Classic cars as artworks focus of Grand Basel sale and exhibition

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Forward-looking concepts and iconic classics will be presented at Grand Basel | MCH photos
Forward-looking concepts and iconic classics will be presented at Grand Basel | MCH photos

Art Basel is a big deal in the high-end world of contemporary art, creating a luxury platform for professional artists, art dealers and collectors to come together in the most splendid of venues.  Art lovers of the less-moneyed variety also can attend and enjoy the grand boutiques of modern paintings, sculpture, etc., even though they’re not part of the art-collector crowd and are unlikely to be taking home any of the valuable artworks. 

These “marketplace” events are held around the world by MCH Group, a live-marketing company headquartered in Basel, Switzerland; the U.S. edition is held annually in Miami. 

So what does this have to do with classic cars?  MCH recently launched Grand Basel, which promises to be the collector car equivalent of Art Basel. 

An artist's representation of Grand Basel
An artist’s representation of Grand Basel

Two locations have been designated for Grand Basel events, one held in Basel on September 6-9 and the other February 22-24, 2019, in Miami Beach, Florida, where MCH and the city signed an agreement last week to hold Grand Basel at the Miami Convention Center. A future event also is planned for Hong Kong.

More than 200 iconic classic cars and extraordinary contemporary cars will be offered in a trade-show atmosphere, according to the organizers, with premium dealers from around the globe exhibiting their automotive masterpieces to potential buyers and spectators alike.  Only approved retailers and brokers will be allowed to exhibit cars at the event, MCH says, with no auction houses currently allowed to participate.  

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The difference between Grand Basel and a major concours, such as Pebble Beach, and is that the rare cars on display will be for sale. 

Andrea Zagato, CEO of Zagato Design of Milan, Italy, shows the Iso Rivolta Vision concept during a recent Grand Basel preview

“Grand Basel is not just another car salon or concours,” Mark Backé, who conceived the show concept, said in a news release. “It is the first global show for the world’s most important and valuable automobiles of the past, present and future.

“Grand Basel presents international connoisseurs, experts and collectors with the epitome of automotive culture, and will appeal to a broader enthusiast audience interested in automobile aesthetics, technological sophistication, art and culture.”

Grand Basel will be presented as a trade show for the highest expression of classic automobiles just as Art Basel is a trade show for modern artworks, Backé added.

Comparisons between fine art and fine vintage automobiles have been rising in pitch in recent years – art museums hold exhibits of classic cars and motorcycles purely for their sculptural beauty, and RM Sotheby’s has held collector car auctions in New York City art galleries.  A Google search of the words “rolling sculpture” will bring up an endless array of automobiles described as artworks.

To emphasize the artistic aura of Grand Basel, a video starring popular British actor Idris Elba makes the connection between motoring and aesthetics.  The video is a high-art effort in itself, with beautiful photography and redolent of the current moody Lincoln TV ads featuring Matthew McConaughey. 

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https://youtube.com/watch?v=VYL6IHRqqbw

MCH says Grand Basel will be an immersive experience with a number of expert  presentations, restaurants and lounges. 

“A bold deviation from the often-nostalgic ambience of established car events, the show design allows exhibits to be presented and admired in a surrounding reminiscent of modern museums,” MCH says in its news release.

For more information about Grand Basel, visit the event website.

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

1 COMMENT

  1. A bold deviation from the often-nostalgic ambience of established car events, the show design allows exhibits to be presented and admired in a surrounding reminiscent of modern museums

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