Art Basel 2015 has closed in Switzerland with exceptional stand presentations, a strong collector attendance and exceptional sales to confirm its position as the premier fair for contemporary and Modern works. The show was once again widely praised for the many outstanding quality artworks on offer and the beautifully presented stands. Gallerists reported excellent sales across all levels of the market – to a particularly international array of collectors and institutions – with many declaring this to have been their strongest Art Basel edition.
The show, whose Lead Partner is UBS, presented 284 galleries from 33 countries, exhibiting the work of over 4,000 artists. A total of 14 galleries showed in Basel for the very first time, coming from China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, Japan, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates and the United States.
Once again, Art Basel provided a platform for galleries to present the very best contemporary and historical material. This year a significant reconfiguration of the downstairs floorplan in Hall 2 moved 57 galleries to new positions – representing the biggest such shift at the show in the last decade. Bringing galleries showing work from 1900 to 1970 in closer proximity to each other, it created a stronger focus for their outstanding historical material, which included premier pieces by Max Beckmann, Marc Chagall, Max Ernst, Georg Grosz, Yves Klein, René Magritte, Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko and Egon Schiele.
The show attracted an attendance of 98,000 over the six show days. Alongside major private collectors from Europe, North and Latin America, and Asia, representatives and groups from over 80 museums and institutions from across the world attended the show, including: Art Gallery of Ontario; Dia Art Foundation, New York; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C.; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; National Gallery Singapore; Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Serpentine Galleries, London; Tate, London; The Royal Academy, London; The Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Whitney Museum of Americ an Art, New York and Yuan Museum, Beijing.
What the Galleries exhibiting had to say about this year’s show:
‘Business at this year’s Art Basel has been brisk and continuous. We are proud to have placed more works in museum collections than ever before in our history at the fair, including a significant piece by Mike Kelley. We also managed to place all four of our Unlimited projects – a testament to the unrivalled reputation of Art Basel and the collectors it attracts.’
Iwan Wirth, President, Hauser & Wirth, Zurich, New York, London
‘Art Basel provided the perfect platform to present our Robert Rauschenberg works. They all sold within the first few hours.’
Mollie Dent-Brocklehurst, Pace London President, Pace, New York, London, Zuoz, Beijing, Hong Kong
‘Art Basel provides high visibility to artists and galleries on the world stage – we have been able to place work with a major European museum as a direct result of the fair. And I always learn things in Basel that continue to inform my program throughout the year.’
Maureen Paley, Founder & Director, Maureen Paley, London
Art Basel was once again a fair that went beyond expectations. We saved important works for this fair, including two Joseph Beuys sculptures that we placed in the most exciting collections. It was our first time showing Robert Rauschenberg since we began to work with the Foundation, and we placed works with museums and important collections in Germany and France. The attendance of major museum directors and curators was enormous, and they travelled with their trustees, which meant they were able to make quick decisions. Only Art Basel is able to attract this kind of seriousness.’
Thaddaeus Ropac, Founder & Director, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Paris, Salzburg
‘Once again, Art Basel has proven to be the best art fair in the world. We have had an incredible response to every artist exhibited in our booth, placing multiple major works with museums and private collectors from the Americas, Europe and Asia. Unlimited was equally successful for the gallery, as we placed significant historical installation-based works by Olafur Eliasson and Haim Steinbach with an important North American museum and an important European collection, respectively.’
Tanya Bonakdar, Founder & Director, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York
‘We had an extremely good start to this year’s fair with many key works on the booth selling in the first few hours. We were especially happy to re-connect with Asian clients, who we got to know during Art Basel in Hong Kong earlier this year. Art Basel continues to impress.’
Esther Schipper, Founder, Esther Schipper, Berlin
‘We have found the show very strong this year – and the shift in floorplan has brought a real cohesion, making it easier for galleries to be in conversation with one another and for collectors to navigate the show and explore their interests. Basel is still the only fair where when they say ‘vernissage’, it really is dedicated time with collectors who are here to explore the show seriously.’
Pierre Ravelle-Chapuis, Director, Van de Weghe Fine Art, New York
‘Art Basel continues to be the very best fair for us, and this year we met new collectors from Europe, including France, and also from Taipei. We found new collectors for our younger generation of artists, including Navid Nuur and Ida Ekblad, as well as artists who we have worked with for many years – our highlight being the sale of six works by Albert Oehlen on the first day of the fair.’
Samia Saouma, Director, Galerie Max Hetzler, Berlin, Paris
‘It’s always a pleasure to be in Basel, as it continually offers a wonderful opportunity to connect with our international collectors, including those from the United States and Asia. We have had good sales on the preview days and strong engagement continued in the days following. We appreciate Basel’s dedicated attention to art from across Africa this year.’
Kirsty Wesson, Senior Curator, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, Cape Town
‘Our first year exhibiting at Art Basel has been both a rewarding and inspiring experience. We have had an incredible opportunity to share our artists work with curators and we are very much looking forward to the institutional follow up from the fair.’
