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Art Basel 2008


The last section to be seen is Art Gallery section. In this section, there were galleries from established one to the one that exhibits cutting edge contemporary art.

Art Basel 2008

Almine Rech

Helly Nahmad Gallery exhibited Joan Mirテウ’s remarkable 18 artworks and Galerie Almine Rech had a booth where the gallery exhibited only metal artworks made by different artists.

Art Basel 2008


However, even there are different art fairs in this world Art Basel serves as the best art fair. Similarly, there are numerous galleries all over the world, but Gagosian Gallery is the best.

Gagosian Gallery’s booth was perfectly calculated and constructed a quality of growing space in a limited space. It gave a perfect distance between a viewer and an artwork when the viewer stood in front of an artwork. The booth with arcade structure helped to expand viewer’s sight. It sounds exaggerated, but it was like microcosms where the most expensive artists loom over, and was definitely the world of Gagosian Gallery.

Art Basel 2008


There was a booth where viewers sighed because of its beauty. It was the exhibition of Hiroshi Sugimoto’s photography and sculpture where in a serene silence of Gallery Koyanagi transports viewers to the other world, and Tabaimo’s truly remarkable drawing installation in the booth shows its elegance and prestige.

It is also important to remember a female gallerist Barbara Galdstone’s confidence. Her booth was itself like an artwork. For most of galleries it is important that the limited space was utilized in its best way and partitioned to exhibit as much artwork as it can without making the space disorganized. However, she exhibited only one artwork on a big wall. The booth of Barbara Galdstone was rather big, there were only 10 artworks exhibited in her booth. There was even a pure white wall without any artworks on. That was unspeakable.

In this section where only 300 galleries were chosen to exhibit, galleries submit heavily considered proposal. However, this is Art Basel. Galleries need to pass such a high competition and selection. But, why are gallerists still attracted to and aim for Art Basel? They need to go through an extremely competitive selection, then paying for an expensive fee for a booth, transportation fees for artworks, labor costs, accommodation fees, and expensive tax in Switzerland. The answer is easy. Art Basel makes money. Galleries can earn much more money in Art Basel compare to any other art fairs and they can recover the amount of cost they spend for the fair.

For example, Takashi Murakami‘s giant silver Buddha exhibited in the cafe of Art Unlimited was sold for eight million Euros to an art advisor based in New York and Paris. And, Lucian Freud’s artwork exhibited in Acquavella booth was sold fro 12 million dollars. In addition, the painting trilogy by Francis Bacon from Marlborough Gallery was sold for 80 million dollars.

Because of United State’s depressed economy and decline of the dollar, the art market was once thought to run down. However, contemporary art auction houses still continue to make new selling price record. And, it was not like last year when American art collectors went to different art fairs such as Venice Biennale, Documenta, Mテシnster but could not get any artworks, therefore, came to Basel and buy just any artworks. But, there were art collectors coming to this year’s Art Basel from Europe, Russia, China, and Middle Eastern countries. They carefully and steadily bought artworks that were eventually reflected in 205 private jets that landed on Basel airport during the fair.

After the former director Samuel Keller who carried Art Basel the best contemporary art fair in the world acceded to a post of director at Foundation Beyeler, three new directors took the post in 2008. However, one of the directors, Cay Sophie Rabinowitz resigned the post just a month prior to the fair. It was worried that maintaining the quality of fair would be difficult. However, it turned out with the record of more visitors than last year’s with over 60,000 visitors. This, in fact, was accredited to both directors, Marc Spiegler and Annette Schテカnholzer who after such an unexpected event inherited Art Basel’s conservatism in the good sense. Art Basel’s quality that is not affected by trends was evident this year because there were no paintings with the face of Mao Tse-tung by contemporary Chinese artists with very expensive prices that have been popular in contemporary art market. In Art Basel, there were only artworks that are interesting and works achieving a high level as an artwork. In the end, I came to appreciate Art Basel in the time when arテ・t fairs affected by trends are seeing increases.

Art | 39 | Basel
Date: June 4th – 8th, 2008
Place: Messe Basel
Address: Messeplatz, 4058, Basel, Switzerland

Text and photos: Kana Sunayama
Translation: Masanori Sugiura

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