After previously optimistic plans, coupled with the news of New York’s most prominent museums reopening, Art Basel has officially announced that their annual Miami Beach show has been cancelled. This comes somewhat recently following the organization’s arranging of the proper social distancing and quarantine regulations they would have needed to host the event.
Art Basel, like countless other collectives, has cited the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic as the primary reason for the cancellation. The official press release, makes a point that the art show, originally scheduled for December 3-6, had no choice but to back out due to the major uncertainties surrounding international travel restrictions and quarantine regulations. The fact that Florida is presently one of the biggest hotspots in the United States for COVID-19 cases certainly did not help matters. As Noah Horowitz, Director Americas of Art Basel said in the press statement:
“It is with great regret and disappointment that we announce the cancellation of our December show in Miami Beach, as we know how crucial our show is for our galleries, as well as for the greater Miami arts community and economy. We thank everyone who shared their perspectives and insights with us over the past months and weeks and look forward to returning to Miami Beach next year to deliver a successful show.”
The cancellation is particularly saddening for Art Basel, who celebrate their 50th anniversary this year after being founded in 1970 by Ernst Beyeler, Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt in Basel, Switzerland. The art fair, one of the most prestigious in the world, does not lie when it claims to “bring the international artworld together.” In 2019 alone, the fair’s Basel show saw 93,000 visitors in its six days, all there to admire 290 galleries of work by over 4,000 artists hailing from 35 countries and five continents. Each year, representatives from hundreds of museums and other art institutions attend. Art Basel began hosting additional fairs annually in Miami Beach and Hong Kong starting on 2002 and 2013, respectively.
As they did with their 2020 Basel and Hong Kong shows, Art Basel will present the work intended for the Miami Beach show virtually. They plan to host two “Online Virtual Rooms,” OVR:2020 and OVR20c. The former will run from September 23-26 and feature works produced this year, while the latter will run from October 28-31 and showcase art created in the 20th century. The first 48 hours of each of these virtual rooms will be exclusive to Art Basel’s VIP guests.
Fortunately for the featured artists, the galleries that were originally selected to appear in Miami Beach won’t be changed any booth fees, and their application fees will rollover to next year’s show. Art Basel plans to return to Miami Beach from December 2-5, 2021. Here’s hoping that will come to fruition.
Meanwhile, in contrast to Art Basel, New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA), a non-profit organization “dedicated to the cultivation, support, and advancement of new voices in contemporary art,” has announced their plans to reformat their annual NADA Miami fair in order to keep it as safe as possible for patrons during the pandemic. The fair will take place from December 1-5, 2020.
NADA is a collective of contemporary art professionals and industry veterans whose common goal is to embrace the contemporary art community and encourage the flow of support and information amongst old artists and new. In addition to NADA Miami, the organization also hosts the annual New York Gallery Open and NADA House.
The plan for the Miami fair is a hybrid in-person and virtual system. An excerpt from the non-profit’s statement is as follows:
“The fair remains dedicated to celebrating rising talents from around the globe, and this unique approach will present the best of contemporary art in a variety of locations, while also gathering the exhibited artworks together in a focused presentation to discover online. Exhibitors are invited to take creative approaches to installing artworks—whether in a gallery, apartment or artist’s studio—and are encouraged to collaborate with other participants in shared spaces.”
NADA executive Director Heather Hubbs also stated that “While we will miss our annual gathering in Miami this year, we recognize we must adapt in the interest of public health and safety. The new initiatives planned this December will invite our audience into the gallery spaces, both locally and virtually, in an energizing, reimagined fair program.”
The organization will offer several alternative spaces for artists to share their work in person, and has announced several workarounds to comply with social distancing guidelines. The three planned exhibitor section, Galleries, NADA Projects and Nonprofits, will all present their artwork in either the main space or an alternative one determined by NADA. These in-person showings will run throughout the fair’s duration, with viewings scheduled via appointment. Viewings will concurrently be available digitally.
Like Art Basel, NADA hopes to put safety first, even adding a “COVID-19 Resources” page to their official website. Let’s hope it all goes according to plan.