See Some of the Best Works in Art Basel’s Unlimited Sector This Year, From a Massive Metal Ship to an Ironic Mattress Sale Installation
The fair's sector for large-scale works and installations feels like a victory lap for some of the most talked-about artist projects of the last year.
Noah Horowitz stood with a big smile on his face filming the crowd on his iPhone as the black rope was pulled back on Monday evening in Basel, unleashing a stream of VIP collectors, curators, and art advisors into his first edition of Art Basel as CEO. Vincenzo de Bellis, director of the fairs and exhibition platforms, was by his side, looking similarly pleased.
Installed behind the two heads of the Swiss marquee fair was an imposing 6K video projection of a burning ship by Adel Abdessemed. Presented by Galleria Continua—on one of the largest screens available in Europe—the potent political work (priced at €850,000 or $915,000) was an ambitious opening statement for this year’s Unlimited sector, the fair’s dedicated space for large-scale works and installations.
Unlimited is all about monumentality and impact. But in a bumpy moment of uncertainty the world over—the art market included—it seems that Art Basel’s elite galleries are banking on artists that have already passed curatorial muster. As a result, the sector feels like a victory lap for some of the most talked about artist projects of the last calendar year, and visitors who have been to many of 2022’s major biennales and institutional exhibitions probably spotted some familiar works.
Notably, a crowd-favorite in Venice, the video Dreams Have No Titles by Zineb Sedira, has been brought to Basel by the Paris dealer Kamel Mennour. Indeed, several artists from the 2022 Venice Biennale have work on view (and the show’s curator Cecilia Alemani, who had just been to Zurich Art Weekend, was also seen perusing the fair floor on the preview night).
Similarly, an arrangement of painted car hoods by Selma Selman, presented by Polish gallery ABC, was previously on view at Documenta 15. And Thaddaeus Ropac has brought an installation by Markus Schinwald, Panorama (2022), to Basel after its premiere at the Lyon Biennale last fall.
Meanwhile, a new generative performance work by Croatian artist Tomo Savić-Gecan, who represented his country in Venice last year, is among the live pieces at Art Basel this year. And a video made of footage from Anne Imhof’s 2021 multi-disciplinary exhibition “Natures Mortes” at the Palais de Tokyo is on view in a presentation by Buchholz and Sprüth Magers.
Collector Alain Servais, who had attended most of these events, had been hoping for more surprises. “It’s never the fault of the fair, it’s the fault of the buyers,” he said. “Galleries are going to bring what they think they can sell.”
There are some bold, brand-new productions fresh out of the studio at the fair, including a truly monumental work by the French artist Jean-Marie Appriou, presented by a heavy-hitting cohort of galleries—Clearing, Massimo deCarlo, Jan Kaps, Perrotin, and Eva Presenhuber.
The shimmering, weather-resistant aluminum sculpture, titled Horizons (2023), features a towering ship carrying “exo-human” astronauts. Packed with regional, futuristic and ancient references, the work weighs a staggering 5,224 pounds (2,370 kilograms), and is priced between €600,000 and €800,000 ($645,000 to $860,000).
Scale meets legacy in Untitled (2005), with the largest-ever painting made by the late artist Günther Förg, who died in 2013, presented by Hauser & Wirth. And an installation by the 77-year-old Antwerp artist Guillaume Bijl, Matratzentraum (2003-23), set up to look like a big-box mattress sale, brilliantly turns all the fair VIPs who float through it carrying their Birkin bags into discount shoppers.
“What today proves is that Art Basel is a pilgrimage for the serious collectors,” noted Neil Wenman, global creative director and partner of Hauser & Wirth. He noted the welcome presence of collectors from Asia and America.
See some of the highlights from Art Basel Unlimited here.
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