Art Basel Has Postponed Its March Hong Kong Fair to May as Travel Uncertainty Likely Delays the Market Calendar’s Return Until Mid-Year

Meanwhile, online viewing rooms are planned for Art Basel Miami Beach.

Art Basel in Hong Kong. © Art Basel

Now that all three editions of Art Basel have been canceled in 2020—in Hong Kong, Basel, and Miami Beach—organizers are looking ahead to 2021 and trying to balance the optimism of a vaccine with the uncertainty of what lies ahead.

Organizers of the international circuit of fairs announced today that dates for the next edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, typically held in March, will now take place in May, due to “the ongoing impact of the global pandemic including travel restrictions,” according to a statement. The new dates will be May 21–23, with preview days slated for May 19–20. It will still be held at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center.

The decision was taken “in close consultation with gallerists, collectors, partners, and external experts, with the goal of ensuring that the fair will be attended by the largest possible number of collectors, curators, and arts professionals from Art Basel’s global network, while protecting the health and safety of everyone concerned,” according to the statement.

A billboard for Art Basel in Hong Kong on March 29, 2018. PHILIP FONG/AFP via Getty Images.

“We believe shifting the fair to May is the right decision given the current development of the pandemic and its impact on international travel restrictions,” said Adeline Ooi, the fair’s director of Asia. She added that by making the decision earlier in the planning stages it can better support galleries in their advance preparations for 2021.

Further details on the fair, including the names of participating galleries, will be announced early next year. The application period is now closed. For any galleries who cannot make the new dates, the fair requests notice by January 14, 2021.

In the meantime, the fair conglomerate is hosting Hong Kong Spotlight by Art Basel, a showcase of 22 Hong Kong-based galleries, all of which have participated in previous editions of Art Basel Hong Kong, at Fine Art Asia from November 27–30.

The next edition of Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms, dubbed “OVR: Miami Beach” will take place from December 4–6, with VIP preview days on December 2–4. The fair will feature international galleries that were accepted to the 2020 edition of the Miami Beach show.

The Miami Beach Convention Center, where Art Basel takes place each December. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

The Miami Beach Convention Center, where Art Basel takes place each December. Image courtesy of Art Basel.

Despite the absence of the traditional Miami fairs like Basel, Scope, and Untitled, some are still gearing up for a smaller version of the usually jam-packed art week. Frederic Snitzer, for example, a Miami gallerist who typically participates in Art Basel Miami Beach, plans to treat his gallery as though it were a fair booth by displaying all the works he was planning to bring to the fair.

Meanwhile, other blue-chip New York galleries, including Acquavella and Paula Cooper, have set up shop in temporary Palm Beach outposts for the next several months.  And veteran fair organizers David and Lee Ann Lester have also unveiled plans for a new event in Palm Beach—centered on the concept of an “art bubble.”

Between the cluster of local events, pop-up spaces and private dinners, there will still be some form of a “Miami Art Week,” though it will be far smaller than in past years.

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