June 2018 – Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland- 3 days experience at the 1st VIP collectors Weekend Program (Friday, June 15 to Sunday, June 17)

June 2018 – Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland- 3 days experience at the  1st VIP collectors Weekend Program (Friday, June 15 to Sunday, June 17)

Today, as I was preparing my documents for my upcoming  visit to Art Basel Hong Kong art fair as part of a Dedicated VIP Weekend Program, I relooked at my pictures from my first BASEL experience last year in June 2018  at the 49th edition of Art Basel in its origin city of Basel, Switzerland.

Also back them I was lucky enough to be part of Art Basel  Dedicated VIP Weekend Program, that consisted of 3 full days of  pampering from Art BASEL representatives, who welcomed me as part of a group of 100 art connoisseurs from 21 countries across 5 continents around the world in order to discover Art Basel and the local cultural scene of Basel first-hand.


A special WhatsApp Group was made and we received lots of updates and reminders of the schedule like this one – the plans of the exhibition Halls located in Messeplatz , which was very helpful as the place is huge.

Art Basel in Basel has several buildings and sections located in Messeplatz : Hall 1Unlimited  Sector, Hall 2– the Galleries sector where also the Statements sector of exhibition consisting in 18 new solo projects by emerging artists. At Hall 1 and 2 the Feature sector  boasted a particularly ambitious selection of 31 precisely curated projects from both historical and contemporary artists.  On the other side of the tram lines it was  the Design Miami sector that consisted in furniture and design objects and the Welcome Lounge. Apart fro the Art Basel exhibition spaces in Messeplatz there are other venues of the Art Basel spread throughout the city that I have visited as part of VIP program in the following 3 days.

The  Art Basel VIP weekend experience of 3 full days, Friday- Day 1- June 15 2018 , Saturday- Day 2 – June 16 2018 and Sunday- Day 3- June 17 2018.

Day 1 – Friday: From 10am till 11am started with a Welcome Reception  at  at the Collectors Lounge  hosted by Marc Spiegler, Global Director, and Michèle Sandoz, Global Head of VIP Relations as a kick-off the Art Basel VIP Weekend Program. I was on my own at the cocktail as my friends and future companions for the following 2 days, Evelyn and Pedro Simko & Alexandra and Charlie Henry arrived that day around lunch time.  This gave me the opportunity to mingle with other people and I met a few interesting ladies from the art world, such as a writer from London, whom was working on a book about African art and a former New York lawyer turned into an art adviser after graduating  “The MSc in Art, Law and Business” of Christie’s – the reputable auction house with offices in London and New York. She told me that the 15-month, full-time, cross-disciplinary postgraduate program equipped her with an advanced understanding of international art markets and combined the three challenging and intensively taught components in Art History, Art Law and Art Business, whilst providing a dynamic learning experience in a professional environment at the heart of the art world. She actually convinced me that this should be my next step in my ART career world and I’m positive that in a few years I’ll do it. I think is’s mandatory that the art market should be treated as any other business and I must say that only after 2 years in the field I noted that in Romania the art market is still not managed as a proper business and I feel that my banking and financing advisory skills can bring a value added on how I will manage my new Gallery and my represented Artist’s careers.

Marc Spiegler, Global Director, and Michèle Sandoz, Global Head of VIP Relations
the introduction speech of Marc Spiegler

Going back to Art Basel VIP weekend program : after the opening cocktail we received a welcome package including exclusive invitations and vouchers for an Art Basel Yearbook and BMW car ride and after we were separated in smaller groups, which assigned to an Art Basel art representative in order to start on Day 1- From 11am to 12 noon an Art Basel Private walk-through in order to discover a variety of Art Basel 2018  highlights of the show during a personally guided walk-through  led by art world experts who entered in dialogues with the Gallerists that where exhibiting in the Hall 1 and 2 at Messe Basel.

Here a few pictures of art from the Galleries section present in Hall 1.

