It’s described as the gold standard of contemporary art fairs – Art Basel in Switzerland is drawing tens of thousands of visitors keen to see and, in some cases, buy works young and old.
Opening sales were brisk this year with millions of dollars worth of art sold within minutes of the event’s launch – a sure sign that the global art market is as healthy as ever.
Altogether, the show features an estimated four billion dollars worth of art exhibited at 285 galleries from 34 different countries.
Lisa Schiff is a New-York based art adviser who studies contemporary art trends: “I think artists engaging with the internet and using it in some way or another as material to make art is really the most important trend in contemporary art today,” she says.
Founded in 1970, Art Basel was – and still is – organised by a group of galleries.
New York-based gallery owner Andrea Rosen has had a booth at the fair since 1991. She says another growing trend is for buyers to invest both in historical pieces and in new contemporary art: “It’s something that is new this year that I would say I have a very broad client base, partly because I do both historical work but emerging and established artists, there is more of an overlap between those two bodies,” she says
While art and money have always been linked, there is now greater convergence between the worlds of art and finance. A growing number of billionaires worldwide means auction houses are increasingly turning into international art businesses.
But, observers say, the money isn't trickling down to the artists: a growing conformity in the global art market, which some believe is partly due to the internet, means top collectors are only interested in the work of 50 to 100 artists, according to a recent report.
Art Basel runs until June 22.