Art Basel Recap Part 1

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When I found out the Orangenius team was heading to Basel this year to create content for our publication, Art Business Journal, I was thrilled. I’d always wanted to go, but only knew it was a huge art fair full of famous works, famous people, and ridiculous parties. As a total Basel novice, I did some research before heading down to Miami, to understand the history, as well as what I was getting myself into. Here’s what I learned:

What is Art Basel?

Art Basel was founded in 1970 in Basel, Switzerland, by gallerists Trudi Bruckner, Balz Hilt and Ernst Beyeler. In 2002 it launched in Miami Beach, and then Hong Kong in 2013. 

The official Art Basel site says, “Since 1970, Art Basel’s goal has been to connect the world’s premier galleries and their patrons, as well serving as a meeting point for the international art world…Our reputation for showing work of the highest quality has attracted the leading international gallerists and collectors, offering the show’s visitors the most important art that world’s best galleries can offer.”

What’s the point?

Basically, it’s an art fair for galleries, not individual artists, to show chosen works from their galleries. By leaving their respective cities, the galleries gain access to a broader audience of collectors, museum directors, and curators, as well as spectators and modern art enthusiasts. The goal of the galleries is ultimately, to sell, with prestige, publicity, networking, and parties likely being a large incentive as well.

What to Expect in Miami:

There were 267 international galleries showing at this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach. These galleries are categorized and organized by sector in the massive Miami Convention Center. The sectors are:

  • Galleries: This is the main sector of the fair, featuring 191 galleries, showing everything from painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography,  video, etc.
  • Edition: 12 global leaders in print and limited-edition works.
  • Survey: 14 exhibitions of historically-informed works, all made before 2000.
  • Positions: Featuring 16 solo works from emerging artists. Provides a platform for a single artist to present one major project.
  • Nova: A platform for 34 younger galleries to present new work by up to three artists. The works the galleries show much have been created in the last three years.
  • Film: Films by and about artists.
  • Magazines: Art publications from around the world display their magazines in single-magazine stands or the collective booth.
  • Public: 27 large-scale and site-specific installations and performances in Collins Park.
  • Conversations and Salon: Program of talks by prominent members of the art world
  • Design Miami: galleries specializing in 20th and 21st century collectible design