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Art Basel 
Blast off

Art Basel isn’t just loosening its tie for 2024, it’s tieing it around its head

Venice aside, the year’s biggest art deal (pun intended) is Art Basel. With the Swiss firm’s Miami and Hong Kong fairs long bedded in and the new Paris1 event in October circled on every collector’s calendar, Basel’s Messeplatz mothership has become an awesome arrangement of the very best there is to buy (unless it’s artefacts you’re after, in which case, see you at Maastricht’s Tefaf next March), supported by a formidable array of additional programming. It might seem like an exaggeration to regard Art Basel as mad, bad and dangerous to know, but there does seem to be a profound loosening of the tie in the expansive, enjoyable and canny curatorial extensions that bless Basel this summer.

The Messeplatz might be the place to be but don’t forget about the Merian

There’s a new director in town too: Maike Cruse, who, as a former head of Gallery Weekend Berlin, is an expert at herding creative cats on a citywide level. So we’ll enjoy a wider extension of the much-admired Parcours programme of public art, this year curated by New York’s Swiss Institute director Stefanie Hessler, who will be sprinkling 20 site-specific installations along Clarastrasse, connecting the fairgrounds to the Rhine (fairgrounds!). The tour, if you do it as one, will showcase work in shops, bars, a hotel and a brewery. Meanwhile, there’s a brand-new round-the-clock art space in town, the Merian, situated next to the Middle Bridge on the Rhine. Popping up throughout the Old Town, the fair will spring to life thanks to a list of vibey curators who, it appears, won’t be kicking you out at 22.00 – instead they’ll be turning up the music (or, your loss, starting on a symposium).

Back in the Messeplatz, Basel welcome Agnes Denes, the Hungarian-born 93-year-old doyenne of environmental land art. She will present “Honouring Wheatfield – a Confrontation”, which will stay in situ until it’s harvested (the point presumably being that it very much depends upon the weather). In the halls, which will host 286 galleries this year, the fair welcomes 22 newbies, five of which are zinging straight into the main selection, including spaces from the US, Taiwan, China and Spain. Wow, no wonder gallerists started wearing trainers with their smart clothes. It should be a lot of legwork and a welcome blast of – what’s that? – Basel fun!

Hauser & Wirth Basel
In the frame

Carlo Knoell, the newly installed director of Hauser & Wirth Basel, is ushering in the gallery’s first space in his city

It might come as a surprise that Hauser & Wirth has never had a permanent space in Basel – until now. The Swiss art giant has unveiled a spot on the ground floor of a 19th-century former ribbon factory in the Old Town. It was previously occupied by Galerie Knoell, whose name-above-the-door director, Carlo Knoell, has now assumed the mantle at the new venue.

Why are Galerie Knoell and Hauser & Wirth a good fit? “We’ve always had a mutual interest in artists such as Méret Oppenheim, Sophie Taeuber-Arp and Georges Vantongerloo,” says Knoell. “So, though I call it contemporary art, my focus has always been historical and the secondary market.” Now all that mutual expertise is set to be pooled. “Hauser & Wirth is strong in contemporary and 20th-century art,” adds Knoell. “But it was really about this desire to enforce the historical and secondary market side – and doing this with shows, publications and projects.”

The Basel space will be Hauser & Wirth’s most petite; “intimate and not at all showy”, as Knoell says. An elegant squeeze.

Fondation Beyeler
Mix and match

The Fondation Beyeler has been showing world-best exhibitions in its glass-and-brick Renzo Piano galleries for 26 years – and this year it seems that even these stately walls have caught the 2024 Basel Fun Bug too. For the first time in the institution’s history, it’s being taken over. A roster of 30 contemporary artists will stage an experimental show celebrating “the complexities and uncertainties involved in bringing artists together”. That’s according to Philippe Parreno and Precious Okoyomon, two of the show’s creators, who will also display their own work.

The Fondation Beyeler shop stocks a fine array of art books and gifts

Expect to see pieces by artists such as Kenyan-British poet of figurative paint Michael Armitage, artist and guitarist Joshua Chuquimia Crampton of the American Pakajaqi nation of Aymara people, and Japanese sculptor Fujiko Nakaya. The Beyeler, rather than stuff its wonderful permanent collection in the attic, will allow these artists to interact with works by the likes of Monet, Van Gogh and Bourgeois. Call it a mash-up and they surely won’t throw you out. What’s certain is that it’s going to be busy.

Q&A: Jaqueline Martins and Maria Montero
São Paulo’s new gallery

Brazilian dealers Jaqueline Martins and Maria Montero have teamed up to create Martins & Montero. The gallery will focus on Brazilian art’s historical trailblazers as well as its new voices. “Together, we can expand horizons and offer artists endless possibilities,” the duo tells monocle. Artists who have piqued the gallery’s interest include figurative painter Lia D Castro, installation artist Lydia Okumura and pop-art-inspired João Loureiro.

Maria Montero (on left), Yuri Olivera and Jaqueline Martins, part of the team running new gallery Martins & Montero

Why is this a good match? This merger combines our shared dedication to celebrating Brazilian art’s historic pioneers and nurturing emerging talents. Fortunately, we’ve also built a lasting friendship, which helps to enrich collaboration and strengthen our role in the Brazilian and international art markets.

How large is your team now? We have 14 people in the galleries between São Paulo and Brussels, where Yuri Olivera came with Jaqueline and will lead operations in Europe. Together we look after 32 artists.

What does the new space in São Paulo look like?
It’s a big, beautiful house built in the late 1950s in the Jardins district – a lush, green neighbourhood. The space can be adapted to host any kind of exposition and all the rooms [there are a lot of them!] have a welcoming ambience. The house is surrounded by a beautiful garden where people can hang out too.

What does Martins & Montero have planned for the summer?
In Brussels, we’ll be showing Rebecca Sharp, a fantastic surrealist painter. In Brazil, we’ll show a retrospective of Lydia Okumura, a historical conceptual artist.

What are you looking forward to outside your own shows?
Lygia Clark at Pinacoteca de São Paulo is a must; Corpo/Casa at Pivo Art & Research creates a dialogue between Carolee Schneemann, Diego Bianchi and Márcia Falcão; the Carmela Gross retrospective at Sesc is wonderful; Celeida Tostes at Superfície Gallery; and finally, at Masp, Lia D Castro is definitely in the diary for July.

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