Recap of Art Basel 2019

Sofia Vinueza, Multimedia Editor

Art Basel, the for-profit international art fair in which upcoming and established artists showcase their work with the intentions of selling them, took place Dec. 5 to Dec. 8, 2019. Ernst Beyeler, a dealer and collector in Basel, Switzerland, introduced the first Art Basel in June of 1970. While it occurs year round in Miami Beach since 2007, the event also takes place annually in Basel, Switzerland and Hong Kong. Last weekend, about 77,000 people showed up to view the astounding art pieces on display. 

Every year, a wide range of styles and creative art pieces on display that create buzz in some way or another. To name just a few out of the thousands of art pieces that were on display, “The Scratch-and-Sniff Handbag” by Fendi and Francis Kurkdjian, “The Wild Real-Estate Stunt” by Diesel Wynwood Condominiums, “The Balenciaga Couch” by Harry Nuriev, and “Comedian” by Maurizo Cattelan. 

The “Scratch-and-Sniff Handbag”, the first piece to look at. The art piece was a collaboration between Fendi, a high end fashion company, and Fracis Kurkdjian, a perfumer. While not actually being a scratch-and-sniff handbag, it did smell. The bag had a price tag of $630 and supposedly has a long lasting scent for up to four years. If it starts to fade the bag also comes with a small bottle of perfume to reapply or to wear on your person.  

‘The Real-Estate Stunt” by Diesel Wynwood Condominiums also received a lot of attention. Although it appears to be just a normal billboard sign there is so much more behind this sneaky advertisement. The model in the ad wore a shirt with a replica sample layout of one of the condominiums on sale. The catch is that the model is advertising the T-shirt for $1,599,000 not the apartment, the apartment comes with the t-shirt. 

In addition, another eye catching art piece was the “Balenciaga Couch” by Harry Nuriev. This couch was made in collaboration with Balenciaga. Last year Nuriev created a similar work of art, an air conditioner and a copy machine with the Balenciaga brand featured all over. Coming back this year, the couch on display was filled with garments and offcuts from Balenciaga that were either damaged or unable to be sold. 

Now for the art piece that has created the most buzz over the past couple of days — the “Comedian” by Maurizo Cattelan. More commonly known as the banana, the piece priced at  $120,000. Though this work of art appears to just be a ripe banana duct taped to a wall with no purpose, but there is actually a backstory behind it. The artist Maurizo Cattelan initially wanted to create a sculpture that took the shape of a banana, so he would bring a banana with him on his travels and duct tape it to the wall in hopes of getting inspiration. Over time he tried many different designs — plain ronze, resin and painted bronze — but ended up coming back to the plain yellow banana. 

With the art pieces today, some people think that anyone, no matter what age or set of skills, can put together what these famous artists do in seconds when in reality it comes down to the interpretation of the art piece by others. As once said by Marshall McLuhan, a Canadian Philosopher, “Art is whatever you can get away with.”