Art Market

The 10 Best Booths at Art Basel in Basel

Brian P. Kelly
Jun 15, 2022 3:37PM

Installation view of P.P.O.W’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. Courtesy of P.P.O.W.

The Dow dropped 800 points, the S&P 500 fell into bear market territory, Bitcoin hit an 18-month low, and inflation concerns continued to stoke fears about an oncoming recession, but you wouldn’t have known that financial chaos was raging at Tuesday’s VIP opening of Art Basel in Basel.

Whether it was a return to normalcy this year—the fair has moved back to its usual June timeslot after COVID-19 induced changes, and masks and tests are no longer required for entrance—the unusually warm and sunny weather, or the world-class contemporary art that has led Basel to be considered the best among even the most elite fairs, the mood at the opening was buoyant. In fact, it was nearly raucous at some of the booths of major galleries, like Hauser & Wirth, where patrons jammed shoulder-to-shoulder under and around Louise Bourgeois’s Spider (1996), which sold for $40 million.

This return also saw the number of participating galleries back at pre-pandemic levels, with 289 exhibitors making the trip this year. Returning, too, were Unlimited, with monumental projects from 70 galleries, as well as sections dedicated to emerging artists, solo and thematic presentations, a film program, and site-specific works displayed around the city as part of the Parcours program.

Below are the 10 best booths from this year’s edition of Art Basel in Basel.

Foksal Gallery Foundation

Booth J16

With works by Paweł Althamer, Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Wilhelm Sasnal, Agata Słowak, Monika Sosnowska, Piotr Uklański, and Artur Żmijewski

Małgorzata Mirga-Tas, Thinking, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Foksal Gallery Foundation.


The patchwork textiles of Małgorzata Mirga-Tas take center stage at Foksal’s booth. The Polish-Roma artist is currently representing Poland at the Venice Biennale and is included in documenta fifteen, which is set to open later this week. With her work, Mirga-Tas aims to provide a new visual language for depicting Romani people and liberate them from traditional portrayals, which often are dismissive at best and derogatory at worst.

Her April (2022), divided into three sections, provides alternatively heroic and grounded views of Romani people: one part depicts the journey of the Roma to Europe; another elevates Romani women into the cosmos; the third offers a scene of daily life from the artist’s hometown. Bursting with pattern, Mirga-Tas’s Thinking (2022) is another down-to-earth scene featuring a pair of Romani women resting on a stoop with a cat. The quiet moment, as the two sit in silence smoking, is imbued with a deep human warmth and a palpable sense of interiority. (Mirga-Tas’s works were priced from €40,000–80,000.)

Among other worthwhile works are Artur Żmijewski’s black-and-white photographs inspired by a refugee crisis and Monika Sosnowska’s snaking concrete and rebar sculpture.

Galerie Christophe Gaillard

Booth H8

With works by Ceija Stojka

Galerie Christophe Gaillard’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. Courtesy of Galerie Christophe Gaillard.

Ceija Stojka’s harrowing story lies behind her captivating works. Born in Vienna in 1933, she and her Romani family were persecuted by the Nazis, imprisoned, and deported to concentration camps. Stojka survived the horrors and would go on to become a writer, activist, musician, and, later in life, an artist before her death in 2013. She is being shown by Galerie Christophe Gaillard in the fair’s Feature section, which, in Art Basel’s description, highlights two dozen “precisely curated projects including solo presentations by an individual artist, juxtapositions and thematic exhibits from artists representing a range of cultures, generations, and artistic approaches.”

Her moving paintings are divided into two distinct categories, “light pictures” and “dark pictures,” dealing with the time before and after her family’s deportation. Drawing heavily from expressionist and folk traditions, these images are deeply charged explorations of memory, the light works bursting with color, the dark ones alternatively desaturated and brooding or filled with chaotic conflagrations of reds and oranges. In Untitled (2001), her family relaxes around a fire next to a wagon, a spotted pony nearby alluding to their history as horse traders. But above this quiet outdoor scene of domestic tranquility, a dark, leafless tree spreads its branches, a portent of the terrors that lie ahead. Far more dour is Botte, ref 504 (2001), a tall, black jackboot on whose collar are stamped two ominous letters: SS.

carlier | gebauer

Booth K8

With works by Cecilia Edefalk, Luis Gordillo, Asta Gröting, Pakui Hardware, Arturo Herrera, Iman Issa, Tarik Kiswanson, Julie Mehretu, Laure Prouvost, Jessica Rankin, Nida Sinnokrot, and Maria Taniguchi

Installation view of carlier | gebauer’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. Photo by Andrea Rosetti. Courtesy of carlier | gebauer, Berlin/Madrid.

