Art Basel 2024: A Resounding Success Amid Art Market Challenges.

by | Jun 26, 2024 | Art Fair Coverage

Pauline Loeb in front of Emilio Isgro’s truck presented by Tornabuoni for Art Basel Unlimited 2024 © artfairmag

Given the particularly challenging context and a generally sluggish art market, expectations for Art Basel were high, especially as some predicted a decline in the flagship Basel edition in favor of the Paris one, which this year moves into the newly renovated illustrious Grand Palais. However, the fair’s results were more than satisfactory, even though it’s true that the galleries on the first floor did not fare as well as those on the ground floor, which attracted more visitors and collectors.

As always, my visit to Art Basel begins by diving into the brilliant Unlimited section, curated by Giovani Carmine. At the entrance of the building, parked across the Messeplatz, was a 33-ton truck customized by Emilio Isgro and presented by Tonabuoni Gallery, which greeted visitors, though many thought it was just a delivery in progress! Beyond the gates, the very inspiring installation was by Mario Ceroli from 1968 (Cardi Gallery), which included 365 four-meter white flags standing as a manifesto for peace. Keith Haring’s large work (presented by Gladstone Gallery and Martos Gallery), spanning tens of meters, did not leave me unaffected, but it was truly Chiharu Shiota’s monumental installation, The Extended Line, consisting of hundreds of kilometers of red ropes, suspended above the open hands and forearms of the artist, that most amazed me.

Chiharu Shiota

Chiharu Shiota, The Extended Line, 2023-2024. Rope, paper. Featured by Galerie Templon at Unlimited Art Basel 2024 © Art Basel

We can also highlight the gigantic hanging piece by Julio Le Parc, presented by Perrotin, which consisted of thousands of mirror squares suspended from threads. Its slow, hypnotic movement was amplified by a floor mirror reflecting the artwork. Beyond peace, themes of racism and violence were also addressed, particularly by Henry Taylor whose piece, ‘Untitled’, is a tribute to the actions of the Black Panthers. But the most thought-provoking artwork was undoubtedly the lifelike automated gorilla by Ryan Gander, hidden under a desk in the middle of a white room, appearing terrified and emitting small, frightened cries. 

By noon the next day, ‘First Choice’ visitors were flocking to Hall 2 to see what the 297 international galleries had brought. It’s impossible to list all the gems I discovered while wandering through the kilometers of aisles, but here’s a summary of what I loved.

Pace Gallery

Pace Gallery at Art Basel 2024, featuring a massive ‘banc-salon’ by Jean Dubuffet © artfairmag

The Pace Gallery’s booth was a place of relaxation featuring the huge epoxy ‘Banc-Salon’ by Jean Dubuffet, 1970-2024, priced €800.000. In the background, on the back wall, hung a magnificent canvas by Adolph Gottlieb from 1972. The rest of the booth showcased exquisite pieces, including a module by Calder, a sculpture by Elmgreen & Dragset, a ‘Shadow’ by Jiro Takamatsu, and especially a large canvas by Robert Longo based on Goya’s 1814 masterpiece, ‘The Third of May 1808’.

The P.P.O.W. Gallery booth also had an intriguing display that focused on the human element in its works, featuring Ann Agee’s very angular porcelain Madonnas, Dotty Attie’s ‘Mixed Metaphors’ set consisting of small square canvases that reinterpret several masterpieces from Caravaggio or Gustave Courbet, and a wonderfully raw depiction of a woman giving birth in water by Srijon Chowdhury.

P.P.O.W. at Art Basel 2024

P.P.O.W. at Art Basel 2024 featuring Ann Agee, Carlos Motta and Higinio Bautista, Grace Carney, Srijon Chowdhury, Kyle Dunn, Ishi Glinsky, Hilary Harkness, Sanam Khatibi, Gerald Lovell, Robin F. Williams, David Wojnarowicz, Martin Wong © Julian Blum 

I must admit I was a bit skeptical about Anca Munteanu Rimnic’s work, which involved taking a haystack out of its outdoor context to create a sense of dissonance. Another piece also took nature out of its context but in an extremely striking and interesting way: the taxidermied deer by Julius von Bismarck which, thanks to a mechanism, repeatedly collapses and reassembles, reminiscent of children’s toys where pressing a button makes an animal figurine collapse and releasing it makes it stand up again. Through this work, von Bismarck explores themes of life and death, movement and statis, and our perception of nature and animals. I found that the process created a haunting yet fascinating scene.

