The 50th edition of Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland, is well underway. The world’s premier art show for modern and contemporary art once again brings galleries from all over the globe and their favorite artists together for a few intense days at the Messe in Basel.
According to the third edition of the Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, the global art market grew by 6% in 2018 and accounted for an estimated 67.4 billion USD in revenue. The most active markets were the United States, the United Kingdom, and China accounting for 84% of total buyers by value.
Interestingly, China and the UK have exchanged places of the top list but the deep dive into the collecting behavior of High-Net-Worth (HNW) individual collectors across five national markets revealed that Asian markets, newer markets, are very active.
45% of the surveyed HNW collectors are millennials who spend each more than one million USD on fine arts and decorative arts.
Even with the positive market outlook from 2018, a consolidation of the biggest galleries is noticeable at Art Basel in Basel this year. Another novelty is the introduction of a scaled price model for exhibitions booths that gives smaller galleries and industry players a chance to rent smaller exhibition spaces for a lesser price per square meter.
Visitors to the exhibition will scout out the 290 galleries from 34 countries for sure. To pick the best and most interesting pieces, though, will be a challenge. In the first few days, Jeff Koons sculpture of the Sacred Heart (1994-2007) in magenta gold has already attracted large crowds but might be challenged by Opavivara!, a Rio de Janeiro-based art collective. They turned a toilet into a drinking fountain that constantly bubbles cachaca. The white plastic cups next to it invite exhibition-goers to start their happy hour early.
Apart from the big names such as Pace, David Zwirner, and Perrotin, Gagosian, a contemporary art institute, is certainly leading the pack with a pop-up installation that takes art enthusiasts outside of the trade show exhibition halls to the center of the Swiss city. The trend to exhibit not only in the confines of the show but in other locations was possibly inspired by Milan’s Fuorisalone. This year’s Art Basel in Basel and nearby places features also special gallery openings and pop-up installations.
Lesser known galleries make their marks with exceptional artworks. Peres Projects from Berlin are known to show progressive contemporary artists. Their booth is dominated by New York City-based painter and sculptor Austin Lee’s work. The psychedelic sculptures stem from his recent ‘Feels Good’ exhibition at Jeffrey Deitch.
Following the trend of localizing, Kurimanzutto’s booth is home of the Danh Vo’s installation Jardin con Palomas al Vuelo (2018). 1,000 pink candles are hung from the walls by their thread wicks. A few are lighted at all times during the fair’s opening hours. This installation was first created for Mexico City’s Casa Luis Barragan employing Oaxacan artisans. They made the candles from beeswax and natural dye from the cochineal insects.
The first few days at Art Basel in Basel have been promising with “unprecedented’ sales according to Iwan Wirth of Hauser & Wirth and continuing the market sentiment. For the second year, the art market is experiencing positive growth and 2018 was the second highest sales level in the past ten years. The business of art is striving with daring artworks and collectors who are looking for value-based investments.
Source: photos are ‘Courtesy Art Basel’.