Art Basel is now in its 47th year and is a must-see for all art collectors and for those who just can’t get enough art in their daily lives.
The notoriously hard selection policy and rigorous high standards has ensured Art Basel remains the number one art fair in the world. What singles out Art Basel most is its vast list of additional events and talks, making it much more than just a commercial fair, but rather an astonishing meeting point for the international art world. Indeed, it is believed that upwards of 75,000 people visit each year.
The director of the fair, Marc Spiegler, has been instrumental in the art fair’s expansion into Hong Kong and has managed to keep the fair relevant despite a rapidly changing art market—introducing the Art Basel App to accompany you throughout the fair. The fair has certainly come a long way since 1970 when three local art galleries created it with just 90 galleries and 16,000 visitors. With the introduction of Unlimited in 2000, the classic exhibition booth was revolutionized by its open-plan environment capable of showing vast monumental works. Art Basel is now so big, it has split into "Sectors"—we take a look at the must-see events for each sector in this years calendar.
This year Art Basel’s enormous venue is hosting 287 of the world's leading modern and contemporary art galleries. With so many booths to see you’ll be relieved to find a place to sit down and get a drink every few hundred yards, and if you’re a VIP you’ll get free champagne brought to you on a trolley! With over 4,000 artists on display, showing video, film, digital art, sculptures, and drawings you’ll be spoilt for choice. We of course recommend most highly the booths of König Galerie, Spruth Magers, i8 Gallery, and Bernard Jacobson.
Nothing excites us more at fineartmultiple than to see our partners take up the vast majority of the Editions sector for limited editions and multiples at the fair. Brooke Alexander, Inc., Niels Borch Jensen Gallery and Editions, mfc - michèle didier, Gemini G.E.L., Sabine Knust, Carolina Nitsch, Polígrafa Obra Gràfica, Three Star Books, and Two Palms. The list is simply astonishing and here you will discover the finest selection of limited editions all within a short space of each other!
This Feature sector, for galleries presenting a curated project, is often the favorite event for many art world aficionados. Usually drawing on art historical material, Feature allows for in depth exploration of a curatorial concept. Per Kirkeby has a prominent position this year and his long-running focus on geology and nature will surely come into play.
Statements is always thought-provoking and it is well worth devoting a solid chunk of an afternoon to its sometimes challenging pleasures. Presenting exciting new solo projects by emerging artists, this sector makes artists eligible to receive the prestigious Baloise Art Prize. The funding body behind the prize then acquires the works by the winners and donates them to important European art institutions. Many artists awarded with the prize have gone on to represent their countries at the Venice Bienniale, previous winners include the now high-flying Matthew Ritchie and Laura Owens in 1999 as well as Tino Sehgal in 2004.
This year’s Unlimited looks to be particularly exciting with the sheer wealth of groundbreaking artists in attendance. Art Basel's pioneering exhibition platform for projects that transcend the classical art show stand, include large-scale sculpture and paintings, video projections, installations, and live performances. Be sure not to miss out on the latest idiosyncratic work of Tony Oursler, and Ai Weiwei’s regular participation in Unlimited will be a worthwhile spectacle as always.
Art Basel prides itself on being much more than just a commercial art fair, and one of the delicious treats is has to offer is the variety of artist talks and debates organized throughout the week. On Wednesday you will be able to catch AA Bronson in conversation with Alfredo Jarr in the Messe Basel, Hall 1 auditorium, between 10 am to 11.30 am. Admission is free.
Parcours is always the first thing to kick off during the Art Basel week and is already in full swing by the time the main fair has opened to the public on Thursday. Curated by the Basel-based curator Samuel Leuenberger, this sector engages with the city’s historical quarters by presenting sculptures, site-specific installations, and performances by both renowned and emerging artists. Don’t miss Allan McCollum’s The Shapes Project: Shapes Spinoffs, 2005-2016, at the Museum der Kulturen Basel. The American conceptual artist developed a new system to produce innumerable combinations with just 300 individual components and thus ultimately match an individual shape to each living person. Out of these approximately 31 billion shapes, the artist has set aside the potential of 214 million with which to work. McCollum’s oeuvre is defined by his preoccupation with individuality within mass quantities and we are hearing whispers that this exhibition is going to be real highlight.
For all of you who find spending so much time in huge art halls too much to bear, visit Tobias Rehberger’s 24-stops—a 5km-long path he has made linking the Fondation Beyeler with the Vita Campus. With 24 markers along the way all made by the artist, this will provide a unique insight into the cultural and historical life of Basel’s rural inhabitants. Be sure to set aside a few hours to enjoy the beautiful clean air of Switzerland.
Basel has a plethora of beautiful and thrilling museums to visit, but one that never ever disappoints is the Vitra Design Musem. Its new building, the Schaudepot, designed by Herzog & de Meuron allows the museum to display its permanent collection for the first time since 1989. Also newly opened is the exhibition “Radical Design” focusing on the design movement that reached its peak in 1970s and is considered one of the most influential movements in the history of design. With manifestos and utopian design ideas, exponents of Radical Design protested against functionalism and the established taste in design and architecture. They believed that designers should not only be providers in commercial settings, but be active and critically engage in social and political matters too.