Art Basel 2015

Art Basel in Basel 2015; photo by Alec Bastian for Artsy
Art Basel in Basel 2015; photo by Alec Bastian for Artsy

Art Basel closed last weekend. The Messeplatz is clear, the NetJets are gone, and our media feeds are back to normal. It’s time to recap the 46th edition of the world’s largest annual art event.

 

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.

 

Michelangelo Pistoletto, Dono de Mercurio allo Specchio, 1971-92; bronze statue and mirror, edition of 4; image courtesy of Fergus McCaffrey
Michelangelo Pistoletto, Dono de Mercurio allo Specchio, 1971-92; bronze statue and mirror, edition of 4; image courtesy of Fergus McCaffrey

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.

 

Jeff Koons, Cat on a Clothesline (Orange), 1994-2001; polyethylene, 123 × 110 × 50 inches, 1 of 5 unique versions; installation view at Gagosian Gallery, Art Basel in Basel 2015; photo by Alec Bastian for Artsy
Jeff Koons, Cat on a Clothesline (Orange), 1994-2001; polyethylene, 123 × 110 × 50 inches, 1 of 5 unique versions; installation view at Gagosian Gallery, Art Basel in Basel 2015; photo by Alec Bastian for Artsy

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…

 

LISTE 2015 at the Werkraum Warteck in Basel; image via Bâle en Français, © Véronique Bidinger
LISTE 2015 at the Werkraum Warteck in Basel; image courtesy of Bâle en Français, © Véronique Bidinger

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.

 

Paul Gauguin, Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), 1892; oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches; image courtesy of Artothek / Associated Press
Paul Gauguin, Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), 1892; oil on canvas, 40 x 30 inches; image courtesy of Artothek / Associated Press

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.

 

Lara Almarcegui, Excavation from Basel, 2015; installation view at the Kunsthaus Baselland, 2015; photo by Serge Hasenböhler
Lara Almarcegui, Excavation from Basel, 2015; installation view at the Kunsthaus Baselland, 2015; photo by Serge Hasenböhler

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.

 

See more Art Basel coverage at codylee.co/tag/art-basel/