Art Basel 2012
Art Basel 43 - Entrance to the Messe Hall
Sissi Farassat - Behind I, 2011, Chromogenic print embroidered with Swarovski crystals (Edwynn Houk Gallery)
André Kertesz - Les lunettes et la pipe de Mondrian, 1926, Vintage gelatin silver print (Galerie Fraçoise Paviot)
André Kertesz - Dans l'atelier (Piet Mondrian), 1926, Vintage gelatin silver print (Galerie Fraçoise Paviot)
Bisson Frères (attributed to) - Facade of a private house, Paris, circa 1855, Salt paper print from a collodion negative (Hans P. Kraus Jr)
Louis-Emile Durandelle - The sculptor Aimé Millet with "Appollo crowning Dance and Poetry", Opéra Garnier, Paris, 1868-1869, Albumen print (Hans P. Kraus Jr)
Victor Burgin - Think about it, 1976, Gelatin silver print (Galerie Thomas Zander)
Emmet Gowin - Changing the Earth, Aerial Photographs, 1986-1996, Toned gelatin silver prints (Galerie Thomas Zander)
Emmet Gowin - Changing the Earth, Aerial Photographs, 1986-1996, Toned gelatin silver print (Galerie Thomas Zander)
Diane Arbus - Teenage couple on Hudson Street, NY, 1963, Gelatin silver print (Galerie Thomas Zander)
Larry Sultan / Mike Mandel - Ooh la la, 1982, C-print (Galerie Thomas Zander)
Lee Friedlander - New York & Tucson, 2011, Gelatin silver prints (Fraenkel Gallery)
Lee Friedlander - New York, 2011, Gelatin silver print (Fraenkel Gallery)
Lee Friedlander - Portland, Maine, 1963, Gelatin silver print (Fraenkel Gallery)
Richard Avedon - Robert Frank, Mabou Mines, Nova Scotia, July 17, 1975, Gelatin silver print (Fraenkel Gallery)
Richard Misrasch - Untitled 892-03, 2003, Chromogenic print (Fraenkel Gallery)
Ed Ruscha - Pools, 1966-1967, Ektacolor prints (Kicken Berlin)
Ed Ruscha - Pools, 1966-1967, Ektacolor prints (Kicken Berlin)
Man Ray - Untitled (Projet pour une Tapisserie, 1925/1926), Gelatin silver print (Kicken Berlin)
Alfred Seiland - Cervaiole #2, Monte Altissimo, Italy, C-print (Kicken Berlin)
Jeff Wall - Boxing, 2011, Color photograph (Marian Goodman)
Thomas Struth - Seestück, Donghae City, South Korea, 2007, C-print (Marian Goodman)
Thomas Struth - Queen Elizabeth II & The Duke of Edinburgh, 2011, C-print (Marian Goodman)
Thomas Struth - Paradise 27, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru, 2005, C-print (Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle)
Imogen Cunningham - Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels, 1925, Gelatin silver print (SAGE Paris)
Adam Fuss - From the series My Ghost, 2011, Pigment print (Xavier Hufkens)
Cindy Sherman - Untitled, 2010-2012, Color photograph (Metro Pictures)
Cindy Sherman - Untitled, Color photograph (Metro Pictures)
Wolfgang Tillmans - Astro Crusto, 2012 (Regan Projects)
Marilyn Minter - Peeping Toe, 2012, Enamel on aluminum (Regan Projects)
Christopher Bucklow, Tetrach, 9:53 am, 2nd July, 2011, unique cibachrome print (Edwynn Houk Gallery)
Works by Sebastien Bremer and Vik Muniz (Edwynn Houk Gallery)
Vik Muniz - Irises (from Pictures of Magazines), 2004 (Edwynn Houk Gallery)
While Spain extends a hand to the troïka for help in shoring up its banks and Italy steps in line to do the same, the financial crunch affecting Europe seems far from the preoccupations of the art market. At least on the surface.
Welcome to Art Basel, where everyone is looking good and wears a smile. No way will anyone let transpire a sign of worry. Only a few galleries, the choice of works they are showing, betray a necessity to sell at all cost, setting aside their artistic affirmations or extravagant displays of the past.
Here, everything is disconnected. As if art could save the world. After all, what is more exciting than investing money in a work by a confirmed artist rather than risking it in the stock market or buying property which is highly taxed. Collectors can always seek solace at home in front of a recent acquisition while the rest of the world burns.
Art Basel, considered the cathedral of international fairs, offers one of the best windows on contemporary art. A patent all its own, Art Basel successfully exported itself to Miami several years ago. Next stop : Hong Kong in 2013.
During each edition (since 1976) photography has had a seat at the table. Although relegated to their own section for several years, photography specialists currently coexist with other art galleries.
The contemporary influence is reflected in the choice of works shown and in their presentation. Apart from a handful of traditional galleries, the tendency is towards wall-size works and installations of groups of prints.
There is an abundance of crossover or mixed media : paintings created from photographs, photographs which are painted or inked. Within this discipline, there is a certain amount of innovation, notably in the work of Iranian-born Sissi Farassat (at Edwynn Houk Gallery) whose meticulous embroidery introduces sequins or Swarovski crystal beads in her prints.
In this fair, the competition is ruthless. To stand out, one must crystallize the link between art and photography.
On Françoise Paviot's stand, a series of vintage prints by André Kertesz takes us into the intimacy of Piet Mondrian's studio. Next to the iconic image of the painter's pipe and spectacles, one discovers rare portraits : Mondrian uncorking a bottle of wine or gazing straight into the lens of the Hungarian master.
