‘Art Basel’ – an exclusive art show nestled in a historical city
You are thinking about Switzerland. Perhaps you are planning a trip there, or maybe you are already walking in its green pastures or hiking along its rocky mountain ranges. You may already know Switzerland’s long history. You may be aware of its varied landscapes, different linguistic identities, or its renown chocolate makers (yes, I’m pretty sure you know about the chocolate). What you
‘Art Basel’ – an exclusive art show nestled in a historical city
You are thinking about Switzerland.
Perhaps you are planning a trip there, or maybe you are already walking in its green pastures or hiking along its rocky mountain ranges.
You may already know Switzerland’s long history. You may be aware of its varied landscapes, different linguistic identities, or its renown chocolate makers (yes, I’m pretty sure you know about the chocolate).
What you probably don’t know is that Switzerland is also the host of one of the largest and most famous art shows worldwide! It is called ‘Art Basel’, and, as the title hints, it is in the wonderful city of Basel, at the border with France and Germany.
An overview of the fair
‘Art Basel’ is an ongoing Modern and Contemporary art fair which attracts thousands of artists, gallerists and museum curators from all over the world. For one week in the middle of June, thousands of visitors crowd the streets of this historical city.
Basel undergoes a transformation: its streets become dotted with countless pieces of artwork, installations, shows and much more. If you are interested, know that ‘Art Basel’ always happens on the third week of June. In 2019 it will start on the 13th and continue until the 16th: from Thursday to Sunday. The other editions of ‘ Art Basel ‘ are in Miami (December) and Hong Kong (March).
Arriving a bit before
If you feel like experiencing the show in full, you can always get there beforehand. Most of the participants will travel to Basel prior to the public opening for the many events that start at the beginning of the week (bare in mind though that these events are by invitation only!).
Yet, if you want to feel the full buildup to the fair, visit the city while it’s still relatively quiet. Mingle with the artists before the large crowds of visitors arrive. We strongly recommend to travel there early in the week!
The fair is everywhere
The fair involves the entire town, as many museums host special exhibits, and each neighbourhood in Basel will have its own special attractions and events. However, the main show is held by the large ‘Messe Basel Exhibition Centre‘, which opens from Thursday to Sunday from 11am to 7pm.
How much is the entry to Art Basel?
The box office for the 2018 edition was open in April. If you are wondering about the costs, the previous edition of the fair had Day tickets for 60CHF (roughly equivalent to 65USD) and permanent Tickets, which give you access for the whole week, at 140CHF. The fair also offers several other ticket combinations which will allow you to save money depending on your needs and length of stay.
Tickets purchase at Banhoff Station
Tickets are available upon arrival and can be purchased directly at the ‘Banhof SBB’ train station, the ‘Badischer Banhof’ train station and in the ‘Marktplatz’: the market square. There are discounts available to customers who buy the tickets online (available up to the last day of the show!) and to the ones who travels to Basel by train. There are also several discounts available for groups, families, students and seniors!
‘Art Basel’ is divided into several, content and context dependant sections. You can easily choose to see the ones that interest you the most. Keep in mind, that considering the sheer size of the exhibits and the number of events to attend, you will have to study the program carefully to avoid missing out!
This is the main section of the fair at the Exhibition Centre. It is called ‘Galleries’ because the exhibitors are all galleries that are eager to promote and show their latest finds and artistic talents! In Basel, you will mostly see works done by European artists, but there will also be gallerists coming from all over the world, ranging from South America to East Asia. You will be able to see drawings, paintings, installations, sculptures, digital art, prints, photography and videos from more than 4000 artists!
The ‘Feature’ section in the Centre is curated by ‘Art Basel‘ collaborating gallerists. It showcases various projects by established and historical solo artists. What you will see may vary greatly depending on which artists are present: there will be presentations, juxtapositions, and thematic exhibits, from artists with very different cultural backgrounds and artistic approaches.
This section is very similar to the ‘Feature’ one, with one peculiar difference: all the artists present here are emerging artists! They are here to compete for the prestigious Baloise Art Prize, offered by the Baloise Group. The award winning artist will see their artwork purchased by the Group and then donated to major European artistic institutions.
This exhibition is limited to printed projects, showcased by some of the best publishers of prints in the world such as Niels Borch Jensen Gallery and Editions and Paragon. The artists work closely with the publishers to keep on challenging and improving this medium.
Created by the ‘Art Basel’ curator Gianni Jetzer, this is a pioneering exhibition that transcends the usual limitations of an art show. Presenting large scale installations, massive sculptures and live performances. If you think that contemporary art should also be sensational and overwhelming, do not miss out on this one.
The ‘Parcours’ section is what engages the whole city in celebrating ‘Art Basel’. All around the city’s neighbourhoods there will be several works displayed directly on the streets. You should also expect live performances throughout the day and night. Make sure you get a map of the city and a schedule of the many events.
Maxa Zoller is a film curator and art lecturer who presented experimental films in some of the major museums and galleries around Europe. At ‘Art Basel’ she coordinates and organises a week worth of films by artists, and about artists.
This is a series of talks and dialogues concerning the global contemporary art scene. There will be several artists, publishers, gallerists, curators and architects delivering their point of view on the world of modern and contemporary art. There will be a full schedule available, but, if for some reason you end up missing a particular ‘conversation’, you can catch them later on the ‘Art Basel’ YouTube channel.
At the Exhibition Centre there will be several stands of many leading art magazines which display their work. Also, many publishers and editors of these magazines will be present at the show and they will deliver their insights on the world of arts in some of the ‘conversations’.
As you can see, the program for ‘Art Basel’ is very diverse and covers all the aspects of the vast world of the arts. Your days at the fair will be busy and full of different activities to pursue!
For this reason, we have included here a few tips we feel you could follow to have the best experience at ‘Art Basel’.
All in all, ‘Art Basel’ is an unmissable event; whether you are already planning a trip to Switzerland in June, or you are considering attending art fairs in Europe, this is the place to go to!
Fear not though, if after reading this article you have felt all the fascination for the fair but you can’t travel to the Swiss city, know that ‘Art Basel’ is also an itinerary show that touches many other cities around the world. Alternatively, you can also try to make it to ‘Art Basel’ as an artist! Their website is open to free submissions on artwork and you could actually end up be invited to their next edition of the show!
The world of modern and contemporary art has never been more accessible!