As summer gets into full swing, the art world once again flocks to the Swiss city of Basel for the flagship entry of the Art Basel fair, which once again sets up shop at the expansive Messe Basel, near the banks of the Rhine. This year’s edition continues the event’s reputation for capitalizing on the space and scale afforded it in the Messe’s impressive exhibition halls, bringing 280 galleries from around the globe, and showing over 4,000 artists inside its spacious confines.
303 Gallery is presenting a variety of works and artists at its booth, from visceral new paintings by Kim Gordon to Doug Aitken’s signature polished sculptural works, while Cheim & Read is presenting a series of historical sculptures by Lynda Benglis, focusing on the artist’s output during the late 1970’s. Hauser and Wirth will be on hand, showing a selection of works by Rashid Johnson, David Smith, and Mary Heilmann, among others, while Luhring Augustine will show a series of new works by Rachel Whiteread, Jeff Elrod, and more. Pace Gallery will also present a diverse booth, culling works from Richard Tuttle, teamLab, and Julian Schnabel.
This selection will take a more focused turn in the Feature section, where selected galleries will present curated booths reviewing the works of both young and heritage artists, offering more nuanced experiences for buyers and viewers alike. Downtown NYC gallerist Derek Eller will have one of the fair’s more intriguing selections from the career of Karl Wirsum, a founding member of Chicago collective The Hairy Who, and an influential voice in alternative, illustration-focused practice in the post-war American avant-garde. Fellow downtowner James Fuentes will turn the historical lens on his own city, bringing work by Jonas Mekas, while Brazilian space Bergamin & Gomide will present a selection of pieces by Mira Schendel.
The fair’s Statements section is on hand again this year, bringing uniquely executed projects, freewheeling conceptual exercises, and occasionally downright bizarre works to the Messeplatz. Of particular note this year is 47 Canal’s Ajay Kurian, whose peculiar fusions of commercial goods, environmental manipulation and pop cultural forms commanded impressive attention at last year’s Greater New York show at MoMA PS1, while Berlin’s Société will present Timur Si-Qin’s challenging intersections of the biological and commercial objects.
The popular Unlimited section will realize curator Gianni Jetzer’s vision for an art fair broken free from the confines of the staid booth exhibition, instead favoring massive sculptural works, video projections, and other projects that demand considerable space and time, not to mention attentive viewing, from those on hand. The fair will also return its much-loved Parcours section, placing new sculptural works and installations around the city itself, encouraging a more embedded, encounter-based focus towards the fair, and a more nuanced challenge of viewer engagement to the artists selected. Curated this year by Samuel Leuenberger of SALTS exhibition space, this year’s selections include pieces by Jim Dine, Lawrence Weiner, and 17 more artists, spreading a diverse body of work around the city center that welcomes the efforts of the intrepid art viewer.
Alongside the fair, the city of Basel will also see a series of satellite fairs, openings and other events that have seen increasing stature in recent years. The ever-growing Liste fair returns to the city, bringing a selection of smaller galleries and younger artists that offers a well-curated yet more raw iteration of the fair experience. Paris’s Balice Hertling will be site, presenting work by Camille Blatrix, while Bridget Donahue will bring a series of works by Mark van Yetter, and Kraupa-Tuskany Ziedler will bring new work by Andrea Crespo.
Other galleries will also be opening gallery events this week. Nearby Giswil’s More Gallery is opening a show of new works by KAWS, while the Schaulager will open a new chamber piece by Katharina Fritsch and Alexej Koschkarow, composed of carefully coordinated works entering into precise dialogue with each other. A short trip away, Fondation Beyeler will be showing its own unique juxtaposition of artists, showing the work of Alexander Calder in conversation with the sculptural practice of Swiss duo Fischli/Weiss.
The fair week begins June 12th, and continues through the conclusion of Art Basel on June 19th.
— D. Creahan
Art Basel [Fair Site]
Liste Art Fair [Fair Site]
Zita – Щapa at Schaulager [Exhibition Site]
Fondation Beyeler [Museum Site]
Art Market Forecast: A Hazy Summer [NYT]
Six shows to see during Art Basel [Art Newspaper]