Art Basel

Art Basel

In 1625, Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens wrote that he was creating an oil sketch of the Three Graces using opalescent gray and warm brown hues— “en grisaille et non couleurs”—thus giving name to the practice of intentional chromatic reduction in painting and sculpture that has become an enduring paradigm of artistic practice to the present day.

At Art Basel 2015, Dominique Lévy (Booth G14) will present an exhibition of works in varying tones of gray, focusing on achromaticity throughout postwar and contemporary art. This presentation highlights such renowned artists as Alberto Giacometti, David Hammons, Pablo Picasso, Gerhard Richter, Robert Ryman, Frank Stella, and Christopher Wool, among others, for whom gray has figured as a central element in artmaking.

When pressed on his use of grays, browns, and whites, Alberto Giacometti famously asked, “If I see everything in gray, and in gray all the colors which I experience… why should I use any other color?” Dominique Lévy’s booth features Tête de Diego au col roulé, a painted bronze bust of the artist’s brother Diego, a departure from Giacometti’s previous elongated forms and a signal of the new framework he developed in the early 1950s for creating sculpture from life.

Zehn Farben (Ten Colors) is the first of Gerhard Richter’s Color Chart paintings, of which he made 123 between 1966 and 2008. Richter freely composed the Color Charts, experimenting with a variety of formats for both the color units and the overall paintings. He believed the charts provided a way to divorce color from its traditional descriptive, symbolic, and expressive ends, enacting a systematic, even scientific exploration of color. Although Richter’s Color Charts employ wide spectra of color, the hues of this first painting are muted and restrained, including primarily the grays and browns typical to grisaille painting.
Also on view is a collaged mixed-media work on paper made by Frank Stella nine years after the completion of his celebrated Black Paintings, as well as an early white painting by Robert Ryman. Though chromatically distant, these two works both employ monochrome to explore new possibilities for the medium of painting.

For Christopher Wool, gray is emphatically neither black nor white, but exists as a new zone of emotive indeterminacy. In his gray paintings, begun in 2000, each layer of spray-painted lines is obfuscated and blurred to the point at which it becomes impossible to distinguish amongst various imbrications. Wool’s Untitled (P 583) (2009), presented at the booth, is a large silkscreen comprised of images of these gray paintings.
Dominique Lévy is also presenting Le peintre au chapeau (1965) by Pablo Picasso. The artist purged color from his most evocative artworks in order to highlight their formal structure and autonomy, claiming that color “weakened” the painting. Here, Picasso uses grayscale to pay homage to another virtuoso of painting, Henri Matisse.

Artists on view in Dominique Lévy:

Carl Andre
Lee Bontecou
Alberto Burri
Alexander Calder
Enrico Castellani
Marlene Dumas
Lucio Fontana
Alberto Giacometti
David Hammons
Barbara Hepworth
Jasper Johns
On Kawara
Louise Nevelson
Roman Opalka
Pablo Picasso
Germaine Richier
Gerhard Richter
Robert Ryman
Kazuo Shiraga
Pierre Soulages
Frank Stella
Yves Tanguy
Günther Uecker
Christopher Wool



Selected Press

THE ART NEWSPAPER | The story beyond the booths' walls at Art Basel

June 19, 2015

From a painting once owned by Ernst Beyeler to an American soldier’s wartime memento, older works at …

Blouin Artinfo | At Art Basel, Strong Sales Rain Down on Day 2

June 18, 2015

In what appears to be one of the strongest market results in its 46-year history, sales continued to …

Artsy | 15 Must-See Booths at Art Basel

June 17, 2015

With works by Carl Andre, Lee Bontecou, Alberto Burri, Alexander Calder, Enrico Castellani, Marelene …

The New York Times | Browsing the Wares at Art Basel

June 17, 2015

Dealers are hoping to maintain the momentum here. Art Basel, which features presentations from 284 galleries …

Artnews | Best in Show: Highlights at Art Basel

June 16, 2015

Yes, there are a lot of things to dislike about art fairs. There are the crowds, the lines, the …

Art Basel | Art Basel: an old fair gets a new(ish) look

June 2, 2015

At this year’s Art Basel, the galleries are grouped together according to their specialism, so around …

Widewalls | Interview with Dominique Lévy: The Art Basel Veteran

June 2, 2015

Dominique Lévy is one of the most influencing women in the world of art – and all that at the age …

Art Fairs