Sara Fitzmaurice Shares Her Art Basel Highlights

The seasoned arts strategist reveals what she’s most excited to see at this year’s fair.

There’s perhaps no person with greater institutional knowledge of Art Basel than Sara Fitzmaurice, the founder of strategic agency Fitz & Co. The Minneapolis native grew up around the corner from the Walker Arts Center, studied art history at Boston University, and relocated to New York in 1990, where she quickly found herself immersed in the city’s burgeoning art market. She had early luck with clients—Art Basel was her first and remains one of her biggest to this day. Now a seasoned strategist with decades of experience advancing the goals of both nonprofit and for-profit entities, Fitzmaurice has attended practically every edition of the fair and has helped shepherd its dramatic growth from a Swiss upstart to a global force with closely watched editions in Miami Beach, Hong Kong, and Paris. 

Ahead of the fair’s flagship edition that’s drawing thousands of deep-pocketed collectors and art enthusiasts alike to Basel throughout the week, Fitzmaurice is sharing her most anticipated artists and presentations exclusively with Surface

“Wheatfield—A Confrontation” (1982) by Agnes Denes at the Battery Park Landfill, Downtown Manhattan. Image courtesy of the artist and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects

Agnes Denes, Messeplatz

I’m looking forward to experiencing Art Basel’s presentation of Agnes Denes’ Wheatfield — A Confrontation (2024). It’s a follow-up piece based on her 1982 exhibition “Wheatfields for Manhattan,” which was presented by the Public Art Fund in New York City. As a long-time Public Art Fund board member, I’m thrilled that Denes and Art Basel are recreating this iconic work in a totally different context. For the 1982 presentation, Denes and her team planted 1.5 acres of wheat in the Battery Park Landfill and took care of it for four months.

Es Devlin, BMW

BMW is hosting a private view of Es Devlin’s SURFACING, a two-chapter intervention at Art Basel. She’ll reveal a unique seven-minute configuration of water, voice, light, and dance by Sharon Eyal. Its opening chapter takes place in a pilot fleet of innovative BMW iX5 Hydrogen vehicles enveloped in Devlin’s art and with a soundscape drawn from her conversations with BMW engineers.

“Noche Americana I: Pull Out” (2024) by Ana Segovia. Image courtesy of the artist and kurimanzutto gallery

Kurimanzutto: Ana Segovia, Kabinett

This is the second year the Kabinett Sector, the sector dedicated to curated and thematic presentations within a gallery’s larger booth, is showing in Basel. A highlight is kurimanzutto’s presentation of Mexican artist Ana Segovia. He’s deeply inspired by their Mexican heritage; this body of works has been inspired by the Golden Age of Mexican cinema.

Sasha Stiles, The Digital Art Mile

I’m constantly investigating the new, including in the world of art for the digital age, so I’m curious about the inaugural Digital Art Mile this year. The Digital Art Mile was initiated by Georg Bak and Roger Haas, two leading experts in the field of digital art and the web3 space. Artist and poet Sasha Stiles’ work THE WIND ON MY LIPS AND IN MY HAIR will be on view through Cinello Unlimited, and will be laser projected on the Herzog & de Meuron Building nightly from 9PM to 2AM. Stiles’ work challenges the boundaries between the physical and digital, as modeled by her contributions to 1OF1 Collection, so I’m sure this will be a must-see!

“Bed 5” (2024) by Tamara Al Samerraei. Image courtesy of Marfa Projects

Marfa Projects: Tamara al Samerraei, Statements

Statements is Art Basel’s sector dedicated to showcasing emerging artists. This sector always energizes and reinvigorates my curiosity and appetite for artists newer to the scene. Marfa Projects, the gallery based out of Beirut, is presenting a series of paintings by Tamara al Samerraei created by photographing her older works and repainting them through a different lens associated with memories of the original works.

“Luminous Light” (2023) by Ugo Rondinone. Image courtesy of Galerie Eva Presenhuber

Galerie Eva Presenhuber: Ugo Rondinone, Karen Kilimnik and Sam Falls, Unlimited

Galerie Eva Presenhuber always brings a standout presentation. This year, in addition to the booth in the main Gallery sector, the gallery is presenting three phenomenal artists—Ugo Rondinone, Karen Kilimnik and Sam Falls—in the Unlimited sector.

Parcours Sector

Parcours is being curated for the first time by Swiss Institute director Stefanie Hessler. Her reimagining of Parcours, a showcase of site-specific installations, sculptures, interventions, and performances in public spaces and historic sites throughout the city, brings a fresh perspective that I’m looking forward to seeing. This year, Parcours is moving closer to the Messe. The 22 mostly new and site-specific works are located along Clarastrasse, the main street leading from the fair to the Rhine, connecting the new part of the city with the old town of Basel. Fair-goers and locals use Clarastrasse as a main thoroughfare on foot and by tram. I’m looking forward to taking it all in. Highlights include: Peruvian artist Ximena Garrido-Lecca’s Conversion systems presented by Galerie Gisela Capitain and Nina Canell in collaboration with Robin Watkins presented by 303 Gallery, Kaufmann Repetto, Mendes Wood DM, and Barbara Wien.

“Reclining Head of Julia” (2016–17) by Frank Auerbach. Image courtesy of Luhring Augustine

Luhring Augustine, Galleries

Luhring Augustine will present a selection of later works by German-British painter Frank Auerbach. I’ve always been drawn to his work since I first saw it in person while interning at Sotheby’s London as a History of Art student in the late ‘80s. Amongst other works, the gallery plans to bring Reclining Head of Julia (2016-17), part of his series of portraits of his wife, Julia.

David Kordansky

Having lived between Los Angeles and New York for over a decade, I’m so impressed with the number of incredible artists across a range of practices who call L.A. home. David Kordansky Gallery is bringing a wide range of their L.A.-based artists and it’s always interesting to see them in juxtaposition with one another, as well as artists from other galleries. I recommend fairgoers keep an eye out for works by L.A. artists Mary Weatherford, Tala Madani, Ivan Morley, Mario Ayala, Lesley Vance, Jonas Wood, Shahryar Nashat, Chase Hall, and Hilary Pecis.

Art Basel will take place at Messe Basel (Messeplatz 10) from June 13–16. VIP cardholders can attend the fair as early as June 10.

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