Yesterday was my first day at Art Basel 2009. Psyched, burning with desire, I couldn’t wait to pay my entrance, get past the bag inspections, and into the halls of this year’s trove of contemporary fine art! Whoo-hoo. As a with Art Miami|Basel, this is a big deal, the grand hoo-ha, when the crème de la crème mingle with the stars of our contemporary fine art world – it’s quite a show: the artwork, the artists, the galleries and their gallerists, and yes, let’s face it, the celebs (there is a shivery thrill to seeing a bona fide celeb walking in and plunking down disgusting amounts of cash for a painting).
Who’s here from San Francisco (my home town) and what did they bring? As soon as I could tear off the plastic wrap from the massive catalog, I found listings for John Berggruen’s gallery, Crown Point, Fraenkel, Anthony Meier Fine Arts, and Ratio 3. Wow. Five galleries from Ess Eff? Sniff.
Anthony Meier Fine Arts showed a lot of Gerhard Richter. My favorites: small framed oil and lacquer embellished photographs on the exterior wall of his booth, although what actually drew me into his booth was the Yayoi Kusama on the wall. Nice cool pale grays with texture. Work by Gary Simmons caught my roving eye too. Berggruen brought work by a wide range of artists, including Mark di Suvero. High polished sculpture with dull metal contrasts, strong, masculine shapes. Nice. Interestingly juxtaposed with a large, slightly crumpled drawing by Kiki Smith on thin exotic paper, pinned to the wall. Nearby, almost hidden: a sweet and creamy little cupcake oil by Wayne Thiebaud. Wayne Eggleston at Fraenkel. Go see.
The fair is huge and yesterday was a long day. San Francisco to Basel by way of Philadelphia, London and Zurich… I’m here for some really good eye candy and hope to find the cool factor. So, it seems, do the mobs in attendance. The first floor, dominated by big players from Berlin, London, New York and Paris, presented an abundance of Anish Kapoor, Joan Miro, Andy Warhol, Picasso, Nolde, Egon Schiele, so much, in fact, it felt like an exhibition at the SFMoMA. Like New York’s Armory Show, it presented a strong modernist, and conservative, exhibition. It seems the second floor is where I’ll find the more contemporary galleries. Going hunting today.
What else did I like? Shimmering silk embroidery stretched over canvas frames and blown glass installation by Angelo Filomeno. Bright large panels that reminded me of Keith Haring at first glance turned out to be large embroidered panels by Alighiero e Boetti (Tutto). Candida Hoyer’s beautiful C-Prints, Bill Viola’s elegant small-scale video presentation (Small Saints, 2008) presented hypnotic social commentary with flawless visuals. Jaume Plensa sculptures at Richard Gray and Lelong Galleries, and enchanting three-channel video by the Russian artists AES+F for Noire Contemporary Art. Very cool.
Today is another day, and I’m off to find Ratio3, revisit my SF neighbors, and check out the offerings at SCOPE, a satellite fair. It’s a beautiful day, sunny, the air is crisp, the coffee is amazing, the pastries delicious, and the Swiss great hosts!