Much of the traditional coverage of Art Basel takes the same format: descriptions of some highlighted artworks are interwoven with information about sales generally and, dealers willing, specifically. From this gathering of anecdotal, far-from-objective evidence some kind of assessment of the buoyancy of the market is made.
This year the consensus view emerges that, from a base of very low expectations and to the relief of dealers, sales were made and perhaps were even quite strong.
Blogs offer some alternative reporting – see in particular the Sojones blog about the fast-selling artwork “Simple Things” – made of everyday objects encrusted with tens of thousands of precious jewels – which was a collaboration between musician Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami. This post by a non-fine arts blog took one small element of the fair and provided a link-rich comprehensive report. This may be a glimpse of the future of arts reporting. We hope so because there remain many untold stories about the fair …
Other themes extensively reported by the papers and blogs included Brad Pitt’s purchases. Less predictable was the wide coverage given to “Il Tempo del Postino“, described as a show in time rather in space and as the “world’s first visual arts opera”.
For a list of Asian artists given press coverage see the tags at the bottom. Their names are also highlighted in grey in the article descriptions. It is interesting to note that these were mostly Japanese and Indian.
Collectors pleased with Art Basel 40 Fair – Japan Times – 19 June – “Art market is surprisingly healthy” Sep 09 to Mar 09 was difficult for dealers but Basel has coincided with an uptick in activity. Sales by Hiroshi Sugimoto. Other Asian artists mentioned included veteran Yayoi Kusama, and new or under-rcognised artists such as Teppei Kaneuji, Ei Arakawa.
After Art Basel, dealers have high hopes for London sales – Wall Street Journal – 19 June – Fair organisers talked of ‘unexpectedly strong’ sales and dealers seemed happy though no final sales figure has been released. 61000 visitors the highest number ever.
Recession appeal – The Economist – 18 June – A piece about sales – “by all nebulous barometers, business in Basel was satisfactory, possibly even very good”. Sales included Indian artists Anish Kapoor, Raqib Shaw. Posits 4 reasons for buoyant sales: return of collectors in down market, discounting, diversion of money out of Swiss bank accounts and perception art a stronger asset class.
Art Unlimited Part 2 – Art Basel video – Vernissage TV – 16 June – In this video walkthrough find works by Gabriele di Matteo, Li Dafang, Willem Boshoff, David Shrigley, Marcel van Eeden, Mel Bochner, Anthony McCall, Sigmar Polke, Steven Shearer, Lawrence Weiner, Goran Petercol, Aernout Mik, Stephan Balkenhol, Tatjana Doll, Chen Zhen, Natalie Djurberg, Sarah Oppenheimer, Bharti Kher, Falke Pisano, Clegg & Guttmann, Banks Violette, and Hans op de Beeck.
Art Basel Vernissage – Arrested Motion – 16 June – Over 60 images of artworks
Jeppe Hein loop bench at Art Basel – Designcrave – 15 June – Good pics of this piece of large crossover art.
Pharrell Williams’ and Takashi Murakami’s “Simple Things” sold for more than $2million – Sojones – 15 June 2009 – One of the most comprehensive pieces to cover the sale within 30 minutes of the opening of Simple Things, an artwork encrusted with 26,000 jewels by music man Pharrell Williams in conjunction with Takashi Murakami. A link to a great video interview with Farrell talking about the artwork.
Art 40 Basel: Extraordinary quality, surprisingly strong results – Art Basel press release – 14 June – This press release is a closing statement rounding up the fair’s achievements and successes. Lists artists who attended including Subodh Gupta. Over 50 museum groups attended. Over 61000 visitors, over 300 galleries from 29 countries, more than 2500 artists. “Il Tempo del Postino”
Art Basel 2009 – video – Vernissage TV – 13 June – video walkthrough
Surprise success: Art Basel dispels credit crunch blues – The Art Newspaper – 12 June – Lists celebrities and collectors present. Fewer American collectors mostly Europeans did the buying. “The recession compelled dealers to bring their best”. Everyone was “sniffing”‘ for discounts and if dealers were flexible sales were made. Long list of specific artwork sales made.
Window shoppers – seasoned collectors spend carefully at Art Basel – Wall Street Journal – 12 June – A list of collectors who visited (American collectors: the Horts and Craig Robins) and art advisers (Sandy Heller who buys for Steve Cohen and Philippe Segalot adviser to Francois Pinault owner of Christie’s). Also lists some of 101 artists who were also at Venice Biennale. Relief that some sales were made. Describes ways galleries saved money. Asian artists mentioned On Kawara, Subodh Gupta.
A Thriftier Lot comes to Art Basel this year – New York Times – 11 June – This piece lists some of the artwork highlights on show and collectors and curators who attended. Art was more conservative than last year and focused on big rather than new names. Expectations so low that there was relief that some business was done.
Warhol price slashed as Art Basel fights slump with bargains – Bloomberg – 9 June – Long 25 paragraph piece made up of snippets of market information based on gallery interviews. Leading para is about trimming of prices this year – other interesting comments: Art Basel will be 2 shows this year both work on show and discreet consignment sales on behalf of collectors; Kapoor prices holding steady, pure New York market gone with some dealers missing this year but still interest from Asia and some parts of Europe.
Art Unlimited – Art Basel video part 1 – Vernissage TV – 9 June – This year’s Art Unlimited exhibition of the international art fair Art 40 Basel in Basel, Switzerland, marks the tenth edition of Art Basel’s sector for large sculptures, and installation and video art. Works by Elisabetta Benassi, Yoshitomo Nara, Beat Zoderer, Sislej Xhafa, Ayse Erkmen, Pascale Marthine Tayou, Fabrice Gygi, Surdashan Shetty, Farhad Moshiri, Jesús Fafael Soto, Sterling Ruby, Laurence Weiner, Franz Erhard Walter, Steven Shearer, Nedko Solakov, :Mentalklinik, Natsuyuki Nakanishi, Stephan Balkenhol, and Matthew Day Jackson.
Editor’s Picks: Art Basel Preview – Artinfo – 8 June – Useful link to an image carousel showing works being presented at 42 galleries, many with price information.
For art lovers Basel doesn’t end at the fair – New York Times Travel Section – 7 June – Long comprehensive post covering what to eat, where to sleep and what to see in Basel. Brief overview of Art Basel (40th anniversary, 300 galleries, 2500 artists, not much art after 1970s) and an interesting look at the exhibitions by museums (the result of 5 centuries of wealth and “public-mindedness”).
Locals Rule: Alternative Art spaces gear up for Art Basel – Artinfo – 6 June – List of activities offered on Basel’s alternative art scene.
Basel, more than a fair city – New York Times Travel section – undated – 9 enticing images of hotels and restaurants
The Art Market: the biggest fairs around the world – Financial Times – Georgina Adams – 6 June – A few paragraphs of Basel coverage in this piece covering art fairs. Two distinguishing events at Art Basel: Art Unlimited an exhibition of large scale works in 12000 sq m hall and Il Tempo del Postino which sets time limits on art display. Two more paragraphs speculate about pricing strategies.
Meanwhile in Basel Contemporary Works you can buy – Wall Street Journal – 5 June – Short prefair description of event and some works
Related links: To see the online catalogue visit http://artbasel-online.com/