My reflections on art, collectors, marchers and contemporary art auctions
Art Basel: Everything stays different
Art Basel keeps itself fresh with careful changes
If you measure the importance of Art Basel by the number of its “followers” in social media, its position appears to be more than robust. There are 1.5 million on Instagram alone. Even if the annual number of visitors to the parent fair and the two offshoots is less than an astronomical 250,000, the popularity that the company's own YouTube channel has recorded is astounding. More than 11,000 subscribers watch videos from the talk program “Conversations” or portraits from galleries. To ensure that the brand is not lost sight of, the head of the fair, Marc Spiegler, keeps coming up with new sidelines, such as the Art Basel Cities project, which aims to help promising marketplaces. In terms of boosting “cultural development”, Buenos Aires will start in early autumn with an art week, for which artists such as Barbara Kruger, Mika Rottenberg and Maurizio Cattelan have already announced their participation alongside local greats. Innovation around the proven basic product can not hurt.
But fresh blood is also part of the first-choice strategy at the actual scene in Basel. The 49th edition features 16 newcomers among the 290 participating galleries, including four Germans: Max Mayer, Barbara Gross, Jan Kaps and Sandy Brown from Berlin, who is bringing a special kind of bed frame to the Statements sector. The solo presentation of the French Aude Pariset, born in 1983, quotes Tracey Emin. At the same time, she proves to be a willing student of her animal-loving compatriot Pierre Huyghe, enhanced by a clever disgust factor: the sleeping quarters packed in a glass case are teeming with living worms.
Newcomer from Beijing
The newcomer White Space Beijing, who presents the American Christine Sun Kim, who was born in 1980, is less calculating. The artist, who was born deaf, chose the materiality of sounds as the focal point of her installations, performances and drawings. Newcomer Richard Saltoun Gallery is setting a less unusual accent in the “Feature” sector, which aims to curate projects by established and historical artists. The Brit focuses on the work of Helen Chadwick, who died in 1996. She was the first woman to be nominated for the Turner Prize. Among the German galleries that have worked their way up to the main “Galleries” section within the fair are KOW from Berlin and Kadel Willborn. After eight years with Feature und Statements, the Düsseldorf-based company is showing a cross-section of their program, which combines young positions with rediscoveries, including a triptych by Barbara Kasten ($50,000) or the installation "Michaelerplatz" made of tapestries and embroidery by Shannon Bool (36,000 euros ). Significantly, rotation is low on this exclusive winner's reserve. 99 percent of galleries return.
Blue chips and updates
The fact that nine young people who are looking for promotion made it here this time speaks for the management's efforts to thwart the tendency towards the over-presence of always the same blue chips with occasional updates. The two aforementioned are joined this time: 47 Canal (USA), Kate MacGarry (UK), mother's tankstation limited (UK and Ireland), Bergamin & Gomide (Brazil), Casas Riegner (Colombia), Alexander Gray (USA), Mendes Wood (USA), Tokyo Gallery + BTAP (Japan). The “Unlimited” sector, which is reserved for large-scale or performative works, also wants to break old habits. He is moving to the upper floor of Hall 1. Curator Gianni Jetzer, on the other hand, will remain on the traditionally spectacular course for the seventh time. You can rely on his selection, with these names many collectors will bravely ignore the fear of voluminous bulkiness: Matthew Barney, Dan Graham, Carmen Herrera, Jenny Holzer, Richard Long, Yoko Ono, James Rosenquist, Carol Bove, Ai Weiwei or James Turrell . An adequate eye-catcher for Instagram flâneurs is definitely the gigantic walk-in installation made of metal stairs and green-white strips of fabric by Daniel Buren, with which the Galleria Continua from San Gimignano probably wants to achieve maximum gain in the economy of attention. The large gallery Hauser + Wirth is of course long past this stage. But the people of Zurich also insist on surprising them with a new signing. Alongside Louise Bourgeois and Eva Hesse, they are bringing with them for the first time works by Alina Szapocznikow, who died in 1973 and who survived Auschwitz.
In general, the artists: in times of the #MeToo debate, the galleries noticeably often roll out the long overdue red carpet for them. Galerie Lelong & Co. (Paris, New York) with Mildred Thompson, Zilia Sanchez, Kiki Smith, Nancy Spero and Yoko Ono, Kewenig (Berlin, Palma) with Nan Goldin, Leiko Ikemura, Kimsooja and Elisabeth Friedberg, Buchholz (Cologne, Berlin, New York) with the early sculpture "Erdmann" by Isa Genzken and the Zeno X Gallery (Antwerp) with Marlene Dumas, who takes up the Palestinian-Israeli conflict in the painting "No Belt". It's hard to believe: the art globe is becoming female. And yet it turns!