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Reflections on Art Basel Madness

December 8, 2014

Every year I ask myself- Do I need to go to Art Basel itself? The art does not push any boundaries, it’s targeted to high-price buyers, and it’s exhausting- Why do I need to go? The truth is, whatever hat I am currently wearing (artist, art advisor, critic, or collector), I believe you need to understand the art world at every level. Not just what you are interested in but art/artists who have attained the attention of those who’s art controls the art market and those upcoming artists who are pursuing new concepts and materials.

It seems like a silly concept that someone who is buying art at a multi-million dollar level could influence art being sold on a lower level but the truth is in the taste level. Artists who’s work is deemed unfavorable to move up the art market totem pole, for whatever reason, can not accrue a higher price. Often gallerists from lower markets review what pieces are sold and why and if their art can not be sold then it can not be shown. This whole cycle seems to defeat the entire point of art itself but this is what happens when art and money mix.

This year I asked myself questions which determined what was for sale as I walked through Basel:
-Are people playing it safe?
-Are people buying work, which are in muted tones that cannot jolt the viewer on any level? Or are people buying brightly colored work that contains a lot of shock-value?

The truth as I see it was this year was very bland. There was not a significant amount of brightly colored or muted tone art. There were no highs or lows. The fair was very one note. However I always try to find the bright side of any art exhibit, so below is what I found and liked.

Rirkrit Tiravanija
Art_Basel_2014_Rirkrit_Tiravanija

Ryan McGinness
(This piece was woven silk)
Art_Basel_2014_Ryan_McGinness
Art_Basel_2014_Ryan_McGinness_detail

Takashi Murakami
Heart and Space
Art_Basel_2014_Takashi_Murakami
Art_Basel_2014_Takashi_Murakami_detail
Frank Thiel

Perito Moreno #09
Art_Basel_2014_Frank_Thiel
Osgemeos

Untitled
Art_Basel_2014_Osgemeos
Art_Basel_2014_Osgemeos_detail
Helmut Newton

(These photographs were life-sized)
Art_Basel_2014_Helmut_Newton
Jacob Hashimoto

On Units and Universes
Art_Basel_2014_Jacob_Hashimoto
Art_Basel_2014_Jacob_Hashimoto_detail
Nick Cave
Art_Basel_2014_Nick_Cave
Chris Ofili

Dead Monkey – Sex, Money and Drugs
Art_Basel_2014_Chris_Ofili
Damien Hirst

Side note: In 2003 I first saw Damien Hirst’s work in person. It was a pill wall like this. I wanted to document this piece to show how limited his progression has been.
Art_Basel_2014_Damien_Hirst
Keiichi Tanaami

Figure of Red Elephant and Green Whale
Art_Basel_2014_Keiichi_Tanaami
Art_Basel_2014_Keiichi_Tanaami_detail
Sandra Cinto
Art_Basel_2014_Sandra_Cinto
Marilyn Minter
Art_Basel_2014_Marilyn_Minter_2
Art_Basel_2014_Marilyn_Minter
Beatriz Milhazes

(This painting sold for 3mil)
Art_Basel_2014_Beatriz_Milhazes
Art_Basel_2014_Beatriz_Milhazes_detail

Robert Longo
(For half a mil this drawing could of been yours)
Art_Basel_2014_Robert_Longo
Art_Basel_2014_Robert_Longo_detail
Wayne Thiebaud
Art_Basel_2014_Wayne_Thiebaud
Urs Fisher

Small Rain
Art_Basel_2014_Urs_Fisher_detail
Art_Basel_2014_Urs_Fisher
Zilvinas Kempinas
Illuminator V
Art_Basel_2014_Zilvinas_Kempinas

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 27, 2015 6:19 pm

    Would like to know more about you and your writings.

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