In terms of pure fun, carlier | gebauer’s booth can’t be beat. Asta Gröting’s giant polyurethane lilypads greet you as you enter, hanging off the wall and flopping across the floor. The showstopper here, though, are the works by Laure Prouvost. The Turner Prize–winning Prouvost is no stranger to imbuing her feminist works with wit and here her light-hearted side is on full display. This Means (2019), a glass fountain that’s part octopus, part bosom, spouts water in the center of the display while, on an adjoining wall, a similarly sexualized octopod floats across the surface of a pastel-hued oil painting.

Asta Gröting
Drei Seerosenblätter, 2020
carlier | gebauer

The colorful abstractions of Luis Gordillo and Jessica Rankin keep the energy level high, and Nida Sinnokrot’s sculptures that lash together rocks and deflated playground balls emphasize the humor here. (So does Sinnokrot’s work in Unlimited, 2018’s High Dive, in which he attaches a diving board to an ornate minbar, or Islamic pulpit.) Rounding things out, Julie Mehretu’s black-and-white drawings give the proceedings just enough seriousness to keep the booth grounded. A must see.

Galerie Peter Kilchmann

Booth J11

With works by Andriu Deplazes, Hernan Bas, Monica Bonvicini, Beatriz González, Leio Ikemura, Raffi Kalenderian, Zilla Leutenegger, and Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Galerie Peter Kilchmann’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. Photo by Sebastian Schaub. Courtesy of the artists and Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zurich

There’s a darkly mystical aura about Zurich-based Galerie Peter Kilchmann’s booth. A trio of black cats stretches out across the floor in Zilla Leutenegger’s bronze sculptures; a young man peers out from a jumble of vigorous dark plants and white brushstrokes in Hernan Bas’s The Haunted Corn Maze (2021); a traveler reclines on a hilltop overlooking a gauzy, impressionistic lake in Andriu Deplazes’s Reservoir Between Body and Sky (2022); a collection of chainsaws drenched in black polyurethane dangle from a chain in Monica Bonvicini’s Latent Combustion #1 (2015). In these and several other works here there’s an inherent unease, a sense of peace about to be disturbed, a voyeuristic interplay between work and viewer where we feel that many of these works could suddenly catch us in the act of looking.

Also worth mentioning is the gallery’s presentation of Francis Alÿs’s work at the fair’s Unlimited section, which exhibits large-scale projects in the hall adjacent to the main fair. While Alÿs’s series is less monumental than many of the other displays here, his collection of 23 paintings—each roughly six-by-seven inches—carry an emotional heft that belies their size. Depicting closed borders from around the world with regions’ names imprinted on either side of various fences, Border Barriers Typology: Cases #1 to #23 (2019–21) serves as a reminder of the often arbitrary nature of state lines, of colonial pasts’ lasting impact on the present, and of the ways we choose to overlook shared humanity to emphasize division. Alÿs, who is also representing Belgium at this year’s Venice Biennale, offers a display that grapples with issues that are sadly both timely and timeless.

Kohn Gallery

Booth H6

With works by Bruce Conner and Chiffon Thomas

Kohn Gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. Courtesy of Kohn Gallery.

Another booth in the fair’s Feature section, Kohn is showing assemblages from two artists who, despite working 60 years apart, share a focus on race, identity, religion, and Americanness: West Coast titan Bruce Conner and the emerging L.A.–based Chiffon Thomas. Conner’s CHERUB (1959) peers out from a murky abyss in a work whose ambiguousness—is the head beckoning us in or trying itself to escape?—is charged with tension. It sits most directly in dialogue with Thomas’s Eyelids (2022), a horizontally bisected head topped with a stack of worn out Bibles.

