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Basel Week in Review: Joan Mitchell and Gerhard Richter Lead Early Sales, Agnes Denes' Green Field and Petrit Halilaj's Falling Stars

3 min read  ·  14 Jun 2024

Agnes Denes, Honoring Wheatfield – A Confrontation (2024) in Basel. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Art Basel got off to a brisk start, with VIPs collectors snapping up a Gerhard Richter with a seven-figure price tag and an eight-figure work by Joan Mitchell. Dealers with deep mailing lists made sure of pre-sales as an insurance policy ahed of the Swiss fair. At Liste, the go-to satellite for smaller galleries sales were much slower. Adventurous collectors are heading to the Basel Social Club. The nomadic fair cum exhibition has pitched up in a field, complete with cows (and cowpats).


Big-ticket early sales included a late Joan Mitchell for $18m-£20m and a Gerhard Richter abstract for $6m, both on offer at David Zwirner's booth.


Louise Bourgeois' sculptures sold for $3.5m and $1.2m at Hauser & Wirth and Xavier Hufkens respectively at Art Basel.


Agnes Martin’s untitled abstract sold for an undisclosed amount amid speculation it was one of the most valuable works on offer in the main fair.


Christo’s Wrapped 1961 Volkswagen Beetle is a talking point at Art Basel Unlimited. Presented by Gagosian, the signature work has a $4m price tag.


Petrit Halilaj installed illuminated fallen stars on the Hotel Merian, a presentation jointly commissioned by UBS and Art Basel The empty hotel overlooking the Rhine is playing host to live events.


Agnes Denes' most famous work of Land Art, a field of wheat she first planted beneath the World Trade Center in 1982, forms a memorable welcome on Basel's Messeplatz.


Margaret Raspé’s installation Rain Drums, presented by Galerie Molitor at Basel Social Club, is fine in any damp weather during the mostly open-air fair.

In other news

New York: The home of Anne Pasternak, the director of the Brooklyn Museum, was attacked by Pro-Palestine activists.

Cannes: Niki de Saint Phalle biopic, “Niki”, was screened at the film festival. The movie portrays how the artist made her mark in a male-dominated art world and wrestled with her demons.

London: Anya Gallaccio has been selected to create the city’s first public work of art that is a memorial to the victims of HIV/Aids.

On this day

On June 14, 1940, the German army entered Paris. During the four-year Occupation, the curator and member of the Resistance, Rose Valland, quietly documented the thousands of works of art the Nazis stole and temporarily stored in Jeu de Paume gallery.

"‘The Swiss customs authorities freaked until they discovered that it was an artwork,’ Elmgreen & Dragset recall their work, The Outsiders, in which realistic figures of male art handlers spoon in the back of a Mercedes. Presented by Pace Gallery at Art Basel Unlimited 2021."

- The Art Newspaper

Elmgreen & Dragset, The Outsiders, at Art Basel Unlimited 202I, presented by Pace Gallery. Copyright the artists. Image courtesy of Art Basel/Pace Gallery.