Art Basel returns to Switzerland – Here are the must-see installations you can see from home


ABB21, Unlimited, General Impressions, PR, MC at Art Basel in Basel 2021

Nici Jost / Courtesy of Art Basel

Art professionals and collectors flock to Basel this week to attend the 2021 edition of Art Basel, which is due to start on September 24. The annual event, known as the world’s most influential and largest contemporary art fair since 1970, is back after an 18-month hiatus due to COVID-19. And judging by the sales numbers and news from the VIP premieres that opened on Monday, it’s safe to say that the three-day art fair will be one for books.

This year, the Messe Basel showroom will host 272 leading galleries from 33 countries, showcasing exquisite works of art in all media by more than 4,000 established and emerging artists.

ABB21, Divers, General Impressions, PR, MC at Art Basel in Basel 2021

ABB21, Divers, General Impressions, PR, MC at Art Basel in Basel 2021

Nici Jost / Courtesy of Art Basel

One of New York’s leading galleries, Van de Weghe, has already made the news by bringing a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat that has never been on the market before. “Hardware Store”, a two-canvas work of art, measures 7 x 11 feet and was painted in 1983. It is priced at $ 40 million, making it one of the most expensive works of art exhibited at the fair.

ABB21, Unlimited, The Mayor Gallery, M77 Gallery, Braco Dimitrijevic, at Art Basel in Basel 2021

ABB21, Unlimited, The Mayor Gallery, M77 Gallery, Braco Dimitrijevic, at Art Basel in Basel 2021

Caroline Minjolle / Courtesy of Art Basel

The Salon94 gallery will feature photographs by Brooklyn-born photographer Kwame Brathwaite who, in the 1960s, helped popularize the phrase “Black is beautiful”. One of the works is “Untitled (Model who adopted natural hairstyles in the AJASS photoshoot).”

A Keith Haring painting brought in by the Gladstone Gallery with an asking price of $ 5.2 million has already found buyers, while a 1975 painting by Philip Guston has been valued at $ 6.5 million.

Jessica Silverman presents a series of ceramic sculptures by Native American artist Rose B. Simpson. This is Simpson’s European premiere. According to the gallery’s website, the androgynous figurines are a study of “indigenous and colonial narratives regarding family, gender, marginality and self.”

Here’s what’s making the buzz in the Swiss city this week – and how you can connect at home.


The large-scale art fair’s section, Unlimited, is already making headlines. This is where you’ll find monumental installations, sculptures, and paintings too large to fit in a traditional art fair booth. This year, 62 projects, organized for the first time by Giovanni Carmine, director of the prestigious Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, will welcome visitors in Hall 1.

Highlights include David Hockney’s photographic drawing “Pictures at an Exhibition” presented by Gray Gallery in Chicago. The larger-than-life piece shows people viewing paintings in a gallery. And although this is a 2D work of art, since most of the subjects in the painting are to scale, with those walking around the fair hall, it really does give the impression let everyone participate in the work.

Another standout piece is Urs Fischer’s iconic installation “Untitled (Bread House), ” presented by Jeffrey Deitch Gallery. It is a sculpture built with loaves of bread attached to a wooden frame. In this case, fresh bread from Zurich’s oldest bakery was brought in for the unconventional (and Instagram-worthy) installation.


The works in this section are exhibited in venues around the city of Basel, and this year it presents 20 installations and performances, brought together under the theme “Can we find happiness together?” A public walk by Hamish Fulton entitled “Walking in Every Direction” takes place on Basel’s Marktplatz. This is a performance piece that invites volunteers to simply walk for an hour.

Huge sculptures by Texas-born Bunny Rogers will be on display at Münsterplatz, while 12 large-scale paintings and performances by Swiss artist Claudia Comte, on display by Gladstone Gallery and König Galerie, can be enjoyed at the Stadtcasino renovated.

Messeplatz will also host two in situ interventions by artists Monster Chetwynd and Cecilia Bengolea.


NFT art is also making its debut at Art Basel, courtesy of the German gallery Nagel Draxler. It features digital works by eight artists, including Olive Allen and Kevin Abosch. The only problem here is that you can’t actually buy any of the works the traditional way (you know, with good old-fashioned physical currency). Those who wish to own any of the coins are redirected to OpenSea, a crypto platform, to purchase it in cryptocurrency.

How to follow Art Basel at home

Not in Basel? No problem.

Following the success of the first digital edition of the fair last year and given the strict entry requirements into Switzerland at the moment, the organizers have also included a virtual component in the program. You can see many works of art on display in the Observation Rooms section on the fair’s website which will be open for the duration of the fair.

What’s next for Art Basel

So what’s next for Art Basel? After the Art Basel edition in Hong Kong in May (the fair’s usual date in March has been moved due to international travel restrictions), industry professionals are speculating that Tokyo may have its own edition of this prestigious event. Until we know more, however, we have another Art Basel event to look forward to this year – the famous edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach will take place from December 2-4.

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