Art Basel gossip: Emmanuel Perrotin gives us the silent treatment, Laure Prouvost’s watery work and gallerists don their bathers


Emmanuel Perrotin keeps it zipped

The dealer Emmanuel Perrotin was on fine form at his customary Art Basel party, held earlier this week in one of the city’s most handsome churches. His Basel bash has become a hot date in the fair calendar, though Perrotin pointed out that he usually has to deal with people desperate to get in, so is constantly popping out to survey the incoming hordes. The Paris gallerist hit the headlines this week with the announcement that he plans to sell a 60% stake in his gallery to the property investor Colony Investment Management. But the canny dealer was prepared for any pesky enquiries about the deal, pointing all questioners to a badge pinned on his inside pocket, emblazoned with the words: “Sorry, no comment.” Cheeky.

Tunnel vision: Laure Prouvost’s work shines out above a subterranean canal below the Trois Rois Art Basel

Laure’s tunnel of tears

Eagle-eyed flâneurs crossing Basel’s Middle Bridge will have spotted a neon sign proclaiming to be ‘Dreaming of No Front Tears’ above a tunnel nestled beneath the Trois Rois hotel. This mysterious passageway houses a video by the French artist Laure Prouvost. There is an added element of danger to this Parcours work: “If there’s a lot of rain, then it could get flooded,” Samuel Leuenberger, the Parcours curator, told the Financial Times. “But this is something Prouvost is comfortable with,” he added, highlighting how the pragmatic artist has prepared for every eventuality.

Ask me another: Art Basel’s guides are wowing visitors with their encyclopaedic knowledge of all things fair The Art Newspaper

Stand down, chatbots

The Messeplatz is filled every year with Art Basel guides who urge passers-by to “ask me”, giving a helping hand to befuddled fairgoers desperate to find the nearest Jeff Koons (or a decent cappuccino). These uber-courteous attendants stand in the wind and rain, ready to take on quandaries big and small. Their approach has caught the imagination of visitors; one was even overheard uttering that these “guys are the human version of ChatGPT”—which means, we think, that they have answers for everything.

Everything’s going swimmingly: dealers took the plunge—before avoiding any sharks on dry land CC-BY Bikepacking Switserland

Gallerists make a splash

Swimming in the Rhine is all the rage during the hot, hazy days of Art Basel, its soothing waters lifting the mood of city dwellers and visitors alike. Dealers were encouraged to don their bathers and dive in for an early-morning collegiate dip—an idea welcomed by gallerists gearing up for the week. Andreas Gegner, the senior director at Sprüth Magers, says that he hoped to join in but sadly had to withdraw. (“It’s a great idea, though”, he told us.) Let’s hope Basel chief Noah Horowitz donned his trunks and took the plunge, too.

Taking flight: Petrit Halilaj’s felt creation is on show in the UBS Art Studio A. Ramos Kabadach; © Petrit Halilaj, ChertLüdde, Berlin and Mennnour, Paris

The Bird Man of Basel

The Kosovan artist Petrit Halilaj clearly loves birds. His drawings, inspired by Kosovo’s Natural History Museum, are available with kurimanzutto gallery at Art Basel, while his printed felt piece showing a bird in flight is on show in the UBS Art Studio. “Before going to school my interest in chickens started by listening and learning to talk to them; my parents worried about how much time I’d spend talking to them,” Halilaj tells us. There is also a more poignant side to his story; as a young boy living in a refugee camp, he drew himself as a bird flying away over the horizon.


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