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Art Basel 2009


Imagine you lost the majority of your fortune in the Madoff investment fraud. With some of your last money, you would buy for € 45,000. -- this work by Monica Bonvicini. It is an edition of 3. She then would come to your(?) apartment and spray it personally on the wall.


Quite a statement.


'Add elegance to your poverty', of 2002, graffiti on wall, Ed. 3/3, by Monica Bonvicini courtesy by Galeria Emmi Fontana, Milano (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


It is some of this spirit that separates the art collectors from the art speculators of the last decade. This kind of people are still buying - here at Art Basel.


The world's most important art fair opened in Basel, Switzerland, for its 40th edition. The mood was good, but not as crazy as the years before. Art Basel's directors, Annette Schönholzer and Marc Spiegler, expect the 300 galleries to attract some 60,000 visitors.


Many art dealers complained that the clients were asking for bigger discounts. In general I had the impression that the prices of some brand item artists were on a level of 2005 or 2004.


Many visitors came also directly from the Venice Biennial that opened last week. In Basel, the Venice Biennial works as a career machine for some artists: Here you can buy what you saw in Venice. (If you did not yet invite your art dealer on your yacht in Venice and order there.)


The Italian artist duo MASBEDO showed at Marco Noire Contemporary Art, Torino, photos and the video 'Schegge d'incanto in fondo al dubbio' ('Enchantment splinters on the bottom of doubt'). It was also at the Italian Pavilion of Biennale. The video deals with themes of existential struggle of men and women.


'Schegge d'incanto in fondo al dubbio' ('Enchantment splinters on the bottom of doubt') of 2009 by MASBEDO courtesy by Marco Noire Contemporary Art (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


Anatoly Shuravlev shows at Galerie Urs Meile a similar wall object to his work at the Russian pavilion. It is a cloud of glass balls with small faces on it. A collector bought it immediately after the opening of the VIP-preview.


'Untitled' of 2009 by Anatoly Shuravlev courtesy Galerie U. Meile (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


Miha Štrukelj is the single artist featured in the Slovenian pavilion. In Basel he showed his media picture related works at the botth of Galerie Hilger, Vienna. He does them as drawings, paintings and as wall objects made of Lego toy bricks.


(c) Miha Štrukelj, Lego Me, 2007, Legobricks, 104 x 81cm courtesy of Galerie Hilger, Vienna.


In general I have the impression good old-fashioned drawings are now in fashion again. There were several drawings on paper at the Venice Biennial, Liste and Art Basel.


Toba Khendoori shows her large drawings now at Regen Projects, L. A. They are a little 'academic', but quite beautiful.


So, maybe pencil is the new formaldehyde?


'Untitled' of 2008 by Toba Khendoori courtesy by Regen Projects (c) photo by Premier Art Scene
'Prost N. 5' of 2008 by Michelangelo Pistoletto courtesy by Luhring Augustine, NYC (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


I saw also very well known Venice Biennale artists in Basel: Italian artist Michelangelo Pistoletto shows at Galeria Continua two of his mirrors from the series in the Arsenale. At Luhring Augustine gallery, he shows another mirror work with a female figure printed on it.



You could also discover new artists here at Art Basel, who did not show in Venice: Jacob Dahlgren showed his work 'Heaven is a place on Earth' of 2006 at Andréhn-Shiptjenko, Stockholm. Very Swedish: Also, the standard scales for this installation were from IKEA.


'Heaven is a place on earth' of 2006 by Jacob Dahlgren courtesy by Gallery Andréhn-Shiptjenko, Stockholm (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


As always, there was also real rubbish:


If the art is not good and always the same then at least the material be expensive. That might have been the idea the Japanese manga drawer, handbag designer and art mass producer Murakami must have thought during his cooperation with music producer Pharrell Williams. It is called 'The Simple Things' and referes to the simple idea to pay more attention to the simple things in life. That is why the seven objects (a soda can, a cell phone,...) in the mouth of Murakami's manga monster are made of gold and set with rubies, emeralds and diamonds. A security had to be present permanently at the booth of Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Paris.


(Nevertheless it was sold in the first 30 minutes of the preview jointly to two collectors from Paris and L.A. for US $ 2 Mio.)



Indian/US gallery Nature Morte / Bose Pacia showed the artists Thukral and Tagra. To me it looks simply like the Indian version of  Kehinde Wiley. Do we really need this?


'Morpheus (the Playboy)' of 2008 by Thukral and Tagra (c) photo by Premier Art Scene


Still Art Basel is an excellent place to buy modern classics you see otherwise only in museums. For instants at Marlborough Gallery, London. Besides three wonderful Bacons there was a nice Henry Moore sculpture.


'Reclining figure' of 1956 by Henry Moore courtesy by Marlborough Gallery (c) photo by Premier Art Scene

Art Basel launches also Art Statements and Unlimited featuring single-artist projects from rising galleries worldwide.



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