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The 2019 edition of Art Basel attracted a truly global audience, catalyzing excellent sales at all levels
Van de Weghe Fine Art © Art Basel.

BASEL.- Art Basel brought together 290 premier galleries, presenting works ranging from early 20th century Modern art to the most contemporary pieces. While galleries from Europe continued to be strongly represented, the show featured returning and new exhibitors from across the globe, including Asia, Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, and Africa.

19 galleries participated for the first time, including: Barro Arte Contemporáneo from Argentina; Galeria Jaqueline Martins from Brazil; Temnikova & Kasela from Estonia; Galerie Crèvecoeur and Galerie Christophe Gaillard from France; SpazioA from Italy; Vadehra Art Gallery from India; Marfa' from Lebanon; Galerie Knoell from Switzerland; and Commonwealth and Council, Durham Press, and David Lewis from the United States, among others.

Among the fair's most talked-about highlights was ‘Aggregate’ (2017-2019) by Romanian artist Alexandra Pirici. Conceived as a time capsule, in which fragments from nature, vernacular culture, art history, and everyday life are given new embodiments, the work was presented on Messeplatz in a purpose-built pavilion designed by Andrei Dinu, a frequent collaborator of Pirici's.

Leading private collectors from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East attended this year, as well as representatives from over 400 museums and institutions, including: Centre Pompidou, Paris; Dallas Museum of Art; Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami; Museo de Arte de Lima; Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires; Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit; Royal Museums of Fine Arts of Belgium; National Gallery Singapore; New Museum, New York; Norval Foundation, Cape Town; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Serpentine Galleries, London; and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York.

With this fair, Art Basel successfully introduced a sliding-scale pricing model for its Basel show, designed to benefit galleries with smaller stands. For the second year, Art Basel curated a VIP Weekend program, which was attended by more than 120 collectors from over 25 countries across all regions.

Shortly before the fair, Art Basel announced the Global Guide, a new digital initiative designed to further support galleries by driving visitors and collectors to Art Basel's galleries year-round and furthering Art Basel's mission to connect patrons with great galleries on a year-round basis.

Galleries exhibiting in all sectors of Art Basel expressed their delight at this year’s show:

'This marks the fourth year we've participated in the Basel fair, the most important art fair in the world. It is a precious opportunity to open new fronts, whether for exhibitions, special projects, and, of course, new clients – both institutional and private – from all over the world.’ --Thiago Gomide, Co-Founder, Bergamin & Gomide (São Paulo)

‘We sold out our booth on the first day, and it has been very exciting to have met so many curators. The fair has been better than we could’ve hoped for.’ --Vanessa Carlos, Co-Founder, Carlos/Ishikawa (London)

‘2019 at Art Basel brought our most successful fair yet, with over 40 sales by the end of the opening day alone. The momentum leading up to the fair was particularly strong this year, but nothing can replace the experience of Messeplatz and the energy on the ground.’ --Iwan Wirth, President and Co-Founder, Hauser & Wirth (Zurich, London, Somerset, Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong, St. Moritz)

‘Having participated in Art Basel for the last ten years, I have seen how the fair has diversified with young collectors in their 20s and 30s travelling to Basel from all over the world. Art Basel is a fair beloved across generations.’ --Takayuki Ishii, Owner/Director, Taka Ishii Gallery (Tokyo)

‘We sold out the entirety of our booth within one day. It has been a joy to watch the evolution of the fair’s curatorial rigor and the strength of its collector base, reminding us why it remains a key date in our calendar.’ --Jack Shainman, Owner, Jack Shainman Gallery (New York)

The show's main sector comprised of 232 leading galleries from across the globe, showing painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography, video, and editioned works of the highest quality. Spanish gallery Travesía Cuatro joined the show for the first time, while Galerie Thomas returned to Basel following a brief hiatus. Seven new galleries that previously exhibited in Feature or Statements entered the sector for the first time and showcased the full range of their programs, further rejuvenating the sector: Galerie Pietro Spartà from France; Peres Projects, Société, and Wentrup from Germany; Hollybush Gardens and Sprovieri from the United Kingdom; and P.P.O.W from the United States.

The sector presented 24 ambitiously curated projects by both historical and contemporary artists, with 11 galleries completely new to the show. Highlights included Croy Nielsen’s presentation of work by Austrian artist Elke Silvia Krystufek, a focus on Cameron Rowland's ‘Rental Project’ at Essex Street, and Karl Haendel's hand-drawn works on paper at Sommer Contemporary Art.

