SPECIAL EDITION: Art Basel #3
Street, Art | Basel, 2009; Photo by Achim Hepp.
Street Art Basel: Beyond the Fairs
by Natalie Hegert
There's only so much art fair one can handle. Those big halls get more crowded as the weekend wanes, your feet start to ache and your eyes ache even more. If you've managed to visit Art Basel, Volta, Liste, the Solo Project and Scope in these few days, art objects start to all blend together and your attitude becomes more jaded with each booth.
So I entreat you to take a step outside. It's nearly summer, and with any luck Basel weekend (Friday looks good) should be sunny and warm, with maybe just a few of those dramatic clouds that fill the Swiss sky. Take a little walk toward the river—better yet hop on a bike, giving your walking feet a bit of a rest without sacrificing your ability to stop and enjoy the view at a moment’s notice.
Seifrei, Marvin times 17, 2011; Photo collage by Andrea Stadelmann
But just because you’re out of the grand art fair halls doesn’t mean that there isn’t more art to see. And no, I’m not talking about the Parcours performances or any other Art Basel-officiated public art; I mean the kind of art that you happen upon, discover by chance in some neglected corner, and enjoy in passing. You might notice a funny little sticker adhered to a lightpost, a stencil of a vandal Hello Kitty with a spraycan, a droopy little robot Marvin wheatpasted on a wall, or an inexplicably perturbed spraypainted hedgehog dreaming of bees and flowers. A little gem of street art happened upon in your regular meanderings through a city becomes that much more refreshing after seeing booth after booth of just-so art fair offerings. All that is required for this kind of experience is that you keep your eyes open.
.Crone, Jers, and Smash 137, Fight Club Basel, 2011; Photo by Andrea Stadelmann
While last year's Art Basel Miami Beach wowed us with an incredible array of street art murals in the district of Wynwood and a whole host of street art and graffiti-inspired events and exhibitions, Basel, Switzerland, also boasts its own nascent street art and graffiti scene. In a city so punctual, precise and spotless, those little irruptions of messy creativity on the street are delightfully surprising...
For more on street art and graffiti in Basel, click here...
See you in Basel!
--the ArtSlant Team
FAIR WATCH - Melvin Edwards
Melvin Edwards, Five to the Bar, 1973, welded steel and barbed wire, 35.56 h x 52.07 w x 50.8 d cm; Image courtesy of Alexander Gray Associates. Art Basel, Hall 2.0, Booth G9.
Works from sculptor Melvin Edwards' long and illustrious career will be showcased in two of Art Basel's premiere locations this year: at Art Unlimited and Art Feature, with Alexander Gray Associates. For more on Edwards' sculptures, read Charlie Schultz's review of his recent work:
Melvin Edwards makes unsettling sculptures for unpleasant realities. From America’s legacy of lynching to our drawn-out war in Iraq, Edwards is an unflinching artistic responder. He’s also kind of funny from time to time, entirely resourceful, and deeply connected to his African roots...(more)
FAIR WATCH - Paweł Althamer
Paweł Althamer, Bruno, 1998-2012, Grass, animal intestines, plaster, colour threads, wood, metal, used hammer, 162 × 65 × 69cm; Presented by Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw; neugerriemschneider, Berlin. Art Parcours, Skulpturhalle Werkstatt.
Polish artist Paweł Althamer is exhibiting at Art Basel with galleries neugierriemschneider and Foksal Gallery Foundation, as well as with Art Parcours in the Skulpturhalle Werkstatt. For Art Parcours Althamer presents a sculpture that is a portrait of his eldest son Bruno. The artist began working on the piece in 1998 when his son was still a teen-ager. The unfinished sculpture had remained untouched in his studio until this year when Althamer decided to finish the work together with Bruno – now a student at the Warsaw Academy of Fine Art. For more on Paweł Althamer's sculptures, read Erik Wenzel's review of his exhibition at the Deutsche Guggenheim earlier this year:
...Althamer is known for marrying two very disparate ways of making art—the very material practice of sculpture and the very immaterial practice of performance, participation and collaboration. But in this case I wonder if this is really a performance...(more)
TALK OF THE TOWN - Spectacle, Wandering, and Art Amore
by ArtSlant Team
Franz West, Gekröse (model). Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery, presented at Art unlimited, Art Basel.
While over morning coffee, it came to mind that one of the dominate images from Basel this year is Franz West’s gigantic pink squiggle, Gekröse (which could be interpreted as intestine or bowel), in the exhibition hall designated as Art Unlimited. Certainly one of the most extravagant parts of the Basel experience, Art Unlimited is basically a pop-up museum for supersized art lasting only a few days and demanding copious amounts of time and money to mount and dismount. That’s art amore. Long story short: Spectacle lives, a slap in the face is always welcomed, and pink is ever popular.
The process of consumption and digestion is an apt metaphor for most art fairs (after all we are talking about a channel transport system), and certainly Basel ranks at the top of the list. According to all reports, this year’s fair seems to be feasting upon itself. With jaw dropping sales (a Philip Guston for $6 million, a Donald Judd for $2.6 million, a Louise Bourgeois for $2 million...blah blah) and the toniest of the art world ping-ponging down the aisles, one wonders if there really is a euro crisis, or an upcoming Supreme court decision on health care in the US, or a potential showdown in Egyptian politics. No, the only strum und drang under the big tent is about credit limits and tired feet and which champagne they'll serve tonight.
But there's more to Basel than just pocketbooks and tasty tidbits, so grab a couple of guys or gals and take off for a stroll into the city proper. The ArtSlant Team is always pro-wandering, catch as catch can, but here are some places of note should you want a more directed route...
Read more about things going on in Basel here...