Basel on a Budget! 5 Works Priced at $5,000 or Less at the Luxe Swiss Fair

It is not impossible to find a bargain at the world's leading contemporary art bazaar.

The inaugural Art Basel Shop at the Basel fair in 2024. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Art Basel’s flagship fair is known as a place to buy expensive art in an expensive town. While its multimillion-dollar artworks are the headline grabbers each year, there are also pieces with friendlier price tags at the booths of many galleries, if you know where to find them. Below, five quality works that are available at Art Basel for $5,000 or less.

Helen Marden’s Series of Watercolors on Paper

a framed watercolor on paper

Helen Marden, Tingle (2024). Watercolor on paper.

Price: $5,000

Selling at: Gagosian

Gagosian has a reputation for selling works at prices that are well out of reach of just about everyone on the planet, but what if that is not entirely true? We discovered watercolors by Helen Marden selling for $5,000 each at the booth of the mega gallery. (It brought six of them to Switzerland, according to a PDF that has been circulating.) In 2019, the artist had her first show with Gagosian, where her late husband, Brice Marden, also showed. Born in 1941 in Pittsburgh, she works in Tivoli, New York; Marrakesh, Morocco; the island of Nevis in the West Indies; and New York City, and her paintings draw inspirations from the natural world. “It’s not forced, I love painting,” she has said. “I hope I live to be one hundred and I paint until then.”


Christine Sun Kim’s Collection at the Art Basel Shop

A baby rattle in wood and turquoise

Christine Sun Kim x Art Basel artist editions baby rattle, available for CHF 45 ($50) at the Art Basel Shop. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Price: CHF 3 to CHF 140 ($3.40 to $153)

Selling at: Art Basel Shop

The recent announcement of the launch of the Art Basel Shop had some scratching their heads, but the pop-up concept store, outside the entrance to the fair’s Unlimited sector, appeared to be a success during the VIP days. Its shelves are filled with limited-edition lifestyle products designed by artists, and some people were spotted buying in bulk. One highlight is a collection that the Berlin-based American artist Christine Sun Kim has made with Parisian retail tastemaker Sarah Andelman, who curated the shop. It includes three porcelain plates, a pocket mirror, two sweatshirts, and a baby rattle. The White Space gallery is showing the artist’s work in Unlimited, and while her large-scale murals and video works may not be simple to acquire and display in your home, these more humble artistic expressions are easy buys.


Lee Bul, Untitled – WE (2023)

An etching work in brown on white paper

Lee Bul, Untitled – WE (2023), hard ground etching on paper. Image courtesy of STPI — Creative Workshop and Gallery.

Price: $1,500

Selling at: STPI Creative Workshop and Gallery

Born in 1964, Lee Bul is one of the best-known Korean artists of her generation. This etching, Untitled — WE (2023), was developed by the artist at STPI’s Creative Workshop in Singapore, where she created series of prints that echo her oeuvre. It features an image of the Hindenburg, the German airship that was destroyed in a fire in 1937 in New Jersey, which Lee recreated, at a smaller scale, with aluminum foil in her instantly iconic installation Willing to Be Vulnerable (2015–16). Many Basel visitors commented that the $1,500 price tag on this work, from an edition of 200 with 25 artist proofs, is a bargain.


Ymane Chabi-Gara, ‘One day painting 38’ (2024) 

A painting on wood block in egg shell, baby blue, and symbols

Ymane Chabi-Gara, One day painting 38 (2024). Photo: Vivienne Chow.

Price: €5,000 (about $5,400)

Selling at: Mennour

Mennour has many big names on view at its ground-floor booth, but these small acrylic paintings on plywood (about 9 by 13 inches) by the rising star Ymane Chabi-Gara are hidden gems. Born in Paris in 1986, Chabi-Gara lives and works in Montreuil, just east of the French capital. Her paintings represent individuals or small groups, and explore themes of isolation and psychological interiority. These small works from her “One Day Painting” series, which appear depict a collage of snapshots, are made each day by the artist and can be seen as a visual diary, according to the gallery. Yes, they are priced a touch above our $5,000 cutoff, but if you feel comfortable asking for the standard 10-percent discount on such an inexpensive work, and the gallery gives it to you, you could pay around $4,900.


Ryoko Aoki, ‘This Sand Red Red’ (2022) 

A watercolor painting in various shades of red

Ryoko Aoki, This Sand Red Red (2022). Watercolor on paper. Image courtesy of Take Ninagawa.

Price: $3,400

Selling at: Take Ninagawa

This multilayered, sentimental watercolor by the Kyoto-based Japanese artist Ryoko Aoki has a captivating expressiveness. Born in 1973 in Hyogo, Aoki played a central role in Kyoto’s experimental art scene in the late 1990s to early 2000s, taking a conceptual approach to figuration. The Tokyo-based Take Ninagawa brought a series of watercolors by the artist to Art Basel this year; among them, This Sand Red Red stands out. “This work is a bargain,” one well-respected curator told me.

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