This year’s fair included 284 galleries from 33 countries, with work by more than 4,000 artists. 98,000 jet set visitors attended (resulting in 97,999 articles and blogs), and the art installed on temporary walls was estimated to be worth more than $3.4 billion.
Galleries, the main sector of the fair, included 223 of the world’s leading galleries with 20th and 21st century art. Three were new since last year, and the floorplan was reconfigured for the first time in a decade. Some 57 galleries moved positions to the ground floor of Hall 2, with galleries specializing in works from 1900 to 1970 grouped together for a more coherent experience.
The Feature sector presented curated projects by 30 galleries, up from 25 since last year. The Statements sector presented solo exhibitions and emerging artists, and the Unlimited sector included large-scale installations, performances, and multimedia works. The Edition, Magazines, and Film sectors presented prints, publications, and films, respectively. The Parcours sector presented 23 site-specific installations around the city.
Sales reports were amazing, of course. Gagosian sold Jeff Koons’ Cat on a Clothesline for $6 million, which was a fair price for so much cuteness. Helly Nahmad, who isn’t in jail, sold Jean Dubuffet’s La Route du Pas–de-Calais for $6 million. Galerie Perrotin sold seven Takashi Murakami paintings, with at least two of them priced above $1 million. Hauser & Wirth sold at least three works by Louise Bourgeois, each for more than $2 million. We could go on…
Meanwhile, LISTE closed its 20th edition just a few blocks away. The younger fair for younger art has occupied the Werkraum Warteck since 1996, and this year included 79 galleries from 30 countries. LISTE is known as the up-and-coming junior fair, with works valued in the thousands rather than the millions, and a number of its exhibitors have later ascended to Art Basel.
Beyond the fairs, there was still more to see around Basel last week. The Fondation Beyeler presented major exhibitions of works by Marlene Dumas and Paul Gauguin. The Gauguin exhibition included Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), which had been on loan to the Kunstmuseum Basel for nearly 50 years until it was sold in a private transaction this February. The painting was from the family trust of retired Sotheby’s executive Rudolf Staechelin, and was reportedly sold to Qatar Museums for $300 million.
The edgy Kunsthaus Baselland presented a pair of solo exhibitions by Lara Almarcegui and Alexander Gutke. Almarcegui’s project filled a gallery with excavations from Basel, replicating her installation for the Spanish pavilion at the 2013 Venice Biennale.
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