I choose to show separately the art presented by  Plan B Gallery, the only Romanian gallery  present at Art Basel- Basel June 2018 which is based in Cluj, Romania but also in Berlin, Germany. I loved the Horia Damian 2 drawings, in particular the drawing in pencil dated 1976 titled “La piscine Face Sud” that looked like a Japanese kimono but was the sketch for a pool, as Horia was also an architect as profession. Horia Damian born on 27th of February 1922 was a Romanian painter and sculptor that started his career in Romania and moved in 1946 to Paris due to winning a scholarship there. He  lived his last years in Paris and his Bio is impressive having collaborated with artists like Fernard Leggier ( with whom he studied), Constantin Brancusi, Auguste Herbin, Salvador Dali, and Ives Klein and with works present in US, including at Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York.

At Art Basel 2018 in Basel  Horia Damian, via Plan B Gallery,  was present also in the section UNLIMITED from Hall 1 with his amazing Galaxy” project, a project for a Monument at Huston, Texas, designed in 1972 and constructed in 1974 at the Neue Galerie in Aachen. I will post a picture of that project as well although I visited UNLIMITED section the next day. I have to say that as you entered UNLIMITED section, Horia Damian’s installation was the first to see and in the same section there were another 2 Romanian artists present- more info on UNLIMITED in the article on Day 3 as we met on that day the curator of this section.


Plan B Gallery Hall 2 Art Basel June 2018
Plan B Gallery Hall 2 Art Basel 2018
Horia Damian works at Plan B Gallery from Cluj , Romania
Horia Damian 2 works: Galaxie, 1976 & La Piscine Face Sud, 1976

Unlimited Section in Hall1 Messeplatz Art Basel: as you entered the first project you could see was Horia Damian- Romanian Artist

Horia Damian Galaxy Project UNLIMITED Section Art Basel June 2018

Day 1 – Friday: From 12 noon onwards it was Art Basel Public Day and the representatives encouraged us to continue our own discovery through the halls, where  289 leading galleries from 35 countries showcased exciting artists and works from across the globe. The access with Art Basel VIP card was free for Halls 1 and 2, Messe Basel.

Day 1 – Friday: From 4pm to 5pm at Statements section we were invited at a Cocktail Reception with galleries from the Art Basel Statements sector, which presented 18 exciting new solo projects by emerging artists, including ten first-time galleries: White Space Beijing, Jan Kaps, Sandy Brown, Antoine Levi, Mor Charpentier, Madragoa, Freedman, Fitzpatrick, Croy Nielsen, Carlos/Ishikawa, and Essex Street.

It was a champagne cocktail dedicated to VIP Weekend Program only in the Statements sector of Art Basel, Hall 2.1, Messe Basel.

Day 1 – Friday: From 5pm to 6pm we were invited to Art Basel Conversations at Collector Talk: “How to Buy Art”, the message was that each collection is considered the creative expression of the collector. Hong-Kong based collector Monique Burger, South African collector Herman Steyn, and Philippe Charpentier, Co-Owner and Director, Mor Charpentier, discuss factors in acquiring art works from emerging, mid career, and established artists, and artist estates, while examining different buying behaviors and codes of ethics.  The talk was moderated by Alexander Forbes, Executive Editor, Artsy, New York. Seats were specially reserved for VIP Weekend Program and it was a Free public access event at Hall 1.1 Auditorium, Messe Basel.

Day 1 – Friday: From 7:30pm to 10pm we were invited to Fondation Beyeler Nocturne at Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse 101, Riehen.

It was an invitation-only reception hosted by Samuel Keller, Director, Fondation Beyeler, and Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel and we went there by a special tram ride with the traditional Basel Oldie Tram arranged by Art Basel for VIP Weekend Program guests.

The evening includes a viewing of ‘Bacon – Giacometti’, the first museum exhibition devoted to shedding light on these two extraordinary protagonists of Modern art, Alberto Giacometti (1901 – 1966) and Francis Bacon (1909 – 1992), and their relationship to each other.

Access was permitted upon presentation of our personal invitation as part of the VIP Weekend Program (the Art Basel VIP Card was not valid for entry).

