7 Exhibitions to See Around Town During Art Basel 2022, From a Survey of Piet Mondrian to Moody Figuration by Michael Armitage

These are the museum shows you won't want to miss.

Richard John Seymour, from the series
Richard John Seymour, from the series "Yiwu Commodity City" (2015), at the Vitra Design Museum. © Richard John Seymour.

If you’re headed over to Switzerland for Art Basel, you know that this year’s edition of the fair isn’t the only show in town. Basel, a marvelously museum-rich city, has all kinds of other delights in store. Here’s a roundup of what not to miss on your trip.


Brice Marden: Inner Space
Kunstmuseum Basel
Through August 28

Brice Marden, Second Window Painting (1983). © 2022 ProLitteris, Zurich.

More than 100 works by the American painter Brice Marden, revered for his fusion of expressionist gesture and Minimalist rigor, come together for this exhibition at the Kunstmuseum Basel. Most of the pieces, made between 1972 and 2019, are on paper, but the show also includes eight paintings and a special selection of works from the artist’s collection, including never-before-seen pieces.


Mondrian: Evolution
Fondation Beyeler
Through October 9

The conservation studio at the Fondation Beyeler, with paintings by Piet Mondrian. Photo courtesy Fondation Beyeler and La Prairie.

The conservation studio at the Fondation Beyeler, with paintings by Piet Mondrian. Photo courtesy Fondation Beyeler and La Prairie.

To mark the 150th anniversary of the Dutch avant-gardist’s birth, the Fondation Beyeler has organized a retrospective looking at Mondrian’s earliest abstract experiments, in which he painted windmills and seascapes, through his radical reinvention of painting with his Neo-Plastic canvases, which he began in the 1920s.


Michael Armitage: You, Who Are Still Alive
Kunsthalle Basel
Through September 4

Installation view, Michael Armitage, “You, Who Are Still Alive,” Kunsthalle Basel, 2022, featuring The Perfect Nine, 2022. Photo: Philipp Hänger/Kunsthalle Basel.

New works by Kenyan-born artist Michael Armitage are the focus of this show, his first in Switzerland. Per the museum, the “moody, sumptuously layered figurative paintings” are intended as meditations on civil unrest, political uncertainty, and the enduring spirit of humanity.


Jean Jacques Lebel
Museum Tinguley
Through September 18

Installation view of the Jean-Jacques Lebel show. Photo: Daniel Spehr.

Jean-Jacques Lebel, an early Happenings artist, was instrumental in organizing a memorial service in 1960 in Venice for the murdered artist Nina Thoeren, during which a sculpture by Jean Tinguely was interred in the lagoon. That event—later deemed by Allan Kaprow the first European Happening—is the subject of this exhibition, which also includes later works by Lebel, such as a video installation looking at images of women in art and society.


Plastic: Remaking Our World
Vitra Design Museum
Through September 9

Panasonic Toot-a-Loop R-72S radio, 1969–72. © Vitra Design Museum. Photo: Andreas Sütterlin.

This show, organized with the V&A Dundee and the Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology in Lisbon, looks at the ways in which plastics have shaped our lives, from electrical conductors to Lego blocks, and how they’ve evolved from a symbol of carefree consumerism to a signal of overconsumption and unsustainability.


Napoli Super Modern
Swiss Architecture Museum
Through August 21

Photograph by Cyrille Weiner, from the series “Assimilation douce,” Napoli, 2020.

The city of Naples—its history, culture, and role in the public imagination—comes alive through this exhibition focusing on its unique architecture, organized by Benoit Jallon and Umberto Napolitano, who together run the Paris-based studio LAN. Among other exhibits, the show features photographs by Cyrille Weiner, who documents the specifically Modern aesthetic that rose out of postwar reconstruction in the city.


Picasso–El Greco
Kunstmuseum Basel-Neubau
Through September 25

Pablo Picasso, Mme Canals (Benedetta Bianco) (1905).

The influence of the Greek artist El Greco on Picasso is the subject of this show, which includes landmark loans from international collections. The exhibition—curated by Carmen Giménez, with Gabriel Dette, Josef Helfenstein and Ana Mingot—makes the case that respect for the iconoclastic artist, forgotten for years after his death, was revived in the early 1900s in large part by Picasso’s fascination with and celebration of the artist.

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