Art Basel 2023, impervious to the tremors of the world

Basel is a city in Switzerland. Art Basel is a brand. That of an art fair, more than fifty years old, which quickly became the best in the world – and remained so – before spreading, first to Miami, then to Hong Kong and finally to Paris. A brand with a particularity: the products – the works of art – found there adapt to local tastes: more bling-bling in Florida, more French (if only by the over-representation of French galleries compared to to other countries) in Paris.

Basel, the mother city, welcomes more: 284 galleries from Africa, North and Latin America, Asia and Europe… More international, there is not, which is also true of the public . It has thus become an obligatory passage, not only for collectors, but also for professionals who, in a few days, will meet both the gratin and the rising figures of the profession.

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There is a wide range of artistic practices, from the modern master painting to the most recent creation, monumental works – seventy-six pieces this year, grouped together in the Art Unlimited sectionto other more intimate ones, such as Lucas Arruda, whose very small landscape paintings, offered by the Mendes Wood gallery at 150,000 euros each, were quickly sold, not only because they are beautiful, but because some have previously exhibited by the Pinault Collection in Paris, that of Carmignac, in Porquerolles (Var), and the Beyeler Foundation, in Basel. With such letters of introduction, the client does not hesitate long…

But the most furtive work of Art Basel has passed under the radar of visitors in a hurry: it is barely a hundred seconds of variation in light intensity. These light crackles are generated every day from data on the art market, digested by ChatGPT, this new tool of artificial intelligence. Of this immaterial work imagined by the Croatian artist Tomo Savic-Gecan, there will remain no image, “just a memory”, says his Parisian gallery owner, Frank Elbaz. And also a contract allowing its buyer to reactivate it, for 75,000 euros.

Mao and Warhol readjusted

At the Basel Fair, you can therefore find everything, from pure conceptual to the most disheveled, even sometimes kitsch, like these astronauts by Jean-Marie Appriou available in all sizes and all prices. And above all extremely rare works that dealers reserve for this occasion, because their selection is at stake: if we encourage bizarre experiments, we do not accept mediocrity and the list is long of galleries having paid for this kind of error. an often permanent exile. This throughout the duration of the fair: the admission committee visits the stands daily to check that the works replacing those sold the day before are of the same level.

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