Art Basel, via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
The doors have opened on the 46th edition of the annual Art Basel fair in Switzerland, marking another flagship entry in the ever-growing fair’s yearly calendar of events. Capping its first round of early previews today, the fair, which opens to the public on June 16th, has put forward a well-balanced event this year, mixing historical perspective with a series of eye-popping installs and strong selections.
Ai Weiwei, White House (2015), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
The exhibition selections tended towards the historical and the blue-chip for many of the galleries on hand, but a number of more adventurous exhibitors and artists also persisted in the face of what some had forecasted as a more subdued event than previous outings. Gavin Brown had brought a series of irreverent new works by Brian Belott, whose recent works have thrown all but the kitchen sink into his canvases, continued here with compositions layering paint, CD’s, and even athletic socks into his works, while Lisson was boasting a series of new works by Tony Oursler at its booth. It would also sell a series of works by Cory Arcangel and Stanley Whitney for prices ranging from $35,000 to $100,000.
Ellsworth Kelly, Yellow Relief Over Black (2013), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
Sol LeWitt, Irregular Tower (1999), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
Gagosian, had brought a series of new Gazing Ball pieces by Jeff Koons, while at Paula Cooper, one could see a series of Claes Oldenburg sculptures including a series of inviting slices of pie encased in a vitrine, while Richard Feigen was presenting a series of paintings by Peter Saul. Elsewhere, artist Alison Knowles was performing her 1962 Fluxus piece Making a Salad, cutting tomatoes and other ingredients while a close by microphone captured and amplified each sound, while Galerie Lelong was showing a series of David Hockney’s iPad landscapes, showcasing the artist’s continued exploration of the format.
Oscar Tuazon outside Messe Basel, via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
Hans Op de Beeck, The Collector’s House (2016), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
The annual Unlimited section had already commanded impressive attention in the fair’s early hours, as expansive, often overwhelming works spread across the space, or, in the case of Japanese artist Chiharu Shiota, hung from the ceiling. The artist’s signature red thread installation work loomed over the Messe Basel flooring, creating an airy, yet imposing structure within the space. Elsewhere, an immense Frank Stella piece, courtesy of Marianne Boesky and Dominique Lévy, stretched along wall, offering a notably rigid contrast in geometry. directly across from it, Ai Weiwei had brought an immense re-construction of a traditional Qing Dynasty home, painted white and erected within the gallery space. Yet the fair’s most eye-catching piece belonged to Hans Op de Beeck’s The Collector’s House, a sprawling, monotone grey installation that luxury touchstones with a haunting, funereal quality. Also notable for its impressive blending of technology and spatial imagination, artist Samson Young stood atop a crane platform in the exhibition hall, blasting bird call sounds through a Long Range Acoustic Device (LRAD), mixing weaponized audio technology with nature imagery. Paul McCarthy’s bizarre Tomato Head (Green) (1994) was also an early attraction for viewers as well as buyers, and found a home quickly with a private American collection for $4,750,000.
Frank Stella, Damascus Gate (Stretch Variation I) (1970), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
Escalator Installation by Daniel Buren, via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
Outside the fair, the Parcours section was also up and inviting intrepid viewers into the city surroundings, especially those who had clearly had a bout of fair fatigue, and were venturing out to see the other exhibitions spread across Basel, including strong shows at the city’s Kuntshalle and the Schaulager, among others. Just outside Messe Basel, Oscar Tuazon had realized several of his portable shelter works, while pieces by Virginia Overton and Lawrence Weiner cropped up unexpectedly as visitors wound their way through the city, making its name all the more resonant in light of its presence along the winding paths of the city.
The fair will continue through June 19th.
David Hockney, The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire (2011), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
Claes Oldenburg, Four Pies in a Glass Case (1961), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
Yayoi Kusama, Self-Portrait (2016), via Andrea Nguyen for Art Observed
— D. Creahan
Art Basel 2016 [Fair Site]
Six Shows to See During Art Basel [Art Newspaper]
Curator Samuel Leuenberger on Art Basel’s Parcours 2016 [Art Info]
8 Highlights from Art Basel Unlimited 2016 [Art Info]
Marc Spiegler: From selfies to virtual reality, how technology is changing the art world [CNN]