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Art Basel – Five Things Everybody’s Talking About

This is where the best art in the world is being shown right now, and a lot of these works will find new owners over the next few days. However, the show’s organisers also want people to talk about it. And they do! Here are a few samples. 

 
 
 

A typical American barn, decorated with, among other things, Warhol’s electric chair, this is designed by Calvin Klein himself. This rather unusual installation by the fashion giant is being shown at Design Miami/Basel. Total eye candy, and a wonderful opportunity to whip up some buzz for their fall fashion show, which is going to take place in this spectacular scenery. 

Most Instagrammed at Art Basel: Rage and Hopelessness, by sculptor Robert Longo. This piece, which consists of 40,000 shell casings, is a frank comment on the US president’s laissez-faire attitude to gun violence, which continues to claim victims even in peacetime. This minimalist object is one of many of his works that voice social critique; he targeted the Reagan administration in particular during the 80s. “I just can’t believe this shit is happening.” As he himself commented on the subject of this work. 

 We’ve all had that experience when you’re at an art exhibition, and somebody whispers, “doesn’t that look like <insert favourite bathroom function>”.  At least these statements would not be out of place at the Dutch Museum Boijmans van Beuningen’s exhibit.  These enormous excrement pieces – part of the show Vorm, Fellows, Attitude (until 12 August) – were made by the Vienna-based art collective Gelitin. Visitors who so wish can dress up in special naked suits to admire the four poo-inspired sculptures (it is all about going back to basics apparently).  

We’ve all had that experience when you’re at an art exhibition, and somebody whispers, “doesn’t that look like <insert favourite bathroom function>”.  At least these statements would not be out of place at the Dutch Museum Boijmans van Beuningen’s exhibit.  These enormous excrement pieces – part of the show Vorm, Fellows, Attitude (until 12 August) – were made by the Vienna-based art collective Gelitin. Visitors who so wish can dress up in special naked suits to admire the four poo-inspired sculptures (it is all about going back to basics apparently).  

 

Last fall, CFHILL showed a critically acclaimed exhibition featuring the superstar art duo Goldin+Senneby. Their clever and multifaceted works often discuss the ways that scientific progress is exploited for ideological and financial purposes. They aren’t the only artists to inhabit this borderland between science and art. One of the most buzzed-about installations is a collaborative effort presented by watchmaker Audemars Piquet, the artist duo Semiconductor, and the nuclear laboratory at Cern (Geneva). This suggestive piece is titled Halo and visualises the institute’s proton collision experiments. The installation consists of a 360-degree screen and is situated in a space with a ceiling height of 4 metres. The effect, according to those who’ve witnessed it, is “hypnotic and otherworldly”.

Since so many of the true movers and shakers of the world (or, their art dealers, at least) visit Art Basel, you might think that the art would tend to be rather middle-of-the-road and decorative in style. But that’s far from the case! The art fairs are well-stocked with artworks whose razor-sharp messages are aimed directly at the hands that feed them. This work, and its title, hardly require any extensive explanations: Statue of Liberty. By Elmgreen & Dragset.