What is Art Basel?

Alexandra Kromer
March 2, 2021
Art Basel is an international art fair and platform that brings artists and art enthusiasts together. Since the fair could not take place last year, it is being held again this year in September. In this article, we discuss why Baloise is committed to art as well as the value it adds to Art Basel with the Baloise Art Prize.

Art Basel – what exactly is it?

The most important art fair since 1970

Messehalle in Basel

Art Basel took place for the first time in 1970 in Basel. Every year it attracts over 90,000 visitors and is considered the largest and most important fair worldwide for contemporary art. Over 250 galleries and more than 4,000 artists are given a platform to exhibit and sell their art.

Global exposure – Basel, Miami Beach and Hongkong

As the highlight of a week-long arts programme, the fair takes place alongside other events, thus transforming the city of Basel into an art Mecca. Several first-rate exhibitions take place concurrently both in and around Basel. However, Basel is not the only event location. Art Basel now covers the global market with three different locations. In 2002, Art Basel expanded to Miami Beach to conquer the American market. Since 2013, the fair also takes place in Hong Kong and is the largest annual art fair in Asia.

For me, it is a bird’s-eye view of world Events.

Isabelle Guggenheim, Chairwoman of the Baloise’s Art Commission

Art as a mirror of world events

Besuchende einer Kunstausstellung

Art Basel is itself a buying fair. People go and buy art. But it is much more than just that. “For me, it is a bird’s-eye view of world events”, says Isabelle Guggenheim, Chairwoman of the Baloise’s Art Commission. “Artists describe how they experienced last year and what is on their mind using artistic means. They address a range of topics and offer another point of view through their personal interpretation. This gives visitors a different way of looking at matters of global concern”. Art Basel is therefore also an experience for the broader public, and one that will not break the bank.

Our contribution: the Baloise Art Prize

More than a long-standing partnership

Baloise Kunstpreis

The affiliation between Baloise and Art Basel consists of more than just a long-standing partnership. “A trusting and cordial connection has developed through our partnership of over 20 years”, says Jane Smith. With its commitment, Baloise wants to promote the artistic development of young talents and contribute to the cultural diversity of society.

Creating a platform for young talents

Since 1999, Baloise has awarded the Baloise Art Prize, which includes an award of CHF 30,000, to two young and emerging artists during the fair. Directly after announcing the award recipients at Art Basel’s press conference, the usually unknown artists receive attention on the international stage. Baloise also purchases works from the winners and donates them to two significant European museums. This combination of prize money, purchase, gift and exhibition makes the Art Prize unique and also a coveted and prestigious award.

Art in the age of COVID-19

Relocation to the virtual stage

The COVID-19 pandemic dealt the culture and event industry a heavy blow. Artists were unable to exhibit their works, and Baloise was unable to award its prize due to the cancellation of Art Basel last year. As a result, many galleries put their art on display in virtual exhibitions. Baloise’s entire art collection is now also available online. In addition to the thematic exhibitions in the Baloise Art Forum, the www.baloiseart.com website also offers insights into the company’s own art collection and an overview of the award recipients of the Baloise Art Prize.

Concerts via live stream

Baloise Session, an additional undertaking of Baloise in the field of art and music, was made available virtually in spring 2020. As a response to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic, the concerts have since taken place virtually every month as part of the “Baloise Session@home” series.

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