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Art Basel 2008: Again the Highlight of the Year

Art Basel 2008: Again the Highlight of the Year

With 60.000 visitors, over 300 leading galleries and 2.500 artists Basel remains my favorite art fair. Not because of size, but of quality. Quality in art, art dealers and collectors. (The small Basel airport reports over 250 landings of private jets in the Art Basel week.)


In Miami, there are the better parties but in Basel there is the better art. You can watch the dealers holding back the most interesting pieces for this art fair.


Among the many works of art these specially caught my attention:


In the curated part of the show there was a work and performance by Portuguese artist Joao Onofre, called “Box seizes DIE featuring Darkmoon” of 2007/2008. It was a sound proof metal box containing a metal band performing Darkmoon when it was closed.


The metal box was quoting the 6foot metal cube minimal art work called “DIE” by Toni Smith from 1962.

It was closed during the performance and you could hear nearly nothing.


When the artistic performance of the metal band ended they came out again.


I think this is an excellent critique on the bloodlessness of minimal art.


But there was also some minimal art on the show I liked very much: Such as Carl Andre’s work “Lament for the Children” of 1976/1996.


I also liked the large monotone partiture drawing by the German minimal artist Hanne Darboven: 24 Gesänge, Opus 14. It consists all in all of 678 Din A 5 sheets of paper showing mathematical and musical calculations and compositions out of the internal universe of her.

© UGL courtesy Konrad Fischer Gallery

Among the artist of the so called emerging markets like India Alwar Balasubramaniam at the Talwar Gallery (New York and New Dehli) caught my attention. It is a ghost-like face coming out of the painting (mixed media of acryl and fiberglass, Ed. of 2).

© UGL courtesy Talwar Gallery

The Russian artist group AES+F is also very popular in the West since their participation in the last Venice Biennale. They were shown with a work of their “Tondo2” series at the Italian Gallery Marco Noire Contemporary Art.

© AES+F courtesy Gallery Marco Noire Contemporary Art

I think it is good art, but I would not like to life with it.


In general it is a pity that on an art fair there is the tendency to show works of art that work very quickly. Like something that is blinking, has skin or neon. That is why it is easy to overlook excellent art that is rather calm and more meditative like this work by Callum Innes shown at the booth of the Swiss Gallery Tschudi.


by UGL.

© Callum Innes courtesy by Gallery Tschudi


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