Art Basel 2019

At Basel’s Museum Tinguely, an Artist-Designed Bar Will Fill a Void

A partial view of Roth Bar at Tinguely (Basel, 2019) in Basel.

ANDREW RUSSETH/ARTNEWS

If you love art and you love bars, well, this is a good time to be in Basel, Switzerland. At the moment, the city is home to two temporary watering holes that double as art projects.

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At Art Basel, which runs through Sunday, a group of artists is presenting Hidden Bar—which is, indeed, hidden away in a section of the convention center not typically used for the fair.

Meanwhile, over at the Museum Tinguely, a new Roth Bar was installed earlier this month, and it will be on view, and available for use, into December.

For the Roth Bar uninitiated: the artist Dieter Roth and his son Björn began making the ramshackle bars-slash-art installations in the 1980s and opened one as part of Roth père’s show at Hauser & Wirth gallery in Zurich in 1997. Since then, Roth Bars have opened in various museums in different Hauser locations, with Björn and others leading the charge after Dieter’s death in 1998.

There’s a Roth Bar at Hauser & Wirth in New York, a Roth Bar & Grill at Hauser in Somerset, England, and for a limited time, a Roth Bar at the Museum Tinguely. (No word if the forthcoming Hauser & Wirth in Menorca, Spain, will have a Roth Bar.)

The Roth Bar in Basel, which is credited to Dieter, Björn, Oddur, and Einar Roth (the latter two are grandsons of the famed artist), as well as Bjarni Grimsson (and appears courtesy the Roth Estate and Hauser), has a great cobbled-together look with weird little televisions, lamps, and other items. Jean Tinguely, one imagines, would be a fan. (A bonus: floating above the bar is a 1953 Bücker-Jungmann 1.131 airplane that Tinguely bought and hung upside-down in his studio. A very nice touch.)

And now to more practical matters: the bar has a pretty sturdy menu of quaffable drinks, it’s available for private events, and it will serve as the Museum Tinguely’s main place of refreshment when its on-site bistro, Chez Jeannot, closes for renovations later this year.

If you’re still in Basel, or swinging through town later this year, stop by and pour one out for Tinguely or Roth … or yourself.

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