It is a hot, rich and extraordinary time for art and design, and not only because of the unusual temperatures that melt even the loftiest thoughts. After the 60th edition of the Salone del Mobile week – exceptionally rescheduled for June – the most important international contemporary art fair opened in Basel, giving itself an ideal baton this year.
At the same time, the events of this recovery and restart period are going on and overlapping with the opening of Documenta 15 in Kassel and, back to design, with the opening of the new design museum – MUDAC – in Lausanne and the award ceremony of the 27th Compasso d’Oro in Milan.
Art Basel means immersing oneself and venturing into a universe of exhibitions, events and works that address first and foremost a privileged private market, but at the same time to a wider, curious and cultured public. The programme involves the entire Swiss city, with popular and independent events – including the opening of several museums and galleries and the Parcours itinerary, where art enters private places that are open to the public for the occasion. In addition, in the Messe district there are the “traditional” exhibitions of the galleries in the historical venue of the Basel fair, while, for the first time, the Unlimited section, where monumental works that would not be displayed in galleries’ stands are exhibited, the Liste section – the young emerging galleries with their artists entering the art market – and the Swiss Awards for art, design and architecture are all gathered together in the new wing of the gallery.
For a few years now, Art Basel, in the same new fair building, has also been home to Design Miami/, a selection of the best collectible design that, in addition to the Miami show in December, is renewed and regenerated here in June. This year, the curatorial direction of this international event dedicated to design has been entrusted for the first time to an Italian curator, Maria Cristina Didero, a former contributor to the fair and Domus.
Art and design meet here and become (almost) the same thing. Absolute masterpieces by masters of the past, unique pieces, as well as new creations by new artists, are exhibited and offered for sale, in which design redefines the boundaries of the discipline towards that well-known but indefinable “integration of the arts”. For this edition, Maria Cristina Didero – also the director of the brand-new opening of Design Miami/Paris in October – has chosen the theme The Golden Age. Rooted in the Past. Considering the transitional time we are experiencing, it is clearly a reference to the past in order to regain the enthusiasm to look towards a new future in which design will have new, clear and unavoidable responsibilities.
Finally, Basel also means Vitra Design Museum, not far away and always ready to welcome new exhibitions – Plastic. Remaking our world, Color Rush! and The Barragan Gallery – and above all a new permanent installation in the already rich and unique architecture campus: Kazuo Shinohara’s Umbrella House.
Built in 1961 and to be demolished to make way for new projects in Tokyo, this silent masterpiece has been purchased, dismantled, moved and reassembled on the campus of wonders, where generations of architects have studied and will study in front of and inside real masterpieces. Shinohara himself saw “the home as a work of art” and this cannot be truer today with this example becoming part of an open-air museum.
In this endless circus, where there is a challenging dynamic in a perfect virtuous circle between the arts and design, you discover significant works and projects that mark the spirit of a time where certainties and uncertainties are complementary and change helps to read a complex and increasingly direct contemporaneity.
Opening image: Art Basel, Chateau Shatto, Aria Dean. Courtesy Art Basel