Julius von Bismarck

Julius von Bismarck, Reh, 2024. Featured by Sies + Höke at Art Basel 2024 © artfairmag

Spotlighted booth

Perrotin could truly boast of having the most beautiful space at the fair. In addition to its usual area on the second floor of Hall 2, the booth extended into a vast, light-filled mezzanine thanks to large bay windows. In this immense stand, composed of several distinct spaces, the gallery showcased a broad array of major works. Right at the entrance, there was a densely packed canvas by Ali Banisadr, an Iranian artist previously represented by Thaddaeus Ropac and Victoria Miro, who has just joined the Perrotin roster. To the left, a painting by Bernard Frize brightened the wall with its wonderful color gradients. Upstairs, I particularly enjoyed the corner displaying four photographs by Ivan Argote from his film ‘Levitate,’ nominated in 2022 for the Marcel Duchamp prize. The delicate sculpture of a seated bather by Claire Tabouret contrasted with the giant panda family by Takashi Murakami. Lastly, the solo show in the Kabinett section, dedicated to Jean-Michel Othoniel, featured the delicate blown glass beads that have become the artist’s signature.

Perrotin’s booth featuring Bernard Frize, Ali Banisadr, Lynn Chadwick, Johan Creten, Emma Webster, Xavier Veilhan at Art Basel 2024 © artfairmag

Art Dealers Interviews

Spending several days at a fair is indeed thrilling, especially at a colossal event like Art Basel. I was fortunate enough to conduct six interviews with dealers whose galleries I particularly admire. Kamel Mennour introduced me to Ugo Rondinone’s ‘3 Monks,’ which he had already sold on the first day! Franck Prazan from Galerie Applicat-Prazan discussed a marvelous painting by Jean Dubuffet, ‘The Jewish Woman’ from 1950, which the MoMA in New York had commissioned him to sell; it was also a highlight on the first day. I loved hearing Joe La Placa from Cardi Gallery passionately speak about Mario Ceroli and his previously mentioned installation in the Unlimited section. A dealer I greatly admire, Sean Kelly, showed me a magnificent glass mosaic by Shahzia Sikander that depicts the universal woman. At Goodman Gallery, Sarah Durning Cope, the senior director, presented the sole work by El Anatsui created especially for the fair. Lastly, the young and talented Anne-Sarah Bénichou spoke to me about Juliette Minchin and her incredible works in wax and steel.

How Much Does It Cost?

Let’s be honest, I didn’t go for the cheapest artworks! Especially with the marvelous draped piece by El Anatsui, covering an entire wall of the Goodman Gallery’s stand, priced at 1.2 million US dollars. Annely Juda Fine Arts displayed a wonderful painting by David Hockney, ‘Water Lilies in the Pond with Pots of Flowers,’ for $600,000. For the incredible ‘Banc-Salon’ by Jean Dubuffet that stood at the center of Pace’s booth, I would have had to shell out a handsome sum of 800,000€. Finally, I truly loved the articulated deer by Julius von Bismarck, which Galerie Sies + Höke offered for 120,000€.

Three days were clearly not too much to thoroughly explore this beautiful edition of Art Basel, and the fair truly lived up to its reputation as the unmatched leader in the field. I am eager to see what the Paris edition will offer, which will finally have a venue befitting its prestige.

Sum it up, I'm in a rush!

  • When? | June 13-16, 2024
  • Where? | Basel, Switzerland
  • Atmosphere | Buzzing with excitement
  • Curator’s pick | Perrotin
  • Featured Gallery Gem | Pace
  • Spotlighted Artists | Ali Banisadr, Julius von Bismarck, El Anatsui
  • For Whom? | Wealthy international collectors

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