Marking the end of the season and the beginning of the summer, Art Basel is still the most iconic go-to event round the contemporary arts calendar, opening tonight in the recently Herzog & de Meuron-redesigned Messe-Platz. At the border between Switzerland, France and Germany, the city’s strategic location is but one of the reasons of the art fair’s long-lasting success.
Among the other motives, one must recognize that it has pushed hard to continuously innovate itself and stay relevant: this year, in addition to Art Unlimited, the “size matters” sector, boldly curated by Gianni Jetzer, and Art Parcours, the enthralling public art program curated by Florence Derieux in the city’s historical quarters, Art Basel is enriched by 14 Rooms, a project dedicated to performative and interactive practice curated by Klaus Biesenbach and Hans Ulrich Obrist, with featured artists of the likes of Marina Abramović, Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Joan Jonas, Bruce Nauman, Tino Sehgal, Santiago Sierra, and Xu Zhen.
An additional decisive factor, on the other hand, shall be found outside of the fair’s perimeter, and precisely in the city’s first caliber, engaging cultural offer.
This year, the three main local museums are hosting as many truly unmissable shows: the Schaulager presents an extensive solo exhibition of Hong Kong-born, New York-based artist Paul Chan; Le Corbeau et le Renard: Revolt of Language with Marcel Broodtaers, curated by Søren Grammel, is on view at Museum für Gegenwartskunst; while the entire space of Kunsthalle Basel is dedicated to the work of Bangladeshi writer and visual artist Naeem Mohaiemen.
Make a plan of visiting the latter in the late afternoon, so you have an excuse for one or many drinks at the Kuntshalle’s charming Campari Bar, traditionally a favorite site for social dinners. And after, there is still time to visit Liste, the now-established fair dedicated to emerging art, to encounter many of tomorrow’s big things.