UPDATE (February 20, 2020): After canceling its Hong Kong art fair due to fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak, Art Basel has now announced that galleries planning to show their work at the fair in March will be able to sell their work via online viewing rooms. Available to exhibitor’s for no additional cost, the viewing rooms will be accessible to the public on Art Basel’s website and the fair’s app from March 20 to 25.
“As the art market continues to evolve, Art Basel has continually investigated how new technologies can give us new opportunities to support our galleries,” Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel explained. “The online viewing rooms will provide galleries with a further possibility for engaging with our global audiences, complementing the essential personal interactions that continue to underly the art market.”
Art Basel’s recent decision to incorporate online viewing rooms into its programming highlights the importance of digital experiences within the art world. Major galleries, such as Gagosian and David Zwirner, have set records by selling through these online platforms. Sam Orlofsky, a director at Gagosian, told ARTnews in 2019 that an online viewing room “bridges the greatest gap between us and potential buyers,” making the overall buying process more transparent.
UPDATE (February 6, 2020): Art Basel has decided to cancel its Hong Kong art fair this year amid ongoing pro-democracy protests and heightened fears surrounding the coronavirus outbreak. The fair was slated to run through March 19-21.
The arts organization expressed in an official e-mail statement that the edition was called off due to “numerous factors” mainly revolving around health and safety concerns for those working and attending the fair. Additionally, the fair also mentioned that there were existing complications in the transit of artworks from international locations to the show due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Marc Spiegler, Global Director of Art Basel expressed:
“Our thoughts are with those affected by the recent coronavirus outbreak around the world. The decision to cancel Art Basel Hong Kong was an extremely difficult one for us. We explored every other possible option before doing so, gathering advice and perspectives from many gallerists, collectors, partners, and external experts. We are