The 20 Best Booths at Art Basel

Artsy Editorial
Jun 15, 2016 9:32PM

The 47th edition of Art Basel is in full swing. From a historical performance at Luxembourg & Dayan involving a violinist and a ballerina, to an immersive installation at Laura Bartlett that appropriates the interior of a Venezuelan currency exchange, to a stunning pairing of works by Pia Camil and James Turrell at OMR, this year’s Art Basel has something for everyone. We scoured the fair’s 286 galleries to bring you the 20 booths you cannot miss.

Laura Bartlett Gallery

Statements Section, Booth N17

With works by Sol Calero

Installation view of Laura Bartlett’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.


Sol Calero has dropped a Venezuelan currency exchange in the Statements sector—and good luck passing by the installation without stopping to take a seat in a tropical, fruit-covered chair. Like Calero’s Latin-themed hair salon or the kitchy Caribbean classroom she installed at Studio Voltaire last year, the work appropriates Latin American imagery to tap into cultural histories. Here, the immersive installation, titled Casa de Cambio (2016), sees walls festooned with paintings of fruit and exotic travel posters, a glass column filled with hand-made jewelry, and wall-mounted monitors streaming commissioned videos by Latin American artists. Approach the counter to find Calero’s stacks of editions, held together with rubber bands and recalling Venezuelan bills. The price of the editions are continuously updated on a chalkboard, dictated by text messages sent by Calero and reflective of the habits of Venezuelans who monitor prices via Twitter and iPhone apps.

Galería OMR

Galleries Section, Booth R17

With works by Pia Camil, James Turrell

Installation view of OMR’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.


Why You Should Stop

In a stunning pairing between 36-year-old Mexico City-based artist Pia Camil and 73-year-old American artist James Turrell at OMR, Camil’s work is what draws visitors into the booth. The brand new body of work, “Skins,” from Camil—whose conceptual and performative pieces make use of natural materials and textiles—is an homage to Frank Stella’s iconic Copper Paintings (1960-61). The artist references Stella’s unusually shaped canvases through a variety of sculptures and textile works, from a stage to a series of cloaks (designed in collaboration with British fashion designer Erin Lewis). Camil’s twist, however, is the materials she employs—whether slatted MDF board used in dollar and department stores or material that was dyed improperly and is therefore unusable, until now. The booth effectively delivers a mini-exhibition within the fair, which would have been enough. But fairgoers are also treated to a series of delicate India ink-on-paper drawings by Turrell, tucked quietly behind a wall facing the aisle.

Galleria Lia Rumma

Feature Section, Booth J9

With works by Ettore Spalletti

Installation view of Lia Rumma’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

Aptly titled Dormiveglia (2010)—an untranslatable Italian term for the state between wake and sleep—this installation by Italian Minimalist Ettore Spalletti is a blissful art fair reprieve. Enter through the doorway of a giant grey cube in Naples gallery Lia Rumma’s booth (the same work inaugurated the gallery’s new space in 2010) and you’ll find yourself in a fuzzy blue daydream. Eight monochrome panels, in varying shades of cloud blue and each trimmed in gold leaf, are hung beneath a canopy of brilliantly radiating neon white light.

Marian Goodman Gallery

Galleries Section, Booth B16

With works by Nairy Baghramian, John Baldessari, Marcel Broodthaers, Tony Cragg, William Kentridge, Juan Muñoz, Gabriel Orozco, Giuseppe Penone, Gerhard Richter, Ettore Spalletti, Thomas Struth

Installation view of Marian Goodman’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

A 12-panel canvas by Giuseppe Penone hangs on the interior wall of American gallerist Marian Goodman’s booth. Entitled Spine d’acacia – contatto, marzo 2005 (2005), it’s made from Acacia thorns and designed in the formation of lips. Penone, with his unusual, often very tactile materials, is certainly a crowd-pleaser. If the Penone doesn’t appeal, though, there’s also Gerhard Richter’s 11-meter-long work installed on the booth’s exterior wall. Either way, the works will be sure to keep you occupied for a while.

Grimm Gallery

Feature Section, Booth J12

With works by Ger van Elk

Installation view of Grimm’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

This solo presentation by Amsterdam gallery Grimm dives into the historical works of pioneering Dutch conceptual artist Ger van Elk, who passed away just two years ago, offering a thoughtful reflection on the artist’s influence over the last 45 years. The booth combines painted-over photographs of urban landscapes, framed video works, and iconic 16mm films—including the humorous video installation How Van Elk inflates his left foot with his right one (1969), a projection of the artist pumping up one sock by stepping onto a balloon nestled within the other. Nearby, a looping, framed LCD video work, Talking Trees - Window (2004), sees two trees billow back and forth as though they were a man and woman caught up in a flirtatious exchange.


