Peak Practice: Visitors to Audemars Piguet’s Space at Art Basel Can Expect an Altitudinous Experience

Benjamin F Hochfelder

“To break the rules,” as Audemars Piguet’s favourite adage goes, “you must first master them.” It’s an aphorism that can apply as much to the visual arts as it does to master watchmaking, so it’s apt that the Swiss haute horology house has been Associate Partner of Art Basel since 2013.

The next stage of that partnership will see a new lounge concepy, presented at Art Basel Hong Kong on March 26 and also shown at Basel and Miami Beach this year, with Brooklyn-based sculptural artist and designer Fernando Mastrangelo. Mastrangelo’s concept, titled The Vallée, will transport those visiting Audemars Piguet’s space in the Art Basel Collectors’ Lounge to the brand’s home in the Swiss Jura Mountains.

Known for creating sculptures that blur the line between art and design using commonplace materials such as salt, sand and cement, Mastrangelo will fashion a likeness of the Vallée de Joux’s Combe Noire quarries using crushed elements of its landscape, his seamless gradients and subtle tones and textures expressing both the purity of nature and – aptly enough – the passing of time. A smaller relaxation area will be set within a space, inspired by the complex geometry of the manufacture’s Code 11.59 by Audemars Piguet collection, which unites round and octagonal shapes.

“I wanted to consider time not only in a linear sense – the passage of time – but also in a geological sense by drawing a parallel between the time it took for the land in the Vallée de Joux to be formed and the time it takes to create an Audemars Piguet watch,” says Mastrangelo, who is also producing a chandelier of crushed glass for the installation – a reference to the limestone stalactites in the Swiss Vallorbe Caves.

The display will also showcase five intrinsic components of Audemars Piguet’s latest watch collection – gold, brass, aventurine, sapphire glass and iron – which give a nod to the region from which the timepieces hail as well as the intricate processes involved with haute horlogerie.

Mastrangelo “surprises us with his innovative ideas, blurring the lines between contemporary art, design and craft,” says Olivier Audemars, Vice President of Audemars Piguet’s Board of Directors.


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