Review of Art Basel 2015

©Courtesy of Art Basel

The week at Art Basel begins on a Monday with the preview of Unlimited, or rather the rotating concrete bowl in which the artist Julius von Bismarck will move from the bed and chair it houses (title: Egocentric System). Unlike some positions on display, his work stays true to the idea that only the kind of pieces that don’t make sense on a free-standing wall in a fair booth should be exhibited here. Another exemplary piece: the shiny, gravity-defying mirror installation, 360º Illusion III, in front of which you’ll always find twenty visitors pulling out their smartphones. On our way out, none other than the petite Jil Sander strolled by. And Raf Simons was presumably there to get a direct preview of this year’s new art. In the morning we were off, only briefly standing in line at the VIP entrance while wonderfully distracted by the installation, Do We Dream Under the Same Sky, where artist Rirkrit Tiravanja set the mood by serving street food free of charge. Cooking for free for the superrich? That’s a question not just Sueddeutsche Zeitung’s Catrin Lorch asked herself.

Unsurprisingly, there’s a tight crowd in front of Gagosian. The larger-than-life cats by Jeff Koons and giant preserved fish in a glass case by Damien Hirst, of course, practically scream for attention, but fortunately things are more subtle and quiet in the remaining 283 (!) galleries from 33 countries. Our personal favorite: Gavin Brown’s stand, which the artist covered in colorful doormats and wallpapered with overlapping pieces of art (including works by Martin Creed, Karl Holmquist and Alex Katz).  The bar at the 3 Rois hotel, where we took our first break of the day sitting next to the Brant family, has a similarly ensconced feel. The descendents of Diether Roth added the finishing touches and even started a tumblr. Such technical advances in communication are of course totally uncommon during such an exceptional week. Instead, the entire event is defined by discreetness and being in the now. Strictly speaking, you don’t even need a phone to make plans for a nightcap as everyone meets in the Kunsthalle in the evening. Anyone who can find the capacity and time during the day shouldn’t miss the many notable exhibits in the city: Turner Prize winner Martin Boyce a the Museum of Contemporary Art and Marlene Dumas at the Beyeler Foundation set the tone for the entire exhibit.

More information on prices, topics of conversation and a status report on Art Basel 2015 can be found here: