PaperCity Magazine

September 2016 - Houston

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he has been buying Old Masters and 17th century Spanish paintings in particular, an area that more contemporary collectors are beginning to examine. Despite the breathtaking prices, you can enjoy Basel and collect without having a six- or seven-figure budget. Each year, Foundation Beyeler publishes several limited-edition projects by artists to coincide with their exhibition at the museum. For the Gerhard Richter show in 2013, Beyeler offered three offset prints by Richter. Essentially photo reproductions of his paintings, the prints were limited to 500 copies. A painting by the artist of a similar image and size would be $3 million to $5 million. These prints were $3,000. They sold out quickly, and within a year, these same prints appeared at auction, with some selling for as much as $60,000. Lea Weingarten, one of Houston's best-informed art advisors with a keen eye on international trends, spent five days in Basel, devoting much of her time to the numerous satellite fairs that typically accompany major art fairs. Her top two recommendations are VOLTA and LISTE, both devoted to less established artists. VOLTA occupies a large hall near the central train station. German artist Christoph Ruckhäberle was a favorite of Lea's. The largest work on paper was priced at 29,000 euros. LISTE occupies each year the former Warteck Brewery building, which makes for a maze-like series of odd and playful spaces. "The discovery of new artist treasures is a true exercise in looking in every nook and cranny," according to Weingarten. Art represents many things. It is an object that comments on the culture of its time. It is an aesthetic object, one that can mystify, inspire, provoke, or merely give pleasure. It is a historic artifact. It is an object that is the sum experiences and thoughts and provocation of the person who made it. And these days, it is very much a financial instrument. The system of art fairs, auctions, and mega galleries has glorified art and collecting to a status that is perhaps only rivaled in its sense of pomp to the devotional collections of the Catholic church in the 16th and 17th centuries. Though we can — and should — question the motivation, we can take satisfaction that the best of art will be enjoyed by viewers far into the future. Put the market preoccupation at Art Basel aside. Pass through the wonderwall, and you'll find an oasis of creativity. Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland, with a Christopher Wool sculpture foreground Monet's epic Water Lilies at Fondation Beyeler photo by karen sachar © 2016

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