Art Basel is officially canceled this year. Despite the impact the international art show has on Miami Beach and on the art world overall, organizers announced on Sept. 2 that Art Basel Miami Beach 2020, to be held in December, won't be happening due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“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,” Art Basel’s Director Americas Noah Horowitz said in a statement. “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.”
Organizers said they were left with no option but to cancel due to quarantine regulations in the U.S. and abroad, as well as limitations and uncertainty about the staging of large-scale events and international travel restrictions and bans.
Amid the coronavirus pandemic, Art Basel canceled fairs in Switzerland and Hong Kong this year. The organizers of the Dec. 3-6 fair in Miami Beach sent a letter to exhibitors earlier this summer giving them more time to decide whether or not they would be attending.
Art Basel will host two Online Viewing Rooms for the fall: ‘OVR:2020’, dedicated to artworks made during 2020 and running from September 23 to 26, and ‘OVR:20c’, which will feature works created between 1900 and 1999 and take place from October 28 to 31. These will be followed in December by further Online Viewing Rooms that will be open to all galleries accepted to the 2020 edition of Art Basel in Miami Beach. Further details will follow in the coming weeks.
Also, the Miami Beach Convention Center, where Art Basel is held and easily takes up almost every inch of the half-million square feet of exhibition space, is currently housing a 450-bed field hospital as an emergency overflow for COVID-19 patients. The Convention Center is also host to an outdoor COVID testing site. Although that could all be gone by December, it's anyone's guess.
Art Miami Show Group, producers of the satellite shows that run during Art Basel including Art Miami, CONTEXT Art Miami, and Aqua Art Miami, also announced cancellation. In its place, organizers promised the launch of Miami Art City, an initiative that would run online during the original fair dates, December 1 to 6. The initiative promises “proprietary technology to replicate the art fair experience online in an unparalleled virtual art fair community.”
Art Miami stated that it had been presented its "All Secure" plan that was approved by Dade County to host the December fairs, "which provided optimism that the show would take place in person this year."
However, customer feedback that continued concern around domestic and international travel, particularly to and from Miami, would impact attendance, led the organizers to the difficult decision to cancel the live show this year and replace it with a virtual event, thus ensuring connection and commerce would still happen for the community.
“It is with much regret that we cancel this year’s in-person editions of Art Miami, CONTEXT Art Miami and Aqua. In their stead, we are excited to launch MIAMI ART CITY, our cutting-edge, high quality online acquisition rooms, offering participating galleries networking and commercial opportunities with a wide array of collectors, art world luminaries, curators, designers and art enthusiasts. We look forward to returning next December to celebrate Miami Art Week in person with all of you,” said Executive Vice President and Director Nick Korniloff.
As of now, Art Miami Show Group said they are moving forward with Palm Beach Modern & Contemporary (www.artpbfair.com) taking place in January 2021, and Art Wynwood (www.artwynwood.com) taking place in February 2021.
Art Basel Miami Beach's organizers are already looking ahead to next year announcing that the fair will be held at the Miami Beach Convention Center from Dec. 2 to Dec. 5, 2021, with preview days on Dec. 1 and Dec. 2, 2021.