Art Basel: What you need to know//

As you’re reading this blog something wonderful, no magical, is happening in the art world. Right now, many of the heavy hitting collectors and galleries have descended upon Basel, Switzerland for Art Basel. Art Basel is one of the most important contemporary art fairs. All of the taste-makers are aflutter while they try to figure out which pieces are best and who the newest noteworthy artists may be.

A lot is going on, so in order to best quantify the early developments I have noted the following highlights:

  • First and foremost, much of the pre-buzz about Art Basel focused on doom and gloom. It seemed as though galleries were lamenting slow sales before they even had the chance to sell. This isn’t shocking considering that the entire universe is worried about finances, but it did result in a few price markdowns - notably on a highly publicized Warhol. (further details:

  • However, there does seem to be some good news on the horizon! Apparently galleries are doing better than they expected at Basel. While sales aren’t comparable to 2008, they aren’t horrible. There have been solid returns when good works are offered at the six figure mark or below (see here: ).

  • What impact does this have on the young collector? It means that all of our economic problems are solved! Kidding. It means that opportunities will begin presenting themselves for more reasonably priced art, which may actually be evidenced by that controversial print by Tracey Emin that I discussed on Wednesday. Gone are the days (at least for right now), when galleries could rake in 7 figures for contemporary art of average quality. There’s no longer a feeding frenzy, and though you may not find yourself selling a painting in 2 years for ten times what you paid, you will still be rewarded for thoughtful and educated buying. Even auction houses seem to have leveled off when it comes to their losses. Christies recently began to see more positive results on their lower priced good work. (Christies May results here: )

  • There was one standout example of oversold art at Basel. It happened when the worlds of Pharrell Williams and Takashi Murakami collided to create The Simple Things (see right). The work ultimately sold for $2 million. The purchase of which makes me wonder when other people will start questioning when Murakami will stop relying on rappers or Louis Vuitton for acclaim. (

  • Last, the folks over at ARTINFO have created an Art Basel preview. This provides a fabulous way to get a little inspiration or discover a style or artist that you never knew you liked. I was certainly amused by a few pieces. One work even inspired me to sing one of my fave’ Bob Marley songs, but I’ll let you discover which piece that may be. ;)

Cheers to hopeful financial returns, inspiration, and more accessible and affordable art!