What’s not to be missed at Art Basel 2014

Art extravaganza, development laboratory, high society meeting place – Art Basel has so many faces that it can be hard to keep track of the sheer number of attractions; hence our exhibition guide…

From 19 to 22 June, private jets will be arriving at the sleepy airport that serves Basel, located near the border where Switzerland meets France and Germany. Art Basel is one of the art world’s greatest spectacles – this year attracting 285 galleries from 34 countries, with works of classical modernism through to contemporary art making it the Swiss heart of the international collectors’ scene. 

Art Basel

The main exhibition ‘Galleries’ gather works from the well-known galleries in London, New York, Berlin, Rio and Tokyo, but smaller traders also come to sell their paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, prints, photographs, videos, and digital art: more than 4,000 artists are represented here. The mega-deals are, however, made at the opening on Tuesday, especially when it comes to the famous names.

Artistic all-sorts

The event is based around eight ‘sectors’, illustrating the “many dimensions of Modern and contemporary art”. For example, the ‘Features’ sector shows carefully collated projects from 24 galleries, often the work of a single artist, such as KOW Berlin’s early works by Santiago Sierra. Young and emerging artists are explored in the ‘Statements’ sector, while oversized artworks can be found in the sector titled ‘Unlimited’ – 70 large-scale installations, no less, comprising paintings, video projections and performances. The ‘Parcours’ sector, meanwhile, uses the urban area of ​​Basel as an exhibition space and offers a good place to visit at the end of a long day at Art Basel.

14 rooms

MoMA curator Hans-Ulrich Obrist and MoMA PS1 Director Klaus Biesenbach are both considered heavyweights in the world of contemporary art. For Art Basel, the two have teamed up to curate a highly promising live art event across 14 rooms, featuring artists of the calibre of Marina Abramovic, Damien Hirst, Bruce Nauman, Yoko Ono and John Baldessari.

Design Miami / Basel

Classical and contemporary design: there is plenty to admire in the Basel version of Design Miami – and also to buy. With 50 galleries showcasing their furniture and sculptures, the Parisian gallery Patrick Seguin is this year displaying an entire prefabricated house by Pierre Jeanneret and Jean Prouvé. Otherwise, the focus is on mid-Century design from America, Italy and Scandinavia, plus ceramics and jewellery.

The museums

Anyone with a little more time can enjoy the special displays at individual museums: the Fondation Beyeler is presenting a retrospective of Gerhard Richter, Schaulager shows selected works by Paul Chan, the Kunstmuseum Basel is celebrating the American artist Charles Ray and the Vitra Design Museum offers the work of designer Konstantin Grcic.

For more information about Art Basel 2014, see artbasel.com.