The rumor had been going up for several weeks. Unsurprisingly, the news fell on Thursday, early afternoon: Art Basel, the largest Swiss fair of modern and contemporary art is postponed, due to the global impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. It was to open to the public (on June 16 for VIPs) from June 18 to 21. It will be held from September 17 to 20, next.
“This decision was made in close consultation with a wide range of gallery owners, collectors, partners and external experts, with the aim of protecting the health and safety of the community, and ensuring that the fair is attended by the largest number of collectors, curators and professionals in the Art Basel worldwide network ” announced the press release.
“A very complex decision to make”
And its director Marc Spiegler added: “We thank our galleries for the support and understanding of our very complex decision to postpone the fair. We hope the situation improves quickly, and we will work closely with our exhibitors for its success in September. The health and safety of our exhibitors, partners, guests and teams remains our priority, and we will adapt all our planning to the current situation“
Art Basel cannot live without its public and its American galleries. These weigh heavily in number but also financially in this large art supermarket. And it is they who bring some of the wealthiest customers. A windfall impossible to dismiss and which counted in this decision to postpone. Especially since it will be impossible for galleries to send their works to Switzerland in time with the transport freeze. The worst of the pandemic is coming across the Atlantic, a few weeks behind Europe.
Play the card of rebirth
Is betting on the start of the school year appropriate? There is a great risk of a telescoping due to a calendar from September to October which is far too busy, between the Biennale Paris at the Grand Palais, Frieze London, Tefaf New York and the Fiac at the Grand Palais. Faced with such an influx of offers in two months, not everyone will find their account. Collectors will have to choose between events and inevitably calculate their expenses.
“In this context, Paris, in the center of Europe, must play the card of the market renaissance from June, with the possibility that Art Paris, planned for the end of May, will be shifted by security to June, at the same time that the weekend gallery ” explains Parisian Nathalie Obadia. “For small and medium-sized galleries, it is essential to make cash before the holidays despite government assistance. We will surely stay open part of the summer“, She adds.
“All the fairs have been canceled or postponed like Art Brussels from 25 to 28 June. We are currently for Art Paris on the niche from May 28 to 31, at the same time as the drawing room and Drawing Now. There was no question of positioning yourself at the same time as Art Basel in June. But with its postponement to September, there is now an opportunity to seize during this period“Says Guillaume Piens, director of Art Paris.
“The gradual release of containment will inevitably involve travel restrictions preventing collectors from coming so early in May as well as limitation of gauges at the Grand Palais” add the latter. If the month of June seems like a card to play for the capital, it is to be hoped that the public will have this thirst for culture after being locked up for so many weeks.