Contemporary Art

Art Basel: Your Ultimate VIP Week

By Alice Cavallo

Art Basel, Switzerland

Art Basel 2018 kicks off next week with an impressive line-up of exhibition openings, preview days, and special screenings, many of which get going days before the fair opens to the public on Thursday, June 14. To make the most of early access, we've hand selected the best events for your ultimate VIP week.

Museums of Basel

Sunday, June 10
Basel is a walkable city, but with so many different neighborhoods and cultural attractions, it's worth arriving early to get your bearings. Start the week off right with a leisurely day of collection visits. Basel has some of the most important museums in Europe, from single artist museums and private foundations to rotating contemporary exhibitions at Kunsthalle Basel and the Museum für Gegenwartskunst. Architecture buffs will enjoy the Mario Botta designed Museum Tinguely, located in the Solitudepark by the Rhine. Midday, grab a table outdoors along the Schwarzwald bridge at Veranda Pellicanò. Or, book a table at Brasserie Les Trois Rois, the perfect venue for a more formal lunch at one of the city's most notorious establishments along the Rhine.

Museum Tinguely

Provided jet lag hasn't set in, head to the Kunstmuseum Basel in the late afternoon. The museum is famous for its strong holdings of 20th century masterpieces, including paintings by Picasso, Chagall and Léger. Next door, the beloved Campari Bar, is the perfect place to wind down the day with a classic cocktail.

In addition to major exhibition openings, Art Basel signals peak season for local galleries. Most will have their best work on view. Be sure to save time for visiting galleries like Stampa and Balzer Projects, where presentations of cutting-edge and forward-thinking art are reliably strong.

The Roman Theatre of Augusta Raurica

To finish off your day, House of Electronic Arts Basel invites you to the opening of Voice Theatre from 6 pm to 10:30 pm, a site-specific and interactive installation by Mexican-Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer at Augusta Raurica, the best-preserved ancient roman theater north of the Alps.

First Taste of the Fairs

Monday, June 11
Monday promises a full schedule, starting off with the Liste VIP preview and Design Miami Collectors' Preview from noon to 5 pm and the VIP opening of Unlimited from 4 to 8 pm (by invitation only).

Not on the lists? Worry not. There's plenty to see in Münsterplatz, Basel's historic center, where the Parcours section of Art Basel - presenting 23 site-specific sculptures, interventions and performances in public and private spaces by artists including Elmgreen & Dragset, Keren Cytter and Pierre Huyghe - opens from 1 to 4 pm.

Finally, if you're still in the mood for art and have energy to spare, don’t miss the after-party for the Swiss Art Awards at Volkshaus Basel, opening its doors from 10 pm onward.

Art Basel Preview & Opening Night

Tuesday, June 12
While most VIPs won't access Basel until midday, Tuesday morning offers the perfect opportunity to explore Fondation Beyeler set in the idyllic countryside just outside of Basel. This year, the Beyeler presents Bacon-Giacometti - a milestone loan exhibition on the competitive yet mutually-beneficial dynamic between the two modern masters, contemporaries of one another during the mid-20th century.

Fondation Beyeler

On a nice day, the foundation’s restaurant located on the ground floor of Villa Berower offers a lovely terrace and wonderful view of the grounds, dotted with iconic sculptures by Alexander Calder and Ellsworth Kelly.

The opening of the 49th edition of Art Basel for VIP Preview starts at 11 am. Be sure to take advantage of the various lounges and, if time permits, consider recharging with a viewing of Controfigura (2017), screening in the late afternoon and followed by a Q&A with movie director Rä di Martino.

Tuesday night is expected to be one of the busiest of the week. Between the FHNW Academy of Art and Design's Summer Party and the opening of Spanish artist Teresa Solar’s solo exhibition curated by Chus Martinez at “Der Tank”, there will be plenty of options to consider. Those seeking more social activity than viewing hours will head to Münchenstein from 11 pm onwards for the late-night concert organized by HEK Basel in honor of Lynn Hershman Leeson's solo exhibition.

Full Day of Fair Hopping

Wednesday, June 13
All of the fairs will be open by Wednesday, and the ever-interesting Art Basel Conversations will launch throughout the day.

Messeplatz, Basel

Eager to get outside? Be sure to check out Basilea - Creative Time's first international commission on the Messeplatz. This year’s collaborative project was conceived by artists Lara Almarcegui, Isabel Lewis and the architecture studio Recetas Urbanas led by Santiago Cirugeda.

The night proceeds with the 4th Audemars Piguet Art Commission: HALO from 10 am to 9 pm, by British duo Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt, known as Semiconductor. Curated by Mónica Bello, Head of Arts at CERN, Geneva, HALO surrounds visitors with millions of data points collected by the world's largest and most powerful experiment, the Large Hadron Collider. In celebration of the 4th Audemars Piguet Art Commission, a seated conversation with artist-duo Semiconductor, curator Mónica Bello and CERN scientist John Ellis will take place from 6.30 to 7.30 pm and it will be moderated by Artsy's Matthew Israel.

To wrap up the day, don’t miss out on Kunsthalle Basel Night from 7 to 10 pm, a special public program in correlation with the two solo exhibitions of Raphaela Vogel and Luke Willis Thompson's work at the Kunsthalle.

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