Art Basel 2017

anish kapoor art basel 2017

The Fair

If you’re into art, you know Art Basel is the world’s top art fair and a destination event for collectors, gallerists, curators, artists, and art lovers. Conceived by Basel gallerists in 1970, today Art Basel brings the international art world together with 291 of the world’s leading galleries showing the works of over 4,000 artists. In 2002, a Miami Beach show was launched and in 2013, a Hong Kong show was added. However, the Basel fair in June remains the main attraction on a global scale.

Last week, over 95,000 visitors from over 100 countries descended on the small Swiss city of Basel for the fair. For the past three months, I’ve been living in Basel and have been looking forward to this prestigious event. What’s cool about Art Basel is it’s more than just a fair. Over the years, it has inspired a region-wide art week. Cultural institutions offer special exhibitions and events, companies host parties, and local businesses run promotions. All of Basel becomes alive with the art buzz and it was exciting to be in the midst of it.

This year, Julian and I received preview tickets through his company. This means we had the opportunity to see the fair two days before it opened to the general public. The preview days are when the who’s who of the art world and high-net-worth individuals come together, compare notes, and network. It’s also when the collectors do their buying. This year the collectors were not afraid to spend the big bucks with many of the galleries reporting record sales. Personally, we were not at the fair to buy but we enjoyed viewing the exhibits without the large crowds and had a lot of fun people watching. If you want to see some outrageous fashions, go to Art Basel!

art basel messe

Unlimited Exhibition

Art Basel is absolutely immense and it would take several days to see everything. Julian and I went on two different evenings and were still unable to see it all. On the first evening, we attended the Unlimited Exhibition. In the fair’s words, Unlimited is Art Basel’s exhibition platform for projects that transcend the classical art-show stand, including massive sculpture and paintings, video projections, large-scale installations, and live performances. In my words, it’s like art on steroids.  

Below I have included some photos from this dramatic exhibition. While much of the power of these pieces comes from seeing their sheer size, movement, or physicality in person, I hope these photos will convey a sense of their scale and resonance. I am not an art critic so I will not add my personal opinions about these works. Besides, the great thing about art is it’s perceived differently by every person who comes into contact with it. Whether you love, hate, or are indifferent to a piece of art, it’s your own interpretation. However, for exhibitions like Unlimited I would suggest going with a guide. A guide can give you the context behind the pieces, as well as the artist’s intent, and I personally think this makes for a much richer viewing experience.

art basel unlimited 2017

A 40-foot-long zeppelin, or blimp, that floats for 15 minutes around a fixed point and then comes back to earth.

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

Yes, these are real women covered in body paint

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017

art basel unlimited 2017 jenny holzer

Jenny Holzer’s swinging metal beam displaying neon messages

Galleries

On our second evening at the fair, Julian and I visited the Galleries sector. The Galleries is the “anchor” of the show with modern and contemporary works including paintings, drawings, sculpture, installations, prints, photography, video and digital art by more than 4,000 artists. In this section, works by many acclaimed artists such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst and Anish Kapoor were for sale.

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

art basel 2017

Exhibition Site

The second night we also took the time to walk around Messe Basel, the exhibition complex designed by renowned Basel architects Herzog & de Meuron. Messe Basel is a sight in itself. It is a modern architectural marvel and one of the most important exhibition centers in Europe. This year, its plaza had a carnival vibe with music, dancing, and games.

art basel messe

Photo credit: MCH Group

messe basel art basel 2017

messe basel art basel 2017

Parties

Besides the art, another reason to love Art Basel is the parties. Every night of the week there are multiple parties across town thrown by companies catering to Art Basel’s clientele. While Art Basel Miami is famous for its parties, the original Art Basel gives Miami a run for its money.

Vitra Summer Party

By far the coolest and most fun party we attended during Art Basel was Vitra’s annual Summer Party. Vitra is a Swiss furniture company that manufactures some of the works of the most internationally renowned furniture designers. But Vitra not only makes furniture, it also has its own Campus with buildings by prominent architects such as Nicholas Grimshaw, Frank Gehry, and Zaha Hadid. Today it serves simultaneously as a fully operational production site and as a field of experimentation for architecture and design. Ever since Julian took a tour of it, I had been dying to visit Vitra’s Campus.

Located just outside of Basel, Vitra’s sprawling, otherworldly Campus was the perfect setting for a huge summer party. It also had all of the elements of a killer party– great DJ, cool people, awesome setting, and never-ending free drinks.

vitra design campus summer party

vitra design campus summer party

VitraHaus

Midway through the party, we took a break from dancing to visit VitraHaus. Designed by Herzog & de Meuron, VitraHaus is not only an incredible building but also Vitra’s flagship store. It’s where you can view their furniture in different design styles, including Vitra’s classic pieces, such as the Eames chair, and their latest contemporary designs. I especially loved the all-pink Alice in Wonderland themed room which is both avant-garde and nostalgic. You can also try out their sofas and chairs for yourself. Even cooler, you can watch your own Lounge Chair be handcrafted in the Lounge Chair Atelier.

Photo credit: Arch Daily

vitrahaus vitrahaus vitrahaus vitrahaus

A party, however, is not the best time to see all that Vitra’s Campus has to offer. I hope to return soon for a full day of exploring this campus and its famous Design Museum.

What do you think of the art at Art Basel?? Comment below!

Follow:

Weekend in Paris for the French Open

This past weekend Julian and I were lucky enough to get tickets to the French Open final in Paris. Of the four major Grand Slam tournaments (the Australian Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open), Roland-Garros, as the French Open is called, is the only one to be played on a clay court. Needless to say, Julian and I were thrilled to be attending the premier clay court tennis championship event in the world and to see two of the best players, Rafael Nadal and Stan Wawrinka, face off during the final. We decided to make a weekend out of it and left for Paris early Saturday morning.

Saturday

After a three and a half hour train ride from Basel, we were in Paris. Our first stop was our hotel, the Hyatt Paris Madeleine. Located in the 8th Arrondissement, our room had a spectacular view of the Eiffel Tour and of the beautiful Boulevard Malesherbes below.

Hyatt Paris Madeleine hotel

Shopping on Rue Saint Honore

We were last in Paris just over a month ago as the last stop on our road trip through Burgundy. But since we were there for only 24 hours, we didn’t have any time to shop (a tragedy, I know). This time, however, Julian promised to make up for it and agreed to spend the day shopping on Rue Saint Honoré. This street is famous for being the home of the original Hermes store. Today, it remains a favorite shopping destination because it offers a little bit of everything—hip boutiques, mid range designers, and über high end.

While we were there, we wanted to check out Colette, Paris’ it store for design, art, culture and fashion. Colette sells everything from men and women’s apparel to shoes and drones. It also features limited editions and pre-releases that you can’t get anywhere else. In a nutshell, the concept behind Colette is anything hip. While most of Colette’s fashion is too avant-garde for me, it was definitely worth a visit to see all of the latest designs.

colette paris colette paris

Place Vendôme

Afterwards, we walked through the Place Vendôme. This elegant plaza is home to the world’s most luxe jewelry brands and in its center is a staggering bronze column. Commissioned by Napoleon to commemorate the battle of Austerlitz, this column is made up of hundreds of enemy cannons. When we visited, a half dozen of the iconic Citroën deux Chevaux cars were parked in the plaza. We didn’t have time, but someday I’d love to ride one of these colorful little cars through the streets of Paris!

place vendome Citroen deux Chevaux

Galeries Lafayette

Our next stop was Paris’s famous department store, Galeries Lafayette. Saturday afternoon this massive fashion institution was packed with tourists. But even if you’re not interested in shopping, Galeries Lafayette is worth visiting for its magnificent stained glass dome and ornate Belle Epoque architecture.

Galeries Lafayette dome

Galeries Lafayette paris

Dinner at Le Laurent

Saturday evening we had dinner at Laurent. Originally a hunting lodge belonging to Louis XIV, today Laurent is a Michelin star restaurant in a wooded enclave. Although it’s only a stone’s throw from the Champs Élysées, Laurent is completely protected from the hustle and bustle of Paris. Laurent describes itself as “the perfect escape: a haven of peace where time stands still” and I couldn’t agree more.

laurent paris

It was a splendid night for dining outdoors on Laurent’s elegant shaded terrace. Laurent is known for its French cuisine with a contemporary twist, serving the best the season has to offer. Julian and I feasted on lobster (one of the best I’ve ever had), beef tataki, and foie gras. And that was only the beginning! For our main dishes, we both chose fish– glazed John-Dorey for him and roasted turbot for me. Both were superb. We ended our meal with a chocolate mousse inside a crunchy dark chocolate shell with raspberry sorbet. Everything was excellent and our dinner at Laurent is by far the best meal I’ve had in Paris.

Sunday

Roland-Garros Final

Sunday we woke up to a beautiful, albeit very hot, day for the Roland-Garros final. Since we were having lunch in the Village, the area reserved for the tournament’s main sponsors, we had to dress up. In the tennis spirit, I wore a white Joie fit and flare linen dress with cutout details and Tory Burch stacked heel sandals. Prior to the game, we had drinks and lunch in the JCDecaux tent of the Village. Lunch consisted of lobster salad (again!), filet mignon, and mango sorbet inside of a dark chocolate coconut-shaped shell. After lunch it was time for the game to begin.

the village roland garros

As a kid, I took tennis lessons and grew up with a great respect for the sport and its players. To be at Roland-Garros and see the best play was such an incredible experience. Though the temperatures reached 91 degrees (33 degrees Celsius), I never took my eyes off of the game. To be so close to the players was thrilling. The tension and excitement in the stadium, and on the court, was palpable. Tennis is a very civil sport so as Nadal and Wawrinka played the only sounds you could hear were their grunts of exertion, the whoosh of the rackets, and the whack of the balls.

roland garros french open 2017

roland garros french open 2017

Another thing that separates tennis from many other sports is that the fans care, above all, about the game. In other words, a Nadal fan does not boo when Wawrinka wins a hard earned point, he claps in recognition of a point well-played. I find this a refreshing change from many sports today and was impressed by the level of decorum at such a high-stakes match.

In solidarity with our temporary home, Julian and I were rooting for the underdog, Swiss-born Wawrinka. But watching Nadal play it was clear he really is “the king of clay.” There is no weakness to Nadal’s game on clay and during this extremely physically demanding game, he rarely faltered. Though Wawrinka put up a good fight, Nadal won his 10th Roland-Garros championship after three straight sets, making history as the first player to land the same Grand Slam more than nine times.

roland garros french open 2017 nadal wins

Stroll through the Jardins des Tuileries

After some celebratory drinks back at the Village, we headed back to the hotel to relax and cool off. Later, we decided to take advantage of the last light of the day with a walk through the Jardins des Tuileries. The dusk light made these lovely gardens all the more enchanting.

Jardins des Tuileries dusk Jardins des Tuileries dusk

Dinner in the Louvre

Eventually we ended up in front of the Louvre. The Louvre looked so stunning lit up that we decided to dine at Le Cafe Marly, a brasserie under the arches of the Louvre, to continue admiring its glow in the warm night air.

louvre paris night

Read about Day 3 of our trip to Paris, a day spent exploring and shopping in the charming neighborhood of Le Marais, here!

Follow:

A Dinner to Remember at Cheval Blanc

In the week leading up to my birthday, Julian repeatedly told me he’d be taking me somewhere really special for my birthday dinner. The day of my birthday, he said I’d better not ruin my appetite because he was taking me to a local pizzeria and had been saving up to order three pizzas just for me! While I will happily eat pizza any night, I had a feeling he was pulling my leg. This feeling was confirmed when he told me to dress up (he said it was a fancy pizzeria 😂) but I still had no idea where we were going. It was only when we reached the Les Trois Rois hotel that I realized he was taking me to one of the best restaurants in the world, three Michelin star gourmet restaurant Cheval Blanc. Though Julian and I had eaten at Michelin starred restaurants before, Cheval Blanc was our first three star restaurant. It made it extra special to be able to enjoy this culinary experience together.

Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois

Cheval Blanc is located within Les Trois Rois, Basel’s nicest hotel and one of Europe’s oldest. Founded in 1681 as an inn for gentlemen and rebuilt in 1844 as a Grand Hotel, Les Trois Rois’ guest book reads like a who’s who of world history. Empress Michiko of Japan, Napoleon, Queen Elizabeth II, and Pablo Picasso have all enjoyed this hotel’s hospitality. Situated directly on the banks of the Rhine, Les Trois Rois also boasts one of the city’s best views. At night, the hotel is completely lit up and it glows in the most magical way.

les trois rois hotel night basel

Cheval Blanc Atmosphere

A few weeks ago, I had dinner at La Brasserie, another excellent restaurant at Les Trois Rois, without ever noticing Cheval Blanc. As it turns out, Cheval Blanc is tucked away in a discreet corner of the hotel. After being ushered through glass doors, I found myself in an exquisitely elegant room with high ceilings, ornate furniture, and striking chandeliers. Cheval Blanc is an intimate space with only eight tables. The candelabras at each table cast a warm glow over the room, creating an atmosphere of quiet refinement and making it the perfect romantic dinner setting.

