The art world descends on Basel this month for four days of the world’s greatest artists, the biggest art collectors and eggs worth US$30 million
To arrive in Basel, at most times of year at least, is to be met by a beautifully serene city with a stirring mix of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. To arrive in June is to be met by multi-millionaire art collectors, parties late into the night and some of the world’s greatest art exhibitions: Art Basel, in short.
Founded in 1970 by local gallerists Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt, the event began life well – there were roughly 16,000 people through the doors that year – and only got better going on, not only to be one of the world’s leading art fairs, but to almost define the city itself. It now has sister events in Hong Kong during March and Miami Beach in December.
This month there’ll be 291 galleries from 34 countries in attendance – with 4,000 artists having work on show, all of whom having first been accepted as meeting Art Basel’s exacting standards.
Our advice for the first timer is to head to the Unlimited section. Curated by Gianni Jetzer of the acclaimed Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden in Washington DC, this is really where the action is found. Keep an eye out for Indian contemporary artist Subodh Gupta’s new work Cooking The World I, featuring food being cooked inside a giant shelter, and Cape Town-based Sue Williamson’s Messages From The Atlantic Passage that offers fishing nets suspended from the ceiling filled with glass bottles that explore the history of slavery.
However, if you’re looking for something that truly represents the fun of Art Basel, neatly combined with the big money buying power on show, then look no further than the giant egg works of Argentinian-Italian artist Lucio Fontana. They’re a real hit with collectors, and the four pieces presented by the Tornabuoni Gallery at Basel will be going for around US$30 million each.