Art Basel 2019

By Thursday all the private jets had left Basel Airport. Good, so Rihanna and her entourage did not have to queue when they arrived at the fair on Friday, surprise to the press. The rest of us did not notice anything anyway. We could freely walk around – and instead queue for the bad food. We agreed with Mr Wirth; this year´s sausages were not that good.

Well well, after all we were there only for the art. And oh boy, art we got. Two large floors of it. On the first floor we saw Unlimited where conceptual and installation art was mainly shown. A lot of political and comments on social society made us quickly move through the floor. (Too obvious political art isn’t necessarily a favourite of ours). We moved on to the Big Boys and their booths. And the Big Artists and the Big Works (and the Big Prices). Most of it we had seen already one way or the other, either at gallery shows or in renowned museum shows. The moment of discovery went lost.

Instead we saw at some more interesting works of art and Emma liked this painting by Baselitz (below)

whereas Greger still is more hooked on his bronze sculptures.

And speaking of sculptures, we find Grotjahns sculptures different and odd but in a likeable way. Just like his paintings, his sculptures are complicated in the way they’re constructed and very challenging to the eye, both in form and colour. We saw his solo show at Gagosian in New York last November so it was a nice reunion to see him here.

In New York last year we also saw Sarah Lucas at the New Museum. At the fair we saw a new sculpture by her at Sadie Coles. The museum show was a survey of her works but just seeing one work of her out of context like here – not nearly as interesting.

On the second floor the galleries were smaller and most of the artists lesser known, the prices, however, still did not blush. Our second day here was a lot more interesting.

We started early by seeing a new work at Perrotin by our old friend Wim Delvoye. The use of onyx was maybe a little bit too clever as the concept of a massproduced Noodle cup was not so clearly visible and understood. Yet he still remains a favourite of ours.

Another contemporary artist who masters playing around with concepts is Danh Vo. His interpretation of old Chinese porcelain pictured below is just too good.

Troy Brauntuch at Petzels showed two great paintings in his rather challenging yet immediately recognisable artistic style. We’re already looking forward to his forthcoming show at Petzel later this winter.

Unfortunately for us, there was not much Latin American art to see. We came across a good painting by Matta which thrilled us. Then there was the odd Botero sculpture here and there around the fair – seen it all before and already then we were not too moved. Far more interesting was Vic Muniz new work.


Vic Muniz.

For us collectors of African Art, albeit more tribal art, it was very interesting to see the South African Nandipha Mntambo at Andréhn-Schiptjenko where we had a long and interesting discussion with Cilène Andréhn herself, much pleasure.

All in all, after spending two whole days at the fair we concluded that Art Basel still is, and probably always will maintain, a place for the wealthy and trendy international collector that shows where contemporary art in the world commercially is at the moment and what is available right now. At a cost of course! Art Basel is great to experience, food for thoughts etc – but now for us at OAC we are ready to go back to our “world”.