If you’re interested in contemporary art, then you need to know about Art Basel: if you already know about it, there’s always more to learn.
It’s one of the biggest private art shows in the world, and while the main aim to sell the works on offer, it’s attracted a far larger audience than potential buyers: tens, if not hundreds of thousands of students, enthusiasts and spectators gather for exhibitions that show the best, most exciting contemporary art on offer in the world today and events infused by some of that bravura aesthetic inventiveness and boundary pushing.
With three tent pole exhibitions in some of the art world’s key cities, Art Basel has grown since it was founded in the 1970s, with regular shows in Basel, Switzerland; Hong Kong and Miami. This year’s calendar closed out with Art Basel’s Miami Beach show, a celebration of the global art world, which aimed to bring out some of the field’s newest voices as well as showcasing its old masters.
One of the most exciting spectacles of the show was Abraham Cruzvillegas and Bárbara Foulkes’s performance/installation in the ‘Grand Ballroom’ – a dance stage built out of refuse and found objects, paired with choreography invented in collaboration between these two artists as the physical artwork took shape. It exemplifies the boundary pushing nature of Art Basel: it’s an event that finds the cutting edge of the art world and brings it to a huge audience.
That’s not to say that some more established names weren’t represented: at a celebration for the exclusive art journal Act One, presented at and in collaboration with Art Basel, the evening event was dignified with some of the large scale, striking sculptures by Zurab Tsereteli. Some smaller sized recreations of his animal sculptures were used to create a ‘Garden of Eden’ environment in the grounds for the event, which plunged attendees into a heightened world of high art.
Finally, a highlight for both collectors and spectators was the Conversations programme – a series of panel discussions on some of the issues and anxieties driving art creators at the end of this decade. It’s a chance for art enthusiasts to get in the same room as some of their most admired artists, and hear exactly what they have to say. Whether you’re interested in making art, or collecting and exhibiting it, these discussions offered the sort of insight that’s not available to just anyone.