What to see at Art Basel 2024, as the fair arrives at its hometown

Art Basel 2024, the fair of all fairs, runs 13-16 June, with 285 international exhibitors and a long list of side shows and projects

An Art Basel 2024 highlight: Flaka Haliti, Whose Bones?, 2022
Flaka Haliti, Whose Bones?, 2022
(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist and Deborah Schamoni)

There is something about Art Basel: the world’s most anticipated international art fair, now at age 54, maintains its status as the global market tour-de-force, as well as a testing ground for what galleries, collectors, and institutions will have on their walls for the months to come. Art Basel 2024 will debut for the VIP on Tuesday 11 June, with 285 galleries occupying the soaring convention centre, Messe, in the heart of the Swiss city.

For the fair’s recently appointed director Maike Cruse, the excitement, however, starts before the show. ‘I am thrilled to see our exhibitors from all around the world unpacking their crates,’ she tells Wallpaper*. Cruse adds that the fair’s original Basel chapter – besides its also closely watched outposts in Miami, Hong Kong, and Paris – is ‘the flagship, the touch point for the international art market with the broadest overview’.

The director has a point: the six-day affair is anchored by the presentation of exhibitors lined across aisles, but spectacle spills outside the convention centre with an ambitious programming tightly customised for the city. Right outside, Messeplatz is home this year to Agnes Denes’ land art installation Honouring Wheatfield - A Confrontation (2024), which pays homage to the American conceptual artist’s seminal 1982-dated Wheatfield installation in downtown Manhattan (she also staged a wheatfield in Milan, in 2015). Come the end of summer and the wheats will be ripe for harvest.

What to see at Art Basel 2024

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Howardena Pindell, Tesseract 16, 2024

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Basel, with its medieval charm and effortless bustle, is the main collaborator. ‘We are in a small city with a rich density of high-profile art,’ Cruse says and compares the explosive energy during the fair week to that of the vernissage of the Venice Biennale.

Art Basel’s Parcours section – curated by the Swiss Institute’s Stefanie Hessler – invites fairgoers to roam around town to encounter art inside storefronts. Stop by a pharmacy on Clarastrasse for Mendes Wood DM’s presentation of paintings, sculptures, and cut-outs by Pol Taburet. The French artist’s haunting figures don bright attire and detached expressions, fitting for the apothecary backdrop.

End your stroll at the Middle Bridge, where the journey crescendoes at the historic Merian Hotel. Here, the building façade is dressed with Kosovar artist Petrit Halilaj’s text-based installation When The Sun Goes Away We Paint The Sky, which shines nightly with the late arrival of the summer dusk. Celebrating the fair’s 30-year collaboration with UBS, the joyful constellation of stars invites visitors inside the hotel for daily panel sessions during the fair, and will continue its nocturnal beam until January 2025.

Tracey Emin Hellter Fucking Skelter 2001

Tracey Emin Hellter Fucking Skelter 2001

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

For the fans of the fair, the feast indeed starts a day early with the unveiling of the Unlimited section, curated by Giovanni Carmine of Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, dedicated to monumental presentations which total in 70 this year. “We have art historical masterpieces as well as emerging talents,” explains Cruse. A standout is Pace Gallery’s display of Robert Frank’s career-defining photographic series The Americans. The international gallery shows the Swiss photographer’s documentation of 1950s America in its entirety with 84 black and white pictures, teasing what to expect from MoMA’s Frank retrospective this September.

Lynne Drexler Red Bud 1964 (medium res)

Lynne Drexler Red Bud 1964

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

The godfather of American Minimalism, Donald Judd is celebrated with a rarely-seen 1970-dated installation at Gagosian Gallery, pegged to the new show dedicated to Judd’s Swiss-made works at their Basel location. A suite of five-foot high galvanized iron panels stand eight inches away from the wall, and as a rare feat for a Judd, the work allows for configuration in each installation. Another American icon, Keith Haring anchors Gladstone Gallery’s booth with the 18-panel painting, Untitled (FDR NY) (1984). Haring created the originally 30-panel mural for the fence in New York’s Franklin D. Roosevelt East River Drive at an impressive 300-foot length. After the exuberant medley of radiant babies was removed a year following installation, its separate parts made their way into different museum shows, leading up to this largest configuration to date.

Jeff Wall The Storyteller 1986

Jeff Wall, The Storyteller, 1986

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Liza Lou’s installation Security Fence (2005) does justice Unlimited experimental heft with a replica of prison fence made out of glass beads on steel and razor wire. Peril and familiarity are blended through the artist’s signature beadwork that wraps around the alarmingly isolating presence of sharp wire. Similar notions of security and discomfort are on display at Anna Uddenberg’s sleekly sexy sculpture installation Premium Economy, a riff on technology’s obsession with uber-function and the body’s odd positioning in cyber reality.

