06/14/2012 05:32 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Art Basel Inside Out

Often dubbed the "Olympics of the art world," Art Basel is certainly daunting, even for the most esteemed collector or knowledgeable art aficionado. The shocking numbers of expected gallery and artist participants, as well as the masses of visitors anticipated to attend predict an outstanding 43rd edition of the world's most prestigious contemporary art fair. Open to the public June 14-17, 2012 in Basel, Switzerland, this year will present over 300 galleries from 36 countries (selected from 1000 applicants) featuring works by more than 2500 artists. Last year attracted a record-breaking crowd of 65,000, and with the fair only getting bigger and better, our guess is that visitors hardly know where to begin.

Art Basel may lead the pack, but now there are an overwhelming 190 fairs held annually worldwide, drastically increased from about 70 in 2005. This means galleries really must compete to stand out in the crowd by saving their shocking artworks or most-coveted artists for display in Switzerland.

With that disclaimer stated, news has already triggered our excitement over NY's Pace Gallery's leading item - a Gerhard Richter painting entitled A.B. Courbet valued at more than $20 million (pictured above right) - and a breathtaking Mark Rothko from 1954 which can be found at the Marlborough Fine Art booth. Cy Twombly's Hill (Rome), a 1966 blackboard painting worth more than $12 million (pictured left), is displayed by Swiss Galerie Karsten Greve. Jeff Koons will be honored by Fondation Beyeler, promoting his latest exhibition in nearby Riehen, and who could resist viewing Gagosian Gallery's presentation of Richard Phillips new film called First Point starring... Lindsey Lohan?

The stir over these blue-chip artists following their exceptional auction performances this spring makes great headlines, and enough contemporary art is offered to keep even the most determined visitors busy. Yet we believe that some of the most innovative art you can find in Basel this week is happening on the periphery, in the many satellite events opening to complement the main fair. Read about three supporting acts worth taking a break from the main show.

Liste          Open June 12-17, 2012, Website

If you are interested in the youngest generation of great contemporary art, check out Liste which features artists under the age of 40 and galleries less than 5 years old. Since its inauguration in 1996, Liste has proven its reputation as one of the best satellites fairs at Art Basel. This year's exciting program includes 64 galleries from 22 countries, including newcomers like 2P Contemporary (Hong Kong) and Simone Subal Gallery (NYC), as well as galleries we can't wait to see again: Mary Mary (Glasgow), Limoncello (London), and The Breeder (Athens).

Volta          Open June 11-16, 2012, Website

Possibly the most established of the Art Basel satellite fairs is Volta, hosting its 8th edition this year in Basel's Dreispitz neighborhood. Free shuttles will bus visitors to the location 20 minutes away, where they can find 81 exhibitors. This fair typically presents solo exhibitions from emerging artists, with a special highlight this week - mixed media artist Jason Gringler (Galerie Stefan Röpke, Cologne) offering silk-screened prints 'mirroring' his show-stopping installation at last year's Volta NY (above left). Cutting-edge galleries like EB&Flow (London), Galerie Metro (Berlin), and MA2Gallery (Tokyo) are also sure to please.

Scope          Open June 12-17, 2012, Website 

While the other fairs keep growing in size, Scope is getting smaller and more competitive for its 6th edition in Basel. Scope's inventive program this year will feature artist duo Invisible Heroes, who created self-heating paint when it dries (pictured right). Robert Montgomery's large, site-specific installation, uses solar energy to power his LED textual sculptures and an interactive digital art exhibition called Outer Spaces allows viewers to see contemporary art in real time from around the world in virtual space.  What will contemporary artists think of next?

Written by MutualArt's Christine Bednarz

Have you been to Art Basel?  Which artists or exhibitions do you want to see? Are we having an 'art fair overload'?