Jasmin T. Tsou, Owner and Director, JTT, New York
‘Art Basel consistently draws the highest quality works on the market. This year’s floorplan revisions, in order to highlight the show’s historical focus, seems to have had a motivating impact on exhibitors and created new energy.’
Paul L. Gray, Partner, Richard Gray Gallery, Chicago, New York
‘The fair was a great success. We were impressed by the quality of institutions present at the show and also the positive feedback we received about our presentation of Paolo Scheggi in Feature.’
Michele Casamonti, Founder, Tornabuoni Art, Paris, Florence, Milan, Forte dei Marmi, Portofino
‘It has been a wonderful week in Basel. We were particularly touched by the outpouring of love for Marcia Hafif and her presentation in Unlimited, and are working with a group of institutions to find a permanent home for this masterwork.’
Fergus McCaffrey, Founder and Owner, Fergus McCaffrey, New York, Saint Barthelemy
‘Art Basel is the gold-standard fair. It has been our best to date with everything spoken for in the first hour of opening.’
Glenn Scott Wright, Director, Victoria Miro, London
‘Art Basel sets itself apart with its unparalleled visitors – both in terms of critical quality and quantity – and the Edition sector continually attracts strong and informed collectors. We have been exhibiting in Basel for the past 42 years and this is one of the best ever.’
Sidney Felsen, Founder, Gemini G.E.L. LLC, Los Angeles
‘Art Basel always makes us re-realize the limitlessness of art through the huge scope of works that are presented. Visitors have a serious passion and are interested to learn about the works in-depth. We have been very happy to see many collectors appreciating art that stretches beyond their own borders.’
Chiara Hsinke Lee, Director, Long March Space, Beijing
‘Art Basel is one of the few places where we can place works with major American institutions while also broadening an artist’s audience among intelligent, informed European collectors. This underscores why Art Basel remains the most important and influential art fair.’
Jack Shainman, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, Kinderhook
‘This year’s show had more new collectors than ever, right from the start. And this flow of traffic continued through the subsequent days, with interest across the range of works on our booth. The audience here is not afraid of challenges.’
Frish Brandt, President, Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco
‘We were really happy to be at the fair again this year. This year’s booth dedicated to Italian art from the 50s to the 70s attracted collectors from all over the world, creating interesting new relationships for us.’
Eleonora Tega, Director, Galleria Tega, Milan
‘Our Feature booth dedicated to Mono-ha was extremely well received and we have made very strong sales. This is our first time showing in Art Basel in Switzerland and we would love to come back next year.’
Hozu Yamamoto, Gallery Owner, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, Tokyo, Beijin
‘This year for Art Basel, we took a new approach by focusing on four of our artists and rotating works throughout the fair. Our two solo presentations inside the booth with Jose Davila and Jorge Mendez Blake were extremely well received, and we sold almost all of the sculptures by Davila. Over 80 percent of our placements were with museums or very significant private collections.’
Kerstin Erdmann, Director, OMR, Mexico City
‘Given the great success of previous editions of the fair, we were delighted that sales continued to be extremely strong at Art Basel this year. We bring our best to Basel. Showing important works by Keith Haring, Thomas Schütte, George Condo, Albert Oehlen, Martin Kippenberger, Cindy Sherman, Rosemarie Trockel and Andy Warhol, among others, and we were very pleased to be met with enthusiastic and knowledgeable collectors at the highest level. This year there was unparalleled energy on the floors during the first few days, once again confirming the dominance of the Art Basel fair.’
Per Skarstedt, Owner, Skarstedt, New York, London
‘We were delighted to participate in Feature this year at Art Basel, especially as the sector gave us the freedom to show Andrea Bowers’ powerful installation. Visitors have had quite an emotional response to the piece, and we’ve received incredible support from several curators and institutions.’
Kevin Scholl, Director, Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects, Culver City
Providing galleries with a unique opportunity to present works that transcend the normal art fair stand, Unlimited, curated for the fourth year by Gianni Jetzer, presented 74 ambitious works in Hall 1, and galleries reported particularly strong sales from the sector. Visitors commented on the exceptionally high quality of Unlimited, with some of the many highlights including works by renowned international artists such as, Kenneth Anger,Ed Atkins, Kader Attia, Martin Creed, Dan Flavin, Gilbert & George, Marcia Hafif, Sheila Hicks, Robert Irwin, Anna Gaskell, Shilpa Gupta,Jeppe Hein, Pierre Huyghe, Leigh Ledare, Maha Malluh, Sarah Morris, Bruce Nauman, Elizabeth Price, Pedro Reyes, Lorna Simpson, Sturtevant, Wu Tsang, Julius von Bismarck and Zhang Enli.
The solo artist presentations in Statements offered visitors and collectors an opportunity to discover the work of emerging artists with a strong presence of the digital-native mind set: Bunny Rogers at Société, Borna Sammak at JTT, Avery Singer at Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler and Amalia Ulman at James Fuentes. Looking eastwards for new talents, Grey Noise from Dubai showed Caline Aoun; The Third Line, also from Dubai, presented Abbas Akhavan; and Platform China from Beijing showed Zhao Zhao.
