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  • Jun 08, 2020

No Art Basel in Basel This Year

Exterior of Messeplatz during Art Basel in Basel, 2019. Courtesy Art Basel.

Art Basel will not hold its 50th edition in Basel this coming September, due to the complexities of holding a large-scale public event with international participants amid the Covid-19 pandemic. A short statement released by Art Basel on June 6 cited “health risks posed by large gatherings, the limitations on intercontinental travel, and the unclear Swiss regulatory environment for shows of Art Basel’s size.”

The fair was originally slated to take place next week in Switzerland, but, in late March, as the pandemic intensified in Europe, it was pushed back to September 17–20. Although the Swiss Federal Council has begun to ease measures to contain Covid-19, it is not due to make a decision on large-scale events until June 24. Last year, Art Basel in Basel attracted more than 290 international galleries and more than 93,000 visitors to the week-long event.

Global director of Art Basel Marc Spiegler said that while the fair understood that galleries are “facing unprecedented challenges and economic difficulties,” but “the uncertainties that we face remain too high.” The fair had already pushed back its exhibitor application deadline from May 1 to June 1, but for many gallerists—and collectors as well—there was still too much uncertainty about the safety of attending mass gatherings and international travel under the current circumstances.

The second iteration of the fair’s Online Viewing Rooms platform will take place beginning June 19, following its inaugural launch after the cancellation of the Hong Kong edition in March. The fair still plans to hold its Miami Beach edition in the United States in early December. 

HG Masters is the deputy editor and deputy publisher of ArtAsiaPacific.