Art Basel is clearly back, with attendees unmasked (but fully vaccinated) unable to socially distance with huge crowds taking up physical space at the fair, restaurants and tables at gallery booths talking about sales and waiting their turn to buy. With galleries from Germany, specifically Berlin, taking up much of the allotted gallery spaces, and the number of galleries from Asia and the United States way down, art was often comical, nature- oriented and lower-priced than before Covid, but selling briskly. Exaggeration ruled as some galleries claimed sales of more pieces than they displayed, but fabrication is part of artmaking and selling.
Big work was selling to private individuals, not only museums and large collections open to the public. Installations followed the children’s poem of some being very, very good and some awful. There was an emphasis on scientific explanations of the process and philosophy behind the art to justify the world created by the painting. That said, photography was shown much less than before, perhaps because as documentary, its world cannot be made up as well.