Art Basel, all forms of art

Art Basel is the world’s most important fair, revealing new market developments and determining its value providing parameters for reference

by Francesco Michienzi

Art Basel is like a living organism feeding contemporary culture with an eco-friendly project for art based on the principle of sustainability and the relationship between people, their context, and the world of art. Art Basel is configured as an authentic ecosystem whose philosophy is based on the desire to experiment and research in the field of contemporary art, presenting it in all its forms. The event makes the art world tangible and is a meeting point for artists, collectors, and a variety of personalities.

A work by Michelangelo Pistoletto

Works by both modern masters and talented young people were represented in Basel. Within an area of a few dozen kilometres, you could find spectacular exhibitions, such as the one dedicated to the genius of El Greco and Picasso at the Kunstmuseum, the anthological exhibition on Piet Mondrian at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen and the well-established Art Parcours, an Art Basel off-project, which places a series of site-specific public works in the heart of the city of Basel to create a dialogue with the urban context.

The works of the Jack Shainman Gallery.

Experience, entertainment, and immersion were the keywords of the event. The current meaning of the term “experience” as the direct perception or knowledge of objects that are external to us, acquired through the senses, imperceptibly turns towards passive receptiveness by the spectator. A receptiveness that changes and evolves as you immerse yourself and venture into a universe of exhibitions, events, works that first and foremost address a privileged private market but at the same time a wider, curious, and cultured public.

At Art Basel in Basel 2022, Sanlorenzo presents the work Tempo Piegato by Arcangelo Sassolino, The project presented in Basel is curated by Flash Art. Tension, constriction, fragility and performativity of matter are the axioms from which Tempo Piegato takes shape, a work aimed at probing the ultimate limit of resistance and, more generally, of the possibilities of the future. The sheet of glass is in fact caught in the palpitation that precedes the imminent destruction of the material, at the moment of its maximum stress, thus manifesting a state of suspension and imponderability. It is precisely in this being-in-conflict between two forces that its condition of existence is translated. The contradiction is accepted and in this way an ecological thought is established that is capable of overcoming the dichotomies of strength and fragility, destruction and resistance.

Included in the programme, which involved the entire Swiss city, with many even independent events spread throughout the exhibition centre, were the traditional gallery exhibitions in the historical venue of the Basel show, while for the first time, gathered together in the new wing, were the Unlimited section, the List section, i.e. the young emerging galleries with their artists accessing the art market for the first time, and the Swiss Awards for art, design and architecture. Art Basel would not be the same without Unlimited, with its huge sculptures, large walls covered with paintings, video projections and digital works: a small amusement park of sixteen thousand square metres, where everything is for sale.

Experience, show, immersion are the keywords of Art Basel

Among the most interesting contributions of this edition are the work By means other than the known senses by Kennedy Yanko, who hung a huge tangle of metal and everted leather from the ceiling, and Number 341, by Leonardo Drew, a massive explosion of charred wood debris, paint and sand, which spread across the width of two long, angled walls specifically created to host it.

The Grand Cousine by Pier Paolo Calzolari

Among Italian artists, the collection of Pistoletto’s historical works, such as the mirrors, the stitched apple or the third paradise, proposed by the Continua gallery, and the large pictorial work La Grand Cousine by Pier Paolo Calzolari presented by the Marianne Boesky gallery from NY, as well as the video Twice clearly stood out: X & Y by Anna Maria Maiolino was represented by the Raffaella Cortese Gallery in Milan.

Art Unlimited was a must for every curator, collector or art lover, the special section dedicated to monumental installations created for the huge exhibition hangar on the ground floor by a selection of artists already exhibited at the official fair.

The art offered by the galleries exhibiting at Art Basel was still very much focused on the physicality in the sense of painting, sculpture, like that spider, Louise Bourgeois’ bronze sculpture sold by Hauser&Wirth for $40 million, of graphic design, art photography, and meets the expectations of quality and major multi-million dollar quotations. But digital art, generative art and crypto art have also started finding their space within the event.

Art Parcours offers an interesting combination of the uniqueness of site-specific works and the discovery of the context in which they are placed, usually historical or unseen locations in the city of Basel. Among the twenty-one installations, located in public areas, restaurants, theatres and history museums, we would like to point out the installation Mesmerizing beauty by Colombian artist Oscar Murillo.

NFTs, digital assets, have been on the market since 2017, but they truly stepped into the spotlight in 2021 and are now the golden goose in the art industry, and with them the blockchain platforms that certify them. Art and cryptocurrency transactions go hand in hand. A series of Jeff Koons’ work Moon Phase at the Pace Gallery was sold for two million dollars. There would be much to say on this subject and using the pretext of art only as a tool for financial speculation is no doubt highly questionable.

(Art Basel, all forms of art – – October 2022)