The 20 Best Booths at Art Basel in Basel
After a marathon six-week circuit—spanning the Venice Biennale, documenta 14 in Athens and Kassel, and the once-a-decade sculpture projects in Muenster—the art world arrives for Art Basel, the Swiss mega-fair whose 48th edition opened to VIPs this morning.
This year’s fair brings together 291 galleries from 35 countries, including newcomers from Egypt and New Zealand who are among a slew of promising first-time exhibitors. As ever, many galleries have made a concerted effort to bring their best to Basel—from standout solo presentations by emerging artists to historic showings of rare work that hasn’t been seen in decades. Below, we highlight 20 booths you should be sure not to miss as you make the rounds.
Galleries Section, Booth L20
Sadie Coles HQ
With works by Urs Fischer, Michele Abeles, Matthew Barney, Paloma Varga Weisz, Wilhelm Sasnal, Hilary Lloyd, Jonathan Horowitz, Borna Sammak, Ryan Sullivan, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Helen Marten, Uri Aran, Daniel Sinsel
If you weren’t among those who carefully re-sculpted (or carved your name into) Urs Fischer’s clay replica of Aristide Maillol’s La Rivière (1938) last summer at New York’s JTT Gallery, you have a second chance to get your hands dirty. At Art Basel, London gallery Sadie Coles HQ presents another iteration of Fischer’s malleable sculpture: a rendition of Auguste Rodin’s steamy The Kiss (1889), in which the two enduring lovers are now at the mercy and imaginations of fairgoers.
Galleries, Booth R16
Galerie Isabella Bortolozzi
With works by Anne Imhof, Jos de Gruyter and Harald Thys, Oscar Murillo, Stephen G. Rhodes, Aldo Mondino, Symonds, Pearmain, Lebon, Anthony Symonds, Betty Woodman, Yuri Ancarani, Wu Tsang
Aldo Mondino, who once famously crafted a likeness of Marcel Duchamp using 70 kilos of chocolate, takes center stage at Isabella Bortolozzi’s booth. The late Italian artist’s giant facade tiled with sugar, Muro del Pianto (Wailing Wall), 1988, resembles an urban cinderblock wall, complete with sprouting weeds. The work was first mounted at Villa Pignatelli in Naples; at press time it was on reserve for €130,000.
Galleries, Booth K8
With works by Ai Weiwei, Pawel Althamer, Billy Childish, Olafur Eliasson, Andreas Eriksson, Mario García Torres, Sharon Lockhart, Renata Lucas, Michel Majerus, Mike Nelson, Jorge Pardo, Elizabeth Peyton, Tobias Rehberger, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Pae White
The relationship between man and nature is the focus here for Berlin gallery neugerriemschneider, whose booth features both Rirkrit Tiravanija’s 3D-printed bonsai tree and a pair of Ai Weiwei’s twisting, cast-iron tree root sculptures. Installed across booth floors and walls that are painted a dramatic matte black, the installation seems to suggest a universe in which all of these entities are infinitely connected.
Galleries, Booth R4
With works by Anne Imhof, Wolfgang Tillmans, Michael Krebber
With a giant painting by Venice Biennale star Anne Imhof and a series of photographs by Wolfgang Tillmans, who’s just mounted a solo at Basel’s Fondation Beyeler, Berlin’s Buchholz stokes the momentum of two artists currently receiving well-deserved accolades. Don’t miss the gorgeous crushed and folded abstract works by Tillmans which open the booth, on offer for $60,000 apiece and representing a rarer, but extremely influential, aspect of his practice.
Galleries, Booth H13
David Nolan Gallery
With works by Barry Le Va, Jorinde Voigt, Jim Nutt
In the late 1960s, with the swipe of a sledgehammer, Barry Le Va created a sculpture from a stack of glass that would reimagine the idea of what a sculpture could be. This seminal work, On Corner, On Edge, On Center Shatter - Two Layers at a Time (Within the Series of Layered Pattern Acts) (1968–71/2017), is an easy highlight of David Nolan’s booth, where it’s on offer complete with the artist’s instructions.
Galleries, Booth G14
Anthony Meier Fine Arts
With works by Donald Judd, Gerhard Richter, Jim Hodges, Donald Moffett, Sigmar Polke, John Chamberlain
Judd’s signature stacks are a mainstay of art fairs, but this rare work will stop you in your tracks. On offer for $18.5 million, the large, 10-unit sculpture is the only one ever created in this colorway, combining green plexiglass with panels of radiant copper.
