by Michèle Laird, swissinfo.ch
Art Basel opens in Switzerland following the launch weeks earlier of its first Asian edition in Hong Kong.
An installation titled «Aztec Pattern» created by South Korean artist Osang Gwon was displayed at the Art Basel in Hong Kong (Keystone)
With Art Basel Miami Beach now in its tenth year, swissinfo.ch looks at the brand’s expansion and how experts view the change.
When Art Basel bought out Art HK two years ago, it injected into the fledging fair the Swiss management style and expertise needed to turn it around. Greater rigour in the selection of galleries and an airy display have resulted in a high level of acclaim for this first edition, although sales were reported to be slow.
“Hong Kong is a symbol of the vitality and dynamism of Asian markets. We have followed our art clients there,” David Saillen, managing director of Axa Art in Switzerland told swissinfo.ch, in appraising the expansion.
“It’s like a springboard into different cultures and different ways of looking at art.” He was impressed by the amount of Asian art in the Swiss-run fair.
Of the 245 leading galleries from 35 countries present at Art Basel Hong Kong (compared with 300 at Art Basel in Switzerland), over half were from Asia.
This figure includes the numerous blue-chip European galleries, such as Gagosian, White Cube, Perrotin or Lehmann Maupin that have opened outposts in Asia in recent years, as well as the entire Indian continent and Australia. “We cannot overstate the importance of that market,” Saillen observed.
According to art economist Clare McAndrew, China alone accounts for 25 per cent of the global art market, up from five per cent in 2006. “It’s an economic reality,” said Saillen.
Art Basel is a constellation of different events under the same label. The 44th edition of Art Basel in Basel includes Art Unlimited, a platform for outsized artworks that will feature 79 artworks this year, the largest number of projects to date, Art Parcours, public artworks and performances by renowned artists and emerging talents, Art Features, curated projects or thematic exhibits, Art Basel Conversations, panel discussions with leading members of the art world, and Art Film, Art Basel’s week-long program of films by and about artists.