Meredith Rosen Gallery and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler co-present the Swedish artist’s airplane seat-inspired sculptures that place the body within the numbing discomfort of liminal spaces, such as airports or waiting rooms. The works will be activated throughout the run of the fair with a group of women performers engaging with uncanny gestures and contortions. A balance between order and mystery also lingers in Galerie Templon’s presentation of a red-hued rope and paper installation by Chiharu Shiota. Titled The Extended Line, the sanguine freestanding work speaks to the Japanese artist’s survival from cancer but also embodies a broader exploration of life lines and linearity with its hundreds of kilometers long ropes holding replicas of Shiota’s body parts.


Auguste Herbin, Le grand arbre déraciné, 1913.Courtesy of Galerie Lahumière

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Inside the fair, the galleries line up with their most standout materials amidst a sweet competition. Marianne Boesky Gallery opts for a group presentation with the gallery’s roster stars. Donald Moffett’s elegantly punctured off white linen painting Lot 030424 (cliff swallows, 1) (2024) pairs well with Suzanne McClelland’s erratic two-panel charcoal abstraction Rank (Billionaires) (207) which hides a list of world’s top billionaires alongside a photographic collage on its back. At another New Yorker David Nolan’s booth, look for similarly absorbing paintings of Iraqi American artist Vian Sora who uses sharp gestures and soothing hues to encapsulate social turmoil on canvas. Hauser & Wirth’s booth boasts a group exhibition with marquee names such as Frank Bowling, Mark Bradford, and George Condo—but pay attention to Woman with Packages (1987-1993), a rarely-seen Louise Bourgeois. The mysterious marble sculpture with a wooden base holds a female figure with noticeably detailed facial features, clutching a huddle of bags.

Prudence Flint, Second Banana, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and mother's tankstation Dublin/London.

Prudence Flint, Second Banana, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and mother's tankstation Dublin/London

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Kabinett sector which is dedicated to curated single artist presentations amidst group showings include 23 participants, such as Perrotin. While the Parisian powerhouse spares its main booth to a group show featuring gallery names such as Hernan Bas, Anna-Eva Bergman, Sophie Calle and Elmgreen & Dragset, the special section exhibits Jean-Michel Othoniel’s glass sculptures that stem from the French artist’s decade-long partnership with mathematician Aubin Arroyo and his theories on knots and reflections. Stitching and knotting claim the center stage in Tina Kim Gallery’s booth which celebrates women artists whose practices involve fiber. A standout is a group of acrylic and plastic buttons on padded canvas works by Filipina American artist Pacita Abad who is currently the subject of a lauded exhibition at MoMA PS1. For a corporal take on the subject matter, note Mira Lee’s The Liars (2021), a suspended latex, chain, and thickened silicon oil statement with spectral hints.

Chiharu Shiota_The Extended Line_2023-2024_Detail

Chiharu Shiota, The Extended Line, 2023-2024

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

White Cube alludes to the gallery’s upcoming Tracey Emin show of new work this fall with a display of the artist’s 2001-dated bright-colored textile-covered appliquéd blanket Hellter Fucking Shelter. Following his first New York show in over 50 years at the gallery’s Upper East Side space past spring, Richard Hunt is represented with the creeping welded chromed steel sculpture Opposed Linear Forms (1961) from the late artist’s Metamorphosis series. Karma’s grouping includes Kathleen Ryan’s season-appropriated fruit sculptures, albeit rotten. Encrusted with stones and minerals like amazonite, magnesite, calcite, quartz, turquoise or rhodonite, Bad Melon and Bad Orange (both 2024) embody slices plunged into a crippling but beautiful decay. Process is also a thematic thread in Refik Anadol’s project with Turkish Airlines, titled Inner Portraits. The Turkish artist’s AI-generated digital painting comes on the heels of his first institutional British show, Echoes of the Earth: Living Archive, at the Serpentine Galleries, and uses raw emotional data he collected from first time travelers. Spanning their journeys from leaving home, flying, and arriving to a new destination, the participants’ emotions are translated into a malleable visual lexicon of dancing colors and forms in Anadol’s recognizable fashion.

Art Basel is open to public at Messe, 13 - 16 June 2024

Mark Bradford Clowns Travel Through Wires 2013 (medium res)

Mark Bradford Clowns Travel Through Wires 2013

(Image credit: Courtesy of the artist)

Osman Can Yerebakan is a New York-based art and culture writer. Besides Wallpaper*, his writing has appeared in the Financial Times, GQ UK, The Guardian, Artforum, BOMB, Airmail and numerous other publications. He is in the curatorial committee of the upcoming edition of Future Fair. He was the art and style editor of Forbes 30 Under 30, 2024.