Perrotin, Genesis, Art Basel

Genesis Belanger, Installation view on Perrotin’s booth – Kabinett sector. Courtesy Perrotin and the artist.

Art Basel 2023 has returned to pre-Covid standards in terms of size and quality. 284 galleries from over the world – 36 countries – gathered mi June at Messe Basel with seven different sectors. I began my visit on Monday afternoon, with a long queue to get into the Unlimited sector. The 30-minute wait was well worth it. Inside hall 1, the monumental works of 76 international artists – a record. This is the 5th year that Giovanni Carmine, the director of the Kunsthalle St. Gallen, has curated this section, which enables galleries to present works that are complicated by their monumental size or for technical reasons, in museum-like conditions. I liked the real diversity of works and artists. Well-established artists of course, including Richard Avedon (Gagosian), Jean-Marie Appriou (Perrotin) and Gerhard Richter, but also emerging artists such as Selma Selman, a young artist from Bosnia-Herzegovina, who paints women’s bodies on the dismantled bodywork of a Mercedes-Benz.

Selma Selman, presented in the Unlimited Sector of Art Basel in Basel 2023.

On Tuesday 13th at 11am, I was one of the happy few to be in Hall 2 for the First Choice opening. A great opportunity to look around the stands and really see the works, but obviously the worst time to talk to the dealers, who are on the lookout for very big collectors. This year saw the inauguration of the Kabinett section, which I had already really enjoyed in Miami last December. Kabinett offered 13 thematic displays taking place within the galleries’ booths. My favourite installation was undoubtedly Genesis Belanger’s display of hand-crafted, idiosyncratic versions of everyday things set in psychologically charged scenarios, on Perrotin’s booth (pictured).

Ron Mueck, Youth, 2009-2011, mixed-media, 65 x 28 x 16 cm. Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac.

I stayed in Basel for 3 days, during which I walked the length and breadth of the fair. After three years of coping with the Covid-19 pandemic, Art Basel seems to be better than ever. Art dealers reported strong sales across all sectors. The fair attracted an attendance of 82,000 throughout the week, reinforcing its position as the most important convening point for the global art world. “There’s something truly magical about how this city comes alive during our show” Art Basel CEO Noah Horowitz said. And it’s palpable! It’s crazy to see the streets packed, the restaurants and hotels full, the people on the banks of the Rhine River, where people swim; and, of course, the crowds in the halls of the Messe Basel. 3 days wasn’t enough to visit all the fairs and exhibitions that were taking place and I only had the chance to go to Design Miami/Basel. Next year, with a bit of luck, I’ll stay a day or two longer and I’ll be able to give you a good overview of Art Basel week!

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