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"Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without." - Confucius

We selected a few Swiss art events and exhibitions around Zurich and Basel which are well worth a visit in this June for visual art enthusiasts. 

I love Switzerland all year round but it has a particular charm as the summer is approaching. The already picturesque landscapes are even more colourful, the lovely city-beaches (‘badi’ in the German part and ‘bain’ in the French cantons) at the lakes and along the rivers are open, lush greenery and flowers are blooming in the cities, smiling people chat on the terraces and in the outdoor restaurants and you can find nice events almost every week. 

Early summer is also a great time for art lovers – there are auctions (the Swiss Fine Art auction of Sotheby’s is just happening), exhibitions, installations, art fairs and more. See a tiny selection of very-soon-opening events below. 

Zurich Art Weekend – 9-11 June

The Zurich Art Weekend, now in its sixth year, presents a weekend-long discovery across the city’s international art scene. It has 73 venues, with a curated program of more than 80 exhibitions and events. At the core of the international art calendar, Zurich Art Weekend anticipates the preview days of Art Basel. If you plan on an additional one-hour train ride, you can conveniently visit both.

The pretty extensive ZAW program includes gallery and museum exhibitions, off-spaces collaborations with the emerging art scene, educational and interdisciplinary talks or even a mini book fair event. 

This year edition welcomes new partners, like La Prairie, Arcual or the Swatch Art Peace Hotel. Latter hosts an exhibition “The Swatch Art Peace Hotel: art from the world”. Since 2011 – under the leadership of the Swatch Group – the Swatch Art Peace Hotel serves as an open space for creative minds in the field of artistic expression, and gives artists place and time to work in total freedom. This exhibition intends to present the ideas, talents, projects and dreams through a variety of different cultures, disciplines, and generations that has participated in the project over the first twelve years.

Swatch Art Peace Hotel, photo: Swatch Art Peace Hotel

The Kyiv Art Week will present a nomadic project “Performing Kyiv. How to measure peace?”, curated by Eugene Bereznitsky and Maria Vtorushina. This project aims to address an important question – what is the role of culture in the midst of war? 

ZAW 2023, picture: Zürich Art Weekend

VOLTA – 12-18 June

VOLTA Art Fair debuted  in Basel  in 2005 (then in New York in 2008) as a collaboration between dealers and friends. The idea was to assist ambitious galleries in exhibiting in the art markets’ major cities. It returns this year at a new location in the Klybeck quarter, formerly a chemical-industrial production area. The Klybeck 610 is considered one of the iconic buildings in Basel, designed by the now-defunct architect firm Suter + Suter in 1967. The garden will host a sculpture park, also curated by VOLTA. Find the 2023 exhibitors here – the galleries from 15 countries were selected through an invite-only process.

The former director Kamiar Maleki resigned from his position in December, so the fair is currently led by Will Ramsay, the owner of Ramsay Fairs (the company added VOLTA to its portfolio in 2019).

Art Basel – 15-18 June

The 53rd Basel edition of Art Basel starts on 12 June with the invitation-only days (12-14 June) and the public days 15-18 June. 284 of the world’s leading galleries and more than 4,000 artists from five continents will exhibit in the city in 2023. 

Blum & Poe booth with Asuka Anastacia Ogawa's painting, Marcelo, 2021

As a messenger, the regular Art Market report was published earlier this year. The Art Market Report is a joined initiative of Art Basel and UBS Bank (the global lead partner of the fair). The seventh edition provides a review of the international art market, highlighting some of the most important trends and developments in 2022. Authored by Dr. Clare McAndrew, founder of Arts Economics, it is an independent and objective study, analysing sales and other activities of different segments of the market including galleries, auction houses, art fairs, and collectors. 

As the report finds, the global art market exceeded pre-pandemic levels in 2022, experiencing 3% growth in global art sales to an estimated USD 67.8 billion. The US saw the most robust recovery after the pandemic and the UK art market moved back into second place, followed by the Chinese market. Looking ahead to 2023, 77% of high net worth collectors, surveyed by Art Economics and UBS in 2022, are positive about the outlook for the global art market, and a majority (55%) plans to buy art in 2023. In certain markets, such as the important US market, their share is as high as 65%. 45% of dealers expect an improvement in sales, with 10% predicting a significant improvement. In the auction sector, surveys of the mid-tier businesses show that 48% forecast an improvement in their sales, and 60% expect their online sales to increase.

Similarly to VOLTA, Art Basel is also under new management. This May Art Basel announced that Maike Cruse has been appointed to the newly created position of Director, Art Basel in Basel. She will join Art Basel on July 1, 2023, and will lead the 2024 edition of the fair. (Her predecessor was Marc Spiegler, the former global director of the Art Basel brand, who stepped down last November.)

Art Basel’s show in Basel is divided into sectors. Each sector has a specific focus, from monumental works to solo presentations by up-and-coming artists. The Unlimited sector is dedicated to large-scale projects, the Statements sector presents emerging artists while the Kabinett sector will debut at the Basel edition to spotlight distinct curated exhibitions within the main booths of exhibitors. 

The Conversations section brings together over 50 of today’s most inspiring cultural figures across 12 panels on interesting topics like AI in art, blockchain and copyright, gender barriers in the art market or political art. See the full list of talks here

As usual during Art Basel you will find many other interesting art programmes in Basel and many museums and galleries have special opening hours during the fair. 

Fondation Beyeler

Apropos museums – one of my favourite Swiss museums has two new exhibitions from June. 

Basquiat. The Modena Paintings

The Fondation Beyeler in Riehen/Basel – with a new extension set to be completed by 2025 – for the first time brings together masterpieces from Jean-Michel Basquiat, which were never shown together. 

He painted a group of large-format works in 1982 for one of his first solo shows, supposed to go on view at a gallery in Modena, Italy. However, the project was cancelled before the show’s opening. Now the pieces are on view at the Beyeler museum until 27 August 2023. 

The mind’s eye

“The mind’s eye – Images of nature from Claude Monet to Otobong Nkanga” exhibition focuses on artists’ engagement with nature – from Impressionism to the current day with more than 40 works. 

Fondation Beyeler
Fondation Beyeler in Riehen/Basel

Source: press release. Photo credits: ZAW, Swatch Art Peace Hotel, Loupiosity.com.
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