Galleries, Booth R7
With works by Milton Avery
A series of paintings and works on paper by influential American master Milton Avery mark Victoria Miro’s debut exhibition of the artist. It’s a rare opportunity to peer into the practice of the late artist, whose paintings were prefaced by study drawings and watercolors that are lesser-known but equally beautiful. Particularly notable: a small sketch made with oil crayon in 1953 (Sand, Sea & Sky), revealed as inspiration for two 1958 paintings that also picture three-part seascapes depicting the horizon, ocean, and shore. Milton made these works during summers spent in Provincetown, Cape Cod, amongst artist friends like Mark Rothko.
Statements, Booth N1
With works by Wang Shang
Young Chinese artist Wang Shang also happens to be a certified gemologist, so it’s little surprise to find that his abstract sculptures, which reimagine traditional motifs of Chinese gardens and landscape paintings, appear to feature a multitude of rocks. However, despite their geological forms, the sculptures are actually rendered from stainless steel that has been printed with high-resolution digital images of marble textures. They’re hypothetical markers for a very contemporary meditation zone.
Galleries, Booth S17
A Gentil Carioca
With works by João Modé, Vivian Caccuri, Maria Nepomuceno, Arjan Martins, Rodrigo Torres
This tropical-inflected installation by Rio de Janeiro-based gallery A Gentil Carioca is, in fact, conceived to counter the idea that Brazilian culture is all about its landscape. Instead, amongst tropical foliage and a wooden path constructed by artist João Modé, a series of artworks is installed to represent the country’s meaningful artistic output, as varied as the country itself, which boasts 274 languages.
Galleries Section, Booth R12
With works by Nolan Oswald Dennis, Misheck Masamvu, Kudzanai Chiurai, Tracey Rose, Kendell Geers, Gerhard Marx, Sue Williamson, Ghada Amer, William Kentridge, Alfredo Jaar, David Goldblatt
This mural by 29-year-old South African artist Nolan Oswald Dennis takes Western perspective and flips it on its head. The artist, who grew up in exile in Zambia and is currently studying art, science, and technology at MIT, has created a site-specific work that reimagines astrological zodiac constellations, typically designed from a northern perspective, through a Southern view. Constellations (Black Liberation Zodiac) sold to Jean Pigozzi, keeper of the world’s largest private collection of African art, for €20,000 on the fair’s opening day.
Statements, Booth N15
Galerie Emanuel Layr
With works by Cécile B. Evans
Climb the steps of a Brutalist-inspired architectural sculpture to experience Cécile B. Evans’s new film, Amos’ World: Episode One (2017), in a truly immersive way. Inside, the video installation screens an episode of a television show Evans created that chronicles an architect (named Amos) as well as the tenants of a housing project he’s built. (Soon enough, you’ll realize that you’re one of them, too.)
Galleries, Booth F13
With works by Lucio Fontana
Spotting an iconic Lucio Fontana slashed-canvas painting at an art fair isn’t uncommon. But in this solo booth by Tornabuoni Art, four of the Italian artist’s extremely rare “Concetto spaziale, La fine di Dio (Spatial Concepts, The End of God)” paintings warrant a considerable pause. They’re among only 38 such shaped paintings created over the course of two years between 1963–64. They are the most expensive among Fontana’s works, with an example from the series having reached an auction record of $29 million in 2015. Be warned: The works here are priced even higher than that.
Features, Booth J12
James Cohan Gallery
With works by Nam June Paik
Video art is once again on the rise, evidenced by strong showings in Muenster and a flurry of excellent installations across Unlimited. This solo booth is a timely reminder of the father of the medium himself: Nam June Paik. Works on view span from 1973 to 1994, including a television-gazing Buddha (TV Buddha,1992; $375,000) and a shrine that conflates worship with television (Portable God,1989; $550,000). “He was a sage,” says the gallery’s senior director David Norr. “He saw what was to come.”
Galleries Section, Booth B15
With works by Kaari Upson, Louise Lawler, Otto Piene, Jenny Holzer, Thomas Demand, John Baldessari, Peter Fischli & David Weiss, Andreas Gursky, Otto Piene, Pamela Rosenkranz, Rosemarie Trockel, Bernd & Hilla Becher, Thomas Scheibitz, Llyn Foulkes, Thomas Ruff, Craig Kauffman, George Condo, Barbara Kruger, Cindy Sherman, Gary Hume, Sterling Ruby
This stunning photograph by Andreas Gursky sees a bed of solar panels overpopulating a rolling landscape in France. Les Mées (2016) foregrounds the intersection of nature and technology; while not intended as a political statement, it’s an image that finds even greater resonance in the wake of Trump’s abandonment of the Paris Agreement.
