The Art World Reacts to Art Basel: 7 Things Everyone Is Already Talking About on Social Media

We help you fake it if you couldn't make it to Basel this time around.

Subodh Gupta, Cooking the World (2017). Courtesy Galleria Continua, Hauser & Wirth.
Subodh Gupta, Cooking the World (2017). Courtesy Galleria Continua, Hauser & Wirth.

Tuesday saw the opening day of the 47th edition of the massive Art Basel fair, in Switzerland. Not all of us are VIPs, and some in the art world even say, like writer Martin Herbert, that they don’t particularly care to attend:


So, if you’re content to enjoy the sights and sounds from afar, here are some of the themes and notable works, as indicated by social media feeds:



Market veteran and Instagram star Brett Gorvy might even win over the Martin Herberts of the world. Here he invites fairgoers to visit Lévy Gorvy’s booth by way of a video of an incredibly precocious two-year-old relating a story about the perils of air travel:

Claudia Comte’s huge sign reading “now I won,” at the entrance to the fair, defied most amateur photographers’ attempts to fit it into their camera phones’ view, so the Daily Dandy found a way to focus on a detail and bring it to life:

Before the world’s wealthiest even touched down, social media lit up following Bloomberg’s report that among those flocking to Basel this year are throngs of bankers looking to snag big spenders as new clients. The Wall Street Journal‘s Kelly Crow and New York artist and writer William Powhida weighed in with a healthy dose of sarcasm.



Globetrotting supercurator Hans Ulrich Obrist posed with his friend Goga Ashkenazi and a slightly disturbing image of himself:

Eva and Adele made the scene, as always:



Fairgoers captured a slow-motion performance by Donna Huanca that recalled Yves Klein’s groundbreaking events involving women smeared with paint. Sabine Schaschl, Director at Museum Haus Konstruktiv Zurich, shared some philosophical musings:

The Zabludowicz Collection interpreted one of the dancers’ moves as a metaphor: #artfairfatigue

Others were captivated by Urs Fischer’s colorful representations of powerful art dealer Bruno Bischofberger and his wife:



Architect David Bitton captured a Jenny Holzer in motion at Unlimited:

Claudia Comte’s work involved not only text but also a dance floor:

Chris Burden’s final work, Ode to Santos Dumont (2015), floated gently in a circle as dozens of fans looked on:



Several visitors picked up on poet-artist John Giorno’s sarcastic text works:0

Paris collective Claire Fontaine has an equally salty warning:

Bethan Huws, meanwhile, ironically offered a text work that argues that text is subordinate to speech:

Artist trio Superflex offered what could be a message about artists producing works to meet market demand, or maybe more about cultivating a more intangible set of values:



Subodh Gupta’s Cooking the World won Instagram on Monday, the opening day of the fair’s Unlimited section, reserved for large-scale works.

Song Dong’s Through the Wall was also hugely popular. Art consultant Sedat Ozturk shot a fine video:

Our own executive news editor was a bit skeptical:

Robert Rauschenberg and John Cage once collaborated on a print that used a car tire rolling over a piece of paper. Peter Stämpfli riffs on that piece at a massive scale:

Barbara Kruger’s gigantic message seemed to riff on the nativism on the rise in countries around the globe:

Nick Cave’s Soundsuits continue to curry favor with the Instagrammers.

And, finally, a performance by John Baldessari was major Instagram bait:



Even the festival-like atmosphere at art fairs can be darkened by politically minded artists. At Galerie Lelong, Cildo Meireles’s Amerikkka (1991/2013) is providing steady fodder for artsy Instagram snaps despite its somber message, referring to the US’s own homegrown terrorist organization. A ceiling of bullets (hollow, fortunately) and a floor of white wooden eggs allude to both the KKK’s brutality and to its white supremacist beliefs.

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