The History of Art Basel

Aqua ArtMiami Project Gallery

Circles by Frank Hyder at Aqua Art Miami, Projects Gallery

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By: Shayne Benowitz

Art Basel Miami Beach is North America’s largest contemporary art fair with over 260 galleries from 33 countries showcasing works by more than 4,000 artists. Held at the newly reimagined Miami Beach Convention Center, Art Basel Miami Beach 2018 expects to draw more than 77,000 art dealers, artists, collectors and aficionados to Miami during the fair held this year from December 6-9, 2018.

Where it All Began: Basel, Switzerland

Art Basel Miami Beach is the sister fair of the original Art Basel, founded in Basel, Switzerland in 1970. The brainchild of a trio of Swiss gallerists, Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt, their vision brought together the artists they represented, as well as collectors, curators and critics from all over the globe for the first Art Basel in Switzerland. Their vision was a success and over 16,000 people attended the first fair. Held every June, Art Basel draws nearly 100,000 attendees to the Messe Basel exhibition space designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, making it the most important contemporary art fair in the world.

Art Basel Miami Beach is Born

Now in its 16th year, the Miami Beach edition has been an annual fixture every December since 2002. Miami was selected as an ideal second destination for Art Basel because of its unique position at the nexus of North America and South America. Over the years, with the boon from Art Basel, Miami has become a thriving year-round arts destination in its own right with a vibrant gallery scene, cutting edge museums and world-class street art.

At Art Basel Miami Beach 2018, the exhibition space at the Miami Beach Convention Center is divided into sectors: Galleries, Nova, Positions, Edition, Kabinett, Survey and Magazines. Galleries serve as the centerpiece of the show where international galleries showcase the work of the artists they represent.

The sectors divide the fair into separate curatorial spaces. Nova exhibits new, cutting edge works from emerging artists and galleries. Kabinett focuses on a body of work by a single artist or a themed group exhibition. Survey is dedicated to art history projects ranging from solo shows to thematic exhibitions with select galleries. There’s also a series of Conversations throughout the week ranging from panel discussions to lectures.

A Public sector is sited at Collins Park in collaboration with The Bass and features thought-provoking sculptures and site-specific installations. The Public sector is free and open to the public, while tickets to Art Basel at the convention center start at $50 per person.

Art Basel Hong Kong & Art Basel Cities

A third edition of Art Basel launched in Hong Kong in March 2012. The city sits symbolically at the crossroads of Eastern and Western culture, further expanding Art Basel’s global reach and perspective. Art Basel Cities is a new initiative that launched in September 2018 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Art Basel Cities will continue to bring the art fair to a different international city annually. Between Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong, as well as the new Cities initiative, Art Basel’s art fairs play an enormous role in shaping the international art world and market. In Miami, we’re thrilled to be a part of it all.

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