The oldest and most important contemporary art fair in the world is a performance piece in itself.
Nicknamed ‘the art world Olympics,’ Art Basel is the oldest and most important contemporary art fair in the world. More than 300 leading galleries flock from all over the world to show works by some 4,000 artists, mostly emerging wavemakers, but always with a sprinkling of late-modern masterworks and iconic, double take-inducing pop pieces. Painting, sculpture, installations, photography, prints and videos are all present and correct, as are daily symposiums, films and artist lectures, and such is the success of the event each year sprouts some new sub-fair, such as Unlimited, a dedicated arena for XXXL artworks and Parcours, a selection of site-specific sculptures and installations around the city. The fair, which has spawned sister events in Miami and Hong Kong, is also an anthropologically fascinating ritual, with unfathomably rich patrons checking out each others’ couture and potential purchases – hang out around the stands of mega-galleries Michael Werner, Hauser & Wirth and Gagosian to catch this unbilled performance piece.