The Rhine is in turmoil: collectors, dealers and artists have come to Switzerland for the first Art Basel in two years. While the travel and health requirements were complex, that didn’t deter hordes of predominantly European VIPs from lining up at Unlimited, the fair’s section for oversized art, on Monday afternoon in a pouring rain. A testament to the energy accumulated, this year’s presentation is the most important ever seen by the fair, with 62 stand-alone projects organized for the first time by Giovanni Carmine, director of Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen.
Unlimited, which takes place in a hall the size of a hangar on Messeplatz, is known for its imposing and inconvenient works and incredible sightlines. But this year’s section was significantly more boxy and more compartmentalized than usual, possibly due to the fact that many, if not most, merchants chose to bring in large-scale paintings. Wrapped around the walls, most presentations required their own booth-like rooms.
A tasty exception was Urs Fischer’s monumental breadhouse, presented at the entrance to the fair by Jeffrey Deitch and built with fresh bread from Zurich’s oldest bakery in the artist’s hometown. It is offered for $ 3 million.
“The market is very much geared towards paintings, but I’ve always been inspired by conceptual works like this,” Deitch told Artnet News, listing the different types of bread the gallery had shipped from the nearby town. “If we want to come here, we’ll go all the way. After a 12-year hiatus, the dealership is back to both Unlimited and the Main Fair, which opens to VIPs tomorrow.
Although the rest of the section relied heavily on murals, there were still some ambitious projects to be undertaken. Right next to Deitch’s statement exhibit was a “photographic drawing” by David Hockney, presented by the Gray Gallery in Chicago. The optically alluring piece seemed to invite the viewer to sit next to the figures in the foreground and take in the artwork, with its subjects scaled to those walking through the living room.
Some works debuted a year later than expected. Sean Scully had originally created a series of paintings titled Dark windows for the 2020 edition of Art Basel, but the melancholy piece was finally in the spotlight today. In the early evening, the exhibiting galleries, Kewenig and Lisson, confirmed that he was on hold for an undisclosed sum for a private European museum collection.
Hauser & Wirth has taken over a good chunk of real estate with three artist projects, featuring works by Roni Horn, John Chamberlain and Frank Bowling, with prices ranging from $ 750,000 to $ 5.5 million.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be back ‘in person’,” said Iwan Wirth at the premiere. “Those who exhibit and participate have gone the extra mile and are rewarded because no art fair experience can compare to Unlimited in terms of ambition and scale. The atmosphere on the pitch at Art Basel is like a reunion.
See more images of Art Unlimited below.
Follow Artnet News on Facebook:
Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest news, eye-opening interviews and cutting-edge reviews that keep the conversation going.