Basel Blörb #4 / 18 by Karim Crippa

I am conflicted whether yesterday is a day to remember or to forget. It started, in a classical Basel way, with a visit to the Fondation Beyeler. The current show there combines the tortuous psychograms of Francis Bacon with the emaciated figures of Alberto Giacometti: heavy stuff to say the least. But since this is Fondation Beyeler, the risks for the exhibition to fail were small, and indeed it was impossible to ignore the breathtaking mastery of these two artists. The Swiss sculptor gets away slightly better than the British painter, because when you see so many works by Bacon at once, you realize his range was actually quite limited, and there’s probably more interesting things to be obsessed with than the internal sufferings of the white western male.

A second show, focusing on selected pieces from the foundation’s collection, felt rewarding too: two small blue works by Max Ernst, equally mystical and naive, struck me as particularly beautiful. After taking in the intensity of all this, I had a drink in situ with my friend Barbara, who’d just seen designer Raf Simons enter the museum; later, I managed to take a picture of them together, an achievement we were both thrilled about. In another WTF moment quite typical of Art Basel, I realized our table neighbor was the CEO of Volkswagen: I now know the color of his credit card and that he enjoys beef tartare.

I dedicated the rest of my day to three of my favorite things in life: writing, being unproductive and social schmooze. After a couple of drinks at Paris Internationale’s reception, where the participants to this trendy fair’s 2018 edition were announced and too much parmigiano reggiano was consumed, I got smuggled into the Art Basel Parcours cocktail party by my friend Elise Lammer. Tucked away in an arcadian garden and sipping Ruinart, I once again felt both perversely privileged and undeserving. Following this intimate moment of soothing luxury, we proceeded to Kunsthalle Basel’s Campari bar; my admission that I’d never been there before was met with astonishment and incomprehension. It was a good idea though: I ended up a a table with a bunch of Asian collectors, whom I’d never met before, but who were very entertaining. We talked about highlights of the fair, the need for me to go to visit Hong-Kong and other worldly topics that would make any true socialist shiver with disgust.

Soon enough, it got late and I felt compelled to continue having fun, which meant going to another party, where I met photographer Buck Ellison, whose work I’m obsessed with and is currently on view at Balice Hertling’s booth at Liste. Daylight had been out for a couple of hours when I finally went home, which explains why this blörb is being published only now and might be a bit watery.