At Art Basel 2015 being young is deadly expensive


The sun shines bright on Art Basel also this year, and the quantitative easing in US and Europe is certainly making this bright sky even brighter. Many galleries are selling well– that is what they say, and the astonishing Donald Judd sold by David Zwirner does confirm it – , collectors are happy, and Rirkrit Triravanija’s open air bio restaurant popped-up in front of Art Basel’s building offers free meals to visitors who, in return, are only asked to wash their dishes, basically a pair of chop sticks and a plastic bowl. The food was good, thanks Rirkrit.


The first trend we can confirm after a 10k slow walk (eight hours) exploring the booths at the first floor is the interest that many artists are still paying to classic art. The two small pieces by Kader Attia on show at Galerie Krinzinger, the big Ged Quinn’s at Stephen Freedman gallery, or to the nice small painting by Lara Favaretto hanging on the wall of Franco Noero‘s private room are just three of the most obvious examples supporting that we are facing a long wave. And the effective set of five carved slices of slate presented by Bunny Rogers at Société (our favourite “Statement”, along with that of Nicolas Party at Gregor Steiger) confirms that some emerging artists are in some way aware of it. And the most wanted Avery Singer is indeed among them.


But those who may think that spotting the presence of the art of the past centuries in the art of today is not a trend but simply a mean one has at his disposal to read contemporary art will have to admit that the presence of post-internet generation’s artists is becoming evident also at the Mecca of the art market. Simon Denny’s impressive solo show in Venice is reflected here by two of his racks, one at Petzel and the second one at Buchholz, while we have spotted a nice piece by his mate Yngve Holen at Stuart Shave. At the time of our writing all the three pieces are still available, but in the case of Denny the reason is probably to be pinpointed in the price, which is rather considerable, also for a talented artist supported by two influential galleries. And here we are with the third main impression Art Basel day one left on us.


Two years and a half of emerging artists pumped up at auctions are making prices of emerging art represented by established galleries soaring despite the artists’ careers are still at the beginning and generally not yet supported by institutions. Those Keynesian who have been promoting the quantitative easing promise that a controlled inflation is not a big problem for economies. Yes, but at this rate talent scouts – who should be the most culturally aware, dynamic and truly free side of the system – will end up doing their job at the nursery.

June 19, 2015