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  • Aug 24, 2020

Art Basel Returns with More Online Viewing Rooms

Art Basel will charge for participation in its newly announced Online Viewing Rooms this September and October. Pictured: The booth of Peres Projects (Berlin), featuring artist BLAIR THURMAN, at Art Basel in Basel, 2019. Copyright and courtesy Art Basel.

Art Basel has announced the launch of two stand-alone Online Viewing Rooms (OVR), to be held virtually in September and October. 

In a press release dated August 21, organizers introduced the new OVR as “freestanding, thematic editions” running separately from the annual fairs in Miami, Hong Kong, and Basel. Available to view on Art Basel’s website and app from September 23 to 26, “OVR:2020” will exclusively exhibit works made this year. “OVR:20c” will showcase 20th century art from October 28 to 31.

At the previous OVR, which were held in March and June in place of the canceled Hong Kong and Basel fairs, exhibitors from the original lineups were invited to join for free. In contrast, participating in the September and October OVR will entail a flat fee of CHF 5,000 (USD 5,500) per gallery, within the USD 2,000–7,600 charged by Frieze Art Fair for its upcoming digital edition in October, as reported by Artnet. In the coming weeks, galleries that have previously exhibited at any Art Basel fair since 2018 can submit OVR proposals, to be reviewed by two selection committees composed of established gallerists. The September lineup will be chosen by Sadie Coles, Massimo De Carlo, Mills Morán, Prateek Raja, Lisa Spellman, and Jasmin Tsou; Emi Eu, David Fleiss, Thiago Gomide, Steven Henry, Lucy Mitchell-Innes, and Mary Sabbatino will select participants for the October edition. Each OVR will be capped at 100 exhibitors. Additionally, the new platforms will be updated to support a live-chat function for visitors to directly communicate with the galleries.

According to Art Basel’s global director, Marc Spiegler, the OVR represent an exploration of “different ways of supporting galleries and engaging with our audiences . . . in this highly dynamic moment.” In the statement, Art Basel also announced an OVR planned for December, regardless of whether or not the live Miami Beach fair goes ahead as scheduled on December 3–6. Details about the December OVR will be released in the coming months.

Digital fairs have become increasingly common during the Covid-19 pandemic since Art Basel Hong Kong made its digital debut in March. Following a successful digital version of Frieze New York in May, fair organizers decided in July to move Frieze London and Frieze Masters online as well. On August 17, Hong Kong’s Fine Art Asia fair postponed its October edition in response to a spike of Covid-19 cases in the city; new dates have yet to be confirmed. 

Fion Tse is an editorial intern at ArtAsiaPacific.

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