Art Basel Announces Virtual Fall 2020 Shows

Art Basel logo at Miami Convention Center as seen on December 2, 2019 in Miami Beach, FL, USA. Photo and Caption: Naoufal Takroumt/

Art Basel will launch two online viewing rooms this fall. In an August 21 press release, the world-renowned, international art fair said it will move forward “with two freestanding, thematic editions taking place in September and October.” This decision comes after canceling the Swiss edition of the show in June.

Due to the uncertain times we are currently living in, the art fair decided it was best if they took a virtual approach to this year’s exhibit.

The first initiative, “OVR:2020,” will be online September 23–26 and will feature works made this year. The second, “OVR:20c,” will be up October 28–31 and will be limited to works dating to the twentieth century. Participating galleries will have to pay 5,000 Swiss Francs (USD $5,500) each to be able to exhibit their art. 

This will be the first time Art Basel will charge for participation in the Online Viewing Rooms platform.

“This new format will give Art Basel galleries the opportunity to present tightly curated exhibitions drawn from their programs, showing six works simultaneously,” Art Basel said in a statement. 

Art Basel’s Miami Beach fair will still take place in December. Regardless of whether that fair happens, however, another online viewing room will launch this winter, with more details forthcoming.

Only 100 galleries will be featured in each edition. Each will run over the course of four days. 

Applications will be reviewed by newly formed selection committees. The September committee comprises Sadie Coles, Massimo de Carlo, Mills Morán, Prateek Raja, Lisa Spellman, and Jasmin Tsou, while the October committee includes Emi Eu, David Fleiss, Thiago Gomide, Steven Henry, Lucy Mitchell-Innes, and Mary Sabbatino.

While organizers acknowledged the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Art Basel Miami Beach, they said that the winter event would involve digital programming.

Florida currently has the highest number of cases per capita than in almost any other state.

Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms offer exhibitors an additional platform to showcase artworks to Art Basel’s global network of patrons, new collectors and potential buyers. The original purpose of the Online Viewing Rooms was to run at the same time the shows ran rather than replacing the physical experience of an art fair. This would allow gallerists to exhibit any artwork that would not be able to be shown in the actual show.

Due to government-enforced lockdowns because of the coronavirus pandemic, however, two standalone editions for galleries who were chosen to participate in Art Basel Hong Kong and Art Basel in Basel, Switzerland. These events took place in March 2020 at the start of the pandemic and June 2020, respectively.

“While the art market still faces difficult times, we feel it is pivotal for us to continue exploring different ways of supporting galleries and engaging with our audiences. The highly-focused September and October editions of the Online Viewing Rooms provide our galleries with new opportunities in this highly dynamic moment,” said Marc Spiegler, Art Basel’s Global Director.

Art Basel was started in 1970 by Basel gallerists Ernst Beyeler, Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt. It is a for-profit, privately owned and managed, international art fair staged annually in Basel, Switzerland, Miami Beach, Florida; and Hong Kong. Art Basel provides a platform for galleries to show and sell their work to buyers and has gained a large international audience of art spectators and students.