Golden Oldies: Highlights from Art Basel 2013

John Elderfield
Jun 5, 2013 11:51PM

When scrolling through the images presently on Artsy's Art Basel feature, I came across works from the 1960s that I really liked; so I thought I would make a small 1960s group. Of course there are some great more-recent works that were hard to resist; but how to restrict it?

In the end, here is my list of ‘golden oldies’ mainly from the 1960s and 1970s, though also including three even earlier pieces. I skipped photography entirely, although I was often tempted by it, and I skipped some great series of works of paper (e.g. some Cy Twomblys), as well as anything after the 1970s. In any case, there’s a lot to see in Basel!

My highlights, roughly in chronological order:

Pablo Picasso, La bouteille de Bass, 1914 - Waddington Custot Galleries 

A tiny, classic work from a great year.

Pablo Picasso, Femme assise au chapeau, 1961 - Acquavella Galleries

This looks to be a beautiful late grisaille.

Ilya Bolotowsky, Cobalt Violet, 1938 - Washburn Gallery

A wonderfully quirky example of the blending of Jean Arp/Joan Miró-like abstract Surrealism and geometric abstraction.

Helio Oiticica, Meta esquema,1957 - The Mayor Gallery

What looks to be a very striking example of Brazilian geometric abstraction.

Claes Oldenburg, Iron, 1963 - Peter Freeman, Inc.

The current MoMA show has reinforced how great these early Oldenburgs are.

Lee Bontecou, Untitled, 1963 - Barbara Mathes Gallery

It's wonderful to see that this exquisite and delicate piece and the Oldenburg piece were made in the same year. They are very different, though there’s still a lot in common.

Richard Hamilton, My Marilyn, 1965 - Alan Cristea Gallery

One of my favorite Hamilton prints made only two years after Oldenburg’s Iron. It’s still a painterly work, but Pop is now rolling along its pop culture path.

Roy Lichtenstein, Things on a Wall, 1973 - Edward Tyler Nahem Fine Art LLC

A decade after Oldenburg’s Iron, Lichtenstein has worked through his comic book images and he’s also taking on wonderful new subjects, like his studio wall, framing the image with depictions of the stretcher of the painting.

Lynda Benglis, Pinto Series #4, 1971 - Cheim & Read

An extraordinary, still under-appreciated new development of the 1970s.

Robert Motherwell, Mural Study (Mural Sketch), 1974 - Bernard Jacobson Gallery

Even as a great master of the 1940s and 1950s (witness the Motherwell early collages show at the Guggenheim in Venice), he kept producing terrific things through his lifetime.

See more of Art Basel on Artsy.

John Elderfield