Thinking About Art in Basel, Switzerland

Basel, Switzerland, is a weird place. It sits at the confluence of the Rhine River, where Switzerland, France and Germany meet, so parts of the city have a very industrial feel, yet other areas have definitely maintained a touch of charm, especially in the historic downtown area.

I’ve been trying to think about just the right things to say about Basel since I’ve been home, as it’s home to a number of museums and culturally and historically interesting, but I haven’t really been able to decide how I feel about it.

One of the things I enjoy searching for when I visit new towns is the local street art (see my favorite shots from Reykjavik), and when I had a free afternoon in Basel, I went searching for art hidden in alleyways and tucked around corners. My favorite street artist, Invader, whom I’ve found in four cities around the world, has invaded Basel, so I spent some time researching where I might be able to find his art. Though I successfully found nine of his pieces in the city, I could see that many others had been forcefully removed, which made me think a bit about what a city might value in terms of art – and how much that destination can control it. What role does modern art (including street art) have in a city with historical significance? Can the two live hand-in-hand, especially when the modern art doesn’t encroach upon or take away from those things that have been in existence in a destination for many, many years?

These are the questions I thought about as I wandered around Basel, where I managed to grab a few interesting and colorful photos …

rhine river switzerland

Beautiful buildings along the Rhine River.

storefront globe

Colorful storefronts in the historic downtown area of Basel, Switzerland.

basel buildings

Spotted: A rainbow of buildings.

street musician

Music on the streets.

basel street art

Modern street art hidden in the back alleyways.

historic basel switzerland

Colorful window shutters along this pedestrian-friendly street.

5 Responses to “Thinking About Art in Basel, Switzerland”

  1. Jill

    I love seeing art that “fits” into the landscape of the city (the back alley painting is wonderful) but I have a real issue with “destructive” art (especially carving, however artistically done), on old stone or rock. Initials or names are terrible, but even designs or motifs just don’t fit…it is too damaging to the foundation material. I really enjoy “quirky” ideas though, like the globe suspended in the street scene. “Statues” or mixed-media constructions using recycled items often seem to fit in quite well. And of course, music always works…bring on the street musicians!

    • JoAnna

      I agree that there can be a fine line between preserve historical structures and the entrance of modern art into these cities. Thanks for your insight. It’s definitely something I’ll likely always think about when I travel.

  2. Ronny

    Funny how even non-descript towns in Europe knock the socks off the majority of places in America … it truly is their greatest strength!

    • JoAnna

      I think Europe’s long history adds a lot to the picturesque nature of all of its towns.

  3. Surender

    Basel is one of the artistic cities in Switzerland. Nice post & wonderful photos!


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