Art 2017 – world fair for the international art market

Art 2017 – world fair for the international art market

From 13 to 18 June 2017, the undisputed leading world fair for the international art market – Art Basel – will take place. This year, the global art scene will convene in Switzerland once again. 300 carefully selected exhibitors – including leading galleries from around the world – and up to 4,000 artists will present a “temporary museum” in Basel during this week in June that will display the works from the past eleven decades, from the classical modern art of the early 20th century to present-day art.

The most important art fair for contemporary art

Art Basel is regarded as the most important art fair in the world and has gone from a niche event for connoisseurs to a major Swiss export. The first offshoot of the fair took over Miami Beach in the USA back in 2002. Like in Basel, that fair now constitutes the high point of the social and cultural calendar on the American continent. In 2013, the Art was then “exported” to Hong Kong, where it casts a spell over art lovers year after year.

From an art fair to an international lifestyle event

The Art has meanwhile become an ultimate lifestyle event for jet-setters, with the percentage of billionaires in attendance constantly on the rise. Since its beginnings, the art spectacle has been a stage for members of the avant-garde, eccentrics and those who like extravagance. This is where the big names on the art scene meet. From artists to gallery owners, collectors to museum directors, curators and high-profile personalities from the culture scene (VIPs) – everyone wants to present, sell, discuss or gaze at the art. There is a long list of VIP guests, although it obeys strict selection criteria that nobody really wants to talk about.

During the trade fair, portraits, sculptures, installations, prints, photography and videos, but also digital art, will fill the visitors to Basel with wonder. An interesting programme of talks with more than 30 podium discussions rounds off the exhibitor offering of the Art Basel art fair.

The best bid for art objects counts

The Art should be seen as an art fair, although it is not comparable to a traditional trade fair. At the Art, it is not the makers who sell their wares but the gallery owners, who act on behalf of the artist as a commercial agent for the public. Generally the customer is a collector or an art lover who uses his or her keen instinct to identify, in a best-case scenario, which artists and works will be ground-breaking within the art scene. Consequently, the value of an artist is always also based to a certain extent on the reputation of his or her gallery. This is the only way to guarantee access to clients with strong purchasing power.

The gallery owners and artists come to the Art in order to see the most international and strictly judged offering on the international art market and to meet the insiders and stars of the art scene. This means that any gallery owner that has succeeded in exhibiting at the Art is likely to quickly notice the added value that this irrefutably creates. The statement by Andy Warhol comes to mind that “good business is the best art”.

Art Basel – a success story

Art Basel already attracted roughly 95,000 visitors during the six-day event in 2016. The fair took place for the first time back in 1970 and was brought to life by gallery owners Ernst Beyler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt. Since then, Art Basel has been on a forward trajectory, even though only 90 gallery owners and ten publishers from ten countries took part initially. When the concept was expanded in 1973 to include country-specific art (American art for the first time), other countries soon joined to carve out their place on the art platform. The demand for stands at the fair had already peaked in 1974, and the Selection Committee was created. A jury was needed in order to manage the flood of requests for stands at the fair. Just five years after Art Basel came into being, the fair encompassed 300 exhibitors from 21 countries and attracted 37,000 visitors. The maximum number of exhibitors has been kept the same up to the present day.

In the 1990s, the Art transformed from a pure art sale to a large-scale event. Lorenzo Rudolf, Director of Art Basel at the time (from 1991 to 2000), introduced new selection criteria for the galleries, thus creating a quality label and making the Art what it is today – a world-class cultural event with a global appeal and a social stage for the obligatory get-together of the art and lifestyle scene. The Art enjoys unparalleled popularity thanks to the quality of the event, its huge diversity, international repute and large attendance numbers.

The fringe programme in Basel

The Art days entice visitors with numerous additional events and further attractive fairs that further enhance the unique atmosphere in this culture-laden city. These include Design Miami/Basel – a global forum for design – that takes place in Hall 1.1 of Messe Basel at the same time (13 to 18 June 2017). The world’s most influential collectors, gallery owners, designers and critics convene here too, using the internationally renowned forum to exchange views on and discuss collectible design.

Numerous side events and other fairs take place in Basel alongside Art Basel. These include Scope and Liste. The latter offers an exciting platform for up-and-coming talent in particular. Museums and cultural institutions perfectly complement the fringe programme with an artistic focus, offering the international audience countless cultural events in the city centre. For example, photo enthusiasts can take a look around the exhibitionPhoto Basel from 14 to 18 June 2017.

Designer Hotspot Basel

The city of Basel is a trendy cultural hotspot, not just in June when the Art Basel is taking place. Numerous museums and galleries as well as a vibrant theatre and music scene make a trip to Basel a unique experience at any time. Read our new entry Hotspot Basel to follow in the footsteps of the designers and experience the city with all of its charms.

Outstanding creative achievements
In addition to the art scene, the design scene is also bringing forth outstanding creative achievements, for example in communication design, in the print area of posters (prints), illustrations, film and animations as well as advertising campaigns. Every year, the Red Dot Award: Communication Design award the sought-after seal of quality to the best projects with a high design quality. Registration for the design competition is still possible until 9 June 2017 (latecomers).

Further information on Art Basel (list of exhibitors and much more)
is available at

Messe Basel
Messeplatz 10
4005 Basel

Posted on 08.06.2017

Back to overview