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Art Basel

Art Basel's coordinators prioritise market over culture

No more free champagne at the 22nd Art fair, from 12 to 17 June

The recent sales in New York, with their adequate results (see p.17) will have given some comfort to the organisers of Art, the Basel contemporary fair, the most prestigious in the calendar, which opens on 12 June. The press releases on this usually meticulously organised event have been slow in coming, which suggests that participating dealers may have been slow in making up their minds about whether, and how, to attend. What is certain is that it will be a more hard-nosed event, without the traditional supporting exhibitions, apart from a show of photography from 1840 to the present day, put on by the Association of Dealers in Photographs. This is in order to have as many exhibitors as possible (285 from twenty-two countries). There have also been some cuts, with thirteen galleries “uninvited”.

The organising committee, which includes among its duties the scrutiny of applicant dealers to see whether they match the fair’s high standards, has replaced Ernst Beyeler, the founder of the fair (who this time will be showing solely Rothko on his stand), and Trudl Bruckner, the Basel dealer, with Felix Buchmann, also of Basel, and Piere Huber of Geneva. Kathleen Ewing is an addition to the number of the committee, to represent photography.

“Edition”, the graphic art section of the fair will be seventeen stands less than the 105 of last year, with a special section dedicated to livres d’artiste, presented by Art Metropole of Toronto and Printed Matter of New York in pavilion 233, where the Swiss Museums of Paper and of Writing and Printing are organising an exhibition of paper-making.

The opening party will no longer be by invitation but by bought ticket, with profits going to the American Foundation for Aids Research as part of the campaign “Art against Aids”. There will also be a charity auction for the same cause of four or five works in the fair, among which a large indoor sculpture by Richard Serra, a painting by Joan Mitchell and a woodcut by Baselitz. The fair will be open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Less culture and more market'

Appeared in The Art Newspaper Archive, 9 June 1991