Similarly, Conner’s RAT PURSE (1959) and Thomas’s Markham (2022) seem to speak to one another: Both are ominously suspended in the air, Thomas’s work a dilapidated house, Conner’s a more abstract assemblage captured in nylon. These sorts of cross-generational artistic conversations are always a highlight of major fairs, and this one is particularly engaging. Collectors thought so as well: Within the first hour of the fair, four of Thomas’s works had sold ranging from $22,000 to $45,000.

Nino Mier Gallery

Booth M6

With works by Celeste Dupuy-Spencer

Nino Mier Gallery’s booth at Art Basel in Base. Photo by Dawn Blackman. Courtesy of Nino Mier Gallery and the artist.

Celeste Dupuy-Spencer is a painter with a rising profile in the U.S., but, as a staffer at Nino Mier’s booth told me, one of the aims of the gallery at this year’s fair is to expand her reputation to an international audience. They’re pursuing that goal with a massively scaled display in the fair’s Statements section, which features solo presentations by emerging artists. The four-panel polyptych The shape of the rock that's hurling towards the sea (2022) dominates the booth, continuing the artist’s exploration of the American experience and the legacy of patriarchy.

Filled with an encyclopedic amount of art historical references—including nods to 14th-century altarpieces, Caravaggio’s Medusa, Rococo hunting scenes, and WPA murals—the nearly 18-foot-long work is a tremendous achievement. The apocalyptic vision—an expression of “primal feminine rage,” in the artist’s words—tackles issues as varied as climate change, economic inequality, and the justice system in a free-flowing narrative that traces global history from the creation of life on Earth to its final destruction. Quite the introduction to the international scene.

Victoria Miro

Booth E3

With works by Njideka Akunyili Crosby, Milton Avery, Hernan Bas, María Berrío, Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, Chantal Joffe, Isaac Julien, Doron Langberg, Alice Neel, Chris Ofili, Celia Paul, Paula Rego, Do Ho Suh and Francesca Woodman

Installation view of Victoria Miro’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. ©Victoria Miro.

Presented concurrently with an exhibition at Victoria Miro’s London gallery, this booth sees artists exploring, per the gallery, “intimacy in its many forms: maternal, erotic, platonic, domestic.” In a presentation filled with touching works, it is especially moving to see a painting by Paula Rego, who passed away last week. Stemming from, Eça de Queiroz’s 1878 novel, Cousin Bazilio, Rego’s Dream of Paradise (2015) captures a tender moment between two of the characters who are in the midst of carrying on an affair. A man sits on a chair, gently caressing the foot of a reclining woman, her dress hiked up above her thigh. Surrounding them, a flock of imaginative birds add a dash of childlike invention to the scene.

Paula Rego
Dream of Paradise, 2015
Victoria Miro

Doron Langberg’s Willy and Alan (2022) is similarly affecting. The nude pair lay in repose, a scene run through with feelings of safety and satisfaction rendered in the artist’s instantly recognizable sunset palette of red, orange, fuschia, and iris. Beyond figurative painting, Do Ho Suh’s colorful polyester and wire sculptures of various electrical sockets and switches from various locales—Berlin, Horsham, London, New York, Seoul, Venice—remind us of the ways quotidien items can take on an exciting freshness when experienced in a form that differs from what we see in our day to day lives. Works by Kudzanai-Violet Hwami, María Berrío, and Chantal Joffe are also highlights.


Booth D8

With works by Kyle Dunn, Elizabeth Glaessner, Hilary Harkness, Sanam Khatibi, Dinh Q. Lê, Hew Locke, Guadalupe Maravilla, Carolee Schneemann, Robin F. Williams, Martha Wilson, David Wojnarowicz, and Martin Wong

Installation view of P.P.O.W’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. Courtesy of P.P.O.W.

