The Art Angle Podcast: How Art Basel Did (and Didn’t) Change After a Two-Year Hiatus

On this week's episode, a dispatch of Artnet News reporters discuss the much-anticipated return of Art Basel.

Art Basel looks a little different this year. Photo; Naomi Rea.
Art Basel looks a little different this year. Photo; Naomi Rea.

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 us every week 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.

 

 

An art industry ritual returned after an unprecedented hiatus—on a Monday evening last week, art advisors, dealers, and collectors ceremoniously filed into the formidable fairgrounds of Switzerland’s Art Basel.

The premier art fair’s 50th edition was set to take place across a balmy week in June 2020, but it slid back nearly a year and half, its plans marred by a raging public health crisis, limitations on travel, and restrictions on events and gatherings. After so much uncertainty about the state of the art market, more than 270 dealers calculated their risks and ultimately took a leap of faith and brought the best of their rosters to the Rhine. It seems the gambit really paid off—by the late afternoon on preview day, gallerists seemed to really exhale for the first time in months or even a year.

Was it business as usual? Yes and no. The event ran with incredible smoothness, with no issues save for a few spats on Twitter over whether the absence of U.S. collectors was a boon for European deal-making or not. Restaurants were booked out across town for lavish dinners, but being on the guest list wasn’t the only prerequisite—proof of vaccination was required. Sales were strong, but not quite like the old days. And NFTs made a flashy debut.

On the whole, everyone seemed deeply relieved to be back in their booths or perusing the aisles. On this week’s episode, Artnet News’s European Editor Kate Brown was joined in Basel by European Market Editor, Naomi Rea, and Senior Market Editor, Eileen Kinsella to take the temperature of the scene.

 

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