With its winding medieval streets and picturesque riverside setting, Basel might not seem like the natural home of contemporary art. But every year, the genres brightest and best congregate in the city for one of the world’s most prestigious and important art fairs: Art Basel.
Established in 1970 by three Basel gallerists, Art Basel is now a global name, with three fairs in Basel, Miami and Hong Kong. Each has its own distinct personality, but the one thing they have in common is world-class artists and galleries.
Le Bijou in Basel is perfectly placed for enjoying both the fair at the Messe, and the associated exhbitions and events that take place across the city. Take a walk along the Art Parcours, a series of site-specific pieces dotted across Basel. Accompanied by scheduled performances, talks and films, the pieces represent an individual artist’s response to the city and the fair, and it is a great way to get your art fix while also taking a turn through Basel’s pretty city streets.
This year’s fair will see 291 of the world’s leading galleries showcasing works from over 4,000 artists. Look out for Basel names such as von Bartha to get a local view on what’s hot in global contemporary art.
While you-re out and about, don’t miss Basel’s permanent art and architectural attractions. The city is home to some fantastic architecture, including the Messe by Herzog & de Meuron, who have offices in the city and were also behind over 33 other buildings in the area, including the new Roche tower which dominates the city’s skyline.
But the duo are not the only names to have graced Basel’s architectural scene. To name but a few, the Bank of International Settlement is housed in a striking curved building from Mario Botta, Jonathan Borofsky’s ‘Hammering man’ stands on Aeschenplatz, and the Novartis campus is a veritable gallery of modern design.
And, of course, the new Kunstmuseum is a work of art in itself with a contemporary extension by Swiss firm Christ & Gantenbein housing an impressive collection of modern and classic work.
In short, this is a city with art and design at its very heart. Traditional culture runs through the medieval streets, from the February Carnival to the autumn and Christmas markets, while contemporary art and architecture sits easily beside ancient squares and merchant houses.
However, all art and no play makes Jack a dull boy. Luckily, Le Bijou is on hand to organise entrance to the best art parties of the event. If you prefer to get out and about with the local crowd, there is always something going on at our pick of where to eat and drink during Art Basel:
- The Le Bijou guide to Basel
- Chez Donati
- Campari Bar