The Rhine is abuzz—collectors, dealers, and artists have descended on Switzerland for the first Art Basel in two years. Although travel and health requirements have been complex, it did not dissuade hoards of predominantly European VIPs from lining up at Unlimited, the fair’s section for oversize art, on Monday afternoon in the drizzling rain. A testament to pent-up energy, this year’s presentation is the largest the fair has seen, with 62 standalone projects curated for the first time by Giovanni Carmine, director of Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen.
Unlimited, which takes place in a hangar-size hall on the Messeplatz, is known for towering, impractical works and incredible sight lines. But this year’s section was notably boxier and more walled off than usual, likely due to the fact that many, if not most, dealers opted to bring large-scale paintings. Wrapping around walls, most presentations required their own booth-like rooms—and while no billboard-sized work is a particularly easy sell, dealers appeared to be responding to the market’s current desire for the two dimensional.
Sean Scully, Dark Windows (2020) presented by Kewenig and Lisson. Photo: Kate Brown
Hauser & Wirth took over a good chunk of real estate with three artists’ projects, presenting works by Roni Horn, John Chamberlain, and Frank Bowling, with prices ranging from $750,000 to $5.5 million.
“I could not be more delighted to be back ‘in person’ again,” Iwan Wirth said at the preview. “Those who are exhibiting and attending have gone the extra mile and are rewarded because no art fair experience can compare to Unlimited in terms of the ambition and scale. The mood on the ground at Art Basel is like a reunion.”
See more images of Art Unlimited below.
VALIE EXPORT, Die Doppelgangerin (2010) presented by Thaddaeus Ropac. Photo: Kate Brown
Tadashi Kawamata, Destruction (2019) presented by Kamel Mennour and Annely Juda Fine Art. Photo: Kate Brown