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Art Basel stages art shows for Modern and Contemporary works, sited annually in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong. Each show has participating galleries, exhibition sectors, artworks and parallel programming produced in collaboration with the host city's local institutions.
Art Basel provides a platform for galleries, giving them access to an international audience of collectors, museum directors and curators. The shows attract people with an appreciation of modern and contemporary art who experience Art Basel as a cultural event.
Art Basel was founded in 1970 by Basel Gallerists (also known as art dealers and connoisseurs of art) Trudi Bruckner, Balz Hilt and Ernst Beyeler. Three years after its launch, Art Basel welcomed 281 exhibitors and over 30,000 visitors. While other emerging art fairs partnered in the 1970s, specifically in Cologne and Düsseldorf, Art Basel remained independent.
In 2002, Art Basel was launched in Miami Beach, under the leadership of former director, Samuel Keller.
Art Basel debuted in Hong Kong in May 2013. In July 2011, MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd. – the parent company of Art Basel – acquired 60% of Asian Art Fairs Limited, which launched ART Hong Kong and has the option of acquiring the remaining 40% in 2014.
Marc Spiegler, having been director of Art Basel since 2007, oversees the development of the organization across the three shows. Annette Schönholzer, director of new initiatives, leads the defining and development of new art world initiatives for Art Basel. Magnus Renfrew, former director of ART HK, is the director for Asia.
Art Basel’s parent company, MCH Swiss Exhibition (Basel) Ltd, is a marketing company in Europe. Each year, the company organizes roughly twenty key international and national trade and consumer exhibitions, including the Baselworld Watch and Jewelery Show.
Art Basel maintains an international network with over twenty Global VIP Relations Managers covering five continents, who build and strengthen relationships year-round with art world luminaries, art collectors, business leaders and decision-makers.
Participating galleries for Art Basel shows are selected by committees composed of international gallerists who normally serve for several years. A fresh application process begins each year and all galleries must reapply.
Art Basel works with curators who present a selection of international artists and emerging talents. Recent guest curators include: Christine Y. Kim, associate curator of contemporary art at Los Angeles County Museum of Art; Gianni Jetzer, director of the Swiss Institute, New York; Jens Hoffmann, deputy director, Jewish Museum, New York and Hans Ulrich Obrist, co-director, Serpentine Gallery.
Every June, Art Basel marks the summer reunion of the international art world, hosted by the city of Basel, which has been a cultural capital for centuries. The artworks exhibited attract more than sixty thousand artists, collectors, gallerists, museum directors, curators, and art enthusiasts.
At Art Basel, more than three hundred galleries from thirty-six countries exhibit works in the main Galleries sector, the Feature sector (precisely curated projects) or the Statements sector (single-artist presentations from young galleries and artists). Additional sectors include: Unlimited (a curated selection of ambitious works that transcend the limitations of a classical art-show stand); Parcours (site-specific artworks and performances set amid the city's historic neighborhoods); Basel Conversations and Salon (curated talks led by the leading figures in the international art world); and Film (a week-long curated program of films by and about artists).
UBS has been the main sponsor of Art Basel in Switzerland since 1994. In 1999, the partnership was extended to Unlimited. Associate sponsors include Davidoff, NetJets Europe, Audemars Piguet, and The Absolut Art Bureau.
Expansion of the Basel exhibition site was commissioned by the MCH Basel Exhibition. The project is under the leadership of Basel architects, Herzog & de Meuron and will be completed for the 2013 edition of Art Basel, which will take place from June 13 to June 16, 2013.
Art Basel in Miami Beach – an art show in the Americas and the winter meeting place for the international art world – celebrated its 10th edition in December 2011. A record number of fifty thousand collectors, artists, dealers, curators, critics and art enthusiasts - including 150 museum and institution groups from across the globe - participated in the show.
A selection of more than 260 leading modern and contemporary galleries participated in the main Galleries sector, the Nova sector (designed for younger galleries representing two to three of their artists with new works) and the Positions sector (a platform for presentations of single major projects by one artist). In the Kabinett sector, participating galleries presented curated exhibitions in separate spaces within their booths. Selected galleries also participated in the Public sector, curating artworks including outdoor sculptures, interventions and performances, which transformed public spaces of Miami Beach. The participants also contributed to the Video sector, a curated selection of film and video works by international artists.
Every year, Miami’s leading private collections – among them the Rubell Family Collection, Cisneros Fontanals Art Foundation, the De la Cruz Collection Contemporary Art Space, World Class Boxing, the Margulies Collection and the Dacra Collection – open their homes and warehouses to guests of Art Basel. Additionally, the museums of South Florida organize exhibitions including shows at the Miami Art Museum, Bass Museum of Art, Norton Museum, Wolfsonian-FIU and MOCA North Miami.
Art Basel in Hong Kong features more than 250 galleries from Asia, Europe, the Americas and the rest of the world, presenting more than two thousand artists. From young emerging talents to the modern masters of both Asia and the West, the show traces twelve decades of art history across its four sectors: Galleries, Insights, Discoveries and Encounters. More than half of the participating galleries come from Asia and Australasia, the regions spanning from Turkey, the Middle East, and the Indian subcontinent to Australia and New Zealand.
The Galleries sector will present 180 modern and contemporary art galleries from Asia and across the world. Insights will present curatorial projects, exclusively from Asia and the Asia-Pacific regions. Discoveries will provide a platform for emerging contemporary artists from around the world. Large-scale sculpture and installation works will be presented in the Encounters sector.
UBS is the lead sponsor of Art Basel in Hong Kong.
The first edition of Art Basel in Hong Kong took place at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre (HKCEC) from May 23 to May 26, 2013.
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