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PARIS MARAIS International Art Galeries


The Perfect Art City Break :
Basel Art Fair - 14 to 17 June 2012

June is Contemporary Art Month as well as that of the famous Basel Art Fair which is held every year in this charming city on the banks of the Rhine, at the confluence of France and Germany. For 4 days, the ultimate international art galleries, including several located in the Marais district of Paris, come together to present the best of contemporary and modern creation for collectors and enthusiasts worldwide. This year, over 300 galleries representing approximately 2500 artists were selected to participate in this great Barnum of international contemporary art.


Art Basel is the perfect opportunity for the curious to see the status of current creation in an electric atmosphere often mixing the commercial world with real moments of grace. On two floors of a huge exhibition hall, the galleries present their selections.


From German Expressionist drawings of the 20s (particularly sumptuous at the Nagy Gallery), to geometric abstraction and lyrical, to the somewhat "kitsch" works of Damian Hirst and Jeff Koons or more conceptual pieces, all types of creativity may be seen, approached and purchased.


The 2012 edition was again this year an opportunity to admire some masterpieces such as a fabulous "Gerhard Richter" and feel the thrill throughout your spine while admiring other pieces.


Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin (Paris, Hong Kong) presented "Takashi Mirakami", while on the opposite side of the style scale were the twisted metal sculptures of Wilm Delvoye ("Model1 suppo scale, 2:2010) containing twisted metal cathedrals. This artist is the subject of a temporary exhibition at the Louvre Museum this summer.


Lovers of geometric abstraction and kinetic art will appreciate the stand of Galerie Lahumière (Paris), with some very fine paintings by Victor Vasarely, minimalist Aurélie Nemours, and Jean Dewasne as well as that of the Denise René gallery (Paris).


Thadaeus Ropac (Paris, Salzburg) showed a particularly large "Raquib Shaw," the darling of English collectors, and some beautiful scuptures by Tony Cragg.


Photography was not outdone; there were beautiful prints in many stands including that of the gallery Houk, which displayed a nice selection of classic photos including those of Bill Brandt and Andre Kertesz.


The richness is so dense that 2 full days are not enough to cover the event, especially since this fair was held at the same time as satellite fairs such as Volta, Scope, and List which present with varying degrees of success emerging artists who, for some, may become the industry standard of tomorrow.


 Art Unlimited has in turn a selection of 60 ambitious artistic projects including installations, sculptures, videos and performance projections. The artist Rudolf Stingel (Paula Cooper Gallery, New York) has decided this year to show a monumental work entitled Paula (2012), a giant painted portrait based on a photographic work.


Radically different, the work of artist Gunter Umberg (Nordenhake Gallery, Berlin) is a questioning of the sources of painting based on the creation of monochromes known as "territoriums".


Seemingly more poetic and light is the work of Ugo Rondinone (Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich), who presents us with a "primitive" installation containing 59 sculptures of birds without wings arranged in a closed space in which the viewer moves, under the eye of a clock without hands. The whole is a reflection of the consciousness of the passage of time.


With humor, the Galerie Air de Paris (Paris) presented a video of Shimabuku, entitled Fish and Chips.

Art Unlimited allows the visitor to express his desires in a universe populated by installations that are sometimes monumental, and often confusing.


Our trip to Basel would not be complete without a reference to the Foire du Design (“Design Miami”), which also stands close to the Messeplatz, epicenter of Art Basel. "Miami Design" presents the very essence of current design represented by exceptional galleries, notably Parisian ones. A "shed" by the iconic architect Jean Prouvé is presented (echoing the exhibition devoted to him in the city of Nancy in 2012). Very chic accessories and screens (Dunand) are also presented in the Galerie Anne-Sophie Duval, not to mention the luminous discoveries of the Galerie BSL (Paris).

Finally, let's not forget a necessary detour to the Beyeler Foundation, located 15 minutes by tram from the center of Basel. A sumptuous minimalist architecture by Renzo Piano (architect with Richard Rodgers of the Pompidou Centre in Paris), it houses an exceptional collection of modern art (especially the hall with sculptures by Giacometti and some of Rothko's larger pieces). Currently, an exhibition of Jeff Koons and Philippe Parreno is open until September 2, 2012. Also not to be missed is the Tatline exhibition at the Musée Tinguely, as well as on a completely different note the fabulous Kunstmuseum, which houses a rich collection of ancient paintings, particularly those by Hans Holbein (1497-1543).

Coming in 2013, a large Picasso exhibition in Basel, awaiting that the Picasso Museum located in the Marais deigns to reopen its doors to an eager public.


© Arnaud Sellier – 2012

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