Our 10 Favourite Artists at Art Basel

Art Basel
Art Basel

Art Basel is one of the most prestigious art fairs in the world, and every year it celebrates artists from the international art world. Collectors, gallerists, cultural institutions and art aficionados, attend the event to discover both emerging and established artists in modern and contemporary art. The annual fair demonstrates a wealth of artistic content, its selection is rigorous, refined and revolutionary, showcasing iconic masterpieces and cutting-edge works on the brink of the contemporary art world. However, if you can’t get over to Basel from the 13th to the 16th June 2019, fear not, as we’ve brought you our 10 favourite artists exhibiting at Art Basel 2019.

1. Tom Wesselmann

Tom Wesselmann, Smoker #3 (Mouth #17), 1968
Tom Wesselmann, Smoker #3 (Mouth #17), 1968

Tom Wesselmann was an American pop artist best known for his collages, sculptures and screen prints. Wesselmann’s works explore the enchanting nature of the female body, and would often isolate certain parts of his subjects’ bodies in his works. Whether it’s a cigarette languidly hanging from a voluptuous pair of red lips, or a foot poised in an elegant shoe, Wesselmann claimed “the primary goal of my work is to make figurative art as exciting as abstract art.”

2. Jim Dine

Jim Dine, Four Hearts, 1969
Jim Dine, Four Hearts, 1969

Jim Dine is an American artist and poet known for his Pop art and performance works. In the early 1960s, Dine created Pop art works that explored recurring themes of hearts and skulls, along with everyday items such as bottles, tools and containers. When asked what influences his unique work, Dine stated “I grew up with tools. I come from a family that sold tools, and I have always been mesmerised by hand-made objects.”

3. Elizabeth Peyton

Elizabeth Peyton, The Age of Innocence, 2013
Elizabeth Peyton, The Age of Innocence, 2013

Elizabeth Peyton is a contemporary American painter known for her small-format works and intimate portraits of celebrities, friends and historical figures. Her brightly coloured works include paintings of Kurt Cobain, Barack Obama and David Bowie, and explore the depths of idolatry and obsession in society.

4. William Kentridge

William Kentridge, The Shrapnel in the Woods, 2013
William Kentridge, The Shrapnel in the Woods, 2013

William Kentridge is a South African actor, director and artistic director born in Johannesburg in 1955. Kentridge is known for his unique animation technique, where instead of drawing several black charcoal drawings on multiple sheets of paper, he uses only one sheet for the entire animation. Therefore, the lines from previous images remain visible behind new drawings, and can be seen as viewers watch the animation play. A fierce activist against Apartheid and the son of a white South African lawyer, Kentridge tirelessly campaigned to put an end to the corrupt and inhumane political regime.

5. Julio Le Parc

Julio Le Parc, Unknown, 1970s
Julio Le Parc, Unknown, 1970s

A key figure in contemporary art, Le Parc won the Grand Prize at the Venice Biennale in 1966. Le Parc’s technique involves the use of reflective surfaces and optical illusions, which he uses to reflect light through Plexiglass in order to create mystical prisms of light.

6. Max Bill

Max Bill, rotation around expanding white, 1978 - 1981
Max Bill, Rotation Around Expanding White, 1978 – 1981

Max Bill was an architect, painter, sculptor, designer, type designer, graphic designer, publisher, art theorist and politician who founded the “Concrete Art” movement. Inspired by constructivism, Bill integrated geometry and mathematics into his works to create beautiful and complex paintings and sculptures.

7. Piero Dorazio

Piero Dorazio, Apex, 1984
Piero Dorazio, Apex, 1984

Piero Dorazio was an Italian painter who was integral in introducing abstract art to Italy. Born in 1927, he studied painting, drawing and architecture at the University of Rome. In the late 1940s, Dorazio associated with figures such as Gino Severini and Renato Guttuso, eventually becoming the co-founder of the Forma 1; the first group of Italian abstract artists.

8. Simon Hantaï

Simon Hantaï, Étude, 1969
Simon Hantaï, Étude, 1969

Hungarian artist, Simon Hantaï was born in 1922, and was heavily associated with the Surrealist movement. After meeting André Breton, Hantaï began to experiment with alternative techniques such as collage and folding, creating strange forms which appear to ripple and move before the viewer’s eyes. In 1955, Hantaï discovered American Expressionism and the mighty influence of Jackson Pollock, before exploring European lyrical abstraction. From 1960 onwards, he adopted a new technique called “folding,” which quite literally consists of folding canvases and blindly painting onto them. This way, the paint only reaches the convex parts of the folds, and the painting only becomes visible when unfolded.

9. Diane Arbus

Diane Arbus, Identical Twins, 1967
Diane Arbus, Identical Twins, 1967

Diane Arbus explores the unnoticed corners of society that surround her, and one her first series, American Rites, Manners and Customs, features portraits of strangers. Arbus’ series was intended as a study of American habits and tendencies. In photographing such subjects, Arbus sought to unmask societal secrets in order to not only expose, but also render viewers more accepting of their fellow citizens.

10. Cy Twombly

Cy Twombly, On Returning from Tonnicoda, 1973
Cy Twombly, On Returning from Tonnicoda, 1973

American artist, Edwin Parker Twombly Jr., known as Cy Twombly, was an artist, painter, draftsman, sculptor and photographer. Belonging to the generation sculpted by Robert Rauschenberg, Jasper Johns and Brice Marden, Twombly contributed to the reconstruction of American art after the reign of Abstract Expressionism. Twombly’s works straddle the margins of abstraction and figuration, where the wealth and variety of his works reflect the artist’s incredible talent and intellect.