Artrust on tour: ArtBasel 2017


Great number, important names and surprising figures characterized the 48th edition of ArtBasel, one of the most important art events in the world. 70.000 visitors, 291 galleries and about 4.000 artists allow the fair to be one of the most important platforms in the artistic panorama. This year the fair was divided in six main sectors: Parcours, Statements, Unlimited, Edition, Feature and Galleries.


Also this year the artworks had fetched  considerable prices, including for example the Syracuse (1954) by Nicolas de Stael represented by the Galerie 1900-2000 reached circa 3 milions and and the series “Photography of the 20th century (1876-1964) by August Sander, who is one of the most important exponent of photography, represented by the Berinson Gallery, attained circa 3.1 milions.

Berison Gallery, August Sander, People of the 20th Century. Galerie 1900-2000, Nicolas de Stael, Syracuse, 1954. © Courtesy Art Basel
Galerie 1900-2000, Nicolas de Stael, Syracuse, 1954. © Courtesy Art


Important names that in particular this year left some space for new excellent emerging artists and some young galleries. Among the most beautiful ones, the Magician Space Gallery (Beijing), which, though an almost futuristic curatorial arrangement by Billy Tang, can boast to have sold almost all sculptures of the Chines artist Wang Shang. Another emergent personality  is the Greek gallery Kalfayan, in the Feature section, that exhibits multiple works of the late postwar artist Vlassis Caniaris (already present at ArtBasel Hong Kong 2015, at Art Basel 2015 with the gallery Peter Kilchmann and at Documenta 14 of Athens), sold to some discrete “large private collections”. The artworks prices are around 60.000 up to 290.000 euro.

Kalfayan Galleries, Vlassis Caniaris, What’s North, What’s South (Children and Testimony), 1988. © Courtesy Art Basel


The path through the most important galleries of the world continues and among the various proposals, the originality of the stand of Tornabuoni Gallery based in Florence (Hall 2.0, F13) does not leave the viewers indifferent. If last year the protagonist was the Italian artist, Salvatore Scarpitta, this year the turn is of the great Lucio Fontana. The choice to present a single artist is successful again: the four Spatial Concept The end of God (Concetto Spaziale La fine di Dio) ,1963, was presented together with an important documentation consisting of preparatory studies, letters and photographs that demonstrate how the great Fontana needs just a white wall to transmit its greatness. A magnificent feat by Enrico Crispolti and Luca Massimo Babelo that wanted to demonstrate how art is a beautiful conductor through the different dimensions of time and space.

Galleria Tornabuoni, Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale La fine di Dio, 1963 / © Courtesy Art Basel
Galleria Tornabuoni, Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale La fine di Dio, 1963 / © Courtesy Art Basel


 The Unlimited section is unpredictable, surprising and unexprected.  It is the platform dedicated to art that tries to transcend from conventional standards, by manifesting itself through imposing sculptures, video projections, large-scale installations and live conformance. Curated by the New Yorker Gianni Jetzer, the Hall presents from an unusual mix of great museum works (including Enrico Castellani and Paolo Icaro), monumental installations (Sue Williamson and Subdoh Gupta) to the restoration of older works (such as “MutationsI. Düsseldorf, primary demonstration: 112 gestures of the upper body “by Klaus Rinke). Leaving the Halls 2.0 and 2.1, Unlimited plays with great spaces, great measures and great impressions. As soon as you enter, the attention is immediately attracted to the untitled installation our people are better than your people by Barbara Kruger (New Jersey, 1945) , in which in a very subtle and slightly cynical way the American artist addresses the theme of the influence exerted by the media and politics on contemporary society. The large format of the work, as well as its vivid red, introduced in an exemplary way the atmosphere of unlimited, which is often differentiated by its strong provocative tendency.

Along the corridors of the pavilions, the attention is attracted by a queue of people, who waits to discover the content of the “lodge” of the Chinese artist Song Dong. The work, titled Thorugh The Wall (2016), is built entirely with recycled materials, including old windows, lights and metal structures coming directly from Beijing. A particular material research that transmit perfectly the implicit critical trial that Song Dong wants to show: consumerism, waste, and accumulation become the key terms of the artwork. It is therefore through a game of mirrors and perspectives that the spectator comes into contact with a problem that distinguishes contemporary society.

Song Dong, Through the Wall, 2016, old window, lighting, iron frame, 460 x 225 x 901 cm. Courtesy of Pace Gallery
kruger pat
Barbara Kruger, Untitled (Our people are better than your people), 1994/2017, Print on vinyl, wall paper 500 x 312,5 cm 196 7/8 x 123 inches Courtesy Sprüth Magers

Chaotic, sometimes exaggerated and other indecipherable, ArtBasel has confirmed again this year as an emotional, professional and unforgettable experience, in which time seems to stop at least for a day.

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