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After much speculation, Art Basel postponed to September due to coronavirus

Swiss art fair is the latest of numerous fairs to be moved to the autumn, as the pandemic decimates the art world calendar

The Art Basel fair has been postponed to the autumn because of the coronavirus pandemic © Art Basel

Art Basel will postpone its June fair in Switzerland to 17 to 20 September due to the ongoing spread of the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.

In a statement released today, Marc Spiegler, Art Basel's global director, says the fair thanks its galleries for their understanding of the "highly complex decision" to postpone the fair. He continues: "We hope that the situation improves swiftly, and we will work closely with our exhibitors to deliver a successful fair in September. At the same time, we are aware of how dynamic the Covid-19 situation is and will continue to monitor the developments closely. The health and safety of our exhibitors, partners, guests, and teams remains our main priority, and we will adapt all our planning to the developing situation."

Speaking to The Art Newspaper last week, Iwan Wirth, the president and co-founder of Hauser & Wirth which exhibits at Art Basel, said he could not see how the fair could go ahead: “They have to postpone because you can’t get export licences for the works and the cost for airfreight has increased by twentyfold. It’s unprecedented.”

Art Basel is the latest of many spring and early summer fairs to move to the autumn due to the coronavirus outbreak, and many are worried that the calendar will prove too crowded should there not be a second wave of the virus and they all go ahead. There is now only a fortnight between the close of Art Basel and another major contemporary at fair, Frieze London (8-11 October), which shares many exhibitors with Basel.

Marc Glimcher, the president and chief executive of Pace (another Art Basel exhibitor), said to The Art Newspaper last week: “It will be tough to replicate everything happening in the spring and summer in the fall. I think that a hysterical, fast-pace of double the number of events is not the way people are going to recover. I have trouble seeing that as a solution, taking all the activity to the fall.”

The statement adds that Art Basel will continue to invest in its new Online Viewing Rooms initiative, launched last week as the now cancelled Art Basel in Hong Kong was due to run.