The Basel edition of Art Basel brings the international art world together this week. It features over 200 leading galleries and more than 4,000 artists from five continents. It’s the first Art Basel without masks, without restrictions. A buzz, that we’ve only known from pre-pandemic times.
And so the fair started with a record sale in the artist’s history: gallery Hauser & Wirth sold Louise Bourgeois’ larger than life iconic steel Spider, 1996 for 40 million USD.
“As the most iconic and rare work of Louise Bourgeois’ entire oeuvre, the 1996 steel ‘Spider’ seemed the ideal work to anchor our booth at this year’s fair — a celebration of both Art Basel’s post-pandemic ‘grand retour’ and Hauser & Wirth’s 30th anniversary. Louise embodied, in so many ways, our gallery’s vision and ethos. She spanned the 20th and 21st centuries, possessed a fiercely independent spirit in her life and work that defied simple categorization, and she changed the game not only for women artists but for art itself. She continues to exert enormous influence in the most positive way, and we felt this was an important moment to spotlight that power.” says Marc Payot, President, Hauser & Wirth.
Here are more highlights from the preview days of Art Basel, which has opened its doors to the public today:
Jaume Plensa, Cristina’s Words
Barcelona born and based artist Jaume Plensa (1955) is one of my favorite contemporary artists who knows how to translate meditation and meaning into art works. The Spanish artist’s recent work Cristina’s words, 2021 is being represented by Galerie Lelong (Paris and New York) at Art Basel 2022.
The larger than life sculpture is so special, that it surprises from each angle.
Alberto Giacometti, Figurine
Swiss sculptor (1901-1966) Alberto Giacometti needs no introduction in the art world. This year a miniature version of his famous sculptures, Figurine is being exhibited Gallery Kamel Mennour.
Yoshitomo Nara, Hey! Ho! Let’s Go!
Contemporary Japanese artist Yoshitomo Nara’s signature style is to express children in a range of emotional complexities from resistance and rebellion to quietude and contemplation. He celebrates the introspective freedom of the imagination and the individual.
Sylvie Fleury, UBS Lounge
At the UBS VIP Lounge, which puts extra focus on sustainability and all things healthy this year (locally sources lunch menu, relaxation lounges and fresh juice bar), the UBS Art Collection is showcasing a solo presentation dedicated to Geneva-based artist Sylvie Fleury, best known for fusing high art with popular culture, exploring gender codes around consumerism, power and desire. Fleury is considered one of Switzerland’s most important living artists and has been the subject of major museum exhibitions around the world.
Von Bartha Gallery, Booth G12
At the centre of the Basel art scene is gallery von Bartha, whose cool flagship space is housed in a former garage behind a working petrol pump station. Directed by Stefan von Bartha, the gallery presents a cutting-edge contemporary programme representing an international roster of artists. Having exhibited with Art Basel since the first edition in 1970 – at this year’s fair, they are showcasing Imi Knoebel, Superflex, and Bernar Vernet alongside Barry Flanagan, Olaf Breuning, and Sophie Taeuber-Arp encouraging a dialogue between sculpture and painting.
33Eko x Tezos
NFTs are here to stay. Blockchains such as the most sustainable of them all, Tezos, are helping re-imagine the digital canvas for generative artists. As with technology, art is in a constant state of evolution. Their Art Basel exhibition explores the evolutionary intersection between art and technology, where artists are reimagining what generative art could be in this new medium.
The interactive experience lets visitors explore the NFT world and beyond. They can even co-create a new generative artwork that is automatically minted as an NFT and gifted to the attendees in real-time. The installation features generative algorithms from Aleksandra Jovanić, Ryan Bell, Sam Tsao and my favorite NFT artist Eko33.
Since 1999 French Eko33 Art Studio, now based in Switzerland, has been creating generative art generative art based on crypto hash seeds. Maximizing algorithmic diversity. His works are being presented in global art fairs, museums, biennales – and “somewhere in the Metaverse”. Eko33 is also the host of the popular NFT world podcast “Probably nothing”