Art fairs, alongside the major auctions, are the heartbeat of the art market, and few are as significant as Art Basel. First set up in 1970 by Basel gallerists Ernst Beyeler, Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt, it has firmly established itself as one of, if not the, leading art fair on the circuit and a reliable gauge of market mood.
In this year’s edition, 289 galleries from across the globe are exhibiting in the fair’s Basel Messe home. The art on show includes all media – from traditional paintings and sculpture to digital creations and large-scale installations – and encompasses the rarest historical masterpieces to new works by leading emerging talents.
Immediate highlights would have to include the striking Mammy, from Andy Warhol’s coveted Myths series, on display at Acquavella Galleries. Also, recent breakout star Jenna Gribbon was on show at LGDR’s booth, having sold for 5 times her estimate at Phillips New York in May.
Other breakout stars from the May New York sales were noticeable: Christina Quarles was on Hauser & Wirth’s booth, fresh off of her work selling over 7 times the estimate at Sotheby’s for $4.5 million; Perrotin and Skarstedt both brought work by Cristina BanBan, who sold for over 9 times her estimate at Phillips in 2021, her auction debut.
Closer to home, both Andy Warhol and George Condo were reassuringly conspicuous throughout the fair. Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans and a Marilyn Reversal were on show at Galerie Thomas and Van de Weghe Fine Art respectively. Meanwhile, Hauser & Wirth, Almine Rech and Simon Lee Gallery all had George Condo on display, with a particularly vibrant canvas valued at $4.5 million.
Numerous major sales were reported from day one of the fair, with values in the multi-million-dollar bracket. Particularly notable was the sale of a Louise Bourgeois Spider for $40 million as well as a Francis Bacon Pope, which had an asking price of $15 million. With the S&P 500 falling 3.9% on Monday, the cryptocurrency continuing to tumble, and inflation accelerating, the buzz at the opening bodes well for the art market as we head into summer.