Statements Section, Booth N14

With works by Timur Si-Qin

Installation view of Société’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

Enter the foreboding stone temple in the Statements sector for a welcome surprise. The dark chamber is home to Timur Si-Qin’s New Peace (2016), a prayer space and video installation. The project recalls the artist’s current work in the DIS-curated Berlin Biennial, and imagines a materialist religion of the future. Two videos play inside, one streamed on the wall, another covering the ceiling. They effectively create a simulated landscape, while ambient sound echoes through glass-lined walls that have been stamped with logos for New Peace—a spinoff of the artist’s earlier brand, PEACE.

Moran Bondaroff

Feature Section, Booth J1

With works by George Herms

Installation view of Moran Bondaroff’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

At Moran Bondaroff’s first showing at Art Basel in Basel, the Los Angeles-based gallery extends beyond its typical “young, cool artist” wheelhouse to present the work of 80-year-old California assemblage pioneer George Herms. (The artist, one of the last living members of America’s Beat generation, has works in the Pompidou’s upcoming show about the movement.) Herms’s Joseph Cornell-like boxes from the 1960s onwards, made from found materials—film reels, door knobs, rusted saw blades, and readymade sculptures—and all signed with “L-O-V-E,” feel fresh at the very European Basel fair. At the same time, the gallery’s placement in a section showing mostly Arte Povera artists makes the work feel almost at home.

Dominique Lévy Gallery

Galleries Section, Booth H11

With works by Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Enrico Castellani, John Chamberlain, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, Pat Steir, Frank Stella, Günther Uecker

Installation view of Dominique Lévy’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

If you read the recent New York Times piece on how New York dealer Dominique Lévy prepares for Art Basel, then you may be curious to see how the booth materialized—one of many reasons to pay it a visit. Bringing together post-war European and American artists in a salon-like setting, Lévy juxtaposes the likes of Piero Manzoni, Frank Stella, and John Chamberlain, among other mostly male artists from the era. In one corner, Lévy has installed a stunning pairing of an intensely red Lucio Fontana canvas with an Alexander Calder mobile. While delicate, the Calder mobile matches Fontana’s vivid work with an equally bold play of shadows on the wall. The booth creates a luxurious environment that contrasts with the fast-paced fair experience.

Mendes Wood DM

Feature Section, Booth T5

With works by Solange Pessoa , Francesca Woodman

Installation view of Mendes Wood DM’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

Brazilian gallery Mendes Wood DM makes a surprising but resonant pairing between Brazilian artist Solange Pessoa, who uses mostly organic materials in her practice, and late American photographer Francesca Woodman, whose haunting self-portraits have become part of a lineage of female photographers who use themselves as subject. The booth unites three of Woodman’s rare color photographs, including one of the artist in a bathtub, the black-and-white tiled floor beautifully juxtaposing her blurred body, with a couple dozen of Pessoa’s earthy sculptures. Amorphously shaped, the sculptures combine terracotta with natural materials such as feathers, sheepskin, hay, leaves, and even dried onion skins that dot the floor and walls. If the presentation alone doesn’t lure you in from the aisle, the desire to touch one of Pessoa’s forms likely will. That said, don’t touch the art.

AnneMarie Verna Galerie

Galleries Section, Booth B4

With works by James Bishop, Antonio Calderara, Joseph Egan, Dan Flavin, Giorgio Griffa, Sol LeWitt, Robert Mangold, Rita McBride, Ree Morton, Sylvia Plimack-Mangold, Glen Rubsamen, Fred Sandback, Richard Tuttle

Installation view of AnneMarie Verna’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

Perhaps what hits you most about the Zürich gallery’s booth is the subtlety of it. After being visually barraged with dozens of large-scale, brightly colored paintings as you enter the fair, Verna’s booth of small-scale drawings, many in graphite or pencil-on-paper, is a breath of fresh air. Featuring series of drawings from Richard Tuttle, Giorgio Griffa, Antonio Calderara, and Robert Mangold, and with drawings and sculptures from Sol LeWitt and Fred Sandback, the booth offers welcome respite from the action of the busy fair.

