photo basel is Switzerland’s first and only international art fair dedicated to photography based art. photo basel brings together galleries from around the world in a unique, authentic setting and sees itself as an integrative and hybrid platform that connects all actors of the art world (online and IRL). As a fair, photo basel want to actively contribute to this dialogue and make art photography even more accessible. To achieve this, photo basel has put together a varied supporting program alongside 39 international galleries for this year’s edition. Since 2016, photo basel is located in the immediate proximity of Art Basel, situated in the beautiful compound of the Volkshaus Basel.
Volkshaus Basel is a building softly renovated by acclaimed Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron. Volkshaus is located at Rebgasse 12, just 700 meters from the Art Basel exhibition center. photo basel welcomes 39 galleries from 11 countries to its eighth edition. More than 400 photographic positions (artworks) by 169 artists are on show. photo basel is delighted to count among this year’s new galleries Peter Fetterman Gallery (Santa Monica), Fisheye (Paris), Foreign Agent (Lausanne), Francis Boeske Projects (Amsterdam), Galerie S. (Paris), Fotonostrum (Barcelona), Art is Bond (Houston), Alexandra de Viveiros (Paris), The Bridge Gallery (Paris) and WBB Gallery (Zurich).
In collaboration with Galerie Esther Woerdehoff (Paris + Geneva) and the Alex Kayser Foundation, photo basel is delighted to present the special exhibition “Alex Kayser” at this year’s edition.
The Basel born photographer Alex Kayser (1949-2015) completed an apprenticeship in photography at Hugo Jäggi before moving to Essen in 1970 to study photography with Professor Otto Steinert at the Folkwang School. As he began his studies, Kayser increasingly explored experimental photography and the related field of photographic sequences. While initially working in narrative black-and-white photographs, Kayser changed his approach starting 1974 and began increasingly coloring his photographs by hand. From this point on, the interest in coloring continued throughout a variety of his work series.
Pure Photography. 20th Century Floral Masterworks
In cooperation with WBB GALLERY (Zurich), photo basel is delighted to present the curated special exhibition “Pure Photography. 20th Century Floral Masterworks” with photographs by Ansel Adams, Imogen Cunningham, Brett Weston, Edward Weston, Don Worth and other photographers. The works are from a Swiss private collection.
The term “Pure Photography” was shaped by the legendary Group f/64, which was active in the greater San Francisco area from 1932. The photographers of this grouping opposed the prevailing pictorialism, which attempted to bring the “artist’s hand” into photographs through elaborate printing techniques and the manipulation of negatives and photographs, in order to establish the medium of photography as a fully-fledged means of artistic expression. The representatives of the Group f/64 wanted to free black-and-white photography from the pictorialist approach and manipulation. Their goal was authenticity and purity, as well as technical perfection in the darkroom. The creation of the finest grayscales and deep blacks led to a photographic language whose aesthetics often took on abstract features and made the smallest details visible. The pioneers of the time fundamentally changed the perception and understanding of photography. Their contribution inspired generations of photographers, even today, and led to photography as a medium being elevated to the status of art for the first time.
Selected fair highlights
Art Is Bond (Houston, Texas)
Ming Smith (*1950, USA)
With a gentle but decisive eye and a deep love for the spirits of the figures and spaces she captures, Ming Smith holds in her hands a truly unique world. A pioneer in her field, Smith has been telling stories for decades through her dynamic and considerate photographs; they follow her life as she modeled, danced, and explored through the Midwest and east coast, and they follow all the lives she touched along the way.
