Beloved for its jacaranda-lined avenues and picturesque Belle Époque mansions, Art Basel welcomes even more reason for travelers to flock to Buenos Aires during the debut of its inaugural Art Basel Cities Week from September 6 to 12. Titled “Hopscotch (Rayuela),” the city’s art week is inspired by the 1963 stream-of-consciousness novel by Argentine writer Julio Cortázar. Like the timeless children’s street game, participants are meant to enjoy the program in any order, jumping non-linearly from exhibit to exhibit through three of the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods: Palermo, Puerto Madero, and La Boca.
From the grand plazas and beautiful parks to the more industrial buildings and former museums, must-see installations by 18 Argentine and international artists–from Gabriel Chaile’s adobe clay sculpture that doubles as a community oven to Mika Rottenberg’s first showing in her native Argentina–will be placed in atypical locations to connect visual arts, urban spaces, and the city’s history in unexpected ways.
Here, your guide to the best of Art Basel Cities Week–plus the hottest new places to eat, drink, stay, and shop while you’re in Buenos Aires.
What to See
Begin in Palermo at Bosques de Palermo, one of the city’s finest parks, to view Maurizio Cattelan’s Eternity, a pop-up cemetery featuring dozens of tombstones created by local artists to honor living figures, and Eduardo Navarro’s Polenphonia, a presentation of seven flutists who will play an impromptu symphony. At nearby Casa Victoria Ocampo, Adriana Minoliti will lead a symposium challenging masculine cultures by hosting a dialogue for contemporary feminists. Visitors to the dome-shaped Galileo Galilei Planetarium will discover 25 projections by Stan vanDerBeek, while Luciana Lamothe will construct an open-air tower in the Plaza República Oriental del Uruguay.
In Puerto Madero and Costanera Sur, enter Museo de la Cáracova to see paintings by Santiago de Paoli and Mariela Scafati and films produced by Narcisa Hirsh in the 1960s and 1970s. At Ex Cervecería Munich, Pia Camil will present an interactive artwork made from second-hand T-shirts, while Argentine-Swiss artist Vivian Suter will mount her unstretched canvases outdoors from the former brewery’s terrace, providing an environmental perspective on painting. On an abandoned grain silo, known as Silos de la Antigua Junta Nacional de Granos, Barbara Kruger will show a large-scale, text-based mural offering solidarity to the country’s active women’s movement, while Eduardo Basualdo will transform a half-mile stretch of fishing pier on the Río de la Plata at the Asociación Argentina de Pesca with sculptures and installations.
In La Boca, visit the Transbordador Bridge for an up-close look at Gabriel Chaile’s large-format sculpture of a working adobe oven. At La Boca’s volunteer fireman headquarters, Argentine artist Mika Rottenberg will show video installations challenging the hyper-capitalistic, globally connected world. At nearby Arenas Studios, be sure to see Alex Da Corte’s replica of a damaged Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade balloon, while Alexandra Pirici will choreograph a performance spanning seven days, where 60 performers drift through the space as a swarm, threading around the viewer.
Stay up-to-speed on Art Basel Cities Week’s schedule for the latest information on each installation, as well as time slots for exclusive artist talks and updates on not-to-miss performances like David Horvitz’ release of 200 helium balloons across three locations.
Where to Eat + Drink
Take a break from gallery hopping for brunch at Salvaje in Palermo Hollywood, the city’s first bakery dedicated to artisanal sourdough bread. Beyond traditional baguettes and inventive honey-beet loaves, proprietor Germán Torres crafts the outposts new house-made Earl Grey, green tea, and apple chai kombucha to match specialties like braised pork sandwiches and warm burrata salads topped with roasted pumpkin. The eatery is just across from the entrance of Feria Masticar, the city’s premier food festival taking place from September 6 through 9. After hopping from stall to stall to try the city’s best fare, visit the newly-opened Donut Therapy in Palermo Soho for maple-glazed, deep-fried treats.
Offering an Asian-style twist on the traditional Buenos Aires parilla is not-to-miss Niño Gordo, where chef German Sitz of famed La Carnicería creates dishes like miso-glazed sweetbreads and beef nigiri in an open kitchen illuminated by nearly 150 red lanterns. For grab-and-go small plates dine at Lardo & Rosemary, a hip street-food kitchen north of Palermo in La Lucila serving Sriracha-spiked egg and aioli toast. To dine at the city’s hippest new closed-door restaurant, book a table at Anafe in Colegiales for an evening feast comprised of homemade chutney pate with financier pastries, za'atar-spiced sourdough bread, and golden oyster mushrooms with cashew cream, port wine reduction, and raisin-walnut pesto.
For post-art show bites, head back to the heart of Palermo’s action to Juan Pedro Caballero Churrería in Palermo Soho. Try lemon curd and merengue churros served with homemade soft-serve ice cream. End with a nightcap at 1920’s mansion Casa Cavia, home to a swanky bar helmed by Lucas López Dávalos, or venture to a late-night DJ set at Divisadero Parador, the city’s newest cocktail den. This retro outpost is evocative of Argentina’s Atlantic resort towns circa 1980 and is helmed by the city’s most famous bartender, Tato Giovannoni of Florería Atlántico.
Where to Stay + Shop
Stay close to the Art Basel Cities Week festivities in Puerto Madero at the Philippe Starck-designed Faena Hotel Buenos Aires, a sultry, over-the-top Art-Deco icon. Nearby is the sleek, 32-floor Alvear Icon, sister property to the opulent Alvear Palace Hotel, a historic grande dame located in Recoleta. Next door, you’ll also find the luxurious Four Seasons Buenos Aires and Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt, too. For modernity over 1900s glamour, a stay at Home Hotel in Palermo Hollywood is ideal. Elemental interiors complement vintage wallpaper from the 1970s and exclusive art pieces from Argentina’s leading creatives.
While you’re in the city’s trendiest neighborhood, venture out for a day of shopping beginning at the new Yey House. Browse jewelry, ceramics, and ready-to-wear pieces from top Argentine and Uruguayan designers before checking the calendar for Pop-Up Buy, Buy, a monthly showroom featuring mainstay Buenos Aires brands like Carzoglio pajamas, Gallery Gang earrings, La Rosa Botanicos skincare, and Fruto pottery, scarves, and notebooks.