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Art’s Gravitational Force or City on the Rhine Art|35|Basel

'Bound to Fail' by Paul Mc Carthy

Basel in June. The European Championship is on. Germany versus Holland in the Gare du Nord. And the 35th art fair. 270 exhibitors, 1500 artists showing 5000 works of art – a success. Nespresso and Gerhard Richter. A picture, which brings autumn to mind. It has spirit. A Richter from the seventies. A picture with spirit is a rarity. It sells, and David Zwirner, New York, makes a nice deal with this landscape and country house. A feat, to paint the summer but to evoke the autumn. Great art. Great melancholy.
The stalls, the production, the characters, an impressive sight. neugerriemschneider, likeably vivacious, White Cube/Jay Jopling, pleasantly antiquated, the Gebr. Lehmann, beautifully opinionated. As always, there was plenty of Picasso & Co., albeit not as resplendently as in previous years. The young, emerging artists make up for this. Painting from Poland and Germany is of a high calibre and shows great promise. Wilhelm Sasnal and Eberhard Havekost. However, much of the work by those at the forefront of young, emerging art is not to be seen: Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Luc Tuymans and Daniel Richter. It instead, made its appearance this year in the English auction houses.
This city on the Rhine has two main attractions. The infamous cathedral, founded in 1019, which lies on the Greater Basel side, across the river. The other is located in art unlimited. An enormous steel sculpture by Richard Serra from m Bochum, constructed in 2004, entitled blade runner. Here, amongst the hustle and bustle of bargaining, you had a feeling of heaviness and durability and also a certain lightness. The hall of Art Unlimited: A place to wander leisurely and discover. Showing alongside Serra, among others, were Candice Breitz, Erwin Wurmand the ubiquitous Kawamoto. Size does matter.
The fair spread out into the open– the forecourt was brought to life for the first time this year by various works from artists ranging from Paul McCarthy to Monica Bonvicini to Michael Elmgreen + Inga Dragset. The omnipresent clock at the entrance to the fair was somewhat put into perspective and challenged by Mc Carthy’s Bound To Fail. An enormous unidentifiable object, generated by a computer game, a torso, reminiscent of a Henri Moore, an inflated scenic sculpture rose upwards in the air, managing not to burst. The language of shapes from the fifties meets young, emerging art.
The ‘conversation’ lectures, another new feature in the Bulgaripavillion, attracted not only those in search of precious gems. Nespresso and dry croissants. Interesting and well-informed speakers: The essential daily ten o’clock appointment. The fair before the fair.
And what else? The Schaulager. First class architecture from Herzog & DeMeuron together with an exhibition about their work and their working methods. And, last but not least, the extraordinary Francis Bacon exhibition in the Foundation Beyeler. Bacon in a tremendous synopsis with Velasquez, Vincent van Gogh, Tizian....
There is water a plenty in the Rhine. The ferry, Der Wilde Ma, has lost its ornamental flower. Lost of romanticism. Gidon Horowitz, the Ferryman, carries on telling his stories. He is silent on the ferry- most of the time.

Text: Ulf Wetzka
Translation: Rebekah Smith

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