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Art Basel 2019.
Art Basel 2019.

Art Basel’s Fiftieth Edition Kicks Off Thursday

Art Basel’s 2019 edition—the fiftieth edition of the fair, taking place in the Messe Basel exhibition hall in Basel—opens to the public on Thursday, June 13. Some 290 galleries are participating in the event, which has rolled out a new progressive pricing model for its booths. In this milestone year, the fair has introduced a sliding scale for fees in order to help lift the financial burden off of smaller galleries.

While many veteran galleries are returning to Art Basel, nineteen galleries will be represented at the fair for the first time, including Barro Arte Contemporáneo from Argentina, Tommy Simoens and Vedovi Gallery from Belgium, Galeria Jaqueline Martins from Brazil, Temnikova & Kasela from Estonia, Galerie Crèvecoeur and Galerie Christophe Gaillard from France, SpazioA from Italy, Vadehra Art Gallery from India, and Marfa from Lebanon.

The fair’s main sector, Galleries, will host 232 exhibitors and its Feature sector will present twenty-four projects. Among the highlights from Feature are Croy Nielsen’s presentation of work by Austrian artist Elke Silvia Krystufek, who is known for her provocative performances, videos, and other works; a solo show of work by Los Angeles–based artist Carl Cheng at Philip Martin Gallery; and a selection of works by Hudinilson Jr., one of the pioneers of Xerox art in Brazil, at Galeria Jaqueline Martins.

Statements will comprise eighteen solo presentations by emerging artists, including Farah Al Qasimi, EJ Hill, Saba Innab, and Rose Salane; Edition will feature fourteen displays dedicated to prints; and Unlimited, taking place on the upper floor of Hall 1 and curated for the last time by Gianni Jetzer, the curator at large at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, DC, will boast seventy-five large-scale projects by Huma Bhabha, Andrea Bowers, Zoe Leonard, Kerry James Marshall, and Do Ho Suh, among others. Next year’s iteration of Unlimited will be curated by Giovanni Carmine, the director of the Kunst Halle Sankt Gallen, Switzerland, since 2007, and the current president of the Swiss Art Awards.

Curated for the fourth year by Samuel Leuenberger, the founder of SALTS in Birsfelden, Switzerland, the fair’s Parcours section, titled “The Impossibility of Being a Sculpture,” includes Lawrence Abu Hamdan’s The recovered manifesto of Wissam (inaudible), 2017, located in the Staatsarchiv, and Dan Graham’s Dancing Circles, 2018, which is installed on Münsterplatz.

Heading up the fair’s Film program is Maxa Zoller—the director of the Dortmund I Cologne International Women’s Film Festival, who is also departing the fair after this edition—and leading the Conversations series is the Berlin-based artist Julieta Aranda. This year’s films include Cao Fei’s Prison Architect, 2018 and Rashid Johnson’s Native Son, 2019. Conversations will feature artist talks with William Kentridge, Alexandra Pirici, and Akram Zaatari, and discussions on topics such as new nationalism(s), the carbon footprint of contemporary art, and the mechanisms of a surveillance state.