Every year since 1970, when a trio of art gallerists, Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Bakz Hilt embarked on the extraordinary journey that is Art Basel, the Swiss city, home to 37 museums, puts on the biggest, most significant art event in the world. Art Basel attracts an average of more than 70,000 art lovers, curators, museum directors and other art professionals.
This legendary art fair will present in its 2014 edition more than 300 leading international galleries, featuring more that 4,000 artists, ranging from the great masters of Modern art to the latest generation of emerging artists. Some of the featured curators this year include Gianni Jetzer, Florence Derieux, This Brunner and Marc Glöde.
Although the city has been abuzz since last weekend, the official dates for the fair are June 19 through 22. Each day, Basel will explode with a wide range of events, including symposiums, films, and conversations with artists who specialize in different media like painting, sculpture, installation, video, print, photography and performance.
VIK MUNIZ. WWW (World Map) (Pictures of Junk), 2008. Gallery Sikkema Jenkins & Co.
The main event takes place at Halls 1 and 2 of Messe Basel, Messeplatz. Hall 1 is a 1999 building created by Swiss architect and art collector Theo Hotz and Hall 2 is a landmark building from the 1950s, built by Hans Hoffman in the city center.
Culture fever expands throughout the region and restaurants, cafes, parks, cultural institutions, museums and galleries fill their walls with local and international artwork not necessarily associated with the fair proper. Eight sectors makeup the cultural fiber of the now legendary annual meeting of the arts. The “Galleries” sector is the centerpiece of the fair, an exploration of the many dimensions of Modern and contemporary art, from museum quality paintings, sculptures and classical photography to monumental projects, site-specific installations and interventions.
1. DAMIEN HIRST. Leonard & Raphael Kadid, 2014.
2. JORDAN WOLFSON. Female Figure, 2014.
3. JOHN BALDESSARI, Unrealized Proposal for Cadaver Piece, 1970:2011.
Some of the world’s most famous dealers and galleries will bring their best works and compete for the attention of savvy, sophisticated collectors. Among the galleries showing this year: Galerie Daniel Blau, Blum & Poe, A Gentil Carioca, Brooke Alexander, Cabinet, Paula Cooper Gallery, Gagosian Gallery, Galerie Gmurzynska, Sabine Knust, Landau Fine Art, Inc., Galerie Lelong, Lisson Gallery, Marlborough Fine Art, Pace, Galerie Thomas Schulte, Sikkema Jenkins & Co., Galerie Barbara Weiss, David Zwirner, as well as other illustrious names in the art world.
An event of this magnitude cannot be defined only by the amalgamation of big names and an ever-increasing demand of sales. The “Features” sector emphasizes curated projects that may include solo presentations or thematic exhibits from artists representing diverse cultures, generations and artistic approaches. “Statements” presents new solo projects by young, emerging artists who vie for the Baloise Art Prize, and the section “Editions” includes books, prints and multiple collaborations with renowned artists.
(L) TROIKA / (R) JULIO LE PARC.
Meanwhile, “Unlimited” is the pioneering platform for projects that transcend the limitations of a classical art exhibit through monumental sculpture and paintings, video projections, large-scale installations and live performances. This year, this section will be curated by Gianni Jetzer. Meanwhile, Curator Florence Derieux takes the art to the historic quarters of the city with site-specific sculptures, interventions, and performances with the sector “Parcours”. Also around town, the section “Film” will present a weeklong program by and about artists curated by Berlin’s Marc Glöde and Zurich collector This Brunner.
A very special section this year is titled 14 Rooms, a design collaboration between Herzog & de Meuron, Fondation Beyeler, Art Basel and Theater Basel. Curators Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist have invited artists to take over a room to explore the relationship between spaces, time and physicality using the human being as material for their pieces, mainly through immersive and intimate experiences. Some of the artists who will participate in this project include Marina Abramović, Allora and Calzadilla, Ed Atkins, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Damien Hirst, Joan Jonas, Laura Lima, Bruce Nauman, Otobong Nkanga, Roman Ondák, Yoko Ono, Tino Sehgal, Santiago Sierra, and Xu Zhen. Furthermore, Jordan Wolfson, and John Balsessari will be featured in the architectural environment created by Herzog & de Meuron.
Art Basel is also home to a series of conversations that elucidate the state of art collection and exhibition, as well as myriad interpretations from different geographical and historical perspectives. These dialogues take place during daily afternoon Salons that attract a wide range of speakers, including artists, curators, academics, collectors, critics and other cultural actors. This year there is an application from which you can get information and 3D maps for Art Basel. A one of a kind event, that prepares art devotees for the American Version in Miami Beach, FL, this December. ■