This year, the 42nd edition of Art Basel takes place in Basel, Switzerland, from June 15 through June 19, 2011. As the premier annual art show, Art Basel marks the summer reunion of the international artworld, hosted by the city of Basel, which has been a cultural capital for centuries.
More than 300 galleries from 35 countries on six continents will show works by over 2,500 artists of the 20th and 21st centuries. A frequent site of discovery by those seeking emerging artists, Art Statements features 27 one-person stands from rising galleries worldwide. Furthermore, exhibitors will present more than 50 ambitious works in the Art Unlimited sector. Bringing the show into the city, the site-specific projects and performances in the Art Parcours sector will transform a variety of locations throughout the St. Alban neighbourhood.
Complimenting Art Basel’s extensive offerings, the city’s museums and institutions once again stage fascinating exhibitions, featuring the artists Constantin Brancusi, Richard Serra, Francis Alÿs, R.H. Quaytman, Konrad Witz and Henrik Olesen.
Founded by a group of local gallerists, the first Art Basel took place in 1970 and the event has long ranked as the most prestigious annual art show worldwide. The quality and diversity of the artworks exhibited regularly attracts more than 60,000 artists, collectors, gallerists, museum directors, curators, and art enthusiasts. Art 42 Basel showcases every form of artistic expression, including paintings, drawings, editions, sculptures, installations, photography, performances, and video art. Inexpensive works by emerging artists are on offer, alongside museum-quality masterpieces priced in the millions.
More than 300 of the world’s leading galleries exhibit at Art Basel, selected from more than 1,000 applicants by the Art Basel Committee, an international jury of renowned gallerists. These include 73 from the United States; 50 from Germany; 32 from Switzerland; 31 from Great Britain; 23 from France; 20 from Italy; 8 from Belgium; 7 each from Japan and Spain; 6 from Austria; 4 each from Brazil and Poland; 3 each from China, Denmark, India, Norway and the Netherlands; 2 each from Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Portugal, Sweden, South Africa and Turkey and 1 each from Argentina, Finland, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Iceland, Israel, Lebanon, Russia, Slovenia, South Korea and Thailand.
Art Galleries and Art Edition sectors
Once again, the world’s leading galleries will be exhibiting at the show, for which more than 99 percent of last year’s exhibitors reapplied. This year’s strong roster of returning participants are enhanced by diverse new exhibitors. Appearing for the first time in Art Galleries are Art: Concept (Paris), Blondeau (Geneva), Bortolami (New York), Isabella Bortolozzi (Berlin), Cabinet (London), gb agency (Paris), Holland-Hibbert (London), Joanna Kamm (Berlin), Regina (Moscow), Sfeir-Semler (Beirut), Standard (Oslo), and Vintage (Budapest). After a brief hiatus, Moeller Fine Art (New York) and Szwajcer (Antwerp) rejoin Art Basel’s exhibitors in the Art Galleries sector. The multiples specialists in Art Edition are joined by Three Star Books (Paris).
Art Statements Sector
A frequent site of discovery by those seeking to discover emerging artists, Art Statements this year spotlights 27 single-artist projects from younger galleries worldwide. The projects on display are new and created specifically for presentation in Art Statements. Since 1999, the Baloise Group has awarded its annual Baloise Art Prize to two outstanding Art Statements projects. This year, the prize stands at CHF 30,000 for each artist, in addition to which Baloise Group will also acquire works by the prize-winning artists and donate them to the Hamburger Kunsthalle and the MUMOK Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig Wien.
Art Feature Sector
After a highly-acclaimed debut last year, Art Feature focuses on precise curatorial shows. 20 gallery projects – featuring artistic dialogues, solo shows and exceptional art historical material – will be presented on both floors of Hall 2, alongside the Art Galleries sector. .
Art Unlimited Sector
Art Unlimited spotlights more than 50 ambitious works, many of them created especially for Art 42 Basel. With the accent on innovative and large-scale pieces, Art Unlimited offers everything from outsize sculptures and installations to video projections, wall paintings, and performances. The exhibition concept has once again been elaborated in collaboration with Geneva curator Simon Lamunière.
