World Art Fair ‘Art 39 Basel’ Successful

Art 39 Basel, the international reunion of the international art world which closed today, attracted 60,000 artists, collectors, curators, and art lovers from around the globe. The participating galleries, Show Management, art connoisseurs, and the media were unanimous in pronouncing this a very good year for the illustrious show.

Art 39 Basel demonstrated the robust health of the international art market, while confirming and enhancing its own unchallenged position as the world’s premier art fair and doing full justice to its reputation as an internationally acclaimed artworld event. The show drew 60,000 visitors, resulting in good to very good sales results for exhibitors.


The 39th edition of the international art show closed on a very high note. The 300 exhibiting galleries considered this year’s Art Basel a great success. The 60,000 visitors to Art 39 Basel included art collectors, museum professionals, art enthusiasts, plus reporters from all over the world. A great many artists were also drawn to the event, among them Ellsworth Kelly, Thomas Ruff, Takashi Murakawi, Tony Oursler, Pipilotti Rist, Ernesto Neto, Andrea Zittel, Isa Genzken, and Dan Graham, to name only a few.


At this year’s Art Basel, the general impression was that only the best of the best is accepted

The Art at the ‘Art 39 Basel’ Fair

Art experts attending the show agreed that the quality and variety of works on display at Art 39 Basel were unparalleled. The participating galleries did their utmost to bring along their most interesting pieces and present them in carefully devised exhibitions. Various booths featured thematic exhibitions and one-person shows.

Known as an important fair for 20th-century classics, Art Basel has meanwhile established itself as the world’s premier platform for contemporary art as well. More galleries of contemporary art exhibit here than at any other art fair. Various galleries presented video works and large installations. Paintings and works on paper experienced a boom, and photography continued to be strongly represented.

The Art Exhibition & Fair Sectors

The results of the Art Unlimited platform, showcasing works that exceed the scope of traditional art-fair exhibition booths and frequently even of gallery and museum spaces, were extremely positive. There were 70 projects on display: installations, video projections, large-scale paintings, and outsize sculptures. Numerous artists created new works specifically for Art Unlimited and installed them themselves.

Enthusiasm was not restricted to the galleries and artists alone: experts and the general public alike judged this year’s edition of Art Unlimited to be one of the best since its inception in the year 2000. The Art Lobby discussion platform gave visitors several opportunities daily for personal encounters with leading members of the international art scene, among them artists such as Jorge Pardo, Patti Smith, AA Bronson, Richard Meier, and many more.

The Art Statements sector, with its 31 one-person shows of young artists, was a further audience magnet. The participants were delighted at the keen interest it aroused, which not only brought in good sales but also provided opportunities to make contact with a host of exhibition makers from all over the world and generated considerable media interest. This year’s Baloise Prize of CHF 25,000 each, donated by the Baloise Group, went to Duncan Campbell (Hotel, London) and Tris Vonna-Michell (T293, Naples).

The ten projects on Exhibition Square, in front of the international art show buildings, surprised and delighted visitors. They were an effective demonstration of the way contemporary artists deal with art in public space.

The Art Edition sector, where international publishers present prints and multiples, also attracted great interest.

The idea of presenting artists in dialogue in the Art Premiere sector earned praise from the public and was described as exhilarating.

The Art Film sector at the Stadtkino Basel, featuring films by and about artists, has meanwhile become a popular institution. The evenings with films by Isaac Julien and Lawrence Weiner attracted particular interest. Never before have there been so many exhibitions and events in the area during Art Basel. The exhibitions at Basel’s museums – but also the cultural program on offer in neighboring cities – are noteworthy complements to the art show and contribute to its appeal.


Art 39 Basel – Visitor Highlights

Art Basel Conversations were a huge success. Attracting several hundred people every day, they featured distinguished experts discussing such subjects as the development of new art institutions in Eastern Europe, the collection and preservation of media art, and the work done by gallerists operating at the margins of the global art market. The premiere of Art Basel Conversations was a discussion between the two artists Lawrence Weiner and Jorge Pardo.

The special Artist Magazines exhibition was also very popular with visitors. There was also enormous interest in the Art on Stage platform at the Theater Basel, where Elmgreen & Dragset’s performance Drama Queens was presented on Wednesday, June 4.

Professional Day on Friday was well received by its target audience and found some 70 galleries staging special activities at their booths: solo shows of young artists, thematic exhibitions, book premieres, lectures, performances, and guided tours. By the last day of the show, the lavishly illustrated catalog, with its comprehensive survey of what the international art market currently has to offer, was sold out, as was the catalog to the Art Unlimited exhibition.

All the participants in Art 39 Basel considered it a very good year, their responses ranging from satisfied to enthusiastic. Visitor interest was reported to be extraordinarily high. Never before have so many major art collectors from all over the world come to Art Basel. Never before has the show attracted so many famous artists. Representatives of almost all the world’s major museums came. There was a particularly marked increase in collectors and curators of the Chinese, Indian, Middle Eastern, and Russian art scenes.

Mathias Rastorfer, director of Galerie Gmurzynska (Zurich):

I was struck by the heightened European purchasing power. There was more demand than in past years for modern classics. There was brisk buying interest from the start. We had good sales in the medium- and high-price sectors, and found new clients as well. Visitors also included institutional collectors from the East and Russia.

Barbara Wien, owner of Galerie Wien (Berlin):

Fantastic. I am very pleased with my location at Art Premiere this year. The format is great – the way a subject can be communicated is like at no other exhibition, it’s not just a matter of selling art. I find that fabulous! We used the opportunity to invite two artists to observe from outside how we muddle about in our culture. Sales were also very good.

Peggy Leboeuf, director of Galerie Perrotin (Paris, Miami):

This has been a great fair. We changed our booth every day, to get the most out of it. We had a lot of visitors, especially in the first three days. Here at the Art Basel we had the opportunity to show Bharti Kehr and Conrad Showcross for the first time, also the Peter Kurfin Prints were a good combination together with our exhibit at Art Unlimited.

Sean Kelly, owner of Sean Kelly Gallery (New York):

For us it was a very successful fair. We had less American collectors, probably because there was no Venice Biannual this year. 75-80% of the sales went to Europe. Through Art Unlimited we got a lot of attention and we had sales to major museums as well as foundations.

What the Press Said

2,300 media representatives from all continents came to see what the international art market has to offer.
“Frieze may have more of a buzz, Art Basel Miami Beach (the US sister fair) may be brasher and have better weather but, without a doubt, Art Basel still packs the biggest punch”, said the Times of London. “At this year’s Art Basel, the general impression was that only the best of the best is accepted”, according to Dagbladet Børsen of Copenhagen. Spain’s El Mundo: “Economic crisis? Not for Art Basel”. Parisian Le Monde declared: “Art Basel has become the world’s best fair and the equivalent, in its field, to what the Cannes Festival is to cinema”.

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