In recent years, we have witnessed a rapidly growing number of art fairs all over the world. Among the fierce competition, the most attractive and well-known art fair in my opinion is Art Basel. It is held three times a year in three different locations around the world: Basel, Hong Kong and Miami Beach.
This year’s Art Basel in Switzerland spanned from June 16th to the 21st. The first two days were reserved for collectors who received invitations while the rest were open for the public.
Art Basel is mainly composed of five sectors: Galleries, Features, Statements, Edition, and Unlimited. The unlimited sector was the most popular one, it included large-scale installation artworks, live performances and massive sculptures and paintings. In other words, it was perfectly suitable for Instagram posting and my trip started there.
The fair opened at 11:00 AM, but one hour ahead of that, a line had already formed in front of the hall while a few people were sitting inside. As 11:00 AM approached the excitement became palpable; everyone eagerly waited and chatted in front of the gate.
I stayed in this sector for one hour and a half. It was an enormous space with many pieces scattered around, some of which required waiting for quite a while to access it. After viewing all the artwork, I must say I was slightly disappointed. Some artwork felt like it was trying to catch up or fit within current trends in Art rather than expressing thoughtful and meaningful messages. Buzz words like “VR” or “minority group” were used by several artists to show their awareness of world trends. However, the overall organization was quite impressive. There were enough seats for visitors to rest and enough space was left between each artwork so that people can stop and discuss without bothering other visitors. Each artwork was numbered and came with a description, and volunteers, who were also standing next to pieces, were available to answer any questions.
After finishing with the unlimited sector, I moved to Hall 2, where there was galleries, statement and edition located.
The gallery part exceeded all my expectations. Here you can have an overview of the worldwide art gallery scene. There were galleries that sold blue chip artists’ artwork, for instance, Picasso, Degas, and Monet. While other galleries exposed fresh and emerging artists to the audience. It was impossible to feel bored while walking around; every booth was its own tiny world.
The most eye-catching gallery in my opinion was Jeff Koons’ artwork Sacred Heart at Gagosian’s booth: a large pink heart with a yellow ribbon. The smooth surface worked like a mirror to reflect the people approach it. it was interesting to watch people change their poses and facial expressions constantly in order to get the perfect photo.
Another gallery however made my day; Perrotin Gallery. Perrotin divided their booth into several rooms, and each room has painted in different colors to match a theme. Their booth has three floors, and artwork was placed in every empty space, like the corner and along the stairs. I was so happy when I saw that Italian artist Paola Pivi was featured. Colorful polar bears were dancing on the stairs to welcome the visitors.
I only had one day for Art Basel, and it was definitely not enough for me to look through all the galleries but i sure did try. I was pleased to find empty seats to rest and find food trucks and booths to order some snacks and drinks for refreshment when i became tired.
Other than Art Basel fair, Basel city has lots of other events and important exhibitions held at the same time. Nearby Art Basel’s Hall, there were several art fairs with various styles, including Volta, LISTE, Photo Basel, Scope and Design Miami.
Basel in June is a feast of art waiting for you to explore. and I recommend it to anyone if the opportunity to go presents itself.
WORDS BY LOU YILUN