Art Basel in Basel 2019 | Highlights

Art Basel in Basel 2019 | Highlights


One of the truly striking aspects
of this year’s Basel show is how many of the works
still feel incredibly timely, incredibly topical. Now, many of these works are new, and they respond specifically
to the day’s challenges. But many of them are older. They might be ten years old,
or decades old. And yet, because
of the nature of the work, they still speak to us in this
very moment that we are living. At Unlimited we’re showing
Joan Semmel’s largest painting to date. A 24-foot-long, four-panel painting. At age 86, she is thinking
about her own passing, she is reflecting on her life,
and the life that her body has lived. These works are the iconic ‘Mappe’
by Alighiero Boetti. They are quite literally
historical snapshots, of the world, over a course of 25 years. And then underneath it says, ‘Questo nuovo instabile mondo
che si frantumerà.’ ‘This new and unstable world
which will soon destroy itself.’ ‘We Come In Peace’
was originally made for the Met roof. This superpower that had landed on the roof to save New York,
but not with muscle and might, but rather with spirituality. Galerie Buchholz has worked
with Wolfgang Tillmans since 1993. And the artwork that we’re showing here
at Art Basel it’s called ‘Closer To Music’. This is Michael Stipe here,
Philip Glass, Frank Ocean, the Pet Shop Boys, Grace Jones. His photographs
have been a real part of the way that we have come to learn
to look at music and musicians. Hal Fischer’s most iconic series of works
is called ‘Gay Semiotics’. What is innovative about his work is the
equivalency between image and narrative. There is no subservience
from one to the other. This year we thought it was particularly
interesting to show this work on the 50th anniversary of Stonewall. One of the really amazing aspects
of the Basel show is the amount of historical material
which we find on the show floor. And, a great example this year is the cabinet of works by Francis Picabia at Galerie 1900-2000 from Paris. The gallery was created in 1972
by my father Marcel who still works today. Picabia has been lately rediscovered
by contemporary art collectors. My favorite work in the show
would be the dot painting from 1951. It’s a very tiny painting,
it’s 10 x 8 centimeters. Abstract, but it also could
be a sun in the sky. I think it’s a real gem. Carolee made the ‘Eye Body’
photographs in the early 60s. Women were very subjugated, and their sexuality was very repressed
under a masculine identity – still, it was revolutionary. She has changed
the course of art history and how women present themselves
and their bodies. A lot of work today
is made with found objects. But Rose Salane at Carlos/Ishikawa Gallery
has taken this one step further. These are 94 rings
that were lost in the New York Subway. There’s this implication
of scientific value, which is the DNA testing
versus spiritual value. And then of course we have
this idea of financial value, with the jeweler’s valuation. This one, where there were no DNA findings and the psychic was not able to connect, so for me it’s got this very moving sense
that these lives were lived, and they’re part of the fabric,
but they’re just untraceable. When people think of Judd,
they think primarily of the wall works. But this piece is on the floor,
it’s much rarer. The use of galvanized material
used for air conditioning, it’s a classic example
of Judd’s fascination with materials. This work is by Kerry James Marshall. It’s titled ‘RYTHM MASTR’. He wanted to insert black figures into the whole framework of the artworld. In Unlimited, we have
a major work from Jannis Kounellis. It’s nearly two decades old and it uses a combination
of hospital beds and military blankets to create an incredibly emotional scene. We have here a piece
where you can reflect without any explanation. But it’s not an easy painting
which you can put on the wall. It’s necessary in our times, when people
are always talking about art and money, that we should do something
which is certainly different. Fiona Tan’s video ‘Elsewhere’ is a meditation
both on urbanism and dystopia. You see all the traffic of the cars,
You see all the pollution, yet, her film is totally Impressionist, you could really think
you see a tableau of Monet. She really turns an everyday moment into something both really magical
and really poetical. If there’s one thing that defines
Art Basel within the artworld, it’s the incredibly high quality. That quality comes from
the intimate relationship that galleries have with the bodies
of work of the artists that they represent. Our galleries often
work with artists for decades, starting with them when they
come out of art school and continuing as they go on to be stars
at biennials and major museum shows.

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