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Art What!: Art Basel stages the first full-scale international art fair since 2019

Art Basel stages the first full-scale international art fair since 2019, with vigorous sales and outstanding presentations marking a highly successful 2021 edition.

Art Basel brought together 272 premier galleries from 33 countries and territories,presenting outstanding works across all media, from rare and historical masterpieces to new works by today’s emerging voices. A strong line-up of galleries from around Europe were joined by new and returning exhibitors from across the world, including Asia, North and South America, the Middle East, and Africa. 24 galleries from cities including Berlin, Buenos Aires, Hong Kong, London, Milan, New York, Palm Beach and San Francisco took part in the fair for the first time.

In addition to showcasing exceptional art within its Galleries, Feature, Statements, and Edition sectors, the fair also presented 62 large-scale artworks in Unlimited; 20 site-specific projects as part of Parcours; two performances – by artists Monster Chetwynd and Cecilia Bengolea – on the Messeplatz; an ambitious Film program; and the fair’s vibrant talks series, Conversations.

Leading private collectors from across Europe, the Americas, the Middle East, and Africa attended this year, as well as curators and representatives from over 300 museums and institutions, including: Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, Paris; Fondazione MAXXI, Milan; Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA); Städel Museum, Frankfurt; Serpentine Galleries, London; The Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Tate, London; and Zachęta – National Gallery of Art, Warsaw. 

Art Basel Liveamplified the onsite presentations in Basel, transmitting the vibrancy and excitement from the show floor to the broadest possible global audience. Visitors from around the world explored our exhibiting galleries via an enhanced edition of the Online Viewing Rooms (OVRs). Dedicated Viewing Rooms specifically developed for Unlimited and Parcours and complemented with an audio guide gave additional insight into these large-scale and site-specific projects. Art Basel Live also featured virtual Walk-throughs of the show floor and the OVRs led by Princess Alia Al-Senussi, PhD, global art patron; Thierry Gillier, CEO & Founder of iconic French fashion brand Zadig & Voltaire, together with Guillaume Houzé, President of Galeries Lafayette, as well as a rich program of social-media content including exclusive behind-the-scenes footage, giving audiences intimate access to the show.

Prior to the show’s opening, Art Basel announced a one-time CHF 1.5 million solidarity fund to mitigate the financial risk for participating galleries under the current extraordinary circumstances. Many galleries have already announced they will be opting out of the fund, thereby increasing the share for other exhibitors who may have been less successful. This initiative reflects the spirit of collegiality and collaboration that has come to the fore during the pandemic and is part of Art Basel’s commitment to developing new formats and models that best support its galleries.

Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel said: ‘This year’s Art Basel was a landmark show. The fair served as a place for making new discoveries and building new relationships in person, activities that were largely impossible for more than a year. Despite reduced attendance of collectors from Asia and the US due to current travel restrictions, vigorous sales throughout the duration of the show brought to the fore Europe’s powerful collector bases and rich collecting tradition. This week represents the beginning of the art world coming together again, at scale, and the rejuvenation of the international art market.’

‘After quite some speculation and uncertainty, Art Basel turned out to be a remarkable success. Collectors from all corners of Europe and Asia showed up hungry and with an appetite to buy art! We were particularly thrilled with the interest in our contemporary program — our sales highlights included many artists who joined us this past year and whom we presented at Art Basel for the first time,” says Marc Glimcher, CEO, Pace Gallery.

The show’s main sector comprised 220 leading galleries, showing painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography, video, digital, and editioned works of the highest quality. 13 galleries graduated into the main sector to present their full program: Antenna Space from Shanghai; Cardi Gallery with spaces in Milan and London; Carlos/Ishikawa from London; ChertLüdde from Berlin; Galleria Raffaella Cortese from Milan; galerie frank elbaz from Paris; Essex Street/Maxwell Graham from New York; Experimenter from Kolkata; Layr with spaces in Vienna and Rome; Madragoa from Lisbon, Edouard Malingue Gallery from Hong Kong; Galeria Dawid Radziszewski from Warsaw and Galerie Gregor Staiger from Zurich.

Six joint booths were featured, including: The Approach and Kate MacGarry, Bergamin & Gomide and Galeria Luisa Strina, Konrad Fischer Galerie and Peter Freeman, Inc., Galería Elvira González and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, Madragoa and Galeria Dawid Radziszewski, and David Nolan Gallery and Sperone Westwater. Galerie Jocelyn Wolff’s booth hosted Take Ninagawa as a ‘Wunderkammer’ booth presentation, a new concept allowing exhibitors to stage small exhibitions within another gallery’s stand, while Magician Space, ShanghART Gallery, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, and Vitamin Creative Space participated with satellite booths.

For the latest updates on Art Basel, visit their website

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