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Art Basel 2019. Photo: Art Basel.

After Canceling Swiss Edition, Art Basel to Launch Two Online Viewing Rooms this Fall

Art Basel, the world’s largest and most esteemed international art fair business, has announced the opening this fall of two online viewing rooms, Artnet reports, each running just four days and curated according to a specific theme.

The first initiative, “OVR:2020,” will be online September 23–26 and will feature works made this year. The second, “OVR:20c,” will be up October 28–31 and will be limited to works dating to the twentieth century. The maximum number of galleries represented in each viewing room will be 100, with participating galleries paying CHF 5,000 ($5,500) apiece for the privilege of exhibiting.

The announcement of the initiative comes on the heels of the Covid-19-related cancellation of the 2020 edition of Art Basel, which last year drew some 93,000 visitors, and that of Art Basel Hong Kong. Though Art Basel Miami Beach is tentatively scheduled to take place this December, the organizers have already determined that a digital edition of the fair will launch online, as much uncertainty surrounds its physical counterpart, owing to Florida’s continuing high number of coronavirus cases.

“This new format will give Art Basel galleries the opportunity to present tightly curated exhibitions drawn from their programs, showing six works simultaneously,” the organization said in a statement. Art Basel, which additionally suffered the cancellation of the 2020 and 2021 editions of its high-grossing Baselword Watch and Jewelry Fair, follows Frieze in its decision to begin charging galleries to participate in online viewing rooms as the pandemic drags on and fair organizers seek new income streams.

“While the art market still faces difficult times,” Art Basel’s director Marc Spiegler said, “I feel it is pivotal for us to continue exploring different ways of supporting galleries and engaging with our audiences.”

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