Art Basel justifies the unstable economic backdrop and 'generational change’

When Art Basel opens its 54th in-person edition next week, visitors can expect some breaks from tradition. Big lady Art exhibitions. „The art world is changing, and Art Basel is changing with it,” says Mike Kruse, the Swiss fair’s new director.

He is set to oversee his first edition, having taken over as director last summer, and acknowledges that wider economic and sociopolitical uncertainty has taken a toll on business. The latest auction season in New York is down 22 percent in 2023, while sales at art fairs from New York to Hong Kong are still muted. „It’s not a disaster, but there’s an unstable background with high interest rates and wars in Ukraine and the Middle East. So there’s a little less urgency. [in the art market]But still a lot of vibrancy,” Cruz says.

The market is „definitely slowing down,” says Silvia Couvaly, a London and Piraeus gallerist, but adds that „serious collectors are still looking at serious works.” She brings a study of Lilien Ligin to her Art Basel booth and a water fountain project by Iris Touliato to the Public Art in Parkours section.

Ryan Kander’s 'School of Languages’ (2023). © Courtesy Lisson Gallery

Cruz also identifies a „generational shift” in the art market and „a huge need among the younger crowd to connect, network and have fun.” With that in mind, the biggest differences for Art Basel this year are not within the walls of the Messeplatz convention center, where 288 galleries will be showing and selling their work as usual, but rather spread out across the city. Basel beyond the business hours of the main trade with an expanded Parkours segment.

READ  King Charles III has released his first official portrait since his coronation

Art Basel has teamed up with the nearby Merrion Hotel to present a 24-hour public program of events, including a screening of the opening match of the Euro 2024 men’s soccer tournament in Germany on June 14. „Basel can accommodate everyone,” says Kruse. „Everyone” is relative, but he describes Marion’s involvement, whose foreground is the light-based work of Kosovo-born artist Petrit Halilaj, as „equality.”

Despite the post-pandemic euphoria, Cruz recognizes that the art fair industry needs to remain agile and innovative. Recent events on the scene are more informal, social affairs that attract a younger, party crowd (assuming they exist) after doing their traditional business at the main fair. From 2022 on Art Basel’s doorstep is the Basel Social Club, a gallery-based business event that this year will be held outdoors, early in the morning, more like a festival than an exhibition.

A beaded artwork gathers painted glass beads in green, red, blue and yellow into an abstract, cloud-inspired composition.
Detail from 'Get Off My Cloud’ (2024) by Lisa Lu © Courtesy the artist/Lehman Maupin. Photo: Joshua White
An ancestral wooden mask depicting a human figure with eyes closed is surrounded by yellow, purple, red and pink flowers.
’Secret Rebirth of Sleeping Dreams’ by Awol Erizku (2024) © Briga Wilcox

Kruse naturally sees the alternative phenomenon as part of a wider ecosystem centered around Art Basel. „It’s not either/or,” he says, „just like the Marion Project, it’s a response to what we all feel is necessary at this time.”

There are quite a few numbers in the market. Alex Locksdale, chief executive of Lisson Gallery, admits that people are put off by the number of exhibitions (359 a year at the latest count). „They can’t all be successful and the quality can’t always be exceptional.” But one distinct advantage of Art Basel is that it’s a small city with relatively few distractions. „There are some amazing museums, but you can visit them in a day or two, and everything else is focused on the exhibition,” he says. His gallery brings a mixed booth, including work by recent signings Josh Kline and Oliver Lee Jackson, along with projects by Ryan Kander and Hiroshi Sugimoto at Unlimited.

READ  Buckingham Palace has announced that King Charles III will resume royal duties next week after being diagnosed with cancer

Kruse, who lives between Basel and Berlin, is familiar with the Swiss fair, having been its communications manager between 2008 and 2011, after which he ran the Art Berlin Contemporary and Art Berlin exhibitions. Interested in different ways of selling art, he ran the prestigious Gallery Weekend Berlin for 10 years before rejoining Art Basel.

A middle-aged woman with long blond hair standing sideways, wearing a dark blue trench coat and a light blue jumper, next to a 'No Stopping' sign hanging on a black wall.
Mike Crews shot for Simon Habecker FT

Within this year’s fair, Cruise emphasizes the geographic „diversity” of its exhibitors, although these are still dominated by North American and European galleries. This year there are 41 galleries with roots from outside these regions, up from 33 last year, while six first-timers from Asia include ROH projects from Jakarta, which is bringing a sound installation by Indonesian artist Julian Abraham „Dogar.” Taipei’s Tina Keng Gallery joins Art Basel as the first Taiwanese gallery to show in the main section of the fair.

In the main hall, John Baldessari’s “Commissioned Painting: Portrait of Patrick X Niedorf OSA” (1969, $3.5 million, Spruth Majors) and Georg Baselitz’s painted yellow bronze “Drezner Fraun — Dive Elbe” (1990) are included. , cast in 2003, €2mn, Thaddaeus Ropac). In the Ambitious Projects Unlimited category, Hauser & Wirth installs mannequins in Henry Taylor’s „Untitled” (2022, $2.5 million), a tribute to his brother, a former member of the Black Panther Party, while Gagosian features a wrapped Volkswagen. Christo’s Beetle (1963-2014, about $4 million).

It looks like a hand poking out from the side of Earth on a galactic scale.  Above it are the words 'A Painting by Patrick X Nidorf OSA'.
John Baldessari’s 'Commissioned Painting: Patrick X Niedorf OSA’ (1969) © John Baldessari, courtesy of the Estate of John Baldessari/John Baldessari Family Foundation/Sprout Majors. Photo: Robert Wedmeyer

Cruz was enthused by small-scale booths highlighting the work of Senegalese artist Vie Diba at O ​​Gallery, fiber works by the late Chang Huai-Gue (known as Madame Chang) and Maryn Varbanov at the Bank of Shanghai. Feature section for 20th-century art-historical projects. It also includes a mini-retrospective of Jean Tinguely (Galerie Muller) and American artist Peter Halley (Maruani Mercier). Working in the Statements for Emerging Artists section is Ahmed Omar (OSL Contemporary), whose Sudanese wedding dance performance is part of this year’s Venice Biennale.

READ  Watch Taylor Swift's Self-Directed Video for 'Karma' Featuring Ice Spice

In a still muted market, Art Basel seems to be pulling out the stops. VIP visitors from 85 countries, including Vietnam, Guatemala and Angola, came to Basel this year, part of the Venice Biennale, which historically encourages more travel to Europe.

Her viewers need effort. „It’s no secret that the market as a whole has struggled over the past year,” says Lisson’s Logsdail, though his gallery has a good start to 2024. In general, he says, „galleries invest heavily in exhibitions because of the costs of everything, so we have to be taken seriously.

June 13-16, artbasel.com

Dodaj komentarz

Twój adres e-mail nie zostanie opublikowany. Wymagane pola są oznaczone *