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Courtesy of Art Basel.

Art Basel Moves Swiss Fair from June to September as Global Coronavirus Cases Near 500,000

As the coronavirus pandemic worsens across the globe—as of Thursday, March 26, nearly half a million people have contracted COVID-19—Art Basel, one of the art world’s biggest and most anticipated contemporary art events, will move its June fair to September, citing the “unprecedented impact” of the public health crisis. The 2020 edition of the Swiss fair will now take place at Messe Basel from September 17 to September 20, with preview days on September 15 and September 16.

“We thank our galleries for the support and understanding of our highly complex decision to postpone the fair,” Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, said in a statement. “We hope that the situation improves swiftly, and we will work closely with our exhibitors to deliver a successful fair in September. At the same time, we are aware of how dynamic the COVID-19 situation is and will continue to monitor the developments closely. The health and safety of our exhibitors, partners, guests, and teams remains our main priority, and we will adapt all our planning to the developing situation.”

While the organizers’ decision to reschedule the fair is not surprising since the number of confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Switzerland was fast approaching 11,000 on Thursday and 159 people have died from the virus, it is the latest disruption to the art-world calendar. Since the novel coronavirus originated in Wuhan, China, in December 2019, galleries and museums have shuttered worldwide, international fairs and biennials have been canceled or postponed, and major exhibitions are on hold. Art Basel was also forced to call off its Hong Kong fair, which would have taken place last weekend, and has since launched the digital initiative the Online Viewing Rooms in an effort to support the hundreds of galleries that would have participated.

[Update: 10:55 AM, March 26] The Liste Art Fair Basel will also postpone its upcoming twenty-fifth edition to between September 14 and September 20, so that it will coincide with Art Basel. “Postponing the fair enables Liste to uphold its high standards of bringing together the world’s most exceptional galleries from a younger generation, of giving galleries located beyond art metropolises an international platform, and of having galleries present their programmes abroad for the first time,” reads a statement signed by fair director Joanna Kamm and the entire Liste team. “We will keep you up to date with future developments and look forward to welcoming you in September. In the meantime, we wish you and your loved ones good health.”