Home Art Magazine MeetMe#10 | Art Basel 2019

Once again, with 290 leading galleries from 34 countries and thousand of visitors from all over the world, "the queen" Art Basel showed the latest art market trends. As we already did with others MeetMe dedicated to the most interesting “satellite” events of this Basel Art Week 2019; now it's time to bring you behind the fair scenes together with three important gallery directors: Raffaella Cortese (Raffaella Cortese Gallery), Nadia Gerazouni (THE BREEDER), and Paolo Zani (Zero…)!

Follow the best of this Basel Art Week 2019 with Kooness --> Waiting for Art Basel 2019... - Rudolf Stingel at Fondation Beyeler - MeetMe#6 | VOLTA Basel 2019 - MeetMe#8 | photo basel 2019 - MeetMe#9 | LISTE Basel 2019!

I MeetMee --> Raffaella Cortese

When the gallery was founded in 1995 in Milan, had you already been dealing with internationally recognized artists like today? Was the focus on women artists part of your path since the beginning?

The opening exhibition in 1995 was the one of Franco Vimercati, which was part of the burning debate on photography. In those years, the aim was to delineate the difference between a photographer and an artist using the photographic medium, and Vimercati was the example of a conceptual artist who expressed himself through that medium. Jan Groover is the first female artist to exhibit after him and she carries out a fully artistic research through the same medium. Since then, many female artists have characterized the activity of the gallery by addressing various issues including gender. I brought the American artist Roni Horn in 1997, after Kiki Smith and Zoe Leonard in 2001. Over the years, I've included more and more female artists in my program, without ever neglecting male ones.
Raffaella Cortese gallery spread internationally in more than 20 years – let’s think about the art fairs you dealt with as The Armory Show since 2005 or Art Basel since 2014 (with two women artists as Ana Mendieta and Martha Rosler) or the gallery itself which now includes 3 different venues. When you started, did you expect this success?

I have always thought about doing my job better and better, by being careful about all the changes that have taken place over the last few years and have accelerated in recent times. It is true that we have grown and many of our artists are represented by important international galleries. And it is also true that I still feel creative in the artists’ and very happy with the new collaboration with Luisa Lambri, an Italian artist I have known since the 1990s. Another great satisfaction comes when public spaces dedicate their attention to our artists, as in the case of Anna Maria Maiolino whose retrospective, the first in Italy, is currently ongoing at PAC - Milan Contemporary Art Pavilion until 1 September. 

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery? Ant to an Italian emerging artist?

I would suggest not wishing to be too emerging immediately, but to have a perspective. Our work is made of total dedication and therefore it is not a job but a choice of life that allows you to enjoy the results in the medium-long term. Fashion passes, but results of a serious path remain.



Helen Mirra & Allyson Strafella, Fieno (Hay), 2019. Installation view at Art Basel Feature 2019, Hall 2.1, Booth T8. Ph. Andrea Rossetti


Monica Bonvicini, Breathing, 2017. Installation view at Art Basel Unlimited 2019, Hall 1.1, Booth U51. Ph. Andrea Rossetti
Courtesy of the artist, Galleria Raffaella Cortese, Milan, Galerie Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, New York.



Since its foundation, seventeen years ago, The Breeder was born with a very specific ambition: to bring internationally known artists into the local scene and to promote young emerging Greek artists towards the global agora. As regards the latter, which relevant projects and institutional relations would you like to mention? 

From the very beginning The Breeder has been extremely extroverted, which was important in establishing a platform to promote emerging artists, Greek and international, to the global arena. The visibility that institutions like the Lyon Biennial and the Venice Biennial, where Andreas Lolis is now included, or Documenta and international fairs like LISTE in Basel, Frieze London and Frieze NY have offered over the years to our exhibiting artists has been an asset and a great tool for our endeavours.

You were a pioneer in Athens. How is your bond evolving today - always extremely strong - with the Athenian territory? According to you, in which direction is the Athenian contemporary art market going today? And what about the cultural and intellectual legacy of Documenta?

