The first stop in my three day conquest of Basel began this morning at the esteemed Beyeler Foundation. Designed by Renzo Piano, it is one of the most sublime museums in the world. The combination of the perfectly attuned architecture and landscaping combined with the extraordinary collection and impeccably curated exhibitions makes every visit a memorable one. The featured exhibition is a rich selection of paintings drawn from the lifetime work of Max Ernst along with an installation by contemporary artist, Maurizio Cattalan. Equally as breathtaking is work from the permanent collection and a truly stunning selection of sculpture by Alexander Calder.
Next up was the preview opening of Liste, a satellite fair that features a vetted group of international, dynamic younger galleries. This is a great fair to find new galleries and artists of quality and interest. I was pleased to encounter Grey Noise from Dubai. They had a two person show that included photographs and video by Bashir Mahmood.
Design Miami/Basel, the global forum for design, specializes in collectable furniture from historically significant designers as well as presenting work from a vanguard of new designers. Increasingly, jewelry, lighting, ceramic sculpture and other design manifestations are presented. For instance, Audi is showcasing the gorgeous, new Quattro. W Hotels is sponsoring, “Designers of the Future Awards”. American Express has a lounge for its’ Platinum and Centurion members designed by Vitra. I was pleased to rest and enjoy a complimentary glass of Perrier-Jouet and some five-spiced almonds in the lounge. Everybody wants a piece of the action but hey, it’s all in the service of great design.
The main Art Basel Fair has several different sections. Today was the opening preview for Art Unlimited, the part of the fair reserved for large-scale artworks, installations and videos. The enthusiasm for the Fair is so intense that even this huge area was jammed with viewers a few minutes after the doors opened.
In addition to the opening of Art Unlimited, it is the first look at Art Statements, a tightly selected group of galleries presenting young, emerging artists. This section allows for discovery of new artists from galleries that may already be established. Gitlen Gallery of New York is showing Jessica Jackson Hutchins, a very unique, ceramic sculptor whose work I also admired at the Venice Biennale. Stevenson Gallery from Cape Town had a complex installation by Kemang Wa Lehulere. mother’s tankstation from Ireland introduced wonderful, small paintings by Mairead O’hEocha. They were all sold within an hour, the anticipated result for many galleries as the gates swing wide and the race begins.