Galeria Plan B

Feature Section, Booth T10

With works by Mircea Cantor, Mihai Olos, Eugenia Pop

Installation view of Galeria Plan B’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

It’s rare to find anything bite-size at a mega-fair like Art Basel in Basel. So when you pass Cluj gallery Plan B’s stand in the Feature section, the three long display tables of small sculptures may entice you in for a more intimate experience. The booth creates a conversation between three Romanian artists, two from the 1970s—Mihai Olos and Eugenia Pop—and 39-year-old conceptual artist Mircea Cantor. All three artists engaged with outside groups through these works, from children to remote villages. Olos’s mixed-media sculptures and Pop’s black clay ceramics can all fit in your hand, while Cantor’s gorgeous hand-woven carpet Airplanes and Angels (2016)—in which the artist explores the celestial space that is shared between military planes and angels—hangs above the display of sculptures. The metaphysical nature of the presentation is unusual for an art fair, so get it while you can.

Andrea Rosen Gallery

Galleries Section, Booth B1

With works by David Altmejd, Carl Andre, Günther Förg, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Tetsumi Kudo, Josiah McElheny, Josephine Meckseper, Alina Szapocznikow, Ryan Trecartin, Andrea Zittel

Installation view of Andrea Rosen’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

With two-dimensional works dominating the lower level of Art Basel this year, Andrea Rosen Gallery stands out for showcasing more daring three-dimensional works. Late Polish artist Alina Szapocznikow’s seductive resin lamps and figurative sculpture initially draw you in. They are cast after her own body, whether her lips or breasts, in brightly colored resin combined with sculptural materials. Visitors then enter a maze-like layout that introduces panels and sculptures from the fantastic mind of David Altmejd, bold mixed-media sculptures by Tetsumi Kudo, and a brand new video work by Ryan Trecartin, among others.

Luxembourg & Dayan

Feature Section, Booth C1

With works by Jannis Kounellis

Installation view of Luxemboug & Dayan’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

Pass by Luxembourg & Dayan’s booth at most hours of the day and you’ll see a single abstract painting by Jannis Kounellis, displayed against a bare wooden floor. But happen upon one of the 15-minute performances scheduled throughout the day, and you’ll discover a restaging of the Greek artist’s historic work, Da inventare sul posto (To Invent on the Spot), first debuted at Documenta 5 in 1972. The piece combines painting (the abstract work includes bars of music from Igor Stravinsky’s 1920 ballet La Pulcinella) with live music and dance. A ballerina, donning a white tutu, twirls and improvises across the booth while a violinist plays from Stravinsky’s score. 

Mary Mary

Statements Section, Booth N3

With works by Helen Johnson

Installation view of Mary Mary’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

This presentation of paintings by Melbourne-based artist Helen Johnson at Glasgow gallery Mary Mary’s booth will likely lure you in—and their subject matter, drawing from Australian colonial and political history, will make you stay. Four canvases are hung on a government-blue steel armature, their figurative imagery pulled from archival sources such as stills from early 20th-century Australian films, or satirical comics. Be sure to walk around the paintings. They’re double-sided, and the backs are scrawled with sketches and poems. 

Kukje Gallery | Tina Kim Gallery

Galleries Section, Booth D8

With works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Ha Chong-Hyun, Kyungah Ham, Park Seo-Bo, Lee Ufan, Kim Whanki, Haegue Yang, Kwon Young-Woo

Installation view of Kujke & Tina Kim’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

The booth is a collaboration between New York gallery Tina Kim and affiliate gallery Kukje, based in Seoul. Depending on which side you enter, your experience varies. On one side, a Jean-Michel Basquiat combine from the 1980s features the artist’s characteristic demonic figure (a similar figure played a central role in the painting that hammered in at $57.3 million at Christie’s last month), speckled with bottle tops and motifs frequently used by the artist. When entering the booth from the other side, however, delicate canvases by iconic Korean painters Kim Whanki (1913-1974) and Kwon Young-Woo (1926-2013) draw viewers in for an equally intriguing but aesthetically different experience. All three works are worth a pause.

