Art Basel

Art Basel veterans list their top four things to do in the city

Basel's best kept secrets, told by artists, curators, dealers and connoisseurs


Dexter Dalwood

The UK painter Dexter Dalwood was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2010. Works created by Dalwood within the past 15 years, on view at the Kunsthaus CentrePasquArt in Biel until 16 June, includes key pieces such as Nixon's Departure and Hendrix's Last Basement, both 2001, and more recent paintings such as Robert Walser, 2012.

1 Museum:

Go and see “The Picassos Are Here!” (until 21 July), an unmissable show at the Kunstmuseum Basel. Also visit the Schaulager, just to see how a contemporary art museum should be.

2 The cocktail:

The bar in which to hang out and listen to live acts is the Agora bar. Some of the best cocktails in town are served here, and the bar is open until the early hours. Just be aware: it’s marked by a tiny shop window and is also a fumoir (so smoking is allowed).

3 The food:

Visit Eoipso. It’s housed in an old electrical turbine hall (Dornacherstrasse 192).

4 Pret a Diner:

A pop-up restaurant that will only be in Basel this year (until 16 June, at the Elisabethen Kirche).

5 The walk:

For a nice run or leisurely walk, find your way down from the Kunstmuseum Basel to the river Rhine and walk upstream alongside the old parts of town: the contemporary art museum (Museum für Gegenwartskunst); the riverside café, Veronica, located on a large metal pier; and a wonderful sequence of trees leading to Birsköpfli, a local bathing spot. Keep going and you’ll come to the Birsfelden dam, a 1950s cultural heritage site. Erected by Hans Hoffmann, the dam is a James Bond-like setting of structural grandeur, with light-flooded machine rooms bridged by a green peninsula. [From] there you can turn around and head back to town—an eight-kilometre walk or run.

Hoor al-Qasimi

Hoor al-Qasimi has overseen the Sharjah Biennial since 2003. The daughter of the Emir of Sharjah, she received her fine arts degree from the Slade School of Fine Art, London, and a masters degree in Curating Contemporary Art from the Royal College of Art, London. She was on the curatorial selection committee for the 2012 Berlin Biennial and is a visiting lecturer at the Slade.

1 Museum:

Museum der Kulturen at the Münsterplatz in Basel. The striking courtyard annex at this ethnographic museum, one of the most important in Europe, has been designed by Herzog & de Meuron. The museum’s 300,000-strong collection, initially founded by a range of private collectors, is impressive with significant objects on show from Oceania, Indonesia, South, Central and East Asia. But I’m also drawn to its collection of 50,000 historic photographs.

2 Exhibition:

Fondation Beyeler. This gallery is, in my opinion, one of the best design projects by the Italian architect Renzo Piano. With a large collection of important works of art and interesting exhibitions, I would recommend putting aside a morning to visit. A retrospective of Max Ernst's work is on view at the moment (until 8 September) and Maurizio Cattelan's exhibition has just opened (until 6 October). After seeing the Ernst show at the Albertina in Vienna, I would say you shouldn't miss seeing it at the Fondation Beyeler.

3 Away day:

If you have a day free and want to get away from the crowds at Art Basel, I would suggest taking a train to Zurich’s Löwenbräu Art Complex, where you can visit many art spaces including the Kunsthalle Zurich and Parkett's Space.

4 Movie:

Catch a film at the Filmpalast, an independent 28-seat cinema on Binningerstrasse in central Basel.

5 Public art:

Tinguely-Brunnen at the Theaterplatz, located near the Kunsthalle Basel: this assortment of moving sculptures by Tinguely are powered by water. Also the Jean Tinguely Museum, housed in a building designed by Mario Botta, situated directly on the Rhine (Paul Sacher-Anlage 2) has an interesting selection of works, photographs and documents.

Matthias Arndt

The German dealer Matthias Arndt opened his contemporary art gallery in east Berlin in 1994, relocating in 2010 to Schöneberg, a central district of the city. He has organised more than 300 exhibitions, including pop-up shows in spaces around the world. In January 2013, Arndt opened a venue in Singapore in the new art hub, Gillman Barracks.

1 Work out:

The first thing I do when I arrive is pick up my pre-reserved bike at Basel railway station ( For 20 years now, at every Art Basel, I have taken a one-hour ride every morning along the Rhine.

2 Eat:

Another annual ritual is lunch at the Brauerei restaurant, Grenzacherstrasse 60. I meet a dear US couple, who are collectors, and we have a kalbsbratwurst [veal bratwurst] with rösti, before making our first tour of the Liste fair.

3 Visit:

The Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein is another must. With boundaries between art and design becoming more fluid, I love to see what is new in contemporary design; at the same time, there are still so many design classics to discover.

4 Eat (again):

Dinner at Chez Donati in the Les Trois Rois hotel is essential: it’s an old-school venue with incredible Italian food that never disappoints.

5 The fair:

Last but not least, Art Basel is the centre of everybody’s attention and the reason why we’re all there. All meetings take place in or around the fair, with its busy agenda and rich offerings.

Laurence Dreyfus

Laurence Dreyfus is a Paris-based art adviser who founded her consultancy, LDAC, in 2000. In 2004, she presented the collection of the German industrialist Harald Falckenberg at the Maison Rouge-Antoine de Galbert foundation in Paris. Every year since 2006 she has organised commercial contemporary art shows in Paris, called "Chambres à Part".

1 Exhibitions:

Head to the “Contemporary Art Weekend” in Zürich to see exhibitions of works by Wilhelm Sasnal at Hauser & Wirth (until 27 July), Los Carpinteros (Galerie Peter Kilchmann, until 27 July) and Keiichi Tanaami (Karma International, until 13 July).

2 Coffee:

To rejuvenate the eyes, sip coffee in the gardens of the Fondation Beyeler. Then head for the exhibition of works by Maurizio Cattelan (until 6 October).

3 Museum:

"Some End of Things" at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst (until 15 September) is a must-see. I really enjoy works by Fabian Marti, among others.

4 Food:

For dinner, one of the most elegant places is Les Trois Rois hotel. The restaurant's view above the Rhine is a must-see. Another great restaurant, situated in a former printing house, is Ackermannshof (St. Johanns-Vorstadt 21). 

5 Cocktail:

To finish the day in Basel, nothing seems better than a drink at the Kunsthalle, then on to a party hosted by Le Baron [a Parisian nightclub]. Their boat parties are the best.