With the new coronavirus (Covid-19) continuing to spread, it is becoming clear that the international art-world calendar will be disrupted entirely. Museums have closed, galleries have shuttered, and fairs and biennials of them have postponed their 2020 editions. But now it is becoming clear that events planned even as far out as the summer will have to move, and the world’s top art fair, Art Basel, announced today that it would have to delay its Swiss fair from June to September.
Art Basel has now moved its Swiss edition—which regularly convenes nearly 300 galleries and is considered to be among the biggest art events each year—to run from September 17–20, with preview days on September 15 and 16. That means the fair will now happen almost exactly three months after it was originally expected to take place.
“We thank our galleries for the support and understanding of our highly complex decision to postpone the fair. We hope that the situation improves swiftly, and we will work closely with our exhibitors to deliver a successful fair in September,” Marc Spiegler, the fair’s global director, said in a statement. “At the same time, we are aware of how dynamic the Covid-19 situation is and will continue to monitor the developments closely. The health and safety of our exhibitors, partners, guests, and teams remains our main priority, and we will adapt all our planning to the developing situation.”
The news means that two out of three of the fairs operated by Art Basel have been forced to alter their programming because of the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this year, Art Basel canceled its Hong Kong fair entirely after the virus’s spread in the city prevented it from taking place. This month, the fair replaced its in-person offerings with online viewing rooms, where dealers reported steady sales.
Art Basel is the latest major art event planned for the summer to announce a move because of the coronavirus over the past week. The Bienal de São Paulo moved its fall opening back a month to October, while the Made in L.A. biennial will now open in July, instead of June. The roving European biennial Manifesta, which was to take place this year in Marseille, France, has paused all programming related to its 2020 edition, and the Dak’Art Biennale of Contemporary Art, a Senegal-based biennial that counts among Africa’s most important art events, indefinitely postponed its opening, originally slated for late May. The Venice Architecture Biennale has also been postponed from May, and will now open in August. The Berlin Biennale, which this year is expected to open in June, has not announced plans to shift its dates, however.