The Brange at Basel

Yesterday I tweeted about Brad Pitt buying a $1mil piece of art at Art Basel. The work in question is a Neo Rauch rainbow-colored racetrack painting, “Etappe”.

Star-struckedness aside, I think this is an apt time to mention how sincerely I hope that in years from now I’ll  be able to visit Basel and the other fairs of note so that I can see first-hand the perspectives of other art fairs and their audiences.

Of Switzerland, Steve Erlanger of the New York Times says the movement of the gears is quiet and precise. Rumours of the fair float over my cube walls telling me that in light of, or despite the staid nature of the country, Basel is a classic example of the fun of the art world that can be accessed even by the most tertiary, the most passive citizens of the art world. It’s this accessibility that makes it such fun, no doubt.

“The economic crisis is everywhere, of course, but it’s harder to see in wealthy Basel, where there are still a lot of tourists, and restaurants and hotels seem full,” says Erlanger.

With that in mind, I’ll share with you what occured to me this morning as I was brushing my teeth. I initially learned of the purchase from, a gossip blog dedicated to the lifestyles (and pitfalls) of the rich and famous. How that nugget of celebrity-cum-collector news made it to the gossips first and the art monitors second I’m not sure.

I feel confident assuming that Pitt’s $1mil buy is neither the only nor the largest of it’s kind at Basel. Renowned for it’s scope and sheer size of it’s audience, it stands to reason that there are likely many purchases of that nature happening at Basel (as they do at every other fair) daily. However, at a time when so many collectors are acquiring pieces on the down-low — the collectors and dealers discretely doing business without disclosing to the media or the public at large what changed hands and for what sum — it feels out of place that this sale should be made so flagrantly public. So why the conspicuous consumption, Mr Pitt?

In my last few posts I’ve discussed how the downturned economy is not such a bad thing for the art world, and a recent National Post article showed that Canadian consumer confidence is currently the highest it’s been in over a year. One of my theories is that this is all about Polo. A couple weeks ago I saw pics of a Hollywood power-couple at a polo match decked head to toe in Ralph Lauren. An obvious endorsement. Is this action at Basel Hollywood’s way of saying that it’s citizens support the arts?

1 Comment

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One response to “The Brange at Basel

  1. Wow, another great post. Thank you fot he quality info, i have become a big fan of you blog…keep it up

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