5 Must-See Shows During Art Basel

5 Must-See Shows During Art Basel

Next week, the art world is poised to descend on the shores of the Rhine River for Art Basel’s flagship fair, which will unfold alongside a slew of satellite events including Liste, Photo Basel, Basel Social Club, Volta, and June Art Fair. Beyond these selling events, however, there is a slew of institutional exhibitions to take in. From Dan Flavin’s “Dedications in Light” to an all-encompassing Summer Show at the Fondation Beyeler, plus artist spotlights on Mika Rottenberg and Toyin Ojih Odutola, Basel is a veritable hotspot for art lovers this season.


“Mika Rottenberg. Antimatter Factory” at Museum Tinguely
Through November 3, 2024 

5 Must-See Shows During Art Basel

Mika Rottenberg, still from Untitled Ceiling Projection (2018). Courtesy of the artist and Hauser & Wirth.

At the Tinguely Museum, Argentinian artist Mika Rottenberg’s wonderfully chaotic, absurd, and clever video works address ideas of hard and soft power vis-a-vis capitalism, gender dominance, and the natural world. Like Jean Tinguely, Rottenberg satirizes the state of production across a range of materials, in works like Spaghetti Blockchain (2019) and NoNoseKnows (2015), sending up real-life situations like the facilitation of monetary transactions and industrial pearl production in humorous and surreal videos and sculptures.


“Cloud Chronicles” at Fondation Beyeler
Through August 11, 2024 

Fondation Beyeler, Riehen/Basel, 2024: Philippe Parreno, Membrane (2023). Courtesy of the artist © Philippe Parreno; Fujiko Nakaya, Untitled (2024). Courtesy of the artist, © Fujiko Nakaya. Photo: Mark Niedermann.

For its summer show, the Fondation Beyeler has for the first time transformed its entire museum and outdoor park into an experimental environment featuring works by leading contemporary artists. Termed a “living organism,” the show features works by artists working at the edge of traditional mediums, including Ian Cheng, Precious Okoyomon, Philippe Parreno, Rachel Rose, Tino Sehgal, Rirkrit Tiravanija, and Adrián Villar Rojas. A highlight is the inclusion of Carsten Höller and Adam Haar’s Dream Hotel Room 1: Dreaming of Flying with Flying Fly Agarics (2024). The animatronic bed moves based on sensors detected by a shifting body on the mattress, with the course of falling asleep and waking corresponding to a blooming mushroom suspended above the sleeper’s pillow. Visitors can book a 60-minute session to sleep in the bed during museum hours.


“Dan Flavin: Dedications in Lights” at Kunstmuseum Basel
Through August 18, 2024 

a light installation with purple background and yellow, pink, and blue rectangular lights

Dan Flavin, untitled (to Barnett Newman) one (1971). Collection Carré d’Art-Musée d’art contemporain de Nîmes © Stephen Flavin / 2024, ProLitteris, Zurich, Courtesy David Zwirner.

In the early 1960s, Minimalist pioneer Dan Flavin embarked on a series of artworks dedicated to fellow artists, cultural and political events, and other major touchstones of history, both personal and public. Although he decried the “Minimalist” moniker, Flavin undoubtedly adhered to the principles of the movement, employing industrial objects like store-bought fluorescent tube lights to dictate the bounds of his work. His ongoing fascination with light is obvious in the “Dedications,” which features 58 artworks, many making their debut in Switzerland. With nods to Donald Judd, Barnett Newman, and even his beloved golden retriever Airily, Flavin manages to transform commercially available products—constrained by size and color—into deeply personal tributes.


“Science Fiction Design: From Space Age to Metaverse” at Vitra Design Museum
Through May 11, 2025 

photograph of various objects displayed on shelves

Installation view of “Science Fiction Design: From Space Age to Metaverse.” © Vitra Design Museum. Photo by Mark Niedermann.

The idea of the “future” has long captivated humans, who have channeled that fascination into movies and books within the realm of science fiction. Flying cars, sentient robot overlords, and trips to far-flung planets have all become fodder for the artists and set designers behind the imagined worlds of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey (1962) and Blade Runner (1982). Just the chairs included in this exhibition range from Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s 19th century Argyle Chair to Joris Laarman’s Aluminum Gradient Chair (2013), the first 3D-printed metal chair, to the more recent Hortensia Chair (2018) designed by Andrés Reisinger and offered both as an NFT and a functional object. “From the Space Age to the Metaverse” provides a historical primer on the history of futuristic design, and offers a glimpse into untold possibilities.


“Toyin Ojih Odutola: Ilé Oriaku” at Kunsthalle Basel
Through September 1, 2024

painting by artist toyin ojih odutoka of a woman looking at her reflection in a mirror

Toyin Ojih Odutola, Don’t Be Afraid; Use What I Gave You (2023). © Toyin Ojih Odutola. Courtesy of the artist, Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

If you missed Toyin Ojih Odutola’s spare and striking charcoal drawings on view at the Venice Biennale, you have another opportunity at Basel’s premiere institution with the show “Ilé Oriaku,” which translates to “House of Abundance.” In the Nigerian-born artist’s first comprehensive outing in Switzerland, a wealth of new drawings demonstrates the artist’s work to bring fictional familial stories to life in charcoal, pastel, and pencil. “The work is not about a mythology or a presumption about African-ness” the artist said in Paris Review. “The viewer is immersed in the narrative, an alternative reality.”

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