Hans P. Kraus Jr. offers a selection of 19th-century photographs representing examples of architecture from the French Second Empire, an elegant counterpart to the multiple prints of Robert Polidori or Candida Hoffer which abound in every contemporary art fair. A salt paper print attributed to Bisson Frères of the facade of a private house in Paris seems so animated it instantly catches the eye. The rich tonal quality is breath-taking for a work dating back to 1855. A series of albumen prints by Durandelle reveals behind the scenes construction of the Opera Garnier, one of France's greatest architectural achievements. The quality of the prints transcends their purely decorative aspect.
Thomas Zander always sets himself apart, as much with his selection of eclectic prints by great masters like Walker Evans, Harry Callahan or Lewis Baltz, as by his tongue-in-cheek acknowledgement of the economic and ecological preoccupations of our time. In Think about it (1976), Victor Burgin predicts the disastrous result of a society living beyond its means : "Classlessness is a failure of consciousness." In his series Changing the Earth, Aerial photographs (1986-1996), Emmet Gowin documents the human imprint on the environment seen from above, in particular the atomic nuclear test sites in Nevada. The portrait of a teenage couple who seems beyond its age appears as evocative today as when Diane Arbus shot it in 1963. And a collaborative piece by the late Larry Sultan and the artist Mike Mandel : Ooh la la (1982), the subtitle to an atomic mushroom cloud on a publicity billboard, drives the message home. Scathing, but pertinent. Few stands provide such visual and intellectual coherence. Fraenkel Gallery presents a fine selection of gelatin silver prints by Lee Friedlander, shot in 2011 in New York and Tucson. These images of storefront windows remind one of icons by Berenice Abbott, Eugène Atget or Lisette Model. But, through his keen visual skill, which blends three different planes into one surface, Friedlander takes the eye on an infinite trip. The gallery also offers older vintage prints, like Portland Maine, 1963, by the photographer. Other works on display are by Robert Adams, Diane Arbus, Richard Avedon (a great portrait of Robert Frank shot in 1975), a recent color photogram by Adam Fuss, prints by Ralph Eugène Meatyard, Nicholas Nixon, Irving Penn, Hiroshi Sugimoto and a huge print of Richard Misrach of a man floating in the surf.
Kicken Berlin offers the chance to take a visual plunge into a series of ektacolor prints by Ed Ruscha (Pools, 1966-1967). Several works stand out among the multitude of prints by well-known photographers : An astonishing blow up of Projet pour une tapisserie, 1925-1926 by Man Ray, printed in 1938, and a photograph of marble quarries in Italy by Alfred Seiland : Cervaiole #2, Monte Altissimo, Italy, from the series Imperium Romanum, 2010. On Marian Goodman's stand, smaller photographs which Tacita Dean has found, painted over, and appropriated coexist with a wall-size print by Jeff Wall (Boxing, 2011) and oversize prints by Thomas Struth : a Korean seascape and a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II. Other works by Struth can be found at the fair, notably a luscious jungle landscape : Paradise 27, Rio Madre de Dios, Peru, 2005, at Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle.
François Sage offers up a stunning vintage print of Magnolia Blossom, Tower of Jewels by Imogen Cunningham (1925).
Adam Fuss (whose work is also shown at Cheim & Read and Fraenkel Gallery) presents the most enigmatic and elegant creation of the fair (with Xavier Hufkens). A giant white peacock turns his back to the viewer, displaying an array of feathers whose luminosity is as blinding as it is soothing. Its head, in profile, reveals a delicate crown. Its unique black eye seems to warn us not to approach too close. This mystic bird, straight out of the artist's imagination, seems vulnerable yet all-powerful at the same time.
The number of works by Cindy Sherman at Art Basel is not surprising. Her one-woman show at MOMA just wrapped up and her photographs are traded like any commodity. A recent creation, which measures over 60 by 120 inches (Untitled 2012/2012), seemed less inspired however than earlier work on display at Metro Pictures.
Another artist whose photographs are being shown by various dealers is Wolfgang Tillmans. His images of gold ingots (Gold, 2002, at Andrea Rosen) will make you grin as much as his gargantuan Astro Crusto, 2012, presented by Regan Projects. Atop an opulent meal of crustaceans sits a big black fly. Like the work of Irving Penn, his most likely inspiration, this still life suggests decomposing meat and reminds us of our mortality. Based in Los Angeles, Regan Projects is also showing an oversize work by Marilyn Minter : Peeping Toe, 2012. More than usual, the artist blurs the lines between painting and photography. Without the title, one would hardly recognize the toe, covered in red nail polish, as it emerges like an intruder from its shoe.
In addition to prints by Brassaï, Harry Callahan, Manuel Alvarez Bravo or Edward Weston (to name only a few), Edwynn Houk offers a relevent choice of works by artists for whom photography is only a step in the creative process. To make Tetrarch, 9:53AM, 2nd July, 2011, Christopher Bucklow created a silhouette by punching holes in a large sheet of aluminum foil. Then he coupled his drawing to photo-sensitive paper and exposed it to sunlight. He developed the photograph in a solution containing a dye. The final print is unique. Alongside works by Valérie Belin, Sissi Farassat or Vik Muniz, considered artists more than photographers, one discovers the creations of Sebastien Bremer. The lines and dots of white ink he draws onto the surface of gelatin silver prints create a texture which is only visible to the naked eye (and not on a computer screen). The artist makes us conscious that a photograph is not only an image. It is also an object.
Useful information :
ART BASEL 43
Through June 17th, 2012
Opening hours : 10:30 AM - 7:30 PM
T. + 41 58 200 20 20
F. + 41 58 206 26 86