Art Basel week is kicking off in Switzerland, and the art world is currently descending on the picturesque city. Under the leadership of Marc Spiegler, the Basel name has become the ultimate art fair purveyor, with an expanding slate of programs around the world, a steady stream of new content year round, and an impressive social media presence. This year’s edition will host 293 galleries from 35 countries, and 17 galleries are making their Basel debut, including White Space Beijing, LA’s Freedman Fitzpatrick, and New York’s Essex Street Gallery. Although Basel is the biggest game in town, here are the many satellite events you don’t want to miss.

Jon Rafman’s Dream Journal 2016–2017 (2017). Courtesy of the artist and Sprueth Magers.

June 14–17, Messenplatz 10

If last year’s figures are any indication, more than 95,000 visitors will descend upon the idyllic medieval town on the shores of the Rhine. Once again, the fair will feature the standard sections, including Unlimited, which hosted many of last year’s most Instagrammable works, and features large-scale installations and live performances; and the sprawling Parcours sector, where site-specific sculptures and performances are staged throughout the city.

Some of the works on our radar for this year’s Unlimited section include Lygia Pape’s originally created in 1979, in which the late Brazilian artist wove gossamer threads throughout the exhibition space, creating an ethereal cobweb. Not quite so subtle is Jon Rafman’s  video, a cacophony of cartoon visuals and pulsing sounds. Also keep an eye out for a new sculptural installation from Sam Gilliam, whose show at the Kunstmuseum Basel recently opened, and will have an entire room devoted to his paint-laden fabric “Drapes” at Unlimited.

June 12–17, SCOPE Haus, Webergasse 34

This year, SCOPE Art Show is returning to its former location at SCOPE Haus, just a few blocks away from the Messeplatz where Art Basel holds court. Another notable change is SCOPE’s new partnership with Berlin’s Urban Nation Museum, which focuses on partnering with communities to engage with art installations, something SCOPE advocates for, as champions of street art.

Installation of Ettore Sottsass's Cabinet at the Friedman Benda booth. Photo: Andrew Meredith.

Ettore Sottsass at the Friedman Benda booth, 2017. Photo: Andrew Meredith.

June 12–17, Hall 1 Süd, Messe Basel

The Design fair is always filled with an abundance of interesting objects, many of which are created in collaboration with contemporary artists—last year’s presentation included bespoke Danh Vo cabinets, made in conjunction with designer Poul Kjaerholm. This year, the lineup includes “unique, rare, and one-of-a-kind works” that range from custom furnishings and one-off inventions; a focus on the contemporary trends in textiles, jewelry, lighting fixtures, and a curated presentation of ceramics and glass, which always draws a crowd.

Project Native Informant, DIS, TBT (2018).

June 11–17, Burgweg 15

The “discoverer fair” for younger galleries has 79 gallery participants this year, with 16 first-timers, including Bodega, New York; Proyectos Monclova, Mexico City; and Sultana, Paris. This year, LISTE’s presentation model is even more timely, as the art world drew a collective gasp following David Zwirner‘s suggestion to tax mega-galleries; the upstart fair has been operating on that business model since its inception with a reduced booth costs and a long-running “Friends of LISTE” program.

Photo courtesy of Photo Basel.

June 12–17, Volkshaus Basel: Rebgasse

The only fair to focus solely on photography, Photo Basel will host 35 galleries from around the world. For the special section “In Situ,” artists will immerse themselves in the city: A special exhibition of Magnum photographer Erich Hartmann will be open to the public in downtown Basel, the artist Cynthia Fleischmann will stage live performances at the Biergarten/Volkshaus, and a local eyewear store will host a pop-up gallery for photographer Joschi Herczeg.

Malala Andrialavidrazana, Figures 1856, Geological structure (2018). Image courtesy of Alessandro Casciaro (Bolzano).

June 11–16, Elsässerstrasse 215

VOLTA’s 2018 edition will take place at a new location, the former COOP distribution center, just a stone’s throw from where the inaugural VOLTA fair was staged in 2005. This year, 75 galleries will show at VOLTA, including 20 solo presentations, 20 dual-artist booths, and the remaining exhibitors focusing on thematic presentations.



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