Basel’s 4th Year ‘Better Than Ever’

Art Basel Miami Beach got everything its organizers wanted this year: record attendance, including visits by key collectors and museum groups; strong sales for many of the participating galleries; and an expected profit for the fair’s parent company, MCH Swiss Exhibition.

With a record 195 exhibiting galleries, about 36,000 visitors, and some well-received first-time events such as the Art Perform stage, the fourth edition of Art Basel was “better than ever,” said fair director Samuel Keller.

“The feedback we are getting from the galleries and artists and the visitors is tremendously positive,” Keller said. “They say it’s been a big step forward — not just a step forward, a big step.”


The central portion of the fair was concentrated among the galleries in the Miami Beach Convention Center, but Keller said he also visited a number of exhibitions, performances, and events throughout South Florida.

“There was something in the air which was magic,” he said. “I felt it at the fair, but also I went Saturday evening to the Art Loves Design [block party], and for me it was the most beautiful of all — not just people standing in the street, drinking and listening to music; they were inside the galleries looking at art. Thousands of them.”

A strong market for contemporary and modern art contributed to Art Basel’s success, Keller said, with galleries reporting big sales and new clients through Sunday (the fair’s last day) and not just on opening day, when the strongest sales traditionally take place.

Keller said he had only anecdotal evidence of sales, since Art Basel does not receive a cut of sales nor does it ask galleries to report sales.


But Art Basel’s communications manager, Peter Vetsch, echoed the optimistic overview. He said the gallery owners he spoke with were, “all very happy. Every day their booths changed. They made new hangings. This is a sign that they sold a lot.”

This year, Art Basel threw in a few surprises with such presentations as Visionaire 47 Taste — a comingling of visual art and flavor strips concocted to reflect the “taste” of each artwork — and Art Kabinett, which presented 15 curated exhibitions.

Art Basel will return to the convention center Dec. 7-10, 2006.

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