The Art Angle Podcast: Art Basel Rules the Art Market. Is That a Good Thing for Art?

In our latest podcast episode, executive editor Julia Halperin charts how Art Basel became a major cultural force—and what troubles lie ahead.

Welcome to the Art Angle, a podcast from Artnet News that delves into the places where the art world meets the real world, bringing each week’s biggest story down to earth. Join host Andrew Goldstein for an in-depth look at what matters most in museums, the art market, and much more with input from our own writers and editors as well as artists, curators, and other top experts in the field.

This week, what seems like the entire art industry, every luxury company, and every celebrity or status-seeker available will be traveling to south Florida for the 18th edition of Art Basel Miami Beach, the final stop on the annual art-market calendar—as well as a champagne-soaked playground for the rich and famous. And while people love to complain about this particular fair, Art Basel matters to the art business in an enormous, almost existential way.

Since its founding in 1970, Art Basel has evolved from a bespoke trade fair for German-speaking art collectors near its namesake Swiss city into a commercial Colossus linking Europe, Asia, and the Americas via three supersized fairs. Each event doesn’t only draw buyers and sellers of art who regularly transact in the millions of dollars, or even just the broader constellation of curators, journalists, and art lovers. It has also become a beacon for almost anyone hoping to ride the cultural wave that is contemporary art and its clientele, from major corporations to micro-influencers. In its wake, literally hundreds of other art fairs have risen up around the world hoping to do something similar.

But while Art Basel and its competitors have indisputably helped launch the art industry into a new era of global reach and broad cultural relevance, have they created an unhealthy, even toxic, dynamic for artists and galleries in the process? Have trade fairs warped the way we value artists and their work? And if big fairs have become a big business, why are so many starting to either branch out… or die off? Just in time for Art Basel Miami Beach 2019, Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin joined Andrew Goldstein to weigh in on the past, present, and future of art fairs.

Listen below and subscribe to The Art Angle on Apple PodcastsSpotifySoundCloud, or wherever you get your podcasts. (Or catch up on past episodes here on Artnet News.)

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