Visual Arts — and Much More — Draw Thousands to Art Basel 2022

Art Basel returned to its June schedule for the first time since 2020, attracting 70,000 attendees to Messe Basel. The fair showed support for Ukraine by collaborating on special events in the city, and offered its first-ever night of music and other live performances.

Author: Michelle Russell       

Art Basel sculptures colonial soldiers

Folkert de Jong’s “The Shooting…1st of July 2006,” was part of the Unlimited sector of this year’s show in Basel. In his sculptural tableaus, de Jong explores and satirizes the history of colonial conquest, particularly that of his native country The Netherlands. This installation is made of industrial styrofoam, polyurethane foam, wood, and steel. (Photos courtesy of Art Basel)

Art Basel Number 341 by Leonardo Drew

Since the 1990s, artist Leonardo Drew has been making assemblage-based installations and sculptures in his distinctive abstract language that speaks of life’s cyclical nature. This artwork, “Number 341,” also part of Art Basel’s Unlimited sector, extends the wall installation onto the floor plane, seeming to explode with energy.

Art Basel is an international art fair staged annually in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; Hong Kong; and starting this year, Paris, France. The 51st edition of Art Basel in Basel — where it all began — was held June 16-19, 2022, bringing together 289 premier galleries from 40 countries and territories. The fair, which transformed at Messe Basel into a giant art gallery, attracted an overall attendance of 70,000 during its VIP and public days.

In support of the war in Ukraine, Art Basel collaborated with the City of Basel, leading cultural institutions in the city, Liste Art Fair, and the PinchukArtCentre on a public art project featuring Ukrainian artist Boris Mikhailov’s latest photographic series, “Temptation of Death.”

Art Basel also supported the benefit concert by Russian punk collective Pussy Riot and gave a donation of CHF 110,000 (Swiss francs) split evenly across three humanitarian aid organizations. And for the first time, Art Basel hosted Unlimited Night, with a program of special performances by musicians — making the art event a feast for the ears in addition to the eyes.

Nora Turato performing spoken word

Amsterdam-based performance artist and graphic designer Nora Turato performs her spoken-word piece, “what is dead may never die,” during Art Basel’s first-ever Unlimited Night of special performances.


Michelle Russell is editor in chief at Convene.

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