The last edition of Documenta was very politically charged, reflecting the shifting politics and geopolitics that we are facing today as European citizens. Documenta 14 has initiated an ignition of forces, thinkers and visual artists to find their space and grow their ideas. This is a process that we see taking place in Athens currently and will continue to have an impact on future generations. In recent years the term “Athens based artist” has become more relevant than ever. Athens is rapidly becoming a hub for artists, curators and creative people from all walks of life. Αt the same time, Artist run spaces are flourishing in the neighbourhoods around the Acropolis. As for the market, while we lost a generation of collectors to the crisis, we now see a new generation of very active, very informed and very young collectors emerging, most of whom have backgrounds in shipping. What is exciting is to see their energy, passion and enthusiasm and we trust that their commitment will energise the entire scene.

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery?

Flexibility is key in this industry and reinventing one's self in order to follow the establishment is not necessarily the correct path. Nurture your relationships with your artists and collectors and don’t lose sight of the bigger picture.


Angelo Plessas, Chrysanne Stathacos, installation view at The Breeder booth T5, Art Basel 2019


Andreas Angelidakis, Post-Ruin (Pink), 2019 installation view at Unlimited 2019


III MeetMee --> Zero...

When the gallery was born in 2000 in Milan, had you already been dealing with both emergent international artists and Italian ones of your generation as today? Was the focus of the gallery to have a certain experimental and new attitude towards the art system?

The gallery program started in 2000 in a small town and then, in 2003 we moved to Milano in Via Ventura. “Natural Blues”, the first exhibition, connected works by both International and Italian artists. In our plans the focus was related towards  the artists of my generation – born in the 70s -; we wanted to support them, according to our sensibility and artistic research needs. During the first exhibition, Fischli and Weiss gave us two small pieces as a “good luck” present for the beginning of our adventure. 

Paolo, your first Art Basel participation was in 2006. The gallery was really young. How was that possible? How was the approach towards the most important art fair? Do you remember the artists you brought? 

We can actually define our Art Basel path as a model, if referring to those years. From 2002 to 2005 we participated at Liste, from 2006 on Art Basel. In 2006, we were selected for the Art Premiere section which that year introduced 10 different galleries of our generation, most of them coming from Liste. I think that this was an important moment from a generational point of view and probably, after that period, Art Basel didn’t make a selection according to these criteria anymore. The galleries invited at Art Premier in 2006 were: Bastide, Brussels, China Art Objects, Los Angeles, gb agency, Paris, Herald St., London, Johann König, Berlin, Maccarone, New York, Nature Morte, New Dehli, Pia, Bern, Podnar, Ljubljana, Reena Spaulings, New York, Winkelmann, Berlin and us, Zero, Milano.

Our booth had a lot of success from a critical level and, two years later, we were accepted to the main section “Galleries”, together with a project for “Statements” that we developed with Pietro Roccasalva. In 2007 we had the privilege of organizing an extraordinary project with Christian Frosi and Cazery Bodzianowski in the “Feature” section. The credit goes to our artists that, through a bite of visionary of the gallerist, received a really good recognition for their research. ZERO…’s program combined young Italian and International artists together with an original and stylistically recognizable vision. We were the expression of a significant reinterpretation of an Italian style, of a certain aesthetics that communicated a certain taste and style in a peculiar but believable way. The gallery wanted to give a kind of update, or maybe a simple interpretation of topics and shapes that we can also define as classic.

What recommendations would you now give to an emergent gallery?

Carry a light baggage with you. Try to explain and interpret the radical change that is taking place in the artist-collector relationship, in that space-time. 
I would suggest to try to give priority to the themes of art and to its philosophical function. The journey of art, or rather, the human journey in time and his need of making art is made of testaments that, through various personalities, contribute to a sort of organic body through different passages of witness and collaborations – even implicit or unaware – where the dimension of historicization becomes a factor that, according to me, should be interesting until a certain point.


Zero... installation view, Art Basel 2019.


Zero... installation view, Art Basel 2019.


Cover images: Photo by Alexandra Piric. Courtesy Art Basel

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