Art Basel Is Postponing Its Marquee Swiss Fair From June to September, Adding to a Year-End Crush in the Art Market Calendar

The fair will now open to VIPs on September 15.

Crowds at Art Basel 2019. © Art Basel.
Crowds at Art Basel 2019. © Art Basel.

Art Basel, the world’s most important annual contemporary art fair, will push back its Swiss edition to September due to the “unprecedented impact worldwide” of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a statement.

Originally scheduled to open to VIP cardholders on June 16, it will now open its first preview day September 15, and run through September 20.

In a statement, the fair’s head, Marc Spiegler, thanked exhibitors for their “support and understanding of our highly complex decision to postpone the fair.”

“We hope that the situation improves swiftly, and we will work closely with our exhibitors to deliver a successful fair in September,” Spiegler said. “At the same time, we are aware of how dynamic the COVID-19 situation is and will continue to monitor the developments closely. The health and safety of our exhibitors, partners, guests, and teams remains our main priority, and we will adapt all our planning to the developing situation.”

The postponement has been widely expected for weeks, and comes after similar expos scheduled for June, such as the marketing conference Cannes Lions, were also pushed back. That event will now take place in October.

The new dates for Art Basel also set the stage for a remarkably jam-packed fall travel schedule for the art world. Though fairs such as Art Basel Hong Kong and Frieze New York were outright cancelled, the postponement of Berlin Gallery Weekend, the Dallas Art Fair, and now Art Basel will set the stage for an unprecedented run of events in September and October that already were set to include must-attend affairs such as the São Paulo Biennial, Expo Chicago, Frieze London, and FIAC, the largest contemporary fair in France.

Other fairs originally scheduled for spring, meanwhile, have opted to cancel their 2020 editions entirely. After Frieze New York announced that it would call off this year’s event, Masterpiece London—the art and design fair with wares spanning all eras—would also cancel. The fair, which shares a majority shareholder with Art Basel’s parent company MCH, was originally scheduled to take place from June 24 to July 1.

To fill the void during a fair-less summer, Art Basel representatives said that they will focus on developing the company’s Online Viewing Rooms, which debuted last week in place of the cancelled Hong Kong fair.


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