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The Best Cities for Art Lovers 5: Basel

Tuesday 25th February 2014

On our continuing journey through the best cities in the world for the experienced art lover, we've decided to stay in Europe, and move north from last post's foray into the old-new blending that is Florence to the idyllic city of Basel, Switzerland, located right along the Rhine. This is another of the smaller cities that many of even the most well-travelled art enthusiasts have overlooked, but it's definitely on the rise as travellers and artists begin to search even further off the beaten track.

Perhaps it's not really fair to call Basel off the beaten track, exactly, but it's definitely absent from most 'Top X Cities for Art' lists that aficionados carry around in their heads. Over a million tourists every year grace the streets of Basel - but that's still a far cry from the tens of millions that flock to other cultural capitals around Europe and throughout the other major cities of the art world. Most of the visitors that arrive in Basel are drawn by the astonishing number of museums that dot the city, over three dozen at last count, which is a truly impressive number for a city with a population that's barely over 500,000.

The majority of these museums have a heavy focus on the fine arts of drawing, painting and sculpture, and the collections cover a veritable who's who of famous artists from around the world dating from the end of the Renaissance era to modern 21st century works. You can find everything from Claude Monet to Andy Warhol and Vincent Van Gogh to Jasper Johns, and a sampling almost everything in between, all at the world-famous Kunstmuseum Basel, easily the largest of the city's museums. Some of the lesser-visited museums deserve to be more noted, however, including the Vitra Design Museum which was designed by Frank Gehry, and the Schaulager which houses a stunning collection of modernists and contemporary works.

The museums aren't the only draw to the city, however, as the Basel art fair "Art|Basel" is often touted as the archetypal art fair that is responsible for spawning the legions of art fair imitators that have been springing up all over the world. First hosted in Basel in 1970, it's easy to see how they can make this claim - although interestingly, the show also has two other locations that it travels to throughout the year - Miami Beach and Hong Kong, neither of which tend to be on the art world's radar either. Perhaps this should change - so if you find yourself in any of those places, be sure to stop by and see the art fair that started them all!

Posted on February 25th 2014 on 08:04pm
Labels: art, basel, cities, travel

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