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Art Basel in 2019. Photo: Art Basel.
Art Basel in 2019. Photo: Art Basel.

Art Basel Postponed from June to September

Art Basel, the preeminent global contemporary art fair, has announced that it is pushing its 2021 flagship iteration from June 17–20 to September 23–26 owing to the continuing Covid-19 crisis. The decision echoes that taken in 2020, at the beginning of the pandemic, when the fair similarly postponed that year’s Swiss edition from June to September, ultimately canceling the event altogether and offering a digital experience instead.

“The decision was made after extensive discussions and analysis in consultation with gallerists and collectors, as well as external experts, putting foremost the health and safety of all concerned while aiming to achieve the broadest possible international attendance for the show,” said the organizers in a statement.

Art Basel, like so many fairs, biennials, institutions, and galleries worldwide, had a tough 2020, additionally canceling its Hong Kong and Miami editions, and suffering the cancellation of its high-grossing Baselword Watch and Jewelry Fair, which will not be held this year either.

“While the first phase of Covid-19 vaccination programs started in many parts of the world last month, 2021 is a year in which planning remains complex due to many uncertainties,” said Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, noting that by moving the fair’s dates ahead, “we hope to offer our galleries greater possibility for successfully preparing their year. Following ten months of vaccination programs in many countries, we anticipate broad international participation in our Basel show in September, because all our conversations within the art world indicate a strong desire to see art in person and engage face-to-face with the global cultural scene. Naturally, we will continue our digital activities connecting Art Basel galleries with global patrons, as we prepare our return to staging physical fairs in the post-pandemic period.”

Art Basel has said that it will present three digital events over the span of the coming year, in the form of online viewing rooms. All galleries who have shown with the fair between 2016 and 2021 are invited to apply to participate. The first digital event, “OVR: Pioneers,” will take place March 24–27 and will be devoted to the work of artists who have broken new aesthetic, conceptual, or sociopolitical ground. The second online offering, whose theme and title the organizers have yet to determine, will occur June 16–19, and the third, “OVR:2021,” will launch at the beginning of November and will exclusively feature works made this year.

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