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Art Basel’s 2021 Swiss Edition Concludes with Strong Sales

Art Basel staged the first full-scale international art fair since 2019, with vigorous sales and outstanding presentations marking a highly successful 2021 edition

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Partha Pratim Ray
Partha Pratim Ray
Senior journalist covering topics related to sports and corporate communication.

SWITZERLAND. Basel: Art Basel’s 2021 edition, which took place at Messe Basel from September 24 – 26 witnessed around 60,000 visitors. 272 premier galleries from 33 countries across the world were joined by new and returning exhibitors who presented exceptional works of art across all media. Strong sales across all levels were witnessed this time much to the relief of the organizers and exhibitors. Private collectors from across the globe, curators and representatives from over 300 museums like the Fondation Cartier Pourl’ Art Contemporain from Paris, Fondazione MAXXI from Milan, and Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, etc. attended the show. 

The Global Lead Partner to the event was UBS. Art Basel’s Associate Partners are Audemars Piguet and NetJets. Audemars Piguet commissions artists to create contemporary artworks, and NetJets is a world leader in private aviation. The art show is also supported globally by BMW. Art Basel’s Media Partner is the Financial Times.

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Showcasing Exceptional Work of Art

The Feature sector presented 24 ambitiously curated projects by both historical and contemporary artists, with 11 galleries completely new to the show. The Statements sector offered collectors and visitors the opportunity to discover work by emerging artists. There were 18 individual presentations by young galleries from across the world. The Edition sector spread throughout both floors of Hall two featured 10 leading galleries in the field of prints and Editioned works. Curated by Samuel Leuenberger, this year’s Parcours took place across civic and private spaces under the theme ‘Can We Find Happiness Together Again?’

Every year, the art exhibition invites one artist to propose a project for Messeplatz. This year, Cecilia Bengolea and Monster Chetwynd did the honors. Cecilia staged a scintillating performance on the fountain and Monster, while Monster created a sculpture inspired by Salvador Dali in giant translucent balls.

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Art Basel Swiss Edition Highlights:

  • 12 large-scale paintings and performances by Claudia Comte co-presented by Gladstone Gallery and König Galerie at Stadtcasino Basel;
  • An open-floor-based composition by Jason Dodge at the Kunstmuseum Basel, presented by Galleria Franco Noero;
  • A public walk by Hamish Fulton titled ‘Walking in Every Direction’ on Basel’s Marktplatz, presented by Galerie Tschudi;
  • Basel’s Messeplatz featured two site-specific projects selected by the fair’s Unlimited and Parcours curators. The projects developed independently by Bengolea and Chetwynd sought to engage fair visitors and the city’s residents in an exciting and surprising dialogue.
  • The Film program screened at Stadtkino Basel was curated by Filipa Ramos, Co-Founder and Curator of Vdrome for the first time.
  • The Conversations program offered first-hand information on the international art world.
  • Art Basel Live that debuted in May 2021, amplified the onsite presentations in Basel. Visitors from around the world explored galleries via an enhanced edition of the Online Viewing Rooms (OVRs).

The participating Galleries at the art exhibition expressed their satisfaction as the show turned out to be a big success. Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel said, “This year’s Art Basel was a landmark show. This week represents the beginning of the art world coming together again, at scale, and the rejuvenation of the international art market”.

Marc Glimcher, CEO, Pace Gallery at New York, London, Hong Kong, Palo Alto, Seoul, Geneva, East Hampton, Palm Beach further added that the “Collectors from Europe and Asia showed renewed interest in the contemporary program and the sales figures were promising too that includes works of some of the first-timers too”.

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Thaddaeus Ropac, owner of Thaddaeus Ropac at London, Paris, and Salzburg expressed his surprise at the positive turnout of the Fair and said that “It’s astonishing and amazing that the success of this edition lives mainly from European collectors and that Europe alone can carry such an important art fair like this”.

Massimo De Carlo, Founder, Massimo De Carlo at Hong Kong, Paris, Milan, and London furthered the feeling of being physically present and said that “At Art Basel in Basel we finally rediscovered the pleasure of experiencing art in real life and not through the mediation of a screen; also, we could finally go back to have a direct relationship with people. Nothing feels better than this”.

Online Viewing Rooms

Online Viewing Rooms is the exhibition’s virtual platform connecting the world’s leading galleries with Art Basel’s global network of collectors and art enthusiasts. The latest edition, ‘OVR: Basel’, took place during Art Basel’s 2021 show in Basel. In this edition of the OVR, Art Basel chose to showcase artistic practices that show diverse attitudes toward storytelling.

A jury of international experts awarded the 22nd Baloise Art Prize worth CHF 30,000 to Cameron Clayborn and Hana Miletić. Their creations were acquired by the Baloise Group and donated to Mudam Luxembourg and the Museum für Gegenwart, Berlin.

About Art Basel

Art Basel is the leading global platform connecting collectors, galleries, and artists. Founded in 1970 by gallerists from Basel, the global platform today stages the world’s premier art shows for Modern and contemporary art. The global platform’s parent company is MCH Group, a leading international marketing organization. Art Basel fairs in Basel, Hong Kong, and Miami Beach strive to create unique artist-led experiences through new digital platforms, Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report, and the BMW Art Journey.

The Journey of Art Basel to date

Noted gallerists, Ernst Beyeler, Trudl Bruckner, and Balz Hilt from Switzerland, instituted an international art fair during the seventies of the last century. With more than 16,000 visitors attending the inaugural show to see 90 galleries and 30 publishers from 10 countries, the Art fair was a huge success.

During the Eighties, Art Basel became one of the leading platforms to showcase all forms of art. 16 galleries from the International Association of Photography Art Dealers celebrated 150 years of photography by presenting photographs spanning the entire history of the medium. This was followed by five thematic art photography exhibitions.

In the nineties, the Art Film sector debuts at the Stadtkino Basel. Soon after, the Art Unlimited platform, an open-plan environment to host art exhibitions was introduced during the first decade of 21 century at Art Basel. In 2002, Art Basel debuts in Miami Beach featuring 160 galleries from 23 countries. The show attracted 30,000 visitors. A new platform called Art Basel Conversations came into existence in 2004. The platform provided access to information on the collection and exhibition of art.

In 2013 more than 60,000 visitors attended the inaugural Art Basel show in Hong Kong. In the following year Art Basel launched its Crowdfunding Initiative in partnership with Kickstarter to support non-profit visual arts organizations. In 2015 Art Basel in Hong Kong, Art Basel and BMW presented the BMW Art Journey. It is an initiative to recognize and support emerging artists globally. The Art Basel Cities initiative was launched during the 2016 Hong Kong edition. Buenos Aires was the first partner city.

Also Read: NYC Art Collector Stuart Pivar Discovers Long-Lost Van Gogh Painting

This season’s Art Basel at Switzerland was back after 2019 with incredible artworks, galleries, and Collectors showing great enthusiasm and energy in making the event a grand success amid so much uncertainty. The sales at the show were strong and went beyond anticipation.

To catch hold of the latest and related Art and Culture news please visit the Culture Section of Transcontinental times.


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