cheval blanc restaurant michelin basel

Aperitifs & Amuse Bouches

The meal began with a warm welcome from our server and an aperitif. On our waiter’s recommendation, I had a delicious glass of champagne and Julian had an Americano (his new favorite drink after our weekend in Milan). My champagne was a splendid accompaniment to the amuse bouches, or bite-sized hors d’œuvres selected by Cheval Blanc’s chef, the acclaimed Peter Knogl. Our first amuse bouche was a cucumber foam, yogurt, and pickled gleek combination. Sounds a bit odd but it was an incredible combination of flavors. Next came a salty and sweet macaron followed by cream of mushroom on top of Iberian ham and finally a mix of minced tuna, avocado, and radish. 

Unforgettable Wine

After selecting our main dishes, we found ourselves in a bit of a pickle. We wanted to share a bottle of wine but since I had chosen meat and Julian fish, we could not decide whether to have white or red. Luckily, the sommelier had a solution. She suggested a half bottle of white wine to accompany our starters and Julian’s fish followed by a glass of red for my main dish. On the sommelier’s recommendation, we selected a Cervaro della Scala, a white wine from Italy. The first thing I noticed about this wine was its fragrance. It had an aroma reminiscent of honeysuckle. While it was a tad fruity, it was also woody and elegant with a long finish. It was unlike any white wine I had tried before and was truly unforgettable.

cheval blanc restaurant michelin basel

Unconventional Starters

For our starter, we had one of Julian’s favorites, foie gras. Though I am generally not a big fan, this duck foie gras accompanied by pineapple and green pepper was exceptional. On our server’s recommendation, I decided to go outside of my comfort zone and order the smoked eel. Paired with beetroot, black garlic, and Wasabi, this dish turned my notion of smoked eel on its head. Needless to say I was very happy I had taken our server’s advice.

cheval blanc restaurant michelin basel Duck foie gras

Duck foie gras

cheval blanc basel restaurant michelin

Smoked eel

Sublime Main Plates

Next came our main courses. I ordered the Kobe beef (after all, it’s not everyday you turn 26!) and Julian ordered the red mullet filet. Both dishes were sublime. The vinaigrette of shallots and ocra paired beautifully with my tender beef. For Julian, the crispy scales of his mullet took the filet to the next level.

kobe beef cheval blanc basel restaurant michelin

Kobe beef

cheval blanc basel restaurant michelin red mullet

Red mullet filet

Delicious Dessert

Although we were quite full after our dishes, we didn’t dream of skipping dessert. It was a tough decision but we decided to go with the exotic chocolate with yozu. I’m a chocolate fanatic so I couldn’t resist trying Peter Knogl’s interpretation of a chocolate dessert. Yozu is a fragrant citrus from East Asia and its tart flavoring was the perfect compliment to the dark, rich Swiss chocolate.  

cheval blanc basel restaurant michelin chocolate

Our dinner at Cheval Blanc was one of those meals that you never want to end. Luckily, it just kept going and going. To our delight, after finishing our chocolate treat several mini desserts appeared. These included bite-sized chocolates and sweets, mousses, and delightful grapefruit macarons. Like the amuse bouches, I was amazed that something so small could be packed with so much flavor.

cheval blanc basel restaurant michelin dessert

Digestifs

To conclude our meal, we both ordered a digestif. For me, a Plum Liqueur and for Julian, a Poire Williams, a brandy made from the Williams pear. Unfortunately, all good things must end and so almost four hours after our meal began, it came to a close. Reluctant to leave the comfort of the Les Trois Rois, we stepped onto the balcony to enjoy the fresh night air and full moon reflecting over the Rhine.

les trois rois basel hotel

An Exceptional Culinary Experience

Julian and I agree our dinner at Cheval Blanc was one of, if not the best meal of our lives. While the food is superb, Cheval Blanc offers much more than a good meal. It offers its patrons an exceptional culinary experience where each bite surprises and delights you with its intricate combination of flavors and ingredients. This combined with the restaurant’s impeccable service and old world glamour make it abundantly clear why Cheval Blanc is one of the world’s best.

If you’re headed to Basel, also be sure to check out my list of favorite coffee shops, restaurants, and bars and my top 10 things to do in Basel!

Have you had an exceptional culinary experience? If so, where? Comment below!

Follow: