With the pandemic still raging on and the art world’s social calendar still in flux, the world’s largest fair said that it would delay its in-person gathering from summer to fall.
Art Basel will postpone its June fair in Switzerland until September 23–26, with two preview days beginning September 21, citing the ongoing pandemic and international travel restrictions. In its announcement, the fair said that, though Covid-19 vaccination programs have begun in many countries around the world, the delay will allow for more attendees to get inoculated against the virus. The fair is hoping to gain more international participants as a result.
“While the first phase of COVID-19 vaccination programs started in many parts of the world last month, 2021 is a year in which planning remains complex due to many uncertainties,” Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s global director, said in a statement. “By moving our Basel fair to September, we hope to offer our galleries greater possibility for successfully preparing their year.”
As part of today’s announcement, Art Basel also said it would host three thematic online viewing rooms over the course of the year that will be open to all galleries accepted to any Art Basel fair between 2016 and 2021. The first OVR, taking place March 24–27, will carry the theme “Pioneers” and will focus on highlighting the work of “artists who have broken new grounds aesthetically, conceptually, or socio-politically,” according to a press release. The theme of the OVR set for June 16–19 is still to be determined, while one set for early November will carry the title “2021” and showcase works created this year.
In November, Art Basel announced that it would delay its Hong Kong fair, which typically takes place in March, until May 21–23. The fair still plans to host its Miami Beach iteration during its usual time frame of December 2–5.
Art Basel, the largest organizer of international fairs, has acted as a model for other premier art events since it was forced to cancel its March 2020 fair in Hong Kong because of the pandemic. Other fairs still seem to be deciding the best route forward for 2021, with only a couple having made formal announcements of their plans.
Earlier this month, Expo Chicago announced that it would delay its fair, originally scheduled for April. Its new dates have not been announced, though it could take place as early as July. Soon after, Frieze New York announced that it was still planning to move forward with its scaled-down fair at the Shed and named the 66 exhibitors that will participate.