Summing up the 2014 Art Basel fair is a daunting task. The fair founded in Switzerland has ended with galleries reporting strong sales throughout the week across all levels of the market. The 45th edition of Art Basel once again confirmed its position as one of the worlds most important annual art events, and as the central meeting point for the international art marketplace.
The show attracted a record attendance of 92,000 over the six show days – 6,000 more than last year. Alongside major private collectors from Europe, North and South America, and Asia, representatives and groups from over 70 museums from across the world attended the show, including: The Art Institute Chicago; Centre Pompidou Paris & Metz; Cincinnati Art Museum; Dallas Museum of Art; Groeninge Museum, Bruges; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Louvre, Paris; Fondazione MAXXI, Rome; Museo de Arte de Lima; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; The New Museum, New York; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; and Yuz Museum, Shanghai.
This year’s edition saw significant changes to the urbanism of the show, redefining the visitors’ experience: The only artworks displayed in Hall 1 were the 78 artworks making up the Unlimited sector, as Statements returned to Hall 2 after nine years in Hall 1, giving the younger generation of artists and galleries a more prominent placement. The Edition sector of the fair moved downstairs, creating a uniform layout on both floors. The auditorium and Magazine sector were moved within Hall 1, making this area accessible not only to ticket holders but also to the public. Therefore, for the first time, the entire Basel talks program of over 30 panels was free and open to the public. A total of over 2,400 people attended this year’s talks program.
Here’s what the galleries had to say about the 45th edition of the fair:
Urs Fischer’s “TBD” abstracts, painted over photographs, at London dealer Sadie Coles stand were sold at $600,000 each ‘Aside from the special addition of the richly rewarding ’14 Rooms’, improved architecture and layout added to the feeling of an upgrade in the 2014 edition of Art Basel. The spacious design of the fair delivers a feeling of calm and seriousness. We also witnessed the continuation of an important broadening of the market in geographical terms.’ – Sadie Coles, Sadie Coles HQ, London
Paul McCarthy’s “WS, Dior,” a colorful 2014 2D abstract with elements of fashion-magazine collage, was at Hauser & Wirth, for $950,000. ‘Art Basel remains the most important week in the art world’s calendar. We were thrilled to place several works in museum collections, including the Bruce Nauman video installation we presented at Unlimited and a painting by Mark Bradford that went to the MAXXI in Rome. We can report equally incredible sales across the board – in fact, this has been our greatest Basel ever!’ – Iwan Wirth, President, Hauser & Wirth, Zürich, London & New York
Per Skarstedt sold Andy Warhol pink “fright wig” self-portrait, 1986, priced at $30-million, to an American collector. It was one of the biggest sales at an art fair in recent years. A red and white 1997 abstract by Gerhard Richter found a buyer at the stand of Dominique Levy, another New York dealer, priced at about $6 million. The NY Times reported. Skarstedt said,’Art Basel in Basel has a long history as the quintessential art fair, and the success this year has only reinforced its dominance. We brought contemporary masterpieces of the highest quality and placed them into important collections in both Europe and the United States. Art Basel is the place where the greatest collectors congregate and blue chip artworks find a home.’ – Per Skarstedt, Skarstedt Gallery, New York & London
‘We saw once again this year that Art Basel is the artworld equivalent to the World Economic Forum, where key decision makers fly in from the four corners of the globe and the future of the art market is determined.’
Glenn Scott Wright, Director, Victoria Miro, London
‘Art Basel 2014 was not a one-day or a one-hour wonder for us, as is sometimes the case with art fairs. We have had significant and steady sales each day, with strong engagement from European and Asian buyers.’
Larry Gagosian, Founder and Owner, Gagosian Gallery, New York, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome, Athens, Geneva & Hong Kong
‘Art Basel gets better year after year. Our sales were very strong, and we were delighted to see that everyone from around the world was in Basel for the fair, apart perhaps for a few Brazilians who were more focused on the World Cup!’
Luisa Strina, Galeria Luisa Strina, São Paulo
‘After 14 years of participating in Basel we have established strong relationships with European collectors. However, this year has been key, with really strong collectors and a robust presence of museums who are now building a focus on Latin American art. It was amazing to see the level of those attending and purchasing at the show this year; we sold to individuals and institutions from the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, Russia, Germany, France, Belgium, and Switzerland.’
Cristobal Riestra, Director, Galería OMR, Mexico City
‘As always, the 2014 iteration of the Basel fair has lived up to and indeed surpassed our expectation. We met and sold to a wide range of Museum professionals and high powered collectors alike from all over the world, with a noticeable uptick in visitors from Asia, perhaps due to the increasing success of Art Basel in Hong Kong. Art Basel remains unchallenged as the premiere global art fair.’ – Sean Kelly, Sean Kelly Gallery, New York
‘We’ve found the changes to Statements to be a huge improvement: the smaller scale of it has made it more focused and its location in the context of Hall 2 and the Galleries sector has been really beneficial.’
Laura Bartlett, Laura Bartlett Gallery, London
‘We really appreciate Art Basel’s commitments to prints and editions. It continues to be an excellent fair for us, having exhibited here from the first year of the fair. We welcome the serious audience we always get here, and this year in the new location of the Edition sector, we have sold work by all our represented artists.’
Alan Cristea, Alan Cristea Gallery, London
Photo: Ben Austin © Artlyst 2014