As the first black woman photographer to be acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in New York after simply dropping off her portfolio in the 70s, Smith’s journey came full circle at the beginning of 2023 with a featured solo exhibition in MoMA’s project space. Recently lauded with International Center for Photography’s (ICP) Lifetime Achievement Award, and with an upcoming exhibition at the Guggenheim, Smith is finally seeing the profound recognition, her phenomenal and extensive career deserves
Galerie Alex Schlesinger, Zürich
Michal Chelbin (*1974, IL)
Michal Chelbin’s work has been widely shown in numerous solo and group exhibitions worldwide. Her work can be found in many private and public collections, such as: The Metropolitan Museum New York, LACMA, Getty Center LA, Jewish Museum New York, Cleveland Museum of Art, Tel Aviv Museum, Sir Elton John collection, SF MoMa and more. Her critically acclaimed Monograph Strangely Familiar: Acrobats, Athletes and other Traveling Troupes was published by Aperture in 2008 and was awarded PDN’s Photo Annual Book Award in 2009.
Galerie Springer, Berlin
Arnold Odermatt (1925-2021, CH)
Arnold Odermatt first joined the Nidwalden police force in 1948. He photographed accident scenes to which he was called with a Rolleiflex in order to supplement the police record with photos. With the accuracy of a chronicler, the photographing policeman recorded his rural officer’s life in pictures – on duty and in civilian clothes. With his eye for the small, seemingly incidental incidents and through his outstanding compositions, the photographer always manages to capture situations that often seem unintentionally funny and ironic. After his retirement in the early 1990s, his son – the film director Urs Odermatt – came across decades of archived photographs during his research for a film. Impressed by the quality of the photographs, he secured the work.
Foreign Agent, Lausanne
Shen Wei (*1977, CHN)
Foreign Agent proudly presents a solo exhibition of Shen Wei’s photographic work that celebrates the essence of individuality and the transformative power of the natural world. Through this collection oself-portraits and unique mixed-media work adorned with floral
elements, the show invites viewers to join a journey of self- exploration and discovery, examine the intricate dynamics between freedom and boundary, and seek meaning and balance in our lives. Shen Wei’s work emphasizes unity, simplicity, and the search for inner peace, reflecting inspiration from universal desires for beauty, nature, intimacy, and a sense of belonging.
The Bridge Gallery, Paris
Sarfo Emmanuel Annor (*2002, GHA) & Fatoumata Diabaté (*1980, MLI)
The Bridge Gallery is exploring the evolution of portrait photography in Africa by presenting two artists and bringing together two different yet complementary approaches. For more than a century now, portrait photography has established itself as one of the most common artistic medium of expression on the African continent. Over the years, it has evolved along with society, displaying the new ways of living influenced by new technologies, fashion and environmental concerns.
Through portraits the generational gap between the two artists showcases the evolution of African societies and the innovation of the medium of photography. Fascinated by color, Sarfo Emmanuel Annor unfolds a new universe, chromatic variations, Majorelle blues, bright yellows. He revives the art of portraiture through a gallery of vibrant and intriguing children, inspired by the communicative energy of his surroundings. Fatoumata Diabaté follows the footsteps of the Malian fathers of African photography Malick Sidibé and Seydou Keïta with her black-and-white portraiture. Her artworks relate to Mali’s culture, in which handmade mask objects and costumes are sacred.
Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica
Peter Fetterman has been deeply involved in the medium of photography for over 40 years. Initially a filmmaker and collector, he set up his first gallery over 30 years ago in 1988 and was one of the pioneer tenants of Bergamot Station, the Santa Monica Center of the Arts, when it first opened in 1994. The gallery has one of the largest inventories of classic 20th Century photography in the country particularly in humanist photography. At this year’s photo basel, Peter Fettermann Gallery is showing a selection of vintage and contemporary works by Willy Ronis (1910– 2009, FRA), Robert Doisneau (1912–1994, FRA), Lillian Bassmann (1917–2012, USA), Sabine Weiss (1924–2021, CH/FRA), Brigitte Carnochan (*1941, GER), Sarah Moon (*1941, FRA), Pentti Sammallahti (*1950, FIN), Michael Kenna (*1953, UK), Len Prince (*1953,
USA) and Cig Harvey (*1973, UK).
The Maurice de Mauriac Award will awarded for the first time. In the run-up to photo basel, Maurice de Mauriac will select a shortlist of works that will be exhibited at photo basel. On Thursday, June 15, the winner of the MdM x photo basel award will be announced at the fair.