What not to miss at Art Basel 2018

From 11 to 17 June, the international art scene will gather at Art Basel. Here’s what not to miss from the world’s most important art fair and the numerous satellite events next week…

The centre of the global art world, for six days only

The collectors, gallery owners, and curators who’ll buzz in at Basel airport in their Netjets on Monday ahead of the VIP preview will be attracted to the main section of the fair in hall 2. This year, 290 galleries from 35 different countries will be present, offering modern and contemporary works from around 4,000 artists for sale. Reassuringly, the great hesitation in the art market seems to be over – in May, Sotheby’s alone auctioned a nude by Modigliani for 157m US dollars, while Christie’s sold the private collection of David and Peggy Rockefeller, in which works by Picasso and Matisse garnered over 800m dollars. But while key works from modern artists such as Calder, Rothko, Basquiat, Twombly, and Warhol are becoming harder to find, new names are slowly coming into focus, such as the African-American artist Kerry James Marshall, whose pictures are already in the double-digit millions. It’ll be interesting to see which names will reach these levels next. 

Bigger, digital, interactive 

The most visually stunning (or should we say instagrammable?) art might well be at the Art Unlimited exhibition. Master curator Gianni Jetzer from the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington has compiled 72 large-format installations, sculptures, video projections, monumental paintings, and photo series. In addition to well-known artists such as Matthew Barney and Jenny Holzer, you’ll also make new discoveries here. In the Statements sector, 18 new galleries will present their lesser-known artists and you’ll be surprised by the new possibilities offered by robots and virtual reality for artistic forms of expression. Also, at the traditional ancillary fairs such as Liste, Volta, or Scope, the art market will show its creative, less commercial, and, above all, affordable side. These are where the classics of the future are waiting to be discovered. 

If you want to escape the white cubes for a few hours, you’ll find 23 site-specific works of art around the Münsterplatz square in Basel – don’t be surprised to hear strange sounds coming from a sewer, or a swarm of bees orbiting a crouching lady. 

Good Design  

Anyone who’s enthusiastic about good design shouldn’t miss the Basel edition of Design Miami, where 47 galleries from around the world will present their furniture and objects. This year’s focus will be on the design duo Les Lalanne, Japanese designer Oki Sato, his Korean colleague Kwangho Lee, and the Grand Master of Brazilian Modernism, Oskar Niemeyer. The ‘Design at Large’ installation, curated by the photographer François Halard, will also be a talking point in the entrance to the exhibition hall. And there’s also an exhibition for the Classic Driver – following Kenny Schachter’s ‘Manual’ exhibit at last year’s show, designer and film producer Stuart Parr will be presenting vehicles from his impressive collection of Italian classic cars and motorcycles at Design Miami / Basel. 

Come and stay

Even if the hotel prices during Art Basel sometimes appear to exceed the value of the exhibited works of art, it’s actually worth staying all week in Basel because the museums in the region also attract new and interesting exhibitions. The dual-show ‘Bacon – Giacometti’ can be seen at the Fondation Beyeler, which will soon be extended by Peter Zumthor with a new building. And on 12 June, Diana Widmaier Picasso will present key works from her grandfather’s blue and pink period. Meanwhile, Ron Arad will be honoured with a new exhibition at the Vitra Design Museum. In addition, on 13 June, the Vitra campus will be expanded to include a ‘log house’ by Thomas Schütte and two installations by the designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. 

Photos: Art Basel / Design Miami / Fondation Beyeler / Vitra Design Museum

More information about Art Basel 2018 can be found here