Showcasing 18 solo presentations by young international galleries, Statements offered visitors and collectors the opportunity to discover quality work by emerging artists. The sector welcomed six galleries exhibiting at the Basel show for the first time, including Barro Arte Contemporáneo, Commonwealth and Council, Galerie Crèvecoeur, Marfa', SpazioA, and Temnikova & Kasela.

The 21st Baloise Art Prize was awarded to Xinyi Cheng at Balice Hertling and Giulia Cenci at SpazioA. A jury of international experts awarded CHF 30,000 to each artist, and their works were acquired by the Baloise Group and donated to Mudam Luxembourg and the Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin.

The sector presented 14 global leaders in the field of prints and editioned works, including Durham Press, who participated in the Art Basel show for the first time, Niels Borch Jensen Gallery and Editions, Alan Cristea Gallery, mfc-michèle didier, Atelier-Editions Fanal, Gemini G.E.L., Sabine Knust, Lelong Editions, Carolina Nitsch, Paragon, Polígrafa Obra Gràfica, Susan Sheehan Gallery, STPI, and Two Palms. In addition to its stand presentation, mfc - michèle didier was selected to present ‘Colby Sign’ by Allen Ruppersberg on the Spotlight wall facing the Rundhof.

Unlimited once again offered galleries the opportunity to showcase monumental installations, sculptures, video projections, wall paintings, photographic series, and performance art that transcend the traditional art fair stand. Renowned masters as well as emerging artists were featured, including: Larry Bell, Huma Bhabha, Andrea Bowers, Jonathas de Andrade, VALIE EXPORT, Alicia Framis, Abdulnasser Gharem, Kiluanji Kia Henda, Kapwani Kiwanga, Daniel Knorr, Jannis Kounellis, Lawrence Lek, Zoe Leonard, Sarah Lucas, Kerry James Marshall, Rivane Neuenschwander, Hélio Oiticica, Jacolby Satterwhite, Joan Semmel, Do Ho Suh, Fiona Tan, Franz West, and Pae White. Once again, galleries reported strong sales from the sector. Unlimited was curated for the eighth and final year by Gianni Jetzer, Curator-at-Large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington D.C. Next year, the sector will be curated by Giovanni Carmine, Director of the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen.

For the Messeplatz project this year, Romanian artist Alexandra Pirici presented a performative environment titled ‘Aggregate’ (2017-2019). For this new iteration of ‘Aggregate’, curated by Cecilia Alemani, Pirici brought together over 60 performers that formed a vast collective body through the accumulation of individual gestures, enveloping the viewers in intricate choreographies and rehearsed compositions.

This year marked the 10th edition of Parcours, which features site-specific artworks displayed throughout Basel's historic center. Presented under the title 'The Impossibility of Being a Sculpture' and curated for the fourth consecutive year by Samuel Leuenberger, Director and Curator of SALTS in Birsfelden, Switzerland, this year’s presentation included 20 site-specific artworks by artists including: Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Paweł Althamer, Mathis Altmann, Pierre Bismuth, Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys, Matias Faldbakken, Dan Graham, Laurent Grasso, Irena Haiduk, Camille Henrot, Caitlin Keogh, Germaine Kruip, Ad Minoliti, Antonio Obá, Reto Pulfer, Hassan Sharif, Ron Terada, Daniel Turner, Rinus Van de Velde, and Cathy Wilkes. Throughout the week, Parcours was attended by about 11,000 people.

Consisting of nine film and video works presented by the show’s participating galleries, the diverse and challenging program reflected on the complex role of media today. The program was screened at the Stadtkino Basel and was attended by almost 500 visitors. Art Basel’s Film program was for the last time curated by Maxa Zoller, in collaboration with Marian Masone. Next year, the Film program will be curated by Filipa Ramos, Editor-in-Chief of art agenda.

Art Basel's renowned talks series brought together leading artists, gallerists, collectors, art historians, curators, museum directors, and critics from across the world. Programmed for the first time by the Berlin-based artist Julieta Aranda, this year's program featured 15 talks, a 1 sonic lecture and 1 film screening and served as a platform for dialogues and discussions on current topics from career and motherhood to the carbon footprint of the art world, and offered perspectives on producing, collecting, and exhibiting art. This year’s Premiere Artist Talk was devoted to William Kentridge. Conversations was free and open to the public and was attended by almost 3,000 people.

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