P.P.O.W’s booth is all about taking on traditional power structures, whether they be racial, sexual, colonial, patriarchal, or art historical. Hilary Harkness is represented here by a work from her ongoing “Arabella Freeman Series,” which draws from and upends a Winslow Homer work, imagining, as the gallery explains, “a relationship between Homer’s protagonist, Union General Barlow, and a fictitious, free Virginia landowning family, the Freemans….Harkness reimagines General Barlow as a trans man, which he keeps hidden from his regiment.” That deception here comes to an end in Birth in Battle (2022), a hyper-realistic scene in which a wounded Barlow is induced into labor as one of their astonished troops looks on, shocked, as a field medic delivers the baby.

Ideas of traditional masculine competitiveness are turned on their head in Sanam Khatibi’s Shunga-inspired Traditional Morning Worship (2022), in which a pair of geisha-like figures engage in a literal pissing match. Equally subversive is Dinh Q. Lê’s woven-photo work Cambodia Reamker 16 (2022), in which the artist interlaces images of a fresco depicting a foundational Khmer myth with a picture of a prisoner of the Khmer Rouge, a strident warning about the dangers of unbridled nationalism. And Guadalupe Maravilla’s new works from his “Tripa Chuca” series are powerful documents of migrant narratives, weaving together fact and fiction, the present and the past, in snippets that reveal the robust complexity of the issues surrounding international borders. The painting by Sanam sold, as did works by Martin Wong, David Wojnarowicz, Kyle Dunn, Elizabeth Glaessner, Hilary Harkness, Hew Locke, and Robin F. Williams, all ranging in price from $20,000 to $600,000.

Two Palms

Booth A2

With works by Matthew Barney, Peter Doig, and Chris Ofili

Installation view of Two Palms’s booth at Art Basel in Basel. Courtesy of Two Palms.

The three-person presentation by Two Palms is a mini tour-de-force of printmaking. Matthew Barney’s etchings are based on a feature-length film that reimagines the myth of Diana and Acteon in Idaho’s Sawtooth Mountain Range. They are augmented with electroformed copper in a special process the artist’s studio developed with the gallery over several years. As Two Palms explains, “A network of copper is propagated through minute pores in the paper etchings, creating metallic nodules that partially obscure the engraved lines.” The results are at once light yet luxurious, as if a topographic map had a child with an Alphonse Mucha poster.

Chris Ofili
Archer's Echo, 2021
Two Palms

Chris Ofili’s monoprints are similarly concerned with myth. The colorful semi-abstracted scenes, embellished with gold leaf, carry titles like Merging Spirits, Archer’s Echo, and Birth of a Satyr (all 2021) and are created in a unique process in which Ofili grates pigment onto a wood block before pressing the image.

Hung between these two artists are the etchings and monotype of Peter Doig. Created during time spent in Zermatt, Switzerland, in 2020 and 2021, these works pay homage to the artist’s love of skiing, offering a multifaceted view of the sport through scenes that range from the joy-filled to the isolated, from icy coldness to communal warmth. While less mythologically concerned than the other artists on view here, Doig nonetheless shapes his own kind of mythos through recurring motifs and images, crafting his own Olympus in the Alps.

Vitamin Creative Space

Booth J9

With works by Danh Vō

Danh Vō
untitled, 2021
Take Ninagawa
Danh Vō
untitled, 2021
Xavier Hufkens

Hugo Boss Prize–winning artist Danh Vō decided to slow down after he hit 40. The Vietnamese-born artist has had a whirlwind, globe-trotting life and career that started with his family fleeing his homeland on a homemade boat in 1979 and being rescued by a Danish vessel. Part of this intentional slowing down included buying a farmhouse outside of Berlin, where Vō gardens and practices photography. In his installation at Vitamin Creative Space’s booth, the conceptual artist brings together his longstanding work dealing with colonialism and his family’s history with his more recently embraced lifestyle.

Photos of flowers and plants taken in China are hung across a scaffolding that the artist designed and built, completing it just before the fair opened. Each is captioned with the species’ Latin name, written impeccably by Vō’s father, a frequent collaborator. These sheets serve as contemporary botanical study that simultaneously acknowledges the global interplay of the field—Chinese images, captioned by and in a project of Vietnamese-born Danish citizens, on display in a Swiss city—while critiquing the colonial aspects inherent to the field of natural history. If Vō is taking things slower these days, his ideas remain as sharp as ever.

Brian P. Kelly