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:

 

1. OPENING SALVOS

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.

 

2. VIP LOUNGE

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

My Basel partner in crime! ❤️ #artbasel #boom #iloff @hansulrichobrist ❤️❤️❤️

A post shared by Goga Ashkenazi (@goga_vionnet) on

Eva and Adele made the scene, as always:

Day 1 🖤 @artbasel #ArtBasel

A post shared by VISUAL CURATOR AND ART ADVISOR (@iamraweager) on

 

3. PAINTED LADIES

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

#DonnaHuanca killing it @artbasel 🌎🍃🌕 #AMomentOfPeace #ArtFairFatigue #ArtBasel

A post shared by Zabludowicz Collection (@zabludowicz_collection) on

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

Urs Fischer, Mr and Mrs Bischofberger and Warhol, Electric Chair #warhol #ursfischer #artbasel #artbasel2017 #contemporaryart

A post shared by Patricia Shea (@patriciasheafineart) on

 

4. KEEPING IT KINETIC

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

Unlimited / Art Basel / Jenny Holzer. #artbasel #unlimited #jennyholzer #basel2017 #basel #bestartfair #

A post shared by DAVID BITTON (@davidbittondesign) on

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

Titled: "Dance Or Die" – a sure way to make it through Basel. #goslowly #letitbegin #dontquityourdaydream #artbasel

A post shared by Shutterbug (@socialshutterbug_com) on

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

 

5. TEXT MESSAGES

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:

 

6. UNLIMITED PLANS

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

#subodhgupta nin mutfağı 👨🏽‍🍳

A post shared by Murat Pilevneli (@muratpilevneli) on

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:

Song Dong calls it "Through the Wall," I call it "Flea Market Kusama."

A post shared by Julia Halperin (@juliahalperin) on

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:

#artbaselunlimited #peterstämpfli

A post shared by Bonaventure Kwak (@bonaventure.k) on

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.

#artbasel #unlimited #nickcave

A post shared by @artfollowers on

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

 

7. HARD-BOILED ART

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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