Trending in Basel Right Now. 2: Bottoms

Elephant has been confronted by a plethora of derrières at Basel this week, some tasteful, some gaudy, some hilarious. Nudes are to be expected at an art fair – within the art, not the crowds, you understand – but splayed bottoms have never been such a feature. 

Rebecca Warren The Potter, 2010 reinforced clay on painted MDF plinth clay: 70 x 70 x 90 cm — 27 1/2 x 27 1/2 x 35 3/8 inches plinth: 96 x 46 x 45 cm — 37 3/4 x 18 1/8 x 17 3/4 inches © Rebecca Warren, Courtesy Maureen Paley, London

Carroll Dunham isn’t known for pulling his punches, and three watercolour and crayon depictions of bums and genitalia at Berlin’s Gerhardsen Gerner gallery are typically direct and to the point. Thick black crayon lines depict the fuzz and rambunctious curves of the female body, with key areas coloured in bright, pulsating pinks.

Stuartevant, Trilogy of Transgression

Rebecca Warren offers a more gentle view of a vulnerable female angle at Maureen Paley. In The Potter, the behind is smoothed out and modernized, depicted as two simple rounds with a central dimple, and rendered in reinforced clay. Similarly, Alexandre da Cunha’s Mandala IX at Galeria Luisa Strina holds a subtle sexuality – a pastel-pink work in which linen, string and cleaning mop meet in the middle in a teasingly suggestive seam.

Jean-Michel Othoniel, Noeud Rose Miroir

An untitled Hans Bellmer drawing at David Nolan Gallery also presents the spread-eagled female nude as something delicate and tasteful, with fine, soft pencil lines and floral-shaped flourishes.

A 2004 Sturtevant video series brings the bum back to base sexuality again, with three TV screens showing Trilogy of Transgression, depicting, amongst other things, Coke cans being squashed between oiled, shiny cheeks (don’t try this at home).

Alexandre da Cunha, Mandala IX

There’s a huge array of bottoms on show, far more than we can go into here. We’re tempted to declare 2015 the Year of the Bottom. After seeing so many, it’s difficult to look at Jean-Michel Othoniel’s gigantic, spiralling Noeud Rose Miroir and not think the worst…