Foxy Production

Statements Section, Booth N16

With works by Sara Cwynar

Installation view of Foxy Production’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

This new film by recent Yale grad Sara Cwynar, just announced as the winner of this year’s Baloise Art Prize, is well worth the roughly six minutes you’ll lose behind a dark curtain in the Statements sector at Foxy Production. Narrated by an authoritative male voice and recalling educational films, the work, Soft Film (2016), considers the lives of objects and how they cycle through the economy via the internet. Watch as the artist arranges her eBay purchases—velveteen jewelry boxes, figurines of George Washington—according to specs like color and materials, questioning the afterlives of discarded items.

Barbara Wien

Galleries Section, Booth S18

With works by Nina Canell, Mariana Castillo Deball, Jimmie Durham, Michael Rakowitz, Tomas Schmit, Haegue Yang

Installation view of Barbara Wien’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

It’s not surprising to find one of Haegue Yang’s beloved bell sculptures at an art fair. But in the Galleries sector, Berlin’s Barbara Wien has filled an entire wall with a spectrum of the works, illuminating the continuity between them. (The gallery also shows Yang’s rose gold bell sculpture.) A row of the artist’s signature lacquered panels, spanning the last 16 years, chart the development of her career—from her early use of graph paper to a recent foray into new materials such as shiso leaves and sesame seeds. Nearby, her Millimeter Paper Fan (2007) sculpture looms with its dangling graph-paper fans. At the booth’s center, a sculpture by Jimmie Durham snakes up the wall—another highlight among the handful of artists represented in this strong presentation.

Marlborough Gallery

Galleries Section, Booth G9

With works by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Avigdor Arikha, Frank Auerbach, Francis Bacon, Werner Buttner, Juan Genoves, Robert Motherwell, Paula Rego, Manila Valdés, Song Yige

Installation view of Marlborough’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

An army of 18 life-sized bronze sculptures by Magdalena Abakanowicz, Standing Figures (18) (2000) makes a dramatic welcome to Marlborough’s booth in the Galleries sector. At about five-and-a-half feet tall, the sculptures depict headless human figures as a crowd—a subject the 85-year-old Polish sculptor and fiber artist has been perfecting since the 1970s. (Similar works can be found in Chicago’s Grant Park, installed in 2006, and the National Gallery of Art’s sculpture garden, installed in 1992.) Continue into the booth and you’ll find a strong showing of works by Francis Bacon, Frank Auerbach, and Robert Motherwell, among others.


Galleries Section, Booth K7

With works by Billy Childish, Olafur Eliasson, Noa Eshkol, Isa Genzken, Sharon Lockhart, Michel Majerus, Jorge Pardo, Elizabeth Peyton, Tobias Rehberger, Simon Starling, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Ai Weiwei, Pae White

Installation view of neugerriemschneider’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.


Neugerriemschneider’s giant booth, featuring linen walls and sisal floors, is a brilliant assembly of forms that draw from nature—from Pae White’s wiry birdcages and tree-root sculpture, to Rirkrit Tiravanija’s mirrored boxes embellished with bonsai trees, to Sharon Lockhart’s large-scale photographs of Polish girls captured in the woods at night. The best of the bunch is a work by Olafur Eliasson, The Gaze of Versailles (2016), displayed on the booth’s exterior. It’s small enough to miss it, but make sure you don’t. The work is comprised of two small gold balls with glass apertures; peer inside and you’ll see the night sky. It is an edition of 366 (one for every day of the leap year) and is currently shown in the Danish-Icelandic artist’s commission at the Château de Versailles, where it’s installed on a window, allowing viewers to gaze through it over the gardens.

Matthew Marks Gallery

Galleries Section, Booth A11

With works by Vija Celmins, Peter Fischli and David Weiss, Katharina Fritsch, Jasper Johns, Ellsworth Kelly, Brice Marden, Paul Sietsema

Installation view of Matthew Marks’s booth at Art Basel, 2016. Photo by Benjamin Westoby for Artsy.

Why You Should Stop

It isn’t the six-foot-tall Katharina Fritsch caveman sculpture that makes you stop in your tracks at the booth of Matthew Marks—though it did become fodder for many photo-snapping fairgoers. It’s the brightly colored and intensely detailed canvas by American artist Terry Winters that draws you into the fairly underwhelming but highly curated booth, which includes highlights such as a Vija Celmins painting Untitled (Large Night Sky) from 2015 and a monotype by Jasper Johns. While the artists and works shown are on the safe side, the booth is nevertheless one that lingers in your mind after you’ve left the fair. 

—Marina Cashdan and Molly Gottschalk

Explore Art Basel 2016 on Artsy.

Artsy Editorial