Art Basel Presents Digital Version of Its Flagship Event

Jul 16

Art Basel Presents Digital Version of Its Flagship Event

Every June, art enthusiasts, buyers and collectors from around the world converge at Art Basel.  Due to the pandemic, the physical fair was not possible so the show organizer presented a digital version which was held June 17 – 26, 2020.

We have handled advertising for numerous art fairs and attended many exhibitions in the art industry across the US and Europe so were curious what the show organizer was doing here.  We took a look and share with you some takeaways starting with this video introducing Art Basel’s virtual platform: Online Viewing Rooms.

The show organizer also posted numerous other videos on their social media platforms as part of the marketing for the virtual fair, including curator tours, which highlighted different aspects of the event.  The social/video combo here generated over one million views of the videos we saw.

The virtual fair started with three preview days, accessible only to VIP card holders, followed by eight days when the event was open to the public.

The Online Viewing Rooms were accessible from the Art Basel website and app and enabled visitors to see 282 exhibitors from 35 countries featuring over 4,000 works, including painting, sculpture, drawings, installation, and photography, as well as video and digital works.

Exhibitors uploaded their artworks to these Online Viewing Rooms and were able to embed videos, which were used for panning shots of their artworks and short clips of artists talking about their own works.

The Online Viewing Rooms were searchable by galleries, artists, medium, and price, and allowed visitors to directly contact the gallery with sales inquiries.

The virtual showrooms were structured into sectors similar to the physical fairs, each with a particular focus. Sectors included: Galleries, the main sectors showing painting, sculpture, drawing, installation, photography, video, and editioned works; Edition, dedicated to prints and multiples; Feature, showcasing curated presentations of works by 20th-and 21st-century artists; and Statements, focusing on emerging voices.

The show organizer leveraged common social media functionality which enabled visitors to ‘like’ and share their favorite works and galleries in the Online Viewing Rooms.

The virtual fair also featured an events program of over 100 live-streamed talks, curator tours and digital events staged by galleries from studio visits to performance.

One of the most interesting aspects we noted about the event was hybrid executions by some of the exhibitors.  More than 30 galleries in Berlin took part in the ‘Basel by Berlin’ project where they physically installed works from their online booths in their own galleries so that collectors could see in person the works featured in Art Basel’s virtual fair.

The platform for Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms was developed by DMI, a 2,500-person US based technology solutions firm.

“While we know the digital platform cannot replicate completely what our physical shows offer, we hope it will provide strong support to our galleries and artists as the art world continues to navigate these difficult times,” said Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art Basel.

The show organizer has made several enhancements to the Online Viewing Rooms since the first edition launched in lieu of their Hong Kong show in March, and indicates they will continue to evolve these showrooms.

Image: Stock photo used for illustration purposes only, not part of Art Basel.

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