Let’s get one thing straight: it’s impossible to provide brilliant fair analysis one hour after you’ve seen the thing. I can’t tell you how well Art Basel has performed — I don’t know yet — but if it means anything my instincts tell me it’s not bad. I liked the carpet despite the fact that I am told it is camouflage for dry wall screws, I liked the tall booth walls, and most importantly, I liked the art. Don’t get me wrong — it wasn’t all good, (Peres Projects‘ photo installation saw to that), but aside from the fact that the fair is too large to properly evaluate what’s there, they really do a good job at recreating a gallery experience.
Damien Hirst, For the Love of God, Laugh, 2007, Edition of 250, Screenprint with Glazes and diamond dust on paper, 39 3/8 x 29 1/2 inches. At White Cube
I took great interest in White Cube this year, because they had an infamous Damien Hirst skull print made of diamond dust and glazes. The dust was already falling off the print and collecting in the bottom of the frame, but, you know, for 10,000 GBP that problem can be yours. Hirst’s edition size of 250 probably means to reference Warhol, since he too frequently worked with that edition number and material, not that it adds anything but egotism to the piece. At some point collectors will have to lose interest in this man’s balls, and his grossly arrogant behavior will actually cost him money.
Joseph Cornell, at L&M Arts, Photograph AFC
On a note unrelated to Hirst, L&M Arts put together a beautiful wall of Joseph Cornell boxes, facing an opposing wall of with a Richard Prince, John Baldesarri Tom Friedman and a David Hammons. A tip of the hat to the L&M curators Robert Pincus-Witten, Leila Saadai, and Eloise Benzekri, who presumably had something to do with this arrangement. Galerie Max Hetzler displayed a beautiful op art painting by Bridget Riley executed in 2007, Paul Kasmin, The Electric Eat, an early Robert Indiana sculpture made of light bulbs that spells the word Eat, and Alan Stone, a large and gorgeous Thiebaud landscape. The Thiebaud was of particular interest to me, since I so rarely see his work at contemporary galleries, I assume this is because collectors purchase his art and hold on to it, but I’m making educated guess made without any real knowledge of the Thiebaud market.
Bridget Riley, Red with Red 1, 2007, Oil on Linen, 67 x 89 3/4 inches at Galerie Max Hetzler, photograph AFC
It may go without saying that I have more work to talk about, but in an attempt to keep my post within a reasonable length, I’ve decided to divide it up a little. I will however leave you with the sentiment that I generally remain pleased with Art Basel. It consistently shows high quality work, displays it well, and thankfully does a good job of downplaying the ick factor/ostentatious money that inevitably becomes part of such events. You’ll have to ignore the BMW’s for sale in the front of the convention center however to believe that last statement.