Art & Design

June 15, 2016

7 Things To See at Art Basel in Basel

As the art fair opens in the sleepy Swiss city we round up where the fun is at

  • Written by Olga Michaud

It’s time to ditch the hedonism of Hong Kong and Miami and return to where it all began – the humble Swiss city of Basel. Unlike Art Basel in Hong Kong or Miami, the Swiss-based art fair takes a somewhat more serious tone when it’s in its hometown. Here, people swap nightlife for a relaxing trip on one of the Rhine’s engineless ferries. But don’t let its more traditional side put you off. Art Basel in Basel is where you can see some of the hottest modern emerging artists living and working today. As the fair opens, we round up 7 things not to be missed.

Yayoi Kusama’s bronze pumpkin
It’s when you see that Kusama’s two obsessions—pumpkins and polka dots—come together in one massive bronze sculpture that you know attendance at Basel is mandatory. This shiny, mirrored vegetable will without doubt grab the attention of most visitors to the fair.


Photo © Carsten Höller. 
Produced at STPI

Carsten Höller prints
Welcoming galleries from all around the globe, the Edition section will be with present with a new selection of works such by Carsten Höller. Though Holler is better known for his carousels and slide installations, these photographs—usually taken from bizarre angles—are not to miss.

The hottest artist in Paris right now
If you see a geometric-looking, pastel blue man looking at the floor, then you’ve just spotted Julian! This cast aluminum and painted sculpture is one of internationally acclaimed French artist, Xavier Veilhan’s pieces exhibited at the fair. Finding Julian should be one of your Basel priorities – artist of the moment, Veilhan will be representing France at the Venice Biennale in 2017!

Shirazeh Houshiary © STPI/Shirazeh Houshiary

Shirazeh Houshiary © STPI/Shirazeh Houshiary

Poetry-inspired paintings by Shirazeh Houshiary
Befitting of the current marble craze, Shirazeh Houshiary’s monochromatic pieces seek to be both visually impressive, and rich in underlying historical meaning involving Arabic poetry dating back from the 13th century. And though it’s probably not Houshiary’s only intention, these will make the coolest backdrops for your next artsy gram… Just saying.

Emerging art
In Art Basel’s Statements section you’ll find emerging artists from around the world, including Montana-born artist Lionel Maunz. Exhibiting some of his cast iron sculptures of infants, Maunz asks us to reflect on our own parental relationships, and the impact they have on our lives. (Maunz has some strong ideas about parental relationships – namely that they prohibit people from being our true selves.) His dark, cast iron sculptures on show at Art Basel reflect the lifelong trauma of existence. Don’t let the morbidity of Maunz put you off though; this emerging artist is one of New York riding art-darlings.

Xavier Veilhan. Image courtesy Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm

Organised chaos by Jane Lee
This work by Jane Lee looks like beautiful organised chaos. Using her bare hands to work with the paint through the layering technique of impasto, every piece seems to have their own, distinct place in the work. Made from hand-coiled tracing paper, the piece seems simultaneously chaotic and planned. Lee uses something other than colour to captivate us with her beautiful shell-like work.

Basel nightlife
Trade the air fair venue with its posh artist representatives for that of the club with a night at Apawi Pure Lounge. With house tunes from DJ Ricky Morrison you’ll feel a million miles from the strip lighting and “do not touch” signs of the fair.

Jane Lee © STPI/Jane Lee. COILING I, 2016

Jane Lee © STPI/Jane Lee. COILING I, 2016

Art Basel opens in Basel tomorrow to 19 June.


Pumpkin, 2016 © Sandra Amport and courtesy Victoria Miro


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