Art Basel Has Again Postponed Its Flagship Swiss Fair, Rolling Out Three Online Viewing Rooms Instead to Keep Business Afloat

The IRL edition of the fair is now scheduled to take place in September.

Art Basel is now scheduled for September 2021, instead of June. Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images.
Art Basel is now scheduled for September 2021, instead of June. Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images.

In another blow to Art Basel and its owner, MCH Group, the art fair’s organizers have postponed its flagship edition in Switzerland for the second year straight due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Basel fair, which usually takes place in June, is now scheduled for September 23 through 26, with VIP days from September 21.

Ongoing travel restrictions and uncertainty regarding the rollout of coronavirus vaccines are the primary culprits. The show also had its 2020 fairs in Basel and Miami Beach cancelled entirely.

While the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination programs started in many parts of the world last month, 2021 is a year in which planning remains complex due to many uncertainties,” the fair’s global director, Marc Spiegler, said in a statement.

“Following 10 months of vaccination programs in many countries, we anticipate broad international participation in our Basel show in September, because all our conversations within the art world indicate a strong desire to see art in person and engage face-to-face with the global cultural scene,” Spiegler added.

The fair has also announced that it will continue to organize online viewing rooms this year. In March, it will present OVR: Pioneers, an online fair dedicated to artists who have “broken new ground aesthetically, conceptually, or socio-politically,” according to a statement.

In June, it will present another viewing room, with a yet-to-be-determined theme. In November, Art Basel also plans to present OVR: 2021, which will exclusively present artworks created this year. 

The fee for participating in each online fair will be a flat CHF 5,000 (around $5,600) for dealers, even if they decide to do all three.

OVR: Pioneers is scheduled for March 24 through 27. The second viewing room will be open from June 16 through 19. Dates have yet to be given for the November event.


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