Hauser and Wirth Opens Up Its Website to Host an Indie Art Fair That Had to Cancel Its Basel Edition

The move is the latest effort by a mega-gallery to host struggling smaller upstarts online—and gain additional eyeballs in the process.

Opening of June in Basel. Photo: Nicolas Gysin.

Hauser and Wirth has become the latest mega-gallery to offer its platform to smaller dealers looking to find an audience during the lockdown era. In August, the gallery will host a virtual edition of the June Art Fair, the indie upstart that launched its first edition in Basel last year.

After June canceled its 2020 edition alongside Art Basel and Liste, it needed a virtual home, and Hauser and Wirth agreed to host. (This is particularly helpful since neither “June fair” nor “Basel in June,” the event’s original name, are easy to Google, seeing as the much more famous Art Basel fair also historically takes place in, well, June.)

“We were focused on how to reach the widest audience, and substitute that experience of Basel, which would otherwise in some ways feel completely irreplaceable,” fair cofounder Esperanza Rosales told Artnet News. “The alliance came from a desire to transcend these obvious challenges, to collaborate and experiment with different formats and views, and to open dialogue about how best to serve the art viewer in this current climate.”

This isn’t the first time one of the world’s largest galleries has volunteered itself as a hub for smaller dealers. Earlier this year, David Zwirner began hosting “Platform,” a dedicated series of viewing rooms featuring two artworks each from smaller galleries in New York, Los Angeles, Paris, and other cities. It’s also not the first time a gallery has stepped forward to host a suddenly homeless fair—Zwirner (yet again) stepped forward in collaboration with collector Peter Hort to host galleries from Volta after it was displaced from its venue in 2019.

Each dealer participating in June will present works by a single artist. Sales inquiries, Rosales said, will take place directly between the gallery and the collector. In the past, some have questioned whether host galleries are opening up their websites not only to be good samaritans, but also to receive valuable information about new clientele, like email addresses and names. Rosales said it had not yet confirmed what sort of data clients would need to provide to enter June virtually.

Galleries participating in the fair, which will run from August 20 through 31, include: The Breeder (Athens), Document (Chicago) Embajada (San Juan), Green Art Gallery (Dubai), The Green Gallery (Milwaukee), and Misako & Rosen (Tokyo). The fair, which is being presented in conjunction with Art Review, will offer additional content about each dealer on the magazine’s website.

June was cofounded by Christian Andersen, who runs an eponymous gallery in Copenhagen, and Rosales, who owns the gallery VI, VII in Oslo, to offer a laid-back, hip alternative to Basel’s more formal offerings. The inaugural event was held in a Herzog and de Meuron-designed building across the street from Art Basel.

“By hosting the fair on our digital platform we aim to increase the exposure and audience for the participating galleries,” said Neil Wenman, a partner at Hauser and Wirth, in a statement. “New digital endeavors are challenging the art landscape and redefining how we can all connect.”

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