Art Basel closed last Sunday, and it seems to have been a major success for most of the participating 290 galleries.
“It’s been our honor to participate at Art Basel’s Basel show for the first time. Our presentations at both the Statements and the Unlimited sectors have received great response from art institutions, curators and collectors. We’ve sold all the works on display,” said Zhang Di, Director and Partner, White Space Beijing. So what is the secret sauce?
The surrounding shows, the international visitors and the growing legacy of the show itself, patron groups, critics, museums and of course, us journalists.
Spiegler said: “People think of the gallery sector at Art Basel as sort of grande dame the thing that never changes, but in fact every year it rejuvenates, and not only in terms of young galleries, people like 47 Canal from the United States for working for some of the most interesting emerging and starting to get established artists but also rejuvenate for all sorts of galleries with people working with older artists but with young energy. Galleries like Bergamin & Gomide from Brazil, and Tokyo Gallery + BTAP from Japan and Alexander Gray from the United States, who for many years have brought back at spotlights works by artists who were overlooked because of their race or their gender or their sexual orientation.
Another contributing factor is the presence of powerful sponsors like UBS who have been partnering with Art Basel for 25 years.
Martin Blessing, Co-President Global Wealth management sees Art Basel as a global event. Not just because the whole world comes to Basel but also in the sense that Art Basel is itself a truly international institution with Art Basel Hong Kong and Miami. No other art fair has this kind of powerful infrastructure. Of the 2000 billionaires, Blessing said, the vast majority is collecting art. It is a passion, sure, but it is also business. According to UBS research, most of the bank’s high net worth clients, 86%, never sold a piece. This may come as a surprise to some, but even UBS as a bank doesn’t sell much. “We are not an art fund”, Blessing said to Portray Magazine, “however we loan pieces to museums”. The banks collection, started 60 years ago, is some 30,000 pieces strong.
Currently, UBS has 54 works by Ed Ruscha these days dedicated to the exhibition at Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark until mid of August.
Art is about long term thinking. Decades mean little. The art showcased in the UBS lounge at Art Basel are works by Carlos Cruz-Diez who has been collaborating with UBS for almost forty years.