HAPPENINGText: Toru Wada


Summer is here. In the middle of June 2018, Basel in Switzerland gets covered with art. The word, “Art Basel” floats in a big way in every scene of the city, like on the newspapers, leaflets, billboards, and advertisement on the Internet. The fair which brings art collectors from all over the world is about to be held. Prices of hotels and Airbnb will jump up several times more than usual due to the needs of exhibitors and stakeholders. Art Basel is also held in Hong Kong and Miami, but it was originally started in Basel in 1970 by activities of multiple gallerists. The founder of the Beyeler Foundation, Ernst and Hildy Bayer are one of the gallerists, and the event is in its 48th year.


In FY 2018, the event consists of two venues: the exhibition floor “Unlimited” which is on the 1st floor of the new venue Messe Basel and the gallery booth “Galleries” in the old building next door with a trademark of a large clock. As the world’s largest art fair, new works from various countries appear including many galleries based in Japan such as Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo Gallery + BTAP, Take Ninagawa. There are also several overseas galleries showing Japanese artist works so that you can enjoy art internationally. Various accommodations and programs, such as a free childcare service on the 2nd floor of the new building, a panel discussion of artists and gallerists, a tour of sculpture and performance arranged in the city of Basel, are available to ensure that visitors can enjoy the art.


“VIP preview” opens for people holding a special pass in the afternoon of the fair’s first day, June 11th. This is the first time that dealers and famous collectors with privileges for purchases can see the art piece and it gets pretty exciting. Every piece is purchasable. Therefore, since the market elements of the event from the very beginning are still alive, most of the new work gets sold out on the first day. Many individual art collectors come to the normal previews on June 12th and 13th. From June 14th to 17th, the fair is open to the public so that anyone can purchase tickets and enter the venue.


The participating galleries stay busy to keep having art on the wall at all time. Once the exhibit is closed, they start displaying artworks until the opening of the next day. While it looks like a gorgeous world, the huge efforts of artists and exhibitors are hiding behind the scene. Luckily, the results have been showing that the art industry is constantly updated every year, and the art market is growing. Since the exhibited artworks could be different from the first day and the last day, the seven day fair provides deepness and new discoveries by going through several times.

Art Basel 2018
Date: June 11th – 17th, 2018 (Open to the public on 14th – 17th)
Place: Messe Basel
Admission: 60 CHF *Discounted admissions for museums in Basel are available with the ticket

Text: Toru Wada
Translation: Yumiko Miyagawa

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