Galleries, Booth B7
Peter Freeman, Inc.
With works by Franz Erhard Walther, Mel Bochner, Catherine Murphy, Dove Allouche, Lucy Skaer, Jan Dibbets, Michael Heizer, Richard Pettibone, Richard Serra, Mel Bochner, Thomas Schütte, Robert Filliou, Alex Hay, Dimitrije Bašičević Mangelos, Silvia Bächli, Richard Tuttle, Pedro Cabrita Reis, Sigmar Polke, David Adamo, Josephine Halvorson
Peter Freeman presents a large canvas wall sculpture by Franz Erhard Walther, on the heels of his Golden Lion win at the Venice Biennale. The German artist, who also shows with Berlin’s KOW, has pioneered interactive and performative sculpture since the 1960s. Indeed, like many of his works on view in Venice or in his ongoing retrospective at Spain’s Museo Reina Sofía, this piece is designed to be touched. Offering an assortment of canvas elements to play with—from a jacket you can slip on, to a cone you can step into—Modellsammlung (1983) is only fully activated once the viewer chooses to oblige.
Galleries, Booth H6
With works by Johannes Baargeld, Hans Bellmer, Victor Brauner, André Breton and Arshile Gorky, Salvador Dalí, Nicolas De Staël, Óscar Domínguez, Jean Dubuffet, Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst, Al Hansen, Jacques Herold, Hannah Höch, Marcel Jean, Ray Johnson, Tetsumi Kudo, Wifredo Lam, Man Ray, Wolfgang Paalen, Richard Pettibone, Francis Picabia, Pablo Picasso, Pierre Roy, Yves Tanguy, Raoul Ubac, Robert Whitman, Wols
Within a booth perfectly jam-packed with a who’s-who of Dada and Surrealism—from Hans Bellmer to Marcel Duchamp—one small painting by Picasso shouldn’t be missed. Gifted to André Breton in 1941, the painting was Picasso’s attempt to help his friend out financially during the war—but Breton kept it instead. The 1939 painting, priced between €5 million and €10 million, is titled Portrait de Dora Maar, after Picasso’s lover and muse. It has never before been on the market and comes to Art Basel directly from Breton’s family.
Statements, Booth N12
With works by Guan Xiao
Guan Xiao’s latest installation was created in the dark of winter in Beijing, when the up-and-coming Chinese artist was in her studio dreaming of spring. Titled Air Freshener, Spray (2017; $48,000), it assembles artificial materials into a synthetic landscape—complete with a lightbox sunset foregrounded by characters constructed from plastic plants, projectors, car exhaust pipes, among other things. It’s work like this that has landed the 34-year-old artist at this year’s Venice Biennale.
Galleries, Booth S1
With works by Tino Sehgal, Pierre Huyghe, Roman Ondak, Daniel Steegmann Mangrané, Gabriel Kuri, Tomás Saraceno, David Claerbout
One of the fair’s best presentations is also one you might miss: Behind an unmarked door in Esther Schipper’s booth, Tino Sehgal presents Ann Lee and Marcel (2016), a work first shown at Palais de Tokyo in 2016 in which a young boy and girl enact the characters of Marcel Duchamp and Ann Lee (Pierre Huyghe and Philippe Parreno’s conceptual manga character) respectively. Listen as the children chat about alternative dimensions or their love of chess—and don’t be surprised if they turn a question your way.
Statements, Booth N18
With works by Zora Mann
This solo presentation by British artist Zora Mann beautifully collides fragmented aspects of the artist’s life. The mixed-media installation examines her nomadic childhood—Mann traveled between Europe, Africa, and the U.S. thanks to her parents, members of the Rajneesh spiritual movement—as well as her 11-year-long modeling career and drug use. Step through a plastic-bead curtain, fashioned from recycled flip-flops by Kenyan artisans, and you’ll discover a giant psychedelic painting covering two of the booth’s walls. At its center, a mandala made from eyes and hands invites the viewer into a meditative and reflective state—helped along by giant, eye-shaped cushions scented with mint and lavender.
Galleries, Booth P16
Sies + Höke
With works by João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva
If you do a double take on this installation by masters of illusion João Maria Gusmão and Pedro Paiva, their mission has been accomplished. The Portuguese duo has long turned the tables on reality and visual perception, and here, they combine a handful of sculptures to greatly amusing effect. In addition to playing cards that shoot from the wall and a hanging rope that could pass for a snake, the strongest work (Washing Machine with Leopard, 2013) stuffs a leopard suit into a front-loading washing machine.