After a couple of days viewing art in antiseptic art-fair booths, Art Basel’s Parcours section presents a refreshing chance to see art in a more natural habitat: out in the world, scattered around Basel’s Old Town, where the streets are lined with cobblestones, the buildings date back as far as the 1400s, and the thought of returning to New York can become somewhat unappetizing.
This year, Samuel Leuenberger, director of the forward-thinking local nonprofit space Salts, has placed works by 20 artists around the area. In a shaded grove of trees along the Münsterplatz, Camille Henrot has three of her guileful bronzes, which take mid-century European sculptural forms on uproarious detours. Mathis Altmann, meanwhile, has taken over a whole house, filling multiple floors with fearsome light pieces and drones and another edition of the creepy sculpture of a man sitting cross-legged that is on view at Liste.
Parcours also offers a nice chance to see life being lived in Basel and the endless array of non-art-fair activities that the city has to offer. For instance, when I stopped by the Antikenmuseum Basel—a museum for ancient art—students around high school age were dutifully sketching Egyptian houses in vitrines in the basement, right next to impressively rude life-size naked dolls that Jos de Gruyter & Harald Thys hung in the space. And while visiting Ad Minoliti’s fun house of an installation—abstract graphics, the odd sculpture of a standing cat—on an upper floor of the Natural History Museum of Basel, you can see giant sculptures of a giraffe and a squid, a teeming beehive, and an ant colony. Very cool.
Other highlights: a truly insane Paweł Althamer sculpture of a kind of mysterious ox that the artist apparently saw in a dream (there’s a stool you can use to hop aboard, if you like), a characteristically quiet, tender Cathy Wilkes installation, and more. Below, photos of all the above-mentioned pieces and a few more. Oh, and one more Parcours bonus: while a ticket to the main fair costs CHF 58 (about $58.40), admission to Parcours is free.