ArtForum’s Scene & Herd goes to Art Basel with David Velasco who points out that Brad Pitt may be a sighting in Basel but Karl Lagerfeld’s presence is an event. Among the other events were Andy Warhol’s monster “retrospective” painting that Bruno Bischofberger turned his whole booth over to and was asking in excess of €50m, which is even more money these days than it was a few years ago:
Signs of the market in recovery, perhaps, but who can say? The fair affords a view of the plumbing, but not the specific circulations of its contents. “Not spectacular, but not bad,” was dealer William Acquavella’s take. Tim Blum noted that his gallery had nearly cinched the deal on the giant $600,000 Nara house in Art Unlimited, and that otherwise they were selling roughly a piece every hour. It sounded as though the wheels were turning, and faster than they had at the last Frieze or Art Basel Miami Beach. “It’s important to stay positive!” jested Swiss curator Giovanni Carmine. An apotropaic bowl of cherries at Anthony Reynolds gallery echoed the sentiment. (Then there was the young freelance adviser who spurted that it all seemed “just like 2007!” At the time, of course, she was seated across from Pharrell Williams at an HSBC dinner at the Restaurant Schlüsselzunft—not exactly the view from the ground.) […]
On Monday night, the eve of the fortieth Art Basel, the collecting class and its attendants made the annual pilgrimage to the city’s leviathan convention center for the vernissage of the fair’s “curated” project sections, Art Statements and Art Unlimited. There were no particularly prominent fetes scheduled for Art Basel’s ruby anniversary, yet the mood seemed remarkably sanguine. (Champagne will do that for you.) Marc Spiegler, sporting spotless white Swear shoes (he buys a new pair every Basel), and Annette Schönholzer, the fair’s directors, greeted guests at the gate. Spiegler was alert and upbeat. “With this job, it takes a lot for me to lose sleep.”
Of the two sections, most saved their praise for Art Unlimited, the part of the fair that features large-scale solo projects. It did have some exceptional moments. A beautiful collection of Roni Horn self-portraits sat in a room across from a complete, 126-photo set of Nan Goldin’s “Ballad of Sexual Dependency.” Another room was dedicated to tawny new “Cloud” paintings by Sigmar Polke; a single Nubian meteorite sat in the middle, anchoring the space. “You’d be surprised how many meteorite connoisseurs there are here,” noted Michael Werner director Gordon VeneKlasen.
Ruby Tuesday (ArtForum)