I spent the last weekend busy running around at Art Basel, the biggest international art fair for contemporary and modern art, sponsored by UBS. Among many more, I saw works by Picasso, Klee, Hirst, Emin, Freud, Bacon, Rothko, Richter, Warhol, Aubertin, Learoyd, Evan Penny and Alexis Rockman.
65,000 visitorswent to see different styles of art shown by well-established galleries from New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong, Berlin and some from Milan, Spain and Austria. The audience was very international; people from China, Spain, Italy, France, England and Switzerland travelled to the small city Basel to get a feeling of what the contemporary art world is producing at the moment.
Apart from visiting the art fair, people travelling to Basel had the chance to see the Jeff Koons’ exhibition in the Beyeler Foundation, which is showing off the artist’s balloon stainless steel sculptures until the end of June, for which I unfortunately did not find time as I was trying to fight my way through the massive amount of artworks shown at the fair- which itself can be seen as a challenge.
Notably, the exhibition levels were filled with tourists and regional visitors spending their weekend in an inspiring environment.
The galleries I have spoken to at Art Basel, such as the Parisian Perrotin Gallery, the White Cube Gallery in New York, the Victoria Miro Gallery in London, told me that art collectors visited the show when it opened at the beginning of the week, but that they had hardly seen seriously interested investors at the weekend. Successfully, Art Basel had managed to distinguish the audience between investors and pure leisure visitors.
But Art Basel is not only a place where collectors go to buy art, it has established itself rather as a meeting point or forum. Offering an accessible VIP lounge on the top floor for the cream-de-la-cream, as to give them space to share their impressions of the art observed and to re-think investments undisturbed.
My observation of the art marathon: Big names but also a lot of new ones, well-known as well as a new area of art, embedded in an environment in which a huge interest for art is was bundled together. Simply everything art lovers and art investors want to see at their day off.