All Articles
All Articles

Art Basel: Animals


Art Basel: Animals

Creatures on canvas, cast in metals, suspended in air and more at Switzerland's massive show

by CH Editors
on 20 June 2012

Whether the main subject of a taxidermy-inspired sculpture or an allegorical reference within a larger composition, animals are an evergreen source of inspiration among a diverse range of media and genres. The pivotal role creatures play was apparent in fresh, provocative ways at this year's Art Basel, where we encountered several works that shed new light on a classic subject. See the works that got our goat below.


The "Nice Bird of Prey Shoe" (1975) was constructed by Austrian artist and avant-garde feminist Birgit Jurgenssen. The surrealist escape offered by Juergenssen's work aims to appease the tension wrought by the socio-cultural turmoil of the 20th century. Constructed of metal, feathers, and chicken claws, the unsettling accessory is from Galerie Hubert Winter in Vienna.

basel-notvital.jpg basel-dirklange.jpg

The Swiss arts foundation Not Vital, which promotes preservation and exchange between cultures, presents "Peking Duck" (2009-2011), a glossy update of the Chinatown staple in 18k gold. The sculpture is on view at NYC's Sperone Westwater Gallery.

"Kuriere" (2012) by German artist Dirk Lange combines pencil, colored pencil, and ink to create an abstract portrait of a war general and his pigeon. Sweet pastels juxtapose the subject's obliterated face for a conceptual riff on the stately pose. The piece is available at Berlin's Galerie Michael Haas.


Both a hunter and an artist, Marc Swanson has established a body of work around a breathtaking set of bedazzled crystal deer-antler sculptures. According to the gallery, Swanson's five-piece "Untitled (Crystal Hooking Left)" (2011) edition stems largely from his personal history, started as a way to "explore, both physical and spiritually, the duality of masculine identities he was experiencing." The piece was constructed from polyurethane foam and crystal, and is from Richard Gray Gallery.


"Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs (or The Witches)" (1985) by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely fuses together a hodgepodge of metals into eight motorized sculptures. From wrought iron bits and scrap to bicycle frames and axles, the seemingly creaky contraptions are laced together with strips of fabric and animal skulls for a slightly macabre vibe. The piece, made in the late years of Tinguely's life, is from Galerie Hans Mayer in Düsseldorf, Germany.

basel-kavalliertos.jpg basel-schutte.jpg

Known for his irreverent sculptures, Athens-based artist Dionisis Kavallieratos turns to oil on canvas in the detailed work "A Ballad for Chicken Banana" (2010). In monochromatic gray tones he manages to cast a subject that's at once mighty and absurd. The piece was on view at Athens' Breeder Gallery.

"Pollinator" (2011) by E.V. Day casts the reproductive organs of flowers—specifically those from Claude Monet's famous lily pond in Giverny—into a demonstration of the animal-like ability to reproduce through pollination. Day sifted through a pile of clipped flowers (those that are weeping in the garden are cut by the gardeners) and then pressed and scanned and ultimately processed the best of each type of flower into three-dimensional form. The sculpture is made of a resin core, with polished nickel-plated copper and is from Carolina Nitsch in New York.

basel-Foulsham.jpg Basel-Octopus.jpg

Spotted at the W Hotels Designers of the Future exhibit, the aptly titled "Go-Round" by Tom Foulsham comprises a balance of a miniature giraffe kissing a miniature whale on a single sharpened point. Rather than being propelled mechanically, it is moved by everyday objects like hair dryers, fans, balloon dresses, or by simply blowing.

A tabletop is transformed into an illusion of a deep-sea abyss with "Octopus (Krake)" (2012) by Swiss-born, Munich-based artist David Bielander. The limited-edition cast-bronze candelabra is available at the Ornamentum Gallery in Hudson, New York.

Images by Josh Rubin

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public
Loading More...