While the inauguration of this sector last year took place around Munsterplatz, this year Art Parcours will transform a variety of unique locations throughout the St. Alban neighbourhood. For the entire duration of the show, from 10 am to 10 pm, the second edition of Art Parcours offers visitors site-specific artworks and performances by internationally renowned artists and emerging talents. This array of high-caliber pieces – selected by Jens Hoffmann, Director of the CCA Wattis Institute in San Francisco – engages with today’s Basel and with its long history, weaving artistic interventions into the fabric of the city.
Art Basel Conversations and Art Salon
Staged every morning (June 15 to June 19), Art Basel Conversations bring together prominent members of the international art scene. The Premiere of the Art Basel Conversations features a legendary artist. Further topics include: ‘Public/Private: How Will Museums Be Able to Collect,’ ‘Collector Focus: Patronage and Politics,’ ‘The Future of Artistic Practice: The Artist as Urbanist,’ and ‘What is Alternative – Alternative to What?’ Additionally, an extensive daily program of artist conversations, book signings, discussion forums, and other presentations will take place in the Art Salon forum every afternoon.
After a successful launch of our Smartphone App last year, this year’s Art 42 Basel app will offer visitors even more functions. Created not only for iPhones, iPads and iPod Touchs, but also Blackberrys and all the other smartphones, the Art Basel App will be ready for download at the end of May.
Museums in Basel
The exceptional lineup of shows this year during Art 42 Basel includes: ‘Francis Alÿs: Fabiola’ presented by Schaulager at the Haus zum Kirschgarten; ‘Konrad Witz – The Unique Exhibition’ at the Kunstmuseum Basel; ‘Constantin Brancusi and Richard Serra’ at the Fondation Beyeler; ‘Henrik Olesen’ at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst; ‘Car fetish: I drive therefore I am’ at the Tinguely Museum; ‘R.H. Quaytman: Spine, Chapter 20’ at the Kunsthalle Basel; and at the Vitra Design Museum, ‘Zoom: Italian Design and the Photography of Aldo and Marirosa Ballo.’
With hopes for recovery in fine art prices running high, attention is trained on second-tier markets such as Russian collecting for signs of renewal. Sotheby’s conducts the season’s first Russian art sales next week, led by a pair of important collections including one of 86 works by Ukrainian avant-garde artists being sold as a single lot. The auctions come on the heels of strong Asia Week sales at both Sotheby’s and rival Christie’s in New York, and last month’s Hong Kong results, where salesrooms were filled to capacity, estimates were exceeded and records fell.
“This market has been booming for quite some time” and is seeing a renewed confidence, said Sonya Bekkerman, Sotheby’s director of Russian paintings.
The financial crisis that struck in 2008 made collectors “more selective, but they’re buying consistently,” she added. The relatively recent phenomenon of Russian collecting has drawn widespread attention, as oligarchs emboldened with seemingly limitless cash snapped up top works at auction at often astounding prices for established and newer mid-emerging artists.
Bidders gasped in 2006 as an anonymous bidder paid more than $95 million for Picasso’s “Dora Maar with Cat.” The mystery man, unknown to even auction regulars, had not even secured a seat at Sotheby’s and conducted his audacious bidding from the standing area at the rear. Reports, unconfirmed by Sotheby’s, have since focused on a Russian mining magnate as the buyer.
Philip Hoffman, founder and CEO of The Fine Art Fund Group investment house, said that while the Russian market is somewhat unpredictable, “collectors have become more savvy and are doing more research. The wealthy people coming into the market have the confidence now to do it, and they have the money,” he said.
Bekkerman concurred that “there is a level of sophistication that’s very different from when this market began to boom. They’ve caught up.”
Accordingly, Sotheby’s has estimated its two star collections conservatively, with the single-lot Yakov Pereman collection estimated at only $1.5 million to $2 million for all 86 works. The late actress Ruth Ford’s collection of art by Pavel Tchelitchew, who was her brother’s companion, is expected to fetch about $2 million.
Other works by Russian masters including Boris Grigoriev and Natalia Goncharova raise the sales’ total expectations to $11 million to $15 million. An exhibition, including many pieces never seen in the U.S., begins on Saturday ahead of next week’s auctions.
Bekkerman, who just returned from Moscow and Kiev, said the offerings had generated great interest in Russia, the Ukraine, and in the U.S. and among Americans of Russian descent. Taken with the Asian sales results, the Russian auctions could generate heat going into next month’s critical sales in New York.
“This market is a gateway,” Bekkerman said. “The collectors have an interest in their own heritage and artists, then channel into other areas such as modernism and post-impressionism.”