Flash News: Art Basel… 49th edition – Art Basel’s Offs

[01 Jun 2018]

Art Basel… 49th edition

Four thousand artists… 291 of the world’s top galleries… collectors from all over the world… crowded aisles, daily debates and lectures… a special section for editions and multiple works… a programme of films by and about artists (including Ai Weiwei, Yayoi Kusama, Nancy Holt / Robert Smithson) and lots to see all over Basel’s old town … all that in just four days.

Every year, the city of Basel becomes a major magnet for the art world’s global players – an absolute must for the planet’s mega-collectors like Tico Mugrabi, Beth DeWoody, Budi Tek, Richard Chang and the Rubell couple as well as for representatives of museums and institutions from all over the world – who all come to Basel in a spirit of acquisition and discovery.

In 1971, Ernst Beyeler – accompanied by gallerists Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt – created a new outlet for the art market offering an alternative to American art fairs. The first edition of Art Basel was remarkably successful with 16,000 visitors and galleries from 10 countries. For this 49th edition, the Basel fair can expect some 100,000 visitors from all over the world.

Open June 14 to 17, the fair will be occupied by the world’s most powerful galleries offering the hottest artists on the global market. Among the fair’s various sections, don’t miss the Feature Sector with works by Arthur Luiz Piza at the Brazilian gallery Raquel Arnaud, ETIENNE-MARTIN at the French gallery Bernard Bouche, Jana STERBAK at the German gallery Barbara Gross, Irving PENN at the British gallery Hamiltons, Rachel WHITEREAD at the Italian Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma, Rathin Barman at the Indian Experimenter gallery and Doreen Garner at the American JTT gallery.

Another sector not to be missed, and probably the most impressive, is the Unlimited area which hosts XXL works for museums, foundations or exceptional collections… works that cannot be shown on conventional stands, but which fit perfectly into the huge 16,000 m² hall next to the fair. At Art Basel, the organisers ‘think big’ and are not afraid of projecting strong symbols of the event’s prestige and power. The 71 monumental works submitted by galleries invited to the fair consist of giant sculptures, immersive videos, wall paintings, installations by established (and emerging) artists including Ai Weiwei, Matthew Barney, Barrada, Daniel Buren, Camille Henrot, Jenny Holzer, Lee Ufan, Lygia Pape, Michael Rakowitz and Barthélémy Toguo. Art Basel is the only fair in the world to encourage this form of ‘gigantism’ that gives the fair a dimension that no other commercial art fair can match.

Art Basel’s offs

The crowd of international art buyers, professionals and enthusiasts who make the trip especially to visit the fair represent an excellent opportunity for satellite events to get noticed. Art Basel therefore attracts several peripheral events seeking to benefit from the intense excitement that occupies the small Swiss town for the fair’s duration. Every year several ‘Off’ fairs scattered throughout the city take advantage of the effervescence generated by the main show. These include Scope (66 galleries), List (15 galleries), Volta (75 galleries) Photo Basel (35 galleries) and the first Basel edition of the fair Paper positions that will occupy premises not far from Art Basel. Until now, Paper Positions has been held in Berlin and Munich. This first appearance in Basel is a strategic choice for the organisers of a fair whose specialty is paper in all imaginable forms: drawings, of course, but also collages, cutouts, origami, books created by artists, written works and 3-D creations. The 26 galleries (half of which are German) have also opted for a freestyle exhibition space with continuous exhibition walls and site-specific artworks to break with the somewhat fixed nature of traditional stands.

A presence at Basel is always important for galleries participating in ‘off’ shows, it being understood they are not competing with the giant and prestigious Art Basel, but rather are offering a more ‘emerging’ and ‘alternative’ type of art, and, of course at more affordable prices.