Sunday, June 25, 2023

Collectors on Art Basel


Art Market

5 Collectors on Their Highlights and Purchases from Art Basel 2023

Arun Kakar

Jun 21, 2023 9:37PM

Exterior view of Art Basel in Basel, 2023. Courtesy of Art Basel.

Art Basel’s 2023 edition concluded on Sunday in triumphant fashion, having hosted 82,000 visitors across seven days, and resulting in a lengthy list of reported sales and positive chatter among dealers and collectors alike.

Art Basel isn’t just about the fair itself, it’s also accompanied by a sprawling series of events, from dinners, openings, performances, and parties, to other art fairs such as Liste, Volta, June, Basel Social Club, and Design Miami/ Basel. It’s enough to bewilder even the most seasoned art world navigator, which is why Artsy enlisted five collectors to share their thoughts and reflections on the week’s festivities.

Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Founder and president of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo

Portrait of Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo by Andrea Basile. Courtesy of Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo.

Since I started collecting in 1992, I haven’t missed a single edition of Art Basel. Year after year, it has always reconfirmed itself as a fair of the highest quality: a truly unmissable event for collectors from all over the world.

This year’s edition was once again insightful and interesting, both on the ground floor, where you can immerse yourself in the presentations by modern and contemporary art galleries, and the excellent and dynamic galleries located upstairs. I purchased works from both floors. This year’s fair presented plenty in the medium of painting, while Art Basel Unlimited [the fair’s sector dedicated to large-scale installations] was masterfully handled, offering a glimpse into time-based media.

Doris Salcedo, installation view at the Fondation Beyeler, 2023. © Doris Salcedo. Photo by Mark Niedermann. Courtesy of the Fondation Beyeler.

I enjoyed the Statements sector, which always presents new and captivating work by emerging artists from around the world. I love producing and commissioning site-specific works, including for outdoor spaces like our Sandretto Re Rebaudengo Art Park, which is why I found Parcours, with its 24 works scattered around the city, truly fascinating.

The museums presented wonderful projects, such as ’s solo exhibition at the Fondation Beyeler and ’s “Dream Machines” at Museum Tinguely. And it was amazing to finally see the spaces of the Fondation Laurenz Schaulager reopened. During the fair, the whole city breathes new air and, compared to the first editions, so many events and celebrations are always lighting up Basel.

Chris Vroom

Co-founder of Valence and Artadia

While the number of art fairs around the world has grown significantly over the past 20 years, Art Basel stands apart for me not only for the level of connoisseurship in the works on view, but also for the criticality of the audience. Of course, there’s a commercial agenda, but it’s balanced by a more pronounced and implicit recognition of what art means to the world. There’s a seriousness that enables me to learn something at every turn.

Basel writ large—the fairs and institutions, happenings, dialogues, and interactions with friends and colleagues—brings together the whole arc of artistic excellence; from the wonderful early  picture I saw for the first time at Pace Gallery to the emerging talent at Liste Fair.

Installation view of mother’s tankstation limited’s booth at Art Basel in Basel, 2023. Courtesy of Art Basel.

My highlights would include many of the amazing installations at Unlimited, including ’s early work Evening (1994), which reconstructs newscasts on fictional television stations in an early riff on “fake news.” Works by  (an Artadia artist) and , and ’s monumental painting, were among other highlights in the sector.

I’ve been a long-time admirer of Doris Salcedo, whose show at the Fondation Beyeler was extraordinary, and her artist talk was one of the best ever. White Cube also complemented the exhibition by presenting a work from her “Tabula Rasa” series. I love discovering new galleries and admire mother’s tankstation from Dublin, which presented ’s wonderful paintings. Overall, there’s a post-COVID normalization ongoing that makes reconnecting with the things and the people you love all the more satisfying, and that was definitely on display.

Giovanni Scarzella

Co-founder, The Scarzella Collection

Portrait of Giovanni Scarzella. Courtesy of Giovanni Scarzella.

Like every year, Basel reserves beautiful surprises and classic confirmations. We were eager to visit the Fondation Beyeler with an epic exhibition of  that left us breathless, as well as the solo show dedicated to Doris Salcedo.

Of the events in the city, in our opinion, the most surprising thing to see was the Basel Social Club, in a super cool industrial location with a truly spot-on setting. We found some artists already present in our collection: Among the most appreciated works are the ceramics by , the inflatable by , and a painting by .

Liste Fair is also always exciting, in particular for the conceptual cues such as the talking sofa by  from Clima; the works by the Ukrainian artist  from ; and the sculptures by  from Galerie Allen.

Gerhard Richter, installation view of STRIP-TOWER, 2023, in David Zwirner’s presentation at Art Basel Unlimited in Basel, 2023. Courtesy of Art Basel.

Of the unmissable Unlimited section of Art Basel, I point out the splendid STRIP-TOWER (2023) by , an artist who manages to excite even at 91 years old.

The main fair is as always stratospheric, and there are many wonderful works for all tastes. Ours was captured in particular by a beautiful snow painting by  from Blum & Poe; a painting by  at Jeffrey Deitch; and a delicate work by  exhibited by Sikkema Jenkins & Co. Negotiations to enrich the collection are, as always, underway!

Evan Chow

Deputy chairman of the Hong Kong Arts Centre and board member of the New Museum in New York

Portrait of Evan Chow. Courtesy of Evan Chow.

Merikokeb Berhanu, Untitled LXXIV, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Addis Fine Art.

I’m pleasantly surprised by the turnout of Art Basel this year, given the condition of the global market and economy lately. I think this is partly fuelled by the geographical diversification of the exhibitor lineup in this edition, which also spiced up the presentation.

As a Hong Kong–based collector, I’m more than elated to see familiar faces from galleries and collectors all around the world at Basel, especially those from Asia.

While the demand for works created by established masters is still robust, the market for emerging talents continues to bloom. In the midst of all the hubbub and hoopla at the fair, there are a few pieces that are deeply introspective and evoke ruminations about memories and emotions.

Showing at Liste Fair, Ethiopian artist  from Addis Gallery conjures up a realm of otherworldly transcendence with her celestial shapes and organic forms, while at Art Basel, British artist  from Peres Projects contemplates the relationship between humans and nature through his Thoreauvian paintings.

With all the budding talents I’ve discovered this year, I’m more excited than ever for the next edition of Art Basel.

Liesl Fichardt


Dominic Chambers, Birthplace (Playful Cloud), 2023. Courtesy of the artist and Lehmann Maupin.

Art Basel 2023 was a triumph for painting. Whether large or small, new or secondary, figurative or abstract, painting was the dominant force at the fair, and it was simply superb. It might be said to have been safe, but most paintings were simply really good art for art’s sake, without necessarily trying to make a statement of some kind.

This year, I bought works pre-fair, expecting some artists to be shown at the fair but also to be placed with institutions or museums. This included artist ’s large-scale canvas Sacred Reading (2023), shown by Lehmann Maupin.

This work enhances my collection of other emerging artists, such as  (shown by Casey Kaplan), and more established painters who were also shown at Basel but sold pre-fair including  (shown by Skarstedt and Victoria Miro). Most collectors know that the real fair starts when the galleries release their previews. The Statements section was also strong, with textile work including an excellent solo booth of ’s work shown by SMAC.

Arun Kakar
Arun Kakar is Artsy’s Art Market Editor.