The Basel edition of Art Basel brings together the international art world this week. It features over 200 leading galleries and over 4,000 artists from five continents. This is the first Art Basel without masks, without restrictions. A buzz, which we have only known since the pre-pandemic period.
And so the fair began with a record sale in the history of the artist: the Hauser & Wirth gallery sold Louise Bourgeois’ larger than life iconic steel Spider, 1996 for $40 million.
“As the most iconic and rarest work in Louise Bourgeois’ entire body of work, the 1996 steel spider seemed the perfect work to anchor our stand at this year’s fair – a celebration from both the post-pandemic “great comeback” of Art Basel and Hauser & Wirth’s 30th anniversary. Louise embodied, in many ways, the vision and philosophy of our gallery. She spanned the 20th and 21st centuries, possessed a fiercely independent spirit in her life and work that defied simple categorization, and she was a game-changer not just for female artists but for art itself.She continues to wield enormous influence in the most more positive, and we felt it was an important time to shine a light on that power. Marc Payot, President, Hauser & Wirth.
Here are some other highlights from the preview days of Art Basel, which opened to the public today:
Jaume Plensa, Lyrics by Cristina
Barcelona born and based artist Jaume Plensa (1955) is one of my favorite contemporary artists who knows how to translate meditation and meaning into artwork. The recent work of Spanish artist Cristina’s words, 2021 is represented by Galerie Lelong (Paris and New York) at Art Basel 2022.
The larger than life sculpture is so special that it surprises from every 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 exhibited at Galerie Kamel Mennour.
Yoshitomo Nara, Hey! Oh! 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 stillness and contemplation. It celebrates the introspective freedom of the imagination and the individual.
Sylvie Fleury, Salon UBS
At the UBS VIP Lounge, which focuses on sustainability and all things healthy this year (lunch menu made from local produce, chill-out lounges and a fresh juice bar), the UBS Art Collection presents 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 center of the Basel art scene is the von Bartha Gallery, whose flagship space is housed in a former garage behind a working gas station. Directed by Stefan von Bartha, the gallery presents a cutting-edge contemporary program representing an international roster of artists. Having exhibited with Art Basel since the first edition in 1970 – at this year’s fair they present 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 all, Tezos, are helping to reinvent the digital canvas for generative artists. Like technology, art is constantly evolving. Their Art Basel exhibition explores the evolving intersection between art and technology, where artists reimagine what generative art could be in this new medium.
The interactive experience allows visitors to explore the NFT world and beyond. They can even co-create a new generative artwork that is automatically created as an NFT and offered to participants in real time. The installation features generative algorithms from Aleksandra Jovanić, Ryan Bell, Sam Tsao, and my favorite NFT artist Eko33.
Since 1999, French art studio Eko33, now based in Switzerland, has been creating generative art based on crypto hash seeds. Maximize algorithmic diversity. His works are featured in world art fairs, museums, biennials – and “somewhere in the metaverse”. Eko33 is also the host of the popular NFT Global Podcast “Probably Nothing”