Art Basel Week | Basel, Switzerland

Art Basel Switzerland is the mother of all contemporary and modern art fairs. Uniquely positioned at the border between Switzerland, France and Germany — and packed with cultural interests, Basel is a top European destination for the arts.

Featuring over 300 leading galleries from North American, Latin American, Europe and Asia — Art Basel hosts art collectors and enthusiasts from around the globe.

Unlike Art Basel Miami Beach, the ancillary art fairs and activity during Art Basel week have not sprawled into an unmanageable Burning-Man-like festival; you can traverse them in a day throughout the city.

First stop: Design Miami/ Basel


Conveniently located across the street from Art Basel is Design Miami/ Basel — a favorite of ours in Miami. We appreciated the expansive space dedicated to the Swiss version of this global forum of design, where the entire first floor was dedicated to a minimal, yet enveloping, light installation by Jamie Zigelbaum. You can check out a video of it here.

We also loved the interactive piece “Ice Angel,” by Dominic Harris presented by Priveekollektie Contemporary Art|Design. And, “Drawing Machine,” by Eske Rex who we were delighted to meet in person as he explained his project in detail. You can check out an early version of the installation here.

Art Basel Detour: 14 Rooms


Advertised on a shining monolith between the two giant structures that housed Art Basel was 14 Rooms. A installation two blocks away where curators Klaus Biesenach and Hans Ulrich Obrist invited fourteen international artists to activate an assigned room, and explore the relationship between space, time and physicality with an artwork whose material was the human being. As you might have guessed, several of these oozed of blatant sexuality, housing one of more naked humans, mostly women, which riveted attention to their doors. Others, obviously considered less exciting, had no lines and seemed to leave viewers eager to flee immediately. The giant warehouse-like space had been divisioned with drywall and doorways into fourteen spaces, each with an entrance through the main hallway by way of a solid door. Some had long lines, others, nothing. No photos were allowed so you’ll have to use your imagination or visit this link to take a peek.

Second stop: Art Basel

Wiebke Siem, Niema tego ziego coby na dobre nie wyslo, Johnen Galerie, Berlin

The main section of this show was structured somewhat like the roundabout flow of the Hirshhorn Museum in Washington, DC — or, the Guggenheim with out the constant spiral ramp. In a circular building with a large inner courtyard and its light-flooded cafes and bars, it was jammed on preview day, so almost impassable when moving through the galleries. Our first time here with lots of ground to cover, we approached it as generalists, trying to take it in with a broad point of view, and constantly on the move. And, so it became our short film as we walked in circles, floor by floor, until by crowd exhaustion we hastened on to other venues, after absorbing a download of the latest trends in the contemporary art market the press conference. For lots more content, check out the Art Basel You Tube channel here.

Third stop: Scope Art Fair


We are long-time Scope supporters and have attended Scope in New York and Miami for years, but this was our first time at what was their eighth year in Basel. kHyal also dropped off new work to our friends at C-Arte to send to her gallery partner Solange Guez Arte Contemporáneo in Buenos Aires for a show next year (more about this in a future post). You can take a virtual tour of the 2014 Basel fair, and other editions of Scope, here.

Fourth stop: Liste Art Fair

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Established in 1996 by young gallerists, the Liste Art Fair has developed into one of the top contemporary art fairs for young artists and galleries worldwide. Almost as good as the art is the building Liste is housed in, the former Wartech Brewery comprised of a labyrinth of levels and interconnected rooms and stairways, including three rooftop cafes and a bier garden, plus a ground floor café where you can dine on grilled-to-order sausages, for both carnivores and vegetarians. When you’re arting and eating your way through several European countries like we were, it’s bonus to multitask in one place. It was also a convenient 10-minute walk from Art Basel and Design Miami/ Basel. For more info, check out the Liste Art Fair website.

Fifth stop: the Swiss Design Awards

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As luck would have it, the Swiss Design Awards reception was also happening across the street from Art Basel and Design Miami/ Basel during our visit. And, since so much of our personal and professional lives are centered in graphic, fashion, surface and product design this was like the prize in the Cracker Jack box, the old school ones, when they produced really cool tiny design treasures, not just a sticker or half-hearted lenticular image. Not only were we able to view the award-winning work, we met and spoke with many of the designers in person. Check it out here.

Sixth non-stop       

VOLTA was also present in Basel, but due to our heavily scheduled trip encompassing Germany, Switzerland, Italy and France, we decided to forgo a visit. In its 10th year, it has become a renowned platform for presenting a global vision of contemporary art. And, was originally conceived to bridge a gap between Basel’s preexisting art fairs. We attend VOLTA in New York every year. For information on VOLTA11 in Basel, check out this link.