, in the end, exhausting."


Previous versions of this story incorrectly stated the day of the event. The event happened Wednesday, not Tuesday.

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