As the opening previews draw to a close in Basel today, the 46th edition of Switzerland’s massive art fair and exhibition is well underway, capping two initial days of strong sales and attendance during the VIP Previews that have set a brisk tone for the week’s proceedings.
The fair saw its usual blend of hedge fund collectors, museum heads and celebrities perusing the booths in the early hours of the fair, with Steven Cohen, Leonardo DiCaprio, Richard Armstrong and Budi Tek all seen walking the fair aisles. As expected, the sales pace matched the strong attendance, with gallerists reporting impressive sales acrouss the board. Skarstedt jumped out of the gate with a number of impressive sales, including a Keith Haring canvas work, which sold for $5.5 million, and an untitled Albert Oehlen work bringing $1 million, while at David Zwirner, a number of sales quickly pushed the gallery towards a sold-out out booth, with highlights including a Marlene Dumas painting for $3.5 million, and a Sigmar Polke canvas, which brought the same. Marian Goodman also performed well, with sales including a John Baldessari work for $450,000.
Helly Nahmad was on-site in Basel, selling a $50 million Mark Rothko canvas, glowing with subdued yellows and oranges under the bright lights of Messe Basel. It was the same work purchased last fall at Sotheby’s New York at $36 million, but had yet to find a buyer here. Jack Shainman, however, sold a striking Carrie Mae Weems diptych for $50,000, while Kim Gordon sold a pair of works at 303 Gallery for $30,000 each. Matthew Marks also brought an interesting selection of works, pairing Jasper Johns with Robert Gober in one corner for a peculiar contrast. In another area, Hauser and Wirth was showing Mike Kelley’s Untitled (stuffed animal mandala), paired with works by Martin Kippenberger and Louise Bourgeois, the latter of which sold for $2.5 million. At Cheim and Read, a Joan Mitchell piece from 1957 sold for $6 million, while a Robert Rauschenberg piece at Thaddaeus Ropac sold for $1.1 million. Rauschenberg was also the subject of the Pace Gallery booth, where seven paintings and drawings sold in the first days of the fair for between $450,000 and $1 Million.
A number of galleries were also swinging for the fences with intriguing, full-booth installations, particularly at James Fuentes, where a sparse Amalia Ulman installation played on constructs of domesticity and femininity in a harsh, white arrangement. At Berlin’s Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, painter Avery Singer had patched together a jagged series of canvases into a massive full-booth piece in black, white and grey. Elsewhere, Gavin Brown had decked his booth out in a patchwork of pieces, including a series of rugs by Martin Creed, arranged on the floor of the space, and priced at $200,000. At Blum and Poe, a number of impressive works sold, including a Lee Ufan painting from 1979, bringing $950,000, as well as a Sam Durant neon for $60,000. Another Lee Ufan sold today at the gallery for $1,100,000.
At the Unlimited section, invitations to interact with works seemed to be an ongoing thread, with David Shrigley’s Life Model inviting viewers to create and exhibit their own skewed portraiture of an exceedingly bizarre model, while Brazilian collective Opavivará welcomed visitors with tea and hammocks in their relaxing installation. Also of note was artist Marcia Hafif’s An Extended Gray Scale, a sprawling line of canvases moving slowly across the spectrum of grey shades, and presented by New York’s Fergus McCaffrey. Similarly, Rikrit Tiravanija’s work Do We Dream Under The Same Sky attracted flocks of hungry visitors outside the space, with the artist smiling and pitching in on the dishes as the piece unfolded.
With the public days set to open tomorrow, Art Basel is well on its way to another impressive week. The fair concludes on Sunday, June 21st.
— D. Creahan
Art Basel [Exhibition Site]
Art Basel’s VIP Opening Kicks Things Off With a Flurry of Sales [Art Info]
Art Basel opens with works that invite visitors to be part of the art [Art Newspaper]
A Cheek-pinching Dicaprio And A $4.5 M. John Currin Painting: It’s The Opening Of Art Basel 2015 [Art News]
ArtBasel 2015 Sales Report [Art Market Monitor]