Tram ride from Messeplatz, Basel to Foundation Beyeler, Riehen Charlie Henry and Pedro Simko
Alexandra Henry, owner of I Love Colours Studio- an interior design studio with amazing projects- and Oana Visoiu Cutucache, owner of Renaissance Art Gallery and Renaissance Financing, a financial consultancy firm and title insurance specialist, on the tram ride to Foundation Beyeler
Cocktail at foundation Beyeler
Pedro and Evelyn Simko, Alexandra and Charlie Henry and Oana Visoiu
Foundation Beyeler exhibiting building

Foundation Beyeler

Foundation Beyeler collection
Claude Monet, Foundation Beyeler

Claude Monet, Foundation Beyeler
sunset at Foundation Beyeler, we went back to Basel by tram, stoped for 1h to a Gallerists party with Andrew Strachan and after at my   HOTEL MERIAN BASEL

Day 2 – Saturday: From 9am to 11am we started our second day of the Art Basel VIP Weekend with an exclusive Breakfast Reception at the Kunstmuseum Basel courtyard, hosted by Dr. Josef Helfenstein, Director Kunstmuseum Basel, together with Michèle Sandoz, Global Head of VIP Relations, Art Basel. The reception was  followed by a private tour of the exhibitions ‘ Theaster Gates: The Black Madonna’ or ‘The Music of Color: Sam Gilliam, 1967 – 1973’. It was a dedicated VIP Weekend Program at Kunstmuseum Basel,St. Alban-Graben 8, Basel

Apart from the beautiful and interesting art we have learned that the Kunstmuseum Basel houses the largest and most significant public art collection in Switzerland, and is listed as a heritage site of national significance.[1] Its lineage extends back to the Amerbach Cabinet, a collection of works by Hans Holbein purchased by the city of Basel in 1661, which made it the first municipally owned and therefore open to the public museum in the world.

Dr. Josef Helfenstein, Director Kunstmuseum Basel, together with Michèle Sandoz, Global Head of VIP Relations, Art Basel

Theaster Gates Artist – Black Madona show for Basel Art Fair at Kunstmuseum – private tour part of VIP Weekend Program

Theaster Gates Artist – Black Madona show for Basel Art Fair at Kunstmuseum – private tour part of VIP Weekend Program

Kunstmuseum has several buildings and we continued our tour by foot to Kunstmuseum Basel Gegenwart from the new Kunstmuseum interior courtyard

Basel streets with people enjoying a Saturday morning stroll by bike…on our way to Black Madona tour to the other building of Kunstmuseum, Basel, Gegenwart area
Kunstmuseum, Basel, Gegenwart- Theaster Gates Artist – Black Madona show for Basel Art Fair at Kunstmuseum – private tour part of VIP Weekend Program
Theaster Gates Artist – Black Madona show for Basel Art Fair at Kunstmuseum – private tour part of VIP Weekend Program
Theaster Gates Artist – Black Madona show for Basel Art Fair at Kunstmuseum – private tour part of VIP Weekend Program
Theaster Gates Artist – Black Madona show for Basel Art Fair at Kunstmuseum – private tour part of VIP Weekend Program
an old printing machine, manual that Theaster Gates used to print his manifest for the Black madona project
Oana and Evelyn back on foot to Basel Messeplatz along Rhine river, we plan to visit DESIGN MIAMI Section

Day 2 – Saturday: From 11am to 4pm it was Public Day, meaning free program.

From 11,30am to 1pm we visited Design Miami ( on the other side of Messe Platz- next to hall 5). I loved all the boots there and the furniture& interior design objects and the vintage cars.

Here are a few photos.

At 1,30pm we took a short 5 min walk from Messe Basel to my hotel, HOTEL MERIAN BASEL, located on the side of the river Rhine. I had a great asian lunch with Andrew – Art Basel Hong Kong and the one that facilitate us the entrance into this amazing VIP Collector weekend Program and Henry Fam.,  Charlie and Alexandra.

After, from 3,30pm to 4pm we visited Unlimited sector located at Hall 1, Messe Basel. The 71 projects for Basel 2018’s Unlimited sector were curated again by Gianni Jetzer, curator-at-large for the Hirschhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden. Presenting a wide range of works that go beyond the context of the stand, Unlimited is Basel’s platform for large-scale installations and sculptures, projected video works, live performances, and anything else that can’t be contained in the art fair booth. For 2018, the projects spaned the breadth of these media and formats, with new video works, performance works both new and old, and large-scale installations. As mentioned above I was impressed that at the show there were present 3 Romanian Artist:

  1. Horia Damian represented by  Plan B Gallery ( Cluj and Berlin) with Galaxy Project for a Monument in Huston, Texas, US -1972 till 2018, that was located right at the enter of the Unlimited Sector !
Horia Damian- Galaxy Project, Plan B Gallery, UNLIMITED Sector, Hall 1, Art Basel June 2018

2. Ana Lupaș ( Romanian artist born in Cluj 1940), represented by  P429 Gallery ( Bologna, Italy) with “Christmas Trees for the Years to Come” Project- 1993, that consisted of a series of twisted, dry, bare pieces of wood, placed horizontally and suspended at different heights. No leaves, no foliage. Just the presence of some gold leaf and glided objects that could be decorations, which like the trees themselves seemed to have been abandoned in an imaginary warehouse.

