Sunday, July 8, 2012

Art Basel: the name brands

I was at Art Basel for the second year now, and it still felt like being in a supermarket. But this time, I changed my strategies and allowed myself more time in the Messe halls – at least I could breathe between things.

Gallery after gallery, I saw modern classics by big names like Picasso, 
Dubuffet, Miró, Max Ernst, Dalí, Man Ray, Fontana, Rothko, and also paintings by Le Corbusier. More recent masters included Joseph Beuys, Eduardo Chillida, and Andy Warhol. Louise Bourgeois and John Chamberlain who passed away in recent years were also feathered in multiple galleries.
Gagosian showed off Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst
The “Picasso corner” at Gagosian
Jean Dubuffet with John Chamberlain and Josef Albers in the back
Le Corbusier paintings
Joseph Beuys, Lying Cross, 1971/72
Eduardo Chillida, The Liberty Door I, 1983
Louise Bourgeois, Untitled, 1954
Louise Bourgeois, Cell XXVIII, 2004-05
John Chamberlain, Karankawas Falls, 2003

Among the practicing stars, Tony Cragg was everywhere. Anish Kapoor was quite present with his Pringles and discs as well. Antony Gormley also joined the British force with multiple new works.
Tony Cragg sculptures incl. Round the Block, 2002 (mid) and Mean Average, 2011 (right)
Anish Kapoor’s Twist Wave Oval (2011) and untitled works (2012)
Anish Kapoor, Untitled, 2012
Antony Gormley, Abstract, 2011
Antony Gormley, Stay IV, 2012
Erwin Wurm, Psychos, 2010

Yayoi Kusama was back in the spotlight with retrospectives at both Tate Modern and Whitney. Other Japanese big shots included Takashi Murakami and Hiroshi Sugimoto.
Yayoi Kusama, Reach Up to the Universe, Dotted Pumpkin (2012) and Akai-chan (2012)
Yayoi Kusama, Yellow Dots A, 1993
Takashi Murakami, Shangri-La Blue / Shangri-La Pink, 2012
Hiroshi Sugimoto, Five Elements, 2011

Joining Bourgeois and Kusama, there were other more contemporary female artists such as Jenny Holzer, Katharina Fritsch, Tara Donovan, and Monika Sosnowska.
Jenny Holzer, Heap, 2012
Katharina Fritsch, Apple, 2009-12
Tara Donovan, Untitled, 2012
Monika Sosnowska, Balustrade, 2012

Damien Hirst led the way of a “younger” generation with dazzling works featured at Gagosian and White Cube. Pieces by Ernesto Neto and Damián Ortega were also quite impressive. Olafur Eliasson didn’t seem so productive this year, only presenting some lamps that played with colors and shadow. On the US side, Doug Aitken put up a whole new series of works. I was glad to see Shepard Fairey getting in the fair. But to me, he still can’t compare to Keith Haring...
Damien Hirst, Stripper, 2006
Damien Hirst, Papilio Ulysses, 2008
Damián Ortega, Organisms 1-3, 2012
Tomas Saraceno’s Altocumulus 3 (2012) above and Ernesto Neto’s Pending Body (2012) in the back
Ernesto Neto, Citoaninapylea, 2003
Ernesto Neto, Variation on Color Seed Space Time Love, 2009
Olafur Eliasson, Your Two-tone Dawn Light, 2012
Doug Aitken, MORE (x4), 2012
Doug Aitken, Fountain (earth fountain), 2012
Doug Aitken, OH NO (red), 2012
Allora & Calzadilla, Petrified Petrol Pump, 2012
Shepard Fairey at Pace Prints

In terms of photography, it seemed that the whole Düsseldorf School was present. There were Bernd and Hilla Becher’s classics, as well as old and new works by Andreas Gursky, Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, and Candida Höfer.
Andreas Gursky, Cocoon II, 2008
Thomas Struth, Queen Elizabeth II & The Duke of Edinburgh, Windsor Castle, Windsor, 2011
Thomas Ruff, ma.r.s. series, 2011

Strictly speaking, Thomas Demand is not one of the Düsseldorf School photographers, because he studied sculpture at the Kunstakademie (with Katharina Fritsch). He presented again photographs of realistic models, a creative approach that echoed his American counterpart James Casebere.
Thomas Demand, Junior Suite, 2012
James Casebere, Landscape with Houses (Dutchess County, NY) #10, 2011
James Casebere, Mosque (after Sinan) #3, 2007

Ai Weiwei is not a photographer. But the casual photos he took when he was in New York almost 30 years ago were put together as a signed “deluxe edition.” It seemed to me that as long as you have the fame, whatever you do could have some special value. If some random photos by an illegal immigrant in New York are worth collecting, I shouldn’t have been surprised that reprints of Frank Gehry’s scribbles were priced at thousands of dollars each.
Ai Weiwei, Marble Plate, 2010
Ai Weiwei, New York Photographs, 1983-93
Frank Gehry, Puzzled sketches

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