The art world has changed, but it is difficult to determine how or how much. The mainstays are still pursuing age-old projects but new forms are appearing in all the fairs currently in Zurich and Basel. The prelude, (with credit to Kaveh Mojtabai for the musical reference) to the fairs at Basel were an hour away by train or car, in Zurich, affording a much smaller venue for galleries often exhibiting at Zurich Art Weekend and Art Basel. Hauser and Wirth’s exhibit at the just ended Zurich Art Fair was exemplary.
Glenn Ligon’s “First Contact” large scale diptych from his Stranger Series begun in 1997, printing out excerpts from James Baldwin’s 1953 essay, “A Stranger in the Village,” is relevant not only to the experience of a Black man encountered by villagers who have never seen a Black man before, but also to the present world, where we encounter those different from us. Taking up an entire wall, it invites contemplation but also awareness of the black script of a Black author’s words by a Black artist upon a white canvas, at the booth of one of the world’s most prominent galleries. It speaks to the importance of literature and its relation to visual art, with words being one of the first forms of visual art.
With Anna Gav observing art at the Zurich Art Weekend and the following art fairs in Basel, and Nancy Nesvet writing and analyzing the art presented online in galleries and viewing rooms, we will see who is going to the art fairs, what they are seeing, and how that world has changed. Come with us.
(“Glenn Ligon. First Contact” is on view through December 23 at Hauser & Wirth Zürich, Limmatstrasse 270, 8005 Zurich. The gallery is open Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 11 a.m.–5 p.m. For more information, visit hauserwirth.com.)