Starting Today: What to See and Buy at Art Basel 2015
Find out what dealers are bringing.
Coming off of a record New York auction season, dealers around the world are gearing up for this month’s Art Basel fair (June 18-21).
Everyone wants a piece of the art world’s best trade fair: “Basel is the mecca of art fairs,” Shireen Gandhy, owner of Mumbai gallery Chemould Prescott Road, told artnet News via email.
“Basel is not a party city like Miami,” James Koch, Executive Director at Hauser & Wirth Gallery in Zurich, told artnet News in a phone interview, referring to Art Basel’s Florida outpost. “But the fair turns the city into a vibrant place with great energy.” He pointed out that in addition to the fair and the city’s museums, Basel boasts works by distinguished architects like Tadao Ando, Frank Gehry, Zaha Hadid, Renzo Piano, and SANAA. Koch is also formerly managing director at Basel’s Beyeler Foundation.
Featuring nearly 300 galleries from cities as far-flung as Tel Aviv, São Paulo, and Beijing, Art Basel 2015 is in its 46th year.
Typically, art dealers aim to capitalize on their artists’ recent or upcoming museum exhibitions. After chatting with some of them about what they’re bringing to the fair and why, it seems this year is no exception.
Blum & Poe Gallery will offer a major canvas by Jim Shaw, who’s having a big year, with his largest U.S. museum solo to date, currently at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (see Jim Shaw’s Mass MoCA Extravaganza Takes on Superman, Father Figures, and Norman Rockwell), and a retrospective at New York’s New Museum on tap this fall.
Mary Weatherford’s paintings with affixed strips of glowing neon caught people’s eye at the exhibition “The Forever Now: Contemporary Painting in an Atemporal World,” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in December 2014 (see Instagrammers Step on Oscar Murillo at MoMA and Oscar Murillo Painting Goes Missing from MoMA—Was It Theft?), and Los Angeles’ David Kordansky Gallery hopes to build on that momentum with a stormy black canvas with blue and red vertical neon strips.
William Kentridge’s show “The Refusal of Time” at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art last year turned a lot of heads; the New York Times’ Holland Cotter called it “audience pleasing in the best, challenging sense.” In Basel, New York/Paris/London dealer Marian Goodman offers sculptures and works on paper by the South African artist.
Goodman is known for dramatic presentations at fairs, having turned over a Frieze New York booth to a performance by Tino Sehgal. She’ll also offer work from her international roster, including Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Lawrence Weiner, and Yang Fudong.
Pierre Huyghe is fresh off of a retrospective at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (see Is Pierre Huyghe the World’s Most Opaque Popular Artist? Ben Davis Sizes Up His LACMA Show), and currently has work on the roof of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (see Pierre Huyghe To Create Met’s Next Rooftop Installation). A new Huyghe artwork, Cambrian Explosion, will be in Basel, courtesy of multinational gallery Hauser & Wirth. Featuring a large rock in an aquarium, the work is billed by the gallery as “a geological theatre with real life aquatic protagonists.” Aquatic what?
Hauser & Wirth will also offer a Mike Kelley work that comes straight from the late artist’s collection, but don’t get your hopes up unless you’re a museum. The work will go only to an institutional buyer, says the gallery, which began representing Kelley’s estate this past January (see Hauser and Wirth to Represent Mike Kelley Foundation). The large, untitled wall-hung sculpture includes dozens of stuffed animals in the manner of his trademark work, More Love Hours Than Can Ever Be Repaid.
Chemould Prescott Road is bringing works that reflect the passion for politics harbored by owner Gandhy, whose parents founded the gallery in 1963. A recent painting by Atul Dodiya, one of the gallery’s best-known artists, depicts demonstrators against British rule in the 1940s in what was then called Bombay, and will hang at Chemould’s booth.
In a more poetic vein, Chemould offers Reena Saini Kallat’s photographs of poetry spelled out in salt on a beach, where encroaching tides gradually erase the words.
If political struggle and evanescence are too bright and shiny for your tastes, why not go for excrement and mortality?
New York gallery Salon 94 will present a small David Hammons retrospective that includes eight sculptures made from elephant dung resting atop tables by French designer Martin Szekely. He got the material from the Bronx Zoo, and incorporated it into works that deal with African-Americans’ notions about Africa. Some of them are emblazoned with bright colors that recall African design but aren’t really based in anything authentic.
And at New York’s Sperone Westwater, American master Bruce Nauman will have a neon sculpture that flashes the words “eat” and “death,” juxtaposing the act that sustains life with the event that even eating can’t forestall forever. Another edition of the same work is on view at the Venice Biennale.
What’s going on away from the convention center?
Hauser & Wirth aims to provide some entertainment in this normally quiet city with the Roth Bar, which will pop up in the lobby of Les Trois Rois hotel for the duration of the fair. It’s a project by Björn, Oddur, and Einar Roth, son and grandsons of Dieter Roth, who conceived the bar installation in the early 1980s.
Otherwise, area museums provide some diversion.
The Beyeler Foundation has staged a blockbuster Paul Gauguin exhibition (through June 28) with about 50 works; the show opened just days after the news broke that the artist’s Nafea Faa Ipoipo (When Will You Marry?), included in the show, was sold for a reported $300 million, supposedly to the Qatar Museums (Paul Gauguin Painting Sells for Record $300 Million to Qatar Museums in Private Sale). It was on loan to the Kunstsammlung for decades. Contemporary art addicts can get their fix at the Beyeler with a Marlene Dumas exhibition (through September 6) (see Marlene Dumas Pushes the Limit of Portraiture).
For its part, the Schaulager offers “Future Present” (through January 31, 2016), an overview of the collection of the Emanuel Hoffmann Foundation, which includes works by Joseph Beuys, Salvador Dalí, Robert Delaunay, Bruce Nauman, Andy Warhol and many others; the collection is normally on view at the Kunstsammlung Basel, which is closed for renovations.
Since fairs have grown from purely sales efforts to affairs with intellectual pretensions, film screenings as well as programs of lectures and discussions are now de rigueur. This year, Danh Vō will be on hand to talk about his work, including his project for the current Venice Biennale. Also on the lineup are artist Christian Jankowski, collector Alain Servais, and Tate Modern director Chris Dercon.
The film roster is led by Takashi Murakami’s first feature film, Jellyfish Eyes (see Takashi Murakami’s Jellyfish Eyes Is a Balm for Tsunami Trauma), and Hassan Hajjaj’s new film Karima: A Day in the Life of a Henna Girl.
Getting its European debut is Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s second documentary, Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict, which offers a frank look at the legendary art patron’s avid collecting and her sex life (see Peggy Guggenheim Documentary by Lisa Immordino-Vreeland Reveals Life of Nonstop Art and Sex). The program is curated for the first time this year by Cairo-based film curator and lecturer Maxa Zoller.
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