Art Basel 2013

You’re just a big baby, yes you, and by a long ways a lot of the artists showing at Art Basel 2013. Between drawings of fairy tales, Gummi Bars all pasted neatly on a board, babies holding iPhones in their stomachs, lollypops real enough to eat even Damien Hirst’s dot paintings remind us of the dot candy on paper sheets we used to eat.  Plus Jeff Koons the biggest baby of all is defiantly stuck in baby mode. I should have brought back from Hong Kong the rubber ducky that took Hong Kong by storm, and placed it outside…. Well I have a feeling that’s not good. I think we are supposed to like the present and think about what’s going on. Saying that, at the entrance to Scope, the October Gallery from London set the high standard showing El Anatsui. I loved the mystical bowls painted by Dongsu Lee at the Gallery Han – tender exquisite and still. My heart was moved. Other artists also sold well Massimo Carasi, Alexander Robinson, Maria Rubinke bought by Swiss Re, Kenji Sugiyami, and Nick Gentry.

Volta had one artist that stopped me, one artist only, one artist who is thinking about us, and our interaction with nature. Hartmut Stockter revived my imagination because he had designed a rather old fashioned backpack, but attached to it was a lovely tiny glass enclosed garden.  You would be taking your garden with you in the city. Also attached to the backpack was an oxygen mask, which you might need in some of our cities. Thought provoking and somehow inspiring, machines to aid mankind and delight.

After Hong Kong the collectors and visitors in the main convention section seemed to be older and more serious, no children running around with families, but of course this fair brings out the big money collectors and museum directors who set the tone. The main fair, as usual, showed the Blue-Chip Artists from around the world. Prices were to the sky. I think, due to the limited supply of 20th Century masters of quality, and the realization that a “hard asset” such as Art is a must in today’s world. Much more contemporary artists were being shown in the Blue Chip Galleries such as Acquavella and Gagosian, who both showed Basquiat.
It was good to see that the Design Miami Fair was now housed in the new Herzog de Meuron building, which straddles Basel’s Messeplatz. I loved the sitting area with tiny wooden cabinets outside the fair where one could sit and have a bite; and the architecture connecting both sides of the fair – a huge success! Super modern and old fashion huts  – and it worked.


by Huang Yong Ping


Antony Gormley

by Antony Gormley

I guess it’s been left to the old world to address the “art of conflict”.  In the Art Unlimited section very powerful installations were shown such as Huang Yong Ping’s, Abbottabad 2012, recreating Osama bin Laden’s final compound. Tough work, museums will be the natural homes for these works or collectors who are tired of the bling bling era will want some serious meaningful works pertaining to today’s world. Also at Unlimited was Liu Weis’s Library an unusual sculpture made out of books – amazing! Cut into a depression era New York City of skyscrapers, also, one of my favorite artists, Anthony Gormley’s, Drift, a lightweight transparent stainless steel structure representing a space where a body was before and dissolved into a bundle of space.

Liu Wei

by Liu Wei

Laleh Khorramian is a brilliant artist, a woman dealing with sci-fi and fantasy. Her mixed media paintings and video installations center around the journey of Lt. Aurelio Swimm on chemically polluted planet and what happens to him. She was presented in a solo show by The Third Line Gallery – what a knockout!!

Laleh Khorramian

by Laleh Khorramian

How much does it cost.  I’ve been asked that question a lot. The answer is it costs a lot, $65 per square foot; an entry-level booth costs $42,000 with around the same amount to cover travel, shipping of art works, hanging the show, insurance and other expenses. That’s a lot and normally Galleries like to go to several fairs a year making it very difficult for smaller galleries, and easy for the big dealers. In a market report out dealers generating sales of more than 10 million in 2012 saw an average 55 percent increase in revenue. Midsize dealers with sales of 500,000 to 10 million experienced a decline of 1 percent to 2 percent. The smallest dealers suffered the most with a 17 percentvyear-on-year drop in revenue for those with sales of less than 500,000. So it looks like the top 5 percent of dealers could now account for more than half the markets value. Um, not an equal playing field and the market needs both.

Web sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo have come to the rescue for artists looking for funds to do their large-scale installations. And there are incentives for individual people that participate. A chromatic print from the artist Spenser Tunick’s installation featuring 1,200 nude participants standing in the water was given to contributors. Those who contributed to this Kickstarter campaign received photographs now worth $10,000. The artists love it opening themselves to a community of interested people, which broadens their world and offers them other funding possibilities.  According to Kickstarter, 640 projects in the Public Art Category have been fully funded since 2009.A brilliant idea looks – them up. Prices vary for participation and of course projects, an interesting way to participate and profit from helping an artist.

After reflection on the Fair I would strongly suggest the artists from the 1960s. I am talking about the Art Povera movement. They never looked stronger and better. The Tucci Russo Gallery had a good selection of the Italians. Among them Giuseppe Penone who is also being shown at the same time at the Kunst museum in Winterthur till Aug. 11.The Borzo Modern and Contemporary art Gallery had a beautiful one man show by Jan Schoonhoven from the Dutch branch of Zero called the Nul Group. Also from the 60’s this group cleared the way for the minimalist artists who followed. These artists said lets start from O. No use of colour and emotions – nothing messy. I also include the Mono-ha movement, which sprang out of Japan at the same time on the other side of the world. A wonderful instillation by Nobuco Sekine called Phase of Nothingness-Black was shown in the unlimited section of the fair. Something was in the air in the 1960s that captured these artists and pushed them to do extremely radical work, which has stood the test of time. Their works are fresher and more experimental than what the artists are doing today and they are very undervalued in price compared to today’s prices. Somehow it makes me want to put aside the untested stars of the moment and buy everything from these artists. Why. I don’t know. I think it’s a muddle out there in the art market and for sure these artists were not muddled.  And since my instincts are usually right move over Mario Mertz I’m moving into your igloo!

Recommended Reading:

I came across a young publisher at the fair Patrice Farameh who has started her line of limited edition books under “the Curated Collection”. She works with insiders in the areas of art, fashion and interior design to lend their expertise to create a stunning collection of cutting edge books. Done to the highest perfection visionary design and with true substance. All the books have a limited run several have been produced as extreme one-off limited editions look up what she has at


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