Art Basel Round One

Art Basel Round One

In the last few days Art Basel was maybe the only place in the world where people could have the impression of entering an affluent bubble, where the global economic crisis seems to be just a fake. As each year, 300 among the best art galleries from all over the world were selected and enlisted to take part in the so-called ‘Olympics of the art world’. As each year, flow of art lovers and professionals crowded and enlivened the Swiss city to see the new trends of contemporary art market, while for seller’s happiness, international collectors got there mainly to grab super expensive artworks and fulfil their wishing list. And – thinking critically without being argumentative – it’s hard not to think about the economic mantra frequently used during crisis to critic the free market system “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer”.

Strolling around the low ground of the fair, the one devoted to historical galleries, it’s easy to gape thanks to the high quality of the artworks exhibited. Mr. Gagosian, owner of the homonymous multinational gallery, presented an exhibition inside the booth with masterpieces by Picasso, Warhol and Damien Hirst, while other important (and perhaps less haughty) names of art market such as Werner, Lelong, Kartsen Greve, Marian Goodman, Sperone Westwater, Tucci Russo, Zwirner, Pace were at Art Basel in full splendour with works by Gerhard Richter, Jeff Koons, Cy Twombly, Lawrence Weiner and the Italians Giuseppe Penone, Pier Paolo Calzolari, Luciano Fabro and Alighiero Boetti (Arte Povera rocks!). Before going upstairs (HALL 2.1) we cannot avoid mentioning the striking orange-red-yellow piece by Rothko at Malborough for $78 million.

Once again, the first floor strictly dedicated to contemporary didn’t disappoint our expectations. Damien Hirst’s Stripper and Andreas Gursky’s five meters pictures Coocon II dominated at White Cube, while Ryan Gander and Neo Rauch were respectively the stars at Lisson Gallery and Eigen+Art’s booths. Chantal Crousel, Metro Pictures, Nagel and Marconi showed pieces by Anri Sala, Claire FontaineGallery Neu had intriguing works by the collective too – Robert Longo, Cindy Sherman, Martha Rosler, Will Benedict, Markus Schinwald and Rosa Barba – even if the best Barba’s work was at Carlier Gebauer gallery. The stand devoted to Ettore Spalletti (De Alvear) didn’t pass unnoticed as the small size shots by Luigi Ghirri at Massimo Minini gallery. Among the youngest galleries Zero, gb agency and Plan B stood out thanks to the interesting artists proposed: Giorgio Andreotta Calò, Neil Beloufa, Roman Ondák, Ryan Gander (the young artist more represented at the fair) and Navid Nuur.

The 43rd edition of Art Basel, once again reinforced the idea that dealing with high art is not for everybody, but fortunately everybody could approach and discover it as a cultural matter – not only financial – since owning art is not the only possible way of enjoying it.

See you tomorrow to find out the most cultural and ‘Unlimited’ section of Art Basel.