My Highlights from Art Basel 2014

In a more legible world it might be possible and smart to find a connection between, say, a bronze gecko, a wooden cube, and a one-eared donkey. That art fairs are not legible—except according to the edicts of commerce—goes without saying. My selection is that of the blind leading the blind—a few chance encounters that may or may not yet prove to be real. 

My Selection: 

Kris Martin, Wakefield, 2014, at Sies + Höke 

Kris Martin’s cast bronze gecko, with its promise of action, is the perfect ode to stillness. Easily overlooked in the frenetic jostle of the fair, its presence nonetheless commands the space of an entire wall. And for obvious reasons the title resonates.

Taiyo Onorato & Nico Krebs, One Ear Donkey, 2013, at RaebervonStenglin 

I’ve been a longtime fan of this Swiss duo, whose photographs and staged mise-en-scènes merge the slapstick sensibility of Buster Keaton with the Kippenberger of “Psycho-Architecture.” Whatever happened to the donkey’s other ear we may never know. Listen out...

Hans-Peter Feldmann, Mountains, 1990, at ProjecteSD

Mountains. From Caspar David Friedrich to Ed Ruscha, everyone’s done them. Yet somehow, using the least means, Hans-Peter Feldmann scales the pop-romantic staple with the most elegance and least equipment.

Lorna Simpson, Seven Felts, 2010, at Galerie Nathalie Obadia 

Language, race, sexuality, and desire are stacked in mouths that speak to the bodies that are never fully revealed. And that, of course, is why they are here. 

Camille Henrot, Head of the Fish – From the series “Desktop,” 2014, at kamel mennour

Right now, with a recently opened show at the New Museum and nominations for the Hugo Boss award, you might be right to feel that Camille Henrot is everywhere. There’s a reason for that.

Saul Leiter, Lanesville, 1958, at Howard Greenberg Gallery

The chord of stillness and beauty marks much of Leiter’s work from this period, but what draws me to this particular example is the perfect balance between the promise of architecture and human form.

José Bento, Sem título, 2014, at A Gentil Carioca 

I know very little about José Bento, a Brazilian artist now in his ’50s, other than the few pieces I have seen at A Gentil Carioca. But regardless of World Cup fever, this Rio gallery is always rewarding and must be checked out. 

Pascale Marthine Tayou, Cloth painting B, 2013, at Galleria Continua

Some of this work is about the economics and migrations of a post-colonialist era, but it is also, more simply, about material accumulations. Few artists can create and manipulate this kind of density as well as Tayou. 

Thomas Schütte, Woodcuts (Brick Wall), 2011, at Bernier/Eliades

The Thomas Schütte show at the nearby Fondation Beyeler was, for me, one of the highlights of last year. Here we have a few more bricks in that wall.

Sigurdur Gudmundsson, Horizontal Thoughts, circa 1970/71, at i8 Gallery 

The kind of conceptual poetics practiced by Sigurdur Gudmundsson in the ’70s have become more familiar through the work of Baldessari and others. But that doesn’t detract from the fact that early works such as Horizontal Thought send their wordless word balloons into the same existential ether.

Explore Art Basel 2014 on Artsy.