Often referred to as the Olympics of the art world, Art Basel is inarguably the world’s largest art event and one of the most important international art fairs.
Started in 1970 by local gallery owners Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt, Art Basel’s inaugural year attracted over 16,000 visitors who viewed work presented by 90 galleries from 10 countries. Five years on its scope had expanded to reach almost 300 exhibitors, from 21 countries who attracted 37,000 visitors. By 2015, under the guidance of Art Basel’s Global Director, Marc Spiegler, the show in Basel attracted 98,000 visitors, over six days. More than 280 galleries from 33 countries also had the chance to exhibit works by more than 4,000 artists. Growing in reach and influence, Art Basel is now one of the most important art events of the year.
Providing a platform for artists and galleries across the globe, Art Basel is a truly international event. In the 2000s it launched a sister event in Miami, expanding its scope even further across the globe. 10 years later Art Basel again expanded, presenting its first show in Hong Kong, drawing in over 60,000 visitors.
Art Basel is an all-encompassing art exhibition, not only does it provide a space for international artists to exhibit their work, it also doesn’t place limits on the type of artwork shown. Everything from paintings, sculpture, prints, mixed media, installations and much more is welcomed and included at the event.
Art Basel has a partnership with Kickstarter, called the Crowdfunding Initiative, which provides visibility and support for projects from global non-profit organisations. These projects include a range of art and education-related programs, like artists residencies, public installations, education programs and more. The initiative further creates a platform for emerging and established artists to grow, learn and create.
Art Basel Cities is a recent project, launched in 2016, that aims to create cultural events and programs throughout the year. The initiative collaborates with selected cities during a multi-year partnership to curate an engaging program to present the art world with an opportunity to discover cities from across the world and invest in long-term cultural development goals.
The Art Basel publications, including an annual, independently conducted, ‘Art Market‘ study, as well as other works like the Art Market Principles and Best Practices, help increase the transparency and accountability of the art world and market. Objectives the platform is actively committed to and supports through these comprehensive insights and its global network.
Supported by BMW, the BMW Art Journey Award is a grant that supports emerging creatives, giving them a chance to embark on their own, personally planned artistic journey. The winning artists, who are selected twice a year, can sojourn to a destination of their choosing, to explore new ideas, themes and to create new work. The lucky artists are chosen from a shortlist of three finalists decided upon at the Art Basel shows in Hong Kong and Miami.
Art Basel draws in visitors, artists and galleries from all over the world and it also hosts international teams and councils. Namely, Art Basel’s Global Patrons Council, which is made up of 168 leading international private collectors. The council lets the platform closely connect with private patrons of the arts for the development of its shows and other initiatives.
As Art Basel is a for-profit venture, its scope can mean big things for artists and galleries. It’s an important space for selected artists to showcase and also sell their work, to a global network of collectors.