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Art Basel 2021 | The Extraordinary Exhibit You Won’t Believe Costs Millions

Every year the biggest international art fair is staged in Basel Switzerland. From great art to leading institutions this year Basel is a maze worth seeing.

Located in Basel, a cultural hub in idyllic northwestern Switzerland the Art Basel 2021 event is at long last back. This year, it is running from 24 – 26 September 2021.

Art Basel 2021

Art Basel opens this week with 272 galleries expected however, due to the pandemic, this year’s event won’t have the packed-out aisles of previous ones, but Covid-safe collectors are already flying in from around the world.

Since 1970, creators, collectors, and dealers of contemporary art have congregated at Art Basel, the world’s biggest art fair. 

Intended to spotlight the top artists of the time and act as a driving force in supporting the role galleries play, in nurturing the careers of artists, the annual event attracts art perusers and professionals alike.

“People are thirsty and eager to experience art in a physical way again.”

– Giovanni Carmine, curator of Unlimited at Art Basel 2021

While exhibiting contemporary work is Art Basel’s first and foremost function, the fair is also known for its events. Lavish parties, live performances, and masterclasses are just some of the extra festivities held at each fair.

Now the event is changing an entire cities identity.

It is held once a year in three host cities – Basel in Switzerland, Miami Beach in Florida, and Hong Kong in China – and gives hundreds of galleries a prestigious platform to present and sell art.

Paintings, sculptures, works on paper, photography, digital art, video art, and installations make up most of the works featured year after year.

The gallery spaces are white cubes that form a family of exhibition spaces. These span across interconnected rooms. The unlimited white-walled booths are the place where big works come to thrive.

At the foundation of Beyeler, which is the most visited art museum in Switzerland, exhibitions are spread both inside and outside in the gardens. Here they have close-up exhibitions where each one is dedicated to a female artist from the 1870s up until the present day.

“Art Basel is an essential part of our art-world ecosystem. I believe it is important to support it in such an unusual, difficult year.”

– Catherine Petitgas, art collector
Art Basel 2021

Still Life Is Taking Over The Art Lane At The Art Basel 2021

There have been some really incredible masterpieces displayed at the Art Basel. There were a few artists who made very serious lasting impressions in the previous years. But one artist this year at Basel has done it again.

But before we get into who created the most extraordinary exhibit this year, let’s take a look at three previous artists who made an everlasting impression in the Art Basel history books.

Art Basel can be described as an accumulation of unconscious art that is hidden inside peoples minds. These ideas spill out into forms of art that come in all shapes and sizes. 

After all, this event attracts people from all over the world and brings art lovers together for a showcase of a lifetime.

Art Basel 2021

Some are considered masterpieces while others could be considered questionable.

The beauty of it all is that it is completely up to your interpretation.

Art is a topic where anyone can have their own perspective and opinions. And any person can judge it with respect to their intellectual level and understanding. 

We all criticise singing, dancing, acting and drawing as per our liking. It works the same for our creative counterparts. This, of course, is all based on subjectivity.

Subjectivity in art is the word we use to explain how different people can respond to a work of art in different ways. 

It is based on personal opinions and feelings rather than on agreed facts. A painting might be “beautiful” to one person and “ugly” to another, but the material object remains unchanged.

However, the art world can be ridiculous. This is what artist, Maurizio Cattelan, thought when he created his art piece called Comedian

His famous artwork was displayed in the Art Basel last year and became one of the most viral talked about exhibits of the entire event.

What is this piece you ask? 

A banana duct-taped to a wall. 

By using an object commonly associated with making clowns slip and fall, Cattelan is pretty explicitly poking fun at how arbitrary art can be sometimes. 

However, even though people were laughing, his piece sold for over $120,000.  

His buyer was told that he was allowed to replace the banana when it started to rot in like, two weeks, tops.

Another extraordinary art piece that made its way into the Art Basel in previous years was an actual Christmas tree, placed in the centre of an open white-walled booth.

The selling price of the tree, by French artist Philippe Parreno, was $1 million.

The stainless steel painted Christmas tree was part of a series, this piece is the largest and its decorations are completely different from those of other “months”.

“It’s made of stainless steel. Everything is painted. It’s a Christmas tree that never ages – a cut tree that has eternal life. It becomes a ‘real’ Christmas tree every December.”

– Philippe Parreno

The series consisted of 11 in total – one for every month, except December.

An eye-catching piece that made its way back into the Art Basel 2021 is New York-based artist Chloe Wise’, Caesar Salad Chandelier. This has a price tag of $60 000.

Wise’s piece is hyperrealistic. The lettuce leaves are scattered with tiny croutons; they curl and crinkle, sodden with a creamy caesar dressing that drips into a shining pool on the gallery floor below. 

The chandelier is one of four functional light installations in the exhibition and one of Wise’s first forays into functional art.

However, it was not the function of the object that inspired her: she simply loved the idea of a salad chandelier.

This year’s Art Basel has also welcomed something unique to the show, something very different.

The $3 million Urs Fischer’s ‘Untitled (Bread House)’ 

In 2004, New York-based Swiss artist, Urs Fischer, had the idea to create an alpine chalet comprised entirely of loaves of sourdough bread. But it was eventually left to the parakeets.

This time he bought the idea back to us in 2021 and now one of the must-see exhibits is on show.

A realistic house made entirely from bread. The price tag sits at $3 million.

The bread house is literally constructed from bread loaves. They all seem to be crumbling and falling apart as they sit on top of a group of Persian carpets. Immediately you get the sense that it could be from a childhood fairytale. 

For example, the classic story of Hansel & Grettel come to mind. But this time, the artist chooses to transform this idea of fantasy and bring it back into reality. We physically see a house made of food in front of us.

The loaves come from Sullivan Street Bakery and other materials include expandable foam and wood. It’s the contradictory use of a soft, perishable, edible material for a solidly constructed, traditional shelter that is arresting, charming, and unexpected.

Urs Fischer gives life to the materials that he uses. Whether it be bread, dirt, clay, paint or otherwise, employing elements of humour, surrealism, decay and absence to create the bizarre yet wonderful works that Fischer is known for.

He is an artist that takes unconventional materials and moulds and manipulates them to create works that are curious, surreal and exciting. 

The Art Basel 2021 event has the intention to provide unique ideas and insights into ‘feeding’ the world with artistic inspiration. 

So feast your eyes on the extraordinary and get up close and personal to the remarkable talent on display.

Visit their website for more information here.

SEE MORE: Does Anyone Really Know What Makes Art ‘Good’?