Everything is ready for this year’s edition of Art Basel. The Eden of art is set to open its doors to collectors, philanthropists, specialists, and the impassioned alike. From June 14th to the 17th of June 2018, in the historic headquarters of Messeplatz 10, the Swiss city of Basel transforms into a hub teeming with exhibitions, talks, performances, and must-see events. Beginning in 1970 from the idea of gallerist Trudl Bruckner, Balz Hilt, and Ernst and Hildy Beyeler, the event is nearing its 50th anniversary, growing in quality, size, and reputation. Today, the international affair is an incubator for over 4,000 artists present in 290 galleries, which is the result of a rigid selection.
On the front lines are the international giants, and apart from the New Yorkers, we find Barbara Gladstone with Partition, an installation from video artist Matthew Barney based on the film Cremaster. Maestros of conceptualism Lawrence Weiner and John Baldessarri, along with William Kentridge, Hiroshi Sugimoto, and sculptor Tony Cragg are presented by Marian Goodman, the gallery famous for introducing European artists to the American public in the 1970’s. Finally, David Zwriner brings a video projection from Francis Alÿs and an installation of taut threads from Fred Sandback. Hauser&Wirth, taking off from Zurich in 1992, is now an enormous studio counting seven locations between America, the United Kingdom, and Hong Kong, showing at Art Basel with historic names from the 20th-century. Among the artists on display are surrealist Francis Picabia, abstract painter Arshile Gorky and revolutionary Piero Manzoni, with the more recent Mike Kelley, Paul McCarthy, and Louise Bourgeois. Finally, the Parisian Perrotin, launched in the last few years to conquer the east, has opened four new locations between Seoul, Hong Kong, Shanghai, and Tokyo. In Basel, sculptor Daniel Arsham plays with the icons of contemporary visual culture through several new works and Bernard Frieze composes geometric motifs with resin and acrylic on canvas.
The Italians make their mark at the Swiss kermesse as well. Beginning with Massimo De Carlo, among the most well-known Milanese galleries in the world, showing up this year with Gelitin, the rebellious group of art, and conceptual artists Bertrand Lavier, John Armleder and abstract artist Oliver Mosset. Meanwhile, historic Turin based gallery Christian Stein exhibits work from their compatriots Mario Merz and Marisa Merz. Elsewhere, Brescia based gallery Massimo Minini brings canvases from Carla Accardi and Robert Barry, photographs from Dan Graham and a sculpture from Giulio Paolini. Another highlight is the story of Galleria Continua, who begins their adventure in the town of San Gimignano (Tuscany) to move through a dozen or so destinations like Beijing, Boissy-le-Châtel (Les Moulins), and Havana. Here in Basel, the group shows up with Michelangelo Pistoletto and Daniel Buren.
A fantastic new edition is found in Mandragoa, who polishes the brass works of Rodrigo Hernàndez. The gallery, hailing from Lisbon, goes live with Matteo Consonni (former director of Franco Noero), and Goncalo Jesus, the Portuguese biologist.
Keep an eye on the “Features” section, which consistently wins over the critics each year through ambitious curatorial projects. As a gem that seems to shine brighter than the rest, the film Le Chevalier d’Eon by Nil Yalter tells the tale of an ante-litteram transgender individual.
In Hall 1, an architectural jewel signed by archistar Herzog & De Meuron is found in Unlimited, the section of Art Basel most adored by visitors, where works take on a monumental dimension with an interactive approach. A great exhibition, curated for the sixth consecutive year by Gianni Jetzer (Curator-at-Large of the Hirshhorn Museum of Washington), features art contaminated by architecture.
In a distinguished exhibit, Daniel Buren (showing for Galleria Continua) presents Una cosa tira l’altra, installing a suspended walkway from which to observe the rest of the space. I had nowhere to go: Portrait of a displaced person, the film by Douglas Gordon, appears in the same section from Gagosian, the “King Midas of art”.
Don’t miss Conversations, the talks of Art Basel organized throughout the day with dialogs between artists and gallerists, mediated by major figures in the art scene.
Keep an eye on Design/Miami, visitable from June 12th-17th. Now on it’s thirtieth edition, the consecrated event is a near Mecca for design collectors and catalyzer of the most influential collectors, gallerists, designers, curators, and critics throughout the world. Much more than a mise en scene, the fair tells a fascinating tale of culture through objects. The mixture of art and design, a trend now on the forefront inspiring Miart as well, finds a home in the last few years with “Objects”.
Before leaving the enormous fairground complex, swing by Parcour, or the “outdoor” section of Art Basel presenting original works, installations, and performances in the most fascinating locations of the city.
It’s a unique opportunity to experience Basel in a stunning Swiss show, where the city is transformed into a colossus of commercial art.