3. Andra Ursuța ( Romanian artist born in Salonta, Romania 1979 who lives and works in New York City, NY), represented by  Massimo De Carlo Gallery ( Milan, Italy) and Eva Presenhuber Gallery ( Zurich, Switzerland) with “The Man from the Internet” Project- 2017

Andra Ursuta, Unlimited Sector , Art Basel June 2018


To be honest the Unlimited section was my favorite one and I’ll include a slideshow with more projects, including the Yoko Ono’s ( John Lennon’s wife) Project .

Day 2 – Saturday: From 4pm to 5pm it was the Conversations part of the show at Hall 1.1 Auditorium, Messe Basel, a great event that was Free to the public ( with seats reserved for VIP Weekend Program). The topic was : Art World Talk: Global or Local –For whom? Fernanda Brenner, Mari Spirito, and Dana Whabira discussed their missions: local versus globalized focus of art space.


Day 2 – Saturday: at 5pm we were driven by  Shuttles to Parcours Night  from Art Basel to the selective Club de Bâle, where from  5,30pm till 6,30pm we participated at the Parcours Night Cocktail Reception hosted by Michèle Sandoz, Global Head of VIP Relations, and Samuel Leuenberger, Curator of the Parcours sector. Samuel gave a personal introduction to Parcours at this members-only club next to the river Rhine, which was exclusively opened for this Reception. This was a dedicated VIP Weekend Program and they treated us with lots of champagne.

from Club de Bale the view of the Hotel Merian Basel, where I stayed- a great place to be in Basel during the Art Basel fair
Michèle Sandoz, Global Head of VIP Relations, and Samuel Leuenberger, Curator of the Parcours sector


Club de Bale Cocktail Parcours night

At 6.30pm we had the departure by foot from Club de Bâle to Naturhistorisches Museum Basel located in walking distance and, after a short kick -off speech given by Samuel Leuenberger- Curator of Parcours sector about the art that is displayed at the Naturhistorisches Museum and  in the other Museums or public spaces part of Parcours night, I started my own Parcours Night experience from 6:45pm onwards.

Naturhistorisches Museum Basel
Samuel Leuenberger- Curator of Parcours


The start of the Parcours Night at Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, was about  experiencing the interactive art installations by artists Mark Manders and Julian Charrière.

Naturhistorisches Museum Basel, was about  experiencing the interactive art installations by artists Mark Manders and Julian Charrière.
Room with 3 dead birds and a falling dictionary
Room with 3 dead birds and a falling dictionary

This was followed by a special evening program with live performances at a variety of unique locations on the old part of Basel, a romantic pedestrian only area of Basel located on the top of the hill overlooking the river Rhine. Food and drinks were available from various food trucks on Münsterplatz and of course I tried the Currywurst ( HotDog) and swiss beer. The Parcours night was a free public access.

I finished my Parcours night tour around 1am that night ( morning) and while walking  downhill on my way home I saw Andrew going uphill obviously going to another night party but I was so tiered and on an automatic pilot that I did not even have the power to call him and went straight to the hotel to get ready for my last day in Basel.

Day 3 – Sunday: from 9am to 11am at Museum Tinguely, Paul Sacher-Anlage 2, Basel.

