Two months before the world’s most prestigious modern- and contemporary-art fair opens its doors for a VIP preview on June 14, Basel’s top hotels were already booked. After all, this is a Venice Biennale year, when attendance spikes. The confluence also invites comparisons between the offerings in the Biennale’s Arsenale building and Art Basel’s Art Unlimited section — a curated display of outsize pieces, performances, and miniexhibitions of small works that takes place in the hangarlike Hall 1. In this edition, a multichannel installation from 2000 incorporating DVDs of the L.A. Conceptualist John Baldessari’s films from 1968 is being copresented by Zurich’s Mai 36 Galerie and New York’s Marian Goodman. New York’s Paula Cooper is bringing an important fluorescent work by Dan Flavin. The Puerto Rico-based Allora & Calzadilla, who are representing the U.S. in Venice, are presented by Galerie Chantal Crousel, of Paris.
Basel is not Venice, however, and the fair is about the market as well as the art, with the Art Galleries sector and its nearly 300 exhibitors at the heart of the event. "What we are seeing is that quality does well," says the fair’s co-director, Marc Spiegler. "We saw that at Art Basel Miami Beach, and we will see that at Basel. There will be lots of good material. We have a dozen new exhibitors in the Galleries sector, and they will make a big effort." Among these newcomers are Cabinet Gallery, of London; Bortolami, of New York; Isabella Bortolozzi, from Berlin; and Paris’s gb agency, which has a photographic self-portrait by Ryan Gander.
Returning exhibitor Galleria Tega, of Milan, is bringing "Volume," a 1960 painting by Dadamaino, and Nicolas de Staël’s 1949 "Composition," for €850,000 ($1.2 million). Three-dimensional works abound. Allen Ruppersberg’s 2010 mixed-media "No Time Left to Start Again/The B and D of R’n’R #2b" is at Air de Paris, of Paris; the artist is also showing in Art Unlimited, copresented by Greene Naftali, of New York, and Antwerp’s Galerie Micheline Szwajcer. Copenhagen’s Galleri Nicolai Wallner has David Shrigley’s sculpture "I’m Dead," 2011, and Berlin’s Contemporary Fine Arts, will offer a mixed-media work by Georg Herold. Victoria Miro, of London, is offering a 2010 flower sculpture by Yayoi Kusama priced between $400,000 and $600,000. Pascale Marthine Tayou’s Fashion Street, 2010, graces the stand of Galleria Continua, of San Gimignano, Italy. Galerie Rodolphe Janssen, of Brussels, has Wim Delvoye’s 2009 sculpture of contorted figures "Daphne & Chlöe (Counter-clockwise)," for €360,000 ($515,000). New York’s Team Gallery is showing new photographs by Slater Bradley in collaboration with cinematographer Ed Lachman priced between $32,000 and $38,000. Neal Fox’s new stained-glass window depicting William Burroughs is at Daniel Blau, of London and Munich, and a word piece by Lawrence Weiner, "& From the Above," 2006, is at Lisbon’s Cristina Guerra Contemporary Art, for between $200,000 and $300,000. Paula Cooper has Walid Raad’s inkjet prints, and Xavier Hufkens, of Brussels, is offering Sterling Ruby’s Monument Stalagmite/Adultism Pissing, 2009.
Art Feature and Art Statements sections have experienced high turnover. The 20 galleries in the Feature section, now in its second year, concentrate on single artists and tightly focused group shows in booths on the sides of Hall 2. There, New York’s Reena Spaulings is presenting the photographer and video artist Klara Liden, and 100 Tonson, from Bangkok, will have Rirkrit Tiravanija cooking curry in the aisles.
Art Statements, back in Hall 1, comprises solo shows of younger artists, one of whom will walk away with the annual Baloise prize. The L.A. gallery Overduin and Kite is giving its space over to Kaari Upson, and David Kordansky, also of L.A., has paintings by Kathryn Andrews, such as "Bow," 2010. New York’s Harris Lieberman is highlighting Alexandre Singh’s sound-and-light installation "The Dialogue of the Objects," 2011.
Among the 18 exhibitors in the Art Edition section are Crown Point Press, of San Francisco; Three Star Books, of Paris; and Carolina Nitsch, of New York, who is bringing prints from "Do Not Abandon Me," a series by Louise Bourgeois and Tracey Emin.
"2011 Preview: Art Basel" originally appeared in the June 2011 issue of Art+Auction. For a complete list of articles from this issue available on ARTINFO, see Art+Auction's June 2011 Table of Contents.