Agreeably warm temperatures, longer days and all the glories of nature are unmistakable signs that summer - and with it, Art Basel - will soon be here. The leading Paris daily 'Le Monde' called the event 'The best art fair in the world' and once again it will be attracting artists, dealers and collectors from every continent. This year the show is ideally timed from June 13 to 18, 2001 - i.e. the week after the opening of the Venice Biennale.
The new, 700-page catalogue prepared in cooperation with the renowned Hatje Cantz publishing house appeared just a few days ago. This provides a richly illustrated preview of Art Basel and a comprehensive overview of all that the international art market has to offer. The cover of this year's catalogue has been printed in two colours - in a broken silvery-bronze shade and in turquoise blue.
Art 32 Basel promises to be the most high-calibre event in Art Basel's history. Never has the list of participants been so distinguished and so international: never have the participating galleries tried so hard to delight art lovers with outstanding masterpieces and new art projects. Indeed, the works of art expected promise a host of exciting discoveries and experiences. Art and the art market continue to flourish in the year 2001, despite a less-than-perfect economic climate. 'Never before have so many of the world's best galleries and artists been represented at an art event' says Samuel Keller, Director of Art Basel, in connection with the continued rise in the quality of this international art fair.
An atmosphere of heightened expectation also surrounds Art Unlimited in Hall 1 of the Messe Basel - a new platform which made its debut last year to a highly enthusiastic reception from the professional world as well as from the art loving public. Art Unlimited shows outsize artistic projects that cannot be seen or purchased at any other art fair. Of the 192 projects submitted for Art 32 Basel, the Art Committee has selected the 67 most interesting ones. It is gratifying to note that the list not only includes leading artists such as Ilya Kabakov, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Serra, James Turrell and Jeff Wall and sought-after young artists such as Pipilotti Rist, Ugo Rondinone, Atelier van Lieshout and Vanessa Beecroft, but also many artists representing the very youngest generation. New or recent creations are supplemented by selected works which have already made art history. All the artistic media are prominently represented, from sculpture, installations and painting through video to performance. Special accents are set by the videotheque devised by Fabrice Gigi and the internet lounge by Anton Henning which extends the exhibition into virtual space. A separate Art Unlimited catalogue is being published in a limited edition to coincide with the opening of Art Basel. The UBS Financial Services Group is a generous supporter of Art Unlimited and has been a main sponsor of Art Basel since 1994.
The emphasis this year has been on the further development of the infrastructure and on optimising the range of services offered by Art Basel. The Messe Basel has, for example, invested CHF 3 million in a new, high-quality partition wall system. The new walls are 3.5 metres high (as opposed to 3 metres in the past) and fulfil the most stringent requirements as regards aesthetics, load-bearing properties, robustness and flexibility. The wall system chosen did exceptionally well in tests spread over several months and is internationally considered to be the best and most reliable one available today. The Musee du Louvre, the J. Paul Getty Museum in Los Angeles and numerous other leading art museums use it for their exhibitions. In making this investment - the largest in the history of Art Basel - the art show is pursuing the goal of offering exhibiting galleries the very best exhibition conditions and services. In addition, the organisers wished to perfect the visual appearance of the show in the interest of the works on display.
Art Basel has also optimised the services available to families. This year, for the first time, it offers a kindergarten for children aged between 3 and 14. In setting up the Art Kindergarten, Art Basel hopes to make it easier for families to visit Art Basel. Parents are given an opportunity to concentrate fully on the works of art, and children and young people are introduced to art through play. Children accompanied by adults have free admission to Art Basel and can visit the Art Kindergarten free of charge. The Art Kindergarten on the 2nd floor in Hall 2 is open daily from 11 to 19 hours (last day until 18 hours). Children will be cared for by representatives from the Robi-Spiel-Aktion and from the Educational Unit of the Museum Services Department of Basel.
This year, we are surprising exhibiting galleries and their VIP guests with a very special treat in the Collectors Lounge: Pierre Buess of the Restaurant Bruderholz (2 Michelin stars) and Evelyne and Werner Martin of the Restaurant Martin (1 Michelin star) are teaming up to run a gourmet restaurant named Restaurant Stucki in homage to the late master chef. With around 50 seats in modern and relaxed surroundings, 'Stucki' offers two daily specials and a different menu each day featuring a choice of two hors díoeuvres, a main course and a dessert. The restaurant will be open daily from 11 to 17.30 hours. Jean-Claude Wicky, chef de cuisine of the Restaurant Bruderholz, and Werner Martin will prepare light French cuisine imbued with creativity and tradition. Pierre Buess and Susi Stucki will supervise the reception of guests and the service at table. Restaurant Stucki aims to offer exhibitors and their guests, as well as Art visitors, a 45-minute break during which they can enjoy quick, fresh and uncomplicated meal.
Yet another surprise awaits visitors and exhibitors at Art 32 Basel. The Wellnesspraxis Basel offers a selection of massages aimed at encouraging relaxation and counteracting the specific physical stresses and strains that can arise during an exhibition. Manicure and pedicure treatments are also on offer, as well as other cosmetic treatments on request. The cost of a massage is CHF 2.- per minute, a manicure costs CHF 40.- and a pedicure CHF 50.-. The Wellnesspraxis Basel is open daily from 11 to 19 hours (last day until 18 hours) and is located on the 1st floor of Hall 2.
All those who enjoyed the celebrations during last year's Art Basel can look forward to the many events in and around the art show planned for June 2001. Apart from private events and large receptions in the museums, there will be another ArtZappening this year. This cultural party is open to all guests during the night from Saturday to Sunday (June 16/17) in the Kaserne precinct. The official Art Party for invited guests will resound on Friday June 15, also in and around the Kaserne. Then there is also the exhibition of the Federal competition for Free Art and LISTE, the young alternative fair. Every evening, night owls congregate at the Art Club in the Kunsthalle. In the Stadtkino of the Kunsthalle, Art Basel screens a programme of new films by artists under the title Art Film. The films to be screened include the new work by Julian Schnabel 'When Night falls' and the film about Alberto Giacometti which Heinz B¸tler shot for the NZZ. The Art Film programme is available at the show. This year's Art Film is curated by This Brunner (arthouse, Zurich).
The museum exhibitions in and around Basel have rarely been as impressive as they are this year: The Fondation Beyler is extending until June 24 the Mark Rothko exhibition which has been so highly regarded by the international art world and opening in parallel its new exhibition - 'Ornament and Abstraction' - on June 10. The Kunstmuseum Basel shows an extensive retrospective of Arnold Boecklin, the Museum for Contemporary Art Basel shows 'Drawn pictures by Toba Khedoori and Vija Celmins', the Museum Jean Tinguely has the exhibition ´Daniel Spoerri - Metteur en scene d'objets' and the Zurich Kunsthaus presents the complete editions of Sigmar Polke and a major retrospective on the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Alberto Giacometti. Also in Zurich, the Kunsthalle has an exhibition of works by Neo Rauch. Mamco has a retrospective of Bertrand Lavier in Geneva. Wassily Kandinsky in the Musee d'Art Moderne et Contemporain in Strasbourg, Sylvie Fleury in the ZKM Karlsruhe and Leiko Ikemura in the Musee cantonal des Beaux-Arts in Lausanne round off the wide selection on offer.
Everything has been done to make this summer a truly unforgettable art season. The ´Family get-together of the art worldª is scheduled for Art Basel from June 13 to 18, 2001.