Here Are 4 Surprises to Watch for at This Year’s Artgenève Fair in Switzerland

From an experimental concert to Mario Merz's igloo installations, there's a lot of see at the ninth edition of the fair.

Installation view of artgeneve, 2018. Courtesy of Annik Wetter.
Installation view of artgeneve, 2018. Courtesy of Annik Wetter.

And just like that, the art industry has woken from has risen from its winter slumber and the fairs are back in full swing. This year, artgenève is returning to the Swiss city of Geneva during the last week of January for its ninth edition. The small, but well-regarded fair is bringing with it a spate of international and Swiss galleries, including Hauser & Wirth, Gagosian, Pace, kamel mennour, Perrotin, and others—but there are also a few surprises! Here’s what not to miss this go-round. 

 

Mario Merz’s Enormous Igloos

Mario Merz, Senza titolo (doppio igloo di Porto) (1998). Courtesy of Collezione Merz. Photo by Renato Ghiazza.

Mario Merz, Senza titolo (doppio igloo di Porto) (1998). Courtesy of Collezione Merz. Photo by Renato Ghiazza.

Each year, artgenève stages a monumental installation by a historical artist for its “Estates” section. Last year it was Chris Burden’s 40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper (2011), this year Mario Merz is getting the star treatment. The fair is presenting two of the Arte Povera artist’s monumental igloo sculptures alongside several other installations by Merz. To complement the installation, the fair will host a talk on January 31 between Beatrice Merz, director of the Fondazione Merz, and curator Samuel Gross, about Merz’s life and legacy. 

 

 Michael Craig-Martin’s Art of the Everyday

Michael Craig-Martin’s installation of flags on Bond Street, London, 2019. Courtesy of Gagosian.

Michael Craig-Martin’s installation of flags on Bond Street, London, 2019. Courtesy of Gagosian.

Who doesn’t need a little art between the art? This year, British artist Michael Craig-Martin’s colorful flags, which depict mass-produced everyday objects, will be installed between booths at the fair for a playful pop of color. The artist’s multi-part flags feature imagery ranging from shoes to sunglasses and seek to harness viewers’ ability to imagine absent forms through symbols and pictures. 

 

An Experimental Encore

. "Encores," curated by Augustin Maurs May 2019, Teatro Goldoni, Venice. Courtesy of Giacomo Cosua.

“Encores,” curated by Augustin Maurs, May 2019. Courtesy of Giacomo Cosua.

As any concert goer can attest, the encore at the end of a show can an exciting and unpredictable musical experience. Often symbiotic with audience enthusiasm, encores have, on occasion, gone so far as to exceed the duration of the concert itself. Drawing inspiration from the improvisational nature of the encore, the Geneva fair has invited artists, including Saâdane Afif, Sam Durant, Pierre Huyghe, Raymond Pettibon, and Oliver Augst, to participate in “Encores” (January 31). For the evening of experimental artistic and musical exploration at the city’s Victoria Hall, the artists will be encouraged to explore the notions of social-ritualistic pattern and ideas of mutation and change. Curated by Augustin Maurs, this will be a second iteration of the concert (the first was held at the Venice Biennale last year). 

 

The Newcomers

Mike Meiré, Detroit (2019). Courtesy of von Bartha.

Mike Meiré, Detroit (2019). Courtesy of von Bartha.

New additions to the mix of galleries this year include Lévy Gorvy, Applicat-Prazan, Campoli Presti, Von Bartha, Loevenbruck, David Lewis, and Massimo de Carlo galleries. Basel’s von Bartha will be bringing a bright mix of works including Minimalist, abstract paintings by Imi Knoebel and Mike Meire’s tangled sculptures, which hover between the organic and the geometric. 

Artgenève takes place at Palexpo from January 30 to February 2, 2020. See hours here.


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