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Art Basel is an international art fair with three shows staged annually in Basel, Switzerland; Miami Beach, Florida; and Hong Kong. Each show is organized into sectors which showcase contemporary artworks by established and newly emerging artists. In addition to the artworks shown by participating galleries, the shows offer parallel programming produced in collaboration with the host city’s local institutions. While Art Basel provides a platform for galleries to show and sell their work to collectors, museum directors, and curators, it also attracts a large international audience of art spectators and students.
Galleries who apply to Art Basel shows undergo a review by a selection committee of international gallerists serving multi-year terms. During the week-long process, each application is considered for participation in the show following standards established by Art Basel.
Art Basel started in 1970 by Basel gallerists Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt. In its inaugural year, the Basel show attracted more than 16,000 visitors who viewed work presented by 90 galleries representing 10 countries. Thirty art publishers also participated.
By 1975, five years after its founding, the Basel show reached almost 300 exhibitors. The participating galleries came from 21 countries, attracting 37,000 visitors.
In 2013, Art Basel launched its inaugural show in Hong Kong. Half of the participating galleries came from Asia and the Asia-Pacific region.
In 2014, Art Basel partnered with Kickstarter to create a crowdfunding initiative aimed at funding non-profit visual arts organizations worldwide. Together with JRP Ringier, Art Basel publishes Art Basel | Year 44 the first book that covered all three shows.
In 2015, the BMW Art Journey award was established by BMW and Art Basel to reward promising artists from the Discoveries sector in Hong Kong and the Positions sector in Miami Beach. Also, the executive-education program Collecting Contemporary Art in Hong Kong was launched by Art Basel, HKU SPACE Centre for Degree Programmes (CDP) and Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design (CSM).
Under the stewardship of Art Basel’s Global Director, Marc Spiegler, the 2015 show in Basel, Switzerland, attracted 98,000 visitors over six days. It presented 284 galleries from 33 countries, exhibiting the work of over 4,000 artists. A total of 14 galleries showed in Basel for the very first time. Alongside private collectors from Europe, America, and Asia, representatives and groups from over 80 museums and institutions from across the world were in attendance.
Miami Beach, Florida
Spearheaded by Noah Horowitz, Art Basel’s Director Americas, the 2015 show in Miami Beach, Florida, presented 267 leading international galleries from 32 countries. Over five days, the show attracted 77,000 visitors including private collectors and directors, curators, trustees and patrons of nearly 200 museum and institution groups. The show hosted first-time collectors from Cambodia, Ethiopia, Nicaragua, Romania, Togo, and Zimbabwe.
The 2015 Hong Kong Exhibition, directed by Adeline Ooi, attracted over 70,000 visitors, among them directors, curators, trustees, and patrons from over 100 leading international museums and institutions. On display were 239 galleries from 35 countries and territories.
Art Basel’s initiatives concentrate on the broader art world. Art Basel has three main initiatives: Art Basel Cities, BMW Art Journey, and Crowdfunding.
Art Basel Cities is a project between Art Basel and cities worldwide to create cultural events and programming throughout the year. Art Basel, the city’s local art stakeholders and the city’s officials will sit together and develop a program in line with the city’s mid- and long-term cultural development goals. This initiative was launched during the 2016 Hong Kong edition of Art Basel. Cities interested in the collaboration have to apply via an online questionnaire. As of 2016, Art Basel has yet to announce which cities it will be working with.
BMW Art Journey Award is a grant that supports emerging creatives and enables them to go on an artistic journey of their own definition. The chosen artist can select the destination and go almost anywhere in the world to explore new ideas, discover new themes, and create new works. A winner is selected twice a year from a shortlist of three finalists during the Art Basel shows in Hong Kong and Miami Beach.
The Crowdfunding Initiative is a partnership between Kickstarter and Art Basel to provide visibility and generate support for projects from non-profit organizations around the world. The projects include artist residencies, education programs, public installations and other innovative artistic projects. They are selected by an independent jury made up of three non-profit art world specialists.
- Franz Schultheis, Erwin Single, Stephan Egger, Thomas Mazzurana: When Art meets Money. Encounters at the Art Basel. Verlag Walther König, Cologne 2015. ISBN 978-3863357443.
- Art Basel | Year 45. JRP|Ringier, 2015. ISBN 978-3-03764-395-2.
- "Historical Timeline". Art Basel.
- Bodick, Noelle (17 June 2014). "A Brief History of Art Basel, the World's Premier Contemporary Fair". Artspace.
- Ellwood, Mark (19 September 2014). "Art Basel Miami: An Oral History". Departures.
- Boucher, Brian (March 23, 2016). "'Art Basel Cities' to Further Art Basel's Global Dominance". Artnet News.
- Dalley, Jan. "Art Basel offers cities a cachet injection". Financial Times.
- Forrest, Nicholas (March 23, 2016). "Art Basel Announces New Art Basel Cities Initiative". Blouinartinfo.
- Forbes, Alexander (March 24, 2016). "Art Basel Unveils a Plan to Create New Cultural Capitals around the Globe". Artsy.
- "Shortlist announced for third edition of BMW Art Journey". ArtReview. 23 March 2015.
- "Crowdfunding Initiative: supporting non-profit visual art projects from around the world". e-flux.
- Forrest, Nicholas (14 April 2016). "Art Basel's Crowdfunding Initiative Reaches USD$1 Million Milestone". Blouinartinfo.
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