 I was invited for a brunch Breakfast in front of the museum to celebrate the exhibitions ‘Gerda Steiner & Jörg Lenzlinger: Too early to panic’ and ‘Gauri Gill: Traces’ in the presence of the artists, followed by the visiting of the exhibitions and the Museum. It was an Invitation-only brunch that I truly enjoyed due to the beautiful premises, perfect weather and a great crowed of people, some part of VIP Collector Weekend program but also a lot of locals and people part of other VIP programs at Art Basel ( UBS, VIP Program etc.).

my son enjoyed the most this project…you must decide yourself WHY

I decided to walk as the Museum was 25 minutes walk along the Rhine from my hotel and also from the Messeplatz where I needed to go back to visit more the ART Basel with a stop to another satellite fair named FRAME located 10 min walk from Messe Basel where I wanted to visit a curated project by LEE HYUN JOUNG – a talented French female artist with Korean roots who lives in Paris. It was a super experience as Basel is a clean, nature oriented city and I truly enjoyed my long walk and wished I had my bathing suite with me and buy the floating bags to experience the river drift. Here a few more photos from my walks and my encounter with Lee and her amazing art made on Hanji and Korean pigment at the FRAME Art Fair. I’m positive that one day she will be able to exhibit at Art Basel.

Day 3 – Sunday: from 2pm to 3pm Art Basel I was supposed to join the Conversations Artist Talk: Different Histories, Different Futures with Nedko Solakov, artist, Sofia, in conversation with Gianni Jetzer, Curator of Art Basel’s Unlimited sector, and Curatorat-Large, Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington D.C., an event  free to public access, Hall 1.1 Auditorium, Messe Basel and seats reserved for VIP Weekend Program but I had such a great time with Lee and her art that I missed the Conversations.

Artist LEE Hyun Joung and Oana Visoiu at FRAME ART FAIR, Basel June 2018

Day 3 – Sunday: from 3pm to 4pm I did managed to arrive in time for the Art Basel Farewell Drink, that was an Intimate reception in the Collectors Lounge to conclude the  Art Basel weekend with canopy food and lots of champagne. Gianni Jetzer, the Curator of Unlimited, was present and  engaged in a discussion about the Unlimited sector, which showcased installations and immersive projects that transcend the limitations of a traditional fair booth. It was a dedicated VIP Weekend Program at Collectors Lounge, Hall 2.2. It was very interesting to listen to Gianni and also I could not stop telling everybody that 3 Artists from Unlimited sector are Romanians !!!!

Gianni – curator of Unlimited sector and Michele at final cocktail at Collector’s lounge

Until 7pm Art Basel was still opened to the public and, as Basel show was drawing to an end, I realized I still had so much to see and wanted to make the most of my final hours at Basel. I tried  to visit the 16 galleries who were participating for the first time, including White Space Beijing, from Asia; Freedman Fitzpatrick, Essex Street, and Franklin Parrasch Gallery, from the Americas and from Europe: Barbar Gross Galerie, Galerie Max Mayer, Richard Saltoun Gallery, Jan Kaps, Sandy Brown, Antoine Levi, Mor harpentier, Madragoa, Croy Nielsen, Carlos/Ishikawa, lange + pult, and Bernard Bouche. I was also almost running through the famous Galleries as Gagosian ( New York, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Hong Kong, Paris, Athens, Rome, Geneva, London), Hauser & Wirth ( Zurich, London, Somerset, Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong), White Cube ( London , Hong Kong).

Unfortunately  I missed the final event, Art Basel Finale Cocktail hosted by Art Basel, together with UBS from 7pm to 9pm as I had to catch my flight back home to Bucharest, Romania. I was sorry to have missed this opportunity to join the Art Basel Team, along with its participating galleries and partners to celebrate the end of the 2018 show in Basel at the Finale Cocktail. When I bought my plain tickets I did not know that I will participate in this amazing program and I could have access to all these events . The Finale Cocktail participation was based on  personal invitation (Art Basel VIP Card was not valid for entry) and it took place at Collectors Lounge and new UBS Lounge, Hall 2.2, Messe Basel.

On my way out I also got a gift bag with the album ART BASEL year 48 ( the previous year) and a booklet with the current Art Basel UNLIMITED section. It is interesting to see on the Album’s first pages  the distribution of participant Art Galleries on the Globe, Romania is present with one Gallery located in Cluj ( Plan B).

I left saying good by to the amazing TEAM of VIP Collectors weekend ( Michele, Geraldine, Verona and many others) and I promised to attend for sure the Hong Kong Art Basel fair in March 2019…which I DID 🙂 as I write this blog 9 months later …first part before I left to Hong Kong and the last part after my return from Art Basel in Hong Kong.

I will not say THE END but just a simple “By By Basel” and I shall see you again ….