Art Basel 2016
What is Art?

I landed in Zurich early morning, the day before yesterday and after a long and fantastic week in NYC.
I was looking forward to going home, getting rid of the month long suitcase full of clothes, which have been reused, dry cleaned, hand washed and seen at so many different hotels. There really is nothing like the feeling of flopping down on your own bed and kicking off your shoes, as they say, “There’s no place like home”. However, home had to wait a few hours despite feeling exhausted. My two youngest children, who have also been away from home, surprised me with a request to go to Art Basel. Yes, you heard it right, Art Basel!

My youngest daughters, Angelica and Lauren, had a plan to visit Art Basel and they were ready to go. Angelica, nearly 15 years old, has always has been interested in art, and Lauren, at 19 is very active in looking for art and already has a collection on her note book. Therefore, I should not have been surprised they pulled a coup on me since it was the last day of Art Basel and Lauren wanted to see the latest Banksi works and and Angelica aspired to see newest pieces of Alec Monopoly

Wow!! I was taken aback that my children were dressed and ready and at Zurich airport to pick me up, where we drove directly to Basel and less then an hour later were admitted on hospitality of UBS through tight security to the 2nd floor and courtesy lounge. A couple of champagne glasses later (actually it was Cava). Many in the lower level of the service industry not realize when they serve Cava or Proseaco it is actually a sparkling wine disguised as champagne, I was not in the mood to start the discussion to educate this waitress; however, you do not offer champagne and then serve Cava. Period! The sparking went down well though with the delicious small sweet and sour canapés … and off we went to view art.

In Hall 2 we started a tour on the first floor admiring the variety of fantastic artists and their work, many new show pieces. This day was a far cry from the spectacular showing last Tuesday on opening day, as opening day is a of rush and the hype of Art Basel is reputed for. There are more then 800 Gallerist from around the world that apply annually; however, approximately 250+ are accepted. The total Gallerist exhibiting this year was 270. I could imagine the larger well known Gallerist keep their position despite the required annual application. The 270 Gallerist are split across buildings and Halls and on different levels, The ground level seems to house the more famous and prestigious galleries, those who have been at Art Basel from the beginning. There is an art fair panel that decide the exhibitors, though many say the way to begin is by applying to the Art ” Unlimited” Hall first.

Art Unlimited Hall

This Hall is found by walking through a number of other halls and over a bridge, through another security check, and then you suddenly reach an area of large exhibits, including installations, which are huge and require large spaces. Some pieces need height,while others require massive walls or an oversized room to show off the art, such as these hanging suitcases. This was impressed as the photos indicate, hundreds of suitcases, which were suspended form the ceiling on a string and momentarily swaying in the wind drawing through the halls. There were doors from Cuba by a young artist called Pedro, and it was here I bumped into a Japanese couple. The gentleman was Johnathan Herzog, a photographer and art lover who also was at the show to be inspired.

Other large scale pieces included a Cranes installation with a “live” art expression, a man acting out, people just live it. There were moving images projected out on cut outs installed on objects and big curtain style blankets made from tin rings. When you first enter this hall there was an impressive black and white image of an airplane, spanning across a wall of about 20×12 meters. It i amazing how art today can be created in many different ways. Those with talent and time are able to create a masterpiece, while there those less fortunate who are also talented yet create some very well expressed detailed art, which is a more monotonous, repetition for many hours of high intensity strokes or twists.
This airplane is one of them. From the distance it looks like a drawing but as you get closer you can see the attention to detail of many hundreds of minute airplane made up this picture, It is art pieces like this that blow my mind.

The Airplane, Thomas Bayrle Flugzeug (Airplane), 1982/1983

The Airplane
Thomas Bayrle
Flugzeug (Airplane) , 1982/1983

The Airplane, Thomas Bayrle Flugzeug (Airplane), 1982/1983

Closeup – Original micro hand work seen only close up

A high level of determination is needed to complete the airplane and then suddenly to the left of the entry was a pieces called Tomato Head by Paul Macardy. This Tomato Head went for 3.2 million dollars on the first day. That is a tidy sum; however, there is no piece at Art Basel that can be sold in seconds for 20 million dollars so it’s here I believe the most money in the world is spent shopping in halls in four days worldwide. Whoever bought it must have a large area to display it as this installation needs space There were 2 other awesome pieces in this Hall of Art unlimited which wasn’t just created with a splash.

The intricate and bold art in large spaces in the Art ” Unlimited” Hall was the most interesting area of Art Basel this year. Please look carefully at the pictures I have included, they were the most pleasurable pieces I found at Art Basel yesterday. Worth noting that my daughters, who left me behind, found an art piece that was interactive, I did not quite get the concept but the general public was asked to participate and Angelica, AKA Jelly, found herself participating in a ” live” art piece, That is surely the beauty of Art Basel – it is for all ages, backgrounds, and cultures to enjoy. So to answer the question, What is Art, I would say it is anything and everything that moves, inspires, provokes and challenges us answer the question over and over!

El Anatsui / Gli (Wall) 2010

El Anatsui
Gli (Wall) 2010

North African chains from my old cans

Closeup, you can see its made from old cans

Chiharu Shiota / Accumulation - Searching for destination 2014 -2016

Chiharu Shiota
Accumulation – Searching for destination 2014 -2016

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