Don’t Sweat The Art Stuff: A Post Basel Roundup
Basel this year was the shit show and a half it is every year. Parties were exclusive, people were hungover, and everyone in the city of Miami was from the city of New York. It was overwhelming to say the least, but there was respite in the art, at which we—unexpectedly I might add—swooned.
The UNTITLED show was a melange of dysmorphic sculpture, surreal photography, and some superbly perverted portraiture of women. The fair, located on the beach and studded with galleries from (besides New York and Paris) Mexico City, Copenhagen, Toronto, Panama City, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Austin, and Grand Rapids, was a successful collection of the contemporary. It had its hackneyed bits (read: quit it with the mirrors, people), but as a whole, UNTITLED was the best of the satellite shows.
Scope, which sat adjacent to UNTITLED in a similarly mammoth tent, was dissimilarly underwhelming. It found itself in that pedestrian realm of the art world: pop. There were a few exquisite paintings, but for the most part the roundup was full of work that might seem cool if you stumbled upon it via Internet. In physical form, though, amidst the glory of a tropical beach and the world’s finest collectors, it was deficient.
Aqua was located in a two floor, what-would-be-a-shity-motel-if-it-wasn’t-art-world-spring-break with a courtyard and a questionable jacuzzi at its center. Fine art reigned supreme at this smaller satellite show and for a moment, I thought we had returned to the golden age of art, when physical skill, as opposed to conceptual thought, was rampant. Paintings, graphite drawings, and handmade sculpture were the ultimate bait.
The eponymous show was the best show! Not just for its breadth of work, but for it’s specific selections. There was the old and the new, the pop and the authentic, the humorous and the cathartic, the good and the bad—if we’re being truly discerning. But overall, the art at Basel was worthy of the buzz surrounding the annual weekend. By the end, we were drunk on it.
Check out our coverage of last year’s Miami madness, too.