Art Collective Cicolupo’s Insider Guide to Basel, Switzerland

Art Collective Cicolupo’s Insider Guide to Basel, Switzerland

Pick up a coffee on Basel’s riverside and then get lost in the city’s galleries and museums with local artist Filip Wolfensberger, one half of artistic collective Cicolupo.

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is synonymous with art. From the graffiti murals splashed
around the city centre to some 40 museums, countless galleries and
world-class art shows, this is a place where young artists thrive
alongside museums housing old masters.

Helping us navigate the scene through a local’s lens is Filip
Wolfensberger, co-founder of acclaimed art collective Cicolupo. Following in the footsteps of
established sculptors, such as Jean Tinguely and Bernhard
Luginbühl, Wolfensberger and his work partner Pascal Martinoli defy
genres to create statement pieces for public spaces from recycled

Whether they’re making a floating shark or a giant metal
elephant, their big, bold works are instantly recognisable.
Wolfensberger takes us on an art tour of his city.

Discover Basel’s creative side with Filip Wolfensberger,
co-founder of Cicolupo

How did Cicolupo form?

I set up Cicolupo in spring 2010 with Pascal Martinoli, Joel
Lobsiger Vargas and Manou Clément. We all emerged from very
different fields of expertise and cultural backgrounds.

We founded the Swiss art company after having done different
works together and have since worked on numerous projects and
organised a range of events in Zurich, Basel and Berlin.

Manou left the group and Joel started his own projects in the
Philippines in 2014. However, Pascal and I are still working on
Cicolupo projects in Basel. We grew up here. We lived in other
cities but came back and we like to combine our skills to develop
our own contemporary kind of expression. We have experience in a
large variety of fields, such as painting, illustration, comics,
photography, sculpture, installation, theatre, puppeteering,
acrobatics, dance, music, design, animation and film.

Were you inspired by the likes of Jean Tinguely and Bernhard
Luginbühl and their connections to Basel?

Yes. Basel is known for its museums, exhibitions and cultural
events. The Tinguely Fountain [a landmark by Tinguely in which he
placed machine sculptures in an enormous pool of water on the site
where the stage of the old city theatre was once located] was
impressive to me as a kid and still is today. He brought movement
into art and all the pieces he used tell their own stories. Next to
it, you will find Richard Serra’s Intersection. This monumental
sculpture shows the characteristics of architecture and makes them
experienceable. There are many other works like this. Basel is an
inspirational environment.

What route should we take for a great public art tour?

Start with the bull in Riehen – one of our big animals that came
to life by assembling scrap metal. Finish with the elephant in
Kaiseraugst. Basel is bookended between them.

Which galleries would you particularly recommend checking out
and why?

Philipp Brogli’s gallery Artstübli in the Steinentorberg district is
becoming known as the creative hub of the Swiss urban art scene and
Brogli has conceived some cool projects.

in Bruderholz is a very special place – a contemporary
exhibition and performance venue housed in a 100-year-old former
water station.

Do you have a favourite museum?

Cartoonmuseum Basel, close to the river, is my
favourite for laughs, while I really like the Beyeler Foundation Museum, which is a little
further out, in Riehen, for its architecture and surrounding
garden. The museum oversees the art collection of Hildy and Ernst

Are there any cafés that are super-popular among the creative

We mostly drink coffee in our workshop, garden or atelier, but
there are nice cafés along the riverbank or in the old town. The
many small riverside cafés along are called “buvettes”. Each has
its own style. Also try a place called Mitte, in the centre of Basel, and a café
called Zum
, near the train station.

Which flea markets would you recommend?

Flea Market Petersplatz is open on Saturdays, and is a nice
place for a walk, while browsing the many stalls.

What is the music, theatre and nightlife scene like?

There is a big offering. In summer, there are always numerous
outdoor events here. A lot of activity happens around the harbour,
especially in a place called Landestelle. Atlantis Basel was once
famous for its concerts and it’s still a nice place to visit. The
small Marionetten Theater is the place to see puppeteering shows.
The city’s most famous showcase for the arts would be Theater
Basel. There is also a big festival that takes place in the old
barracks, Polyfon, and the Imagine Festival pops up at several
venues across the city.

Is there a spot that’s great for nature and recreation?

There are many parks in Basel. Birsköpfli, on the riverbank, has
a popular swimming and sunbathing area.

What is the most inspiring place to explore in Basel?

That would be our workshop area… but it is kept a secret!

The Lowdown

To find out more about Basel, visit

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