Art Basel 2013

Art Basel 2013 Image

Art Basel is for those who want to discover the freshest contemporary art on the market. The annual art fair is hosted by this little, unsuspecting town in Switzerland, yet attracts art collectors and buyers from the four corners of the earth. These collectors come for two essential reasons: to discover and to buy art exhibited over 334,000 square feet from 300 contemporary art galleries. It’s a culturally rich affair, a four day pop-up contemporary art museum with price tags on everything.

Last year I had tried to make the pilgrimage to Art Basel but apparently the small town books up pretty quickly. So this year my accommodations where taken care of by March. And on Friday I boarded a train for a weekend getaway to Basel where I spent the next few days chatting with interesting people equally fascinated with the art.

The doors of the 44th edition of Art Basel closed on Sunday. Here’s what you may have missed in Switzerland:

Art Basel opens in turbulent times for art dealers: In case you didn’t know, art galleries have been having a hard time making sales. Especially in Paris where some of the best galleries have gone months without selling a single work of art. This article from the New York Times gets to the context of the current market, why the fair is important, and what’s available.

Basel mints the next bluechip artists: A review from the Art Newspaper after the vernissage. The most important night of an art fair is the first: This is the night the fair opens only for a select few who look for the latest addition to their collection. The more an art fair can report big sales in this evening, the more they can boast the fair as being a resounding success which will allure other collectors who don’t want to miss their chance at the next big artists. That’s Art Fair 101 in a teeny nutshell and Art Basel earned their bragging rights.

Preview of Art Basel 2013: Much less a preview now that it’s over, but there are some great shots of Art Basel Art Unlimited, a separate building filled with fascinating installations and rooms for various films, making for an interactive and engaging show.

Art Basel Unlimited was awesome… and I think this blogger from the Miami New Times did a great job at describing the jaw-dropping exhibition space that just went on and on with delightful, and sometimes disturbing, discoveries.

The Faces of Art Basel:The New York Times had me laughing with this piece which pokes fun at every attempt to pick out trends amid the thousands of works of art on display.

Recap of the preview show: Leonardo DeCaprio and I suddenly seem to be playing a game of hit-or-miss. First he’s seen at Sotheby’s in Paris (where I interned), then later he beats me to Basel. I wonder if he’s looking for an art advisor…

And finally, some artist highlights: People crowded around some of the world’s most renowned contemporary artists. Just a few (and I mean very few) favorites included Yue Minjun from China, Takashi Murakami and Yoshitomo Nara from Japan, Piotr Uklanski, Damian Hirst (yawn), Gerhard Richter, and Anish Kapoor.

Have I convinced you to start checking out art fairs yet?

2 comments… add one
  1. TheWanderfullTraveler June 19, 2013, 11:27 pm

    Very cool – I was wondering what you were up to on Instagram as I had never heard of this art fair event before.
    I have yet to go to one but it sounds interesting. I prefer art from previous generations (blame it on my love of nostalgia and antiques) I am not as well versed in some of the more modern art from today’s artists. I do however enjoy Anish Kapoors work – I saw his work while at the Peggy Guggenheim in Venice.


    1. Stephanie June 24, 2013, 2:28 pm

      It was sooo much fun! You would have loved it, Murissa! Honestly, I have a hard time with a lot of contemporary art as well. But then I remember that most contemporaries to every significant period since the Renaissance have critiqued and rejected the art of the time. People critiqued Mannerism, hated Impressionism, reviled Fauvism, rejected Realism… The list goes on. So I work hard at understanding and appreciating even if I don’t like it.


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