The Baloise Art Prize was this year awarded to British artist Beatrice Gibson and Mathieu Kleyebe Abonnenc from France. The prize of CHF 30,000 was presented by a jury of international experts, and works by the award winners were acquired by Baloise and donated to the MMK, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt am Main and the MUDAM, Luxembourg.
This year’s Feature sector, an annual highlight at the show, was expanded by 25 percent to spotlight even more precise curatorial projects at 30 galleries. Showing both historical and contemporary work, this year’s edition saw galleries from 13 countries, with six of the galleries exhibiting at Art Basel for the first time. There were many highlights in Feature, with connoisseurs commenting on the quality of the work shown within the sector, including: a presentation by Luxembourg & Dayan (New York, London) of two lesser-known bodies of works by Michelangelo Pistoletto; a significant thematic show on Mono-ha, featuring five artists from the sculpture based Japanese art movement from the late 1960’s onwards, by Tokyo Gallery + BTAP (Tokyo, Beijing); a stand-out presentation by Tornabuoni Art (Paris, Florence, Milan, Forte dei Marmi, Portofino) of four works by Paolo S cheggi, gathered together for the first time since they were shown at the Venice Biennale in 1966; a much-discussed installation by Andrea Bowersat Susanne Vielmetter Los Angeles Projects (Culver City) and an installation of rarely seen dung sculptures and ‘Body Prints’ by David Hammons, shown by Salon 94 (New York).
The 2015 edition of Parcours was curated for the third time by Florence Derieux, Director of FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, and was sited in the historical centre of Basel around the city’s iconic cathedral and at select locations such as the Museum of Culture, the Natural History Museum, the Town Hall and the Münsterplatz. Parcours featured a total of 23 site-specific art works by internationally recognised artists, the biggest selection for Parcours to date, including Alexandra Bachzetsis, Adriano Costa, Nate Lowman, Michaela Meise, David Renggli and Ugo Rondinone. A highlight of the week was Parcours Night on Saturday, June 20, when the project venues stayed open late, accompanied by special one-off performances by Rosa Barba, Julien Bismuth and Erkka Nissinen, as well as a live set by Haroon Mirza with London -based b and Factory Floor. As part of the evening, Art Basel with HeK (House of electronic Arts Basel) presented a new live performance by Edwin van der Heide. Between Wednesday and Sunday 9,000 people visited Parcours.
This year’s Film program was selected for the first time by Cairo-based film curator and lecturer Maxa Zoller. Consisting of six screenings – including one programmed by the Locarno Film Festival and one by This Brunner – the film program was shown at Stadtkino Basel over six nights. It featured 19 film and video works by and about artists, exploring a range of different themes, with highlights including the screening of Takashi Murakami’s debut feature film ‘Jellyfish Eyes’, marking a turning point in Murakami’s practice and in the artist’s own words ‘a healing film for post-tsunami Japan’; the first screening in Europe of Lisa Immordino Vreeland’s documentary ‘Peggy Guggenheim: Art Addict’, an intimate portrait of the artworld icon; the films of South Korean KimSooja and Moroccan-born Hassan Haj jaj, which use female traditional craft as a way to offer to the viewer a non-traditional, philosophical approach to art forms; and a special short film program featuring the work of a range of artists including Karolin Meunier, Laure Prouvost, Oliver Laric and Julieta Aranda. Film was widely attended, and throughout the week two additional screenings were added to the program due to demand.
Art Basel’s Conversations and Salon series brought together prominent voices from the international artworld, including Danh Vō, Mark Coetzee, Manuela Ammer, Wael Shawky, Elena Filipovic, Anicka Yi, Susan Hiller, Christian Jankowski and Jumana Manna. The program of artist conversations and discussion forums took place daily, with a number of timely themes covered, including ‘Rethinking Kunsthalles and Non Profits’, ‘The Caribbean is the Future of Art’, ‘Collecting Africa’ and ‘Residencies, Communities: Support Structures for Artists’. The Art Basel talks program of over 20 panels was free and open to the public. A total of over 2,700 people attended this year’s talks program. High-quality videos of all talks will be available shortly after the show at artbasel.com/basel/talks.
For the duration of Art Basel, ‘DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY’ by conceptual artist Rirkrit Tiravanija, German architects Nikolaus Hirsch/Michel Müller and Finish chef Antto Melasniemi was installed on Messeplatz in Basel. The work was an extension of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s and Thai artist Kamin Lertchaiprasert’s ‘the land’, a self-sustaining artistic community near Chiang Mai in Thailand. Including a herbal garden, kitchen, communal dining and meeting area, the project involved collaborations with engineers Bollinger + Grohmann and students from the Institute of Art of the FHNW Academy of Art and Design in Basel and the Städelschule in Frankfurt. With the show now closed, the installation for ‘DO WE DREAM UNDER THE SAME SKY’ will travel to ‘the land’ in Chiang Mai, where it will form the basis for the founda tion&rsq uo;s first permanent structure. Through Art Basel’s Crowdfunding Initiative – a unique partnership with Kickstarter to support non-profit visual arts organizations founded in 2014 – ‘the land’ is raising funds to expand this structure to house artist residencies and special programming, including workshops, talks and performances.
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