Basel gossip: Marc Spiegler turns bartender, Fondation Beyeler gets the painters in, and visitors mistake activists for artists


Spiegler the gin-slinger

Former Art Basel chief Marc Spiegler is making his presence felt in Basel this week with appearances around the Messeplatz and other hot spots including the zeitgeisty Basel Social Club, where he was seen serving up mouth-watering tequila negronis and juicy gin slings. (Our correspondent can testify to Spiegler’s tip-top bartending techniques.) Asked how it felt to be free of the fair, he quipped that “it was very pleasurable; it’s 90% of the prestige but 10% of the responsibility”.

Mind where you step: Duane Hanson’s hyper-real work reminded some visitors that they really need to sort the box room out Photo: The Art Newspaper

Fondation Beyeler gets the decorators in

Fondation Beyeler’s stand at Art Basel is a talking point with its lifelike depiction of a workman with a paint roller standing in front of a half-painted wall. This hyper-real piece by the late US artist Duane Hanson, shown alongside an unfinished painting by Picasso, is foxing visitors who are taken aback by the ultra-authentic mottled skin and brushed hair. A quick straw poll among visitors pondering the piece came back with a result endorsing Hanson’s creation, with most respondents saying that the work looks just like an authentic human being. But one French collector was less than convinced. “He’s not blinking or breathing,” she exclaimed. Zut alors!

As protests swept across Swiss cities, some Basel visitors struggled to separate artists from activists Photo: Fabrice Coffrini/AFP via Getty Images

The art of protest

Parties around town were disrupted earlier this week when a protest march made art-world luminaries put down their champagne glasses and survey demonstrators who were vocal about equality and justice. At the swanky Volkshaus, guests at a gathering organised by Tate’s International Council—including the Swiss collector Uli Sigg and the Turin-based patron Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo—were momentarily distracted. Another guest seemed unaware of what was really happening and was heard to utter: “Is that fracas a performance piece, perhaps?”

Dressed to impress: Gerd Harry Lybke did not disclose if Neo Rauch painted him in those trews Photo: The Art Newspaper

Lybke trousers the cash

The German dealer Gerd Harry Lybke’s colourful outfits have become a fair staple, catching the eye of visitors browsing the aisles at Art Basel. His trousers emblazoned with flora and fauna are certainly eye-popping, with Lybke explaining that his fashion choices are often inspired by his artists. “I’m a groupie for all of them, including Neo Rauch,” he says. “I modelled naked for him in the 1980s in Leipzig; I charged 8DM for clothed portraits and 12DM for naked life-drawing classes.” Talk about naked ambition.

Photo: The Art Newspaper

From Basel to Biennale

Adriano Pedrosa, the curator of the next Venice Biennale (pictured with Shireen Gandhy of Chemould Prescott Road gallery), popped into Art Basel this week as he makes his way around the world before the exhibition launches next April. “I’ve been in Jakarta, Manila, Singapore and Hong Kong,” he tells us. (We assume Pedrosa was also scouting out prospective candidates for his 2024 selection.) “The timeframe is really challenging” he adds.


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