DEGREEART AT ART BASEL
DegreeArt's directors Isobel Beauchamp and Elinor Olisa have just returned from the 43rd Art Basel and report below on their trip.
Art Basel this year boasted almost 300 galleries and more than 2500 artists. We were privileged to be invited to attend the VIP day on the 13th June and received a sneak peek of the fair. The atmosphere was buzzing and unlike the public days we have attended previously, had a true sense of collectors collecting. We began on the ‘Contemporary’ floor and made our way around speeding up and slowing down as works caught our attention. We were very pleased to see our old neighbour Stuart Shave/Modern Art, as well as The Approach (one of ur favorite East London pubs as well as galleries), and The Paragon Press exhibiting representing London.
After lunch we were in for a treat as we browsed serious museum quality art but with price tags attached. This section of the fair was presided over by a truly breath taking Alexander Calder which set the tone for this floor and, although we don’t believe this piece was for sale (it had been loaned by the Calder Foundation), anyone taken by it was spoilt for choice as many galleries had smaller but no less impressive pieces by the artist for sale. Galerie Henze & Ketterer had an incredible stand dominated solely by the German Expressioist painter Ernst Ludwig Kirchner.
That evening we attended an incredible Collectors Dinner hosted by UBS held within the walls Art Unlimited in Hall 1. We were seated under Olivier Mossett's installation which consisted of two enormous neon acrylic on canvas paintings (592 x 950 cm and 570 x 592 cm). Mosset was a member of a group of four artists known as the B.M.P.T who in the sixties set out to strip their paintings of any artistic message or personal investment.
Guests were treated to an introductory talk by the New York based curator Gianni Jetzer who explained that his curatorial accomplishment was showcasing works that were too large and noisy for the main halls and giving these pieces space and opportunity, not usually available within an art fair environment, for them to be appreciated. What can we say – food and art certainly do mix!
The following day we returned to Art Unlimited via Art Statements to see, in the harsh light of day, what we had consumed the night before. A vast university degree show would best describe this section of the fair but sadly we were not as impressed as we have already been by many of the actual degree shows we have visited this summer. We couldn’t help but wonder if Jetzer’s comment the night before, that many of the works had little material value before they were transformed into art, could still be applied to much of the art despite the artists’ interventions.
We left Art Basel 43 with an overwhelming sense of having had unbeatable exposure to the most varied selection of art and having had our conviction in the incredible potential and achievements of the artists we represent further compounded.
Lasting impressions of ArtBasel43:
1) Good art continues to be as sought after as ever
2) Art Basel is the mother of all art fairs
3) Italian and German galleries stood head and shoulders above the rest
4) The story behind and artist's personality must be allowed to shine if people are to engage with contemporary art
5) The UBS VIP lounge is a godsend for art fair exhausted legs!
6) Black framed glasses and tousled hair are still a must for male gallerists
Can we end by saying a huge thank you to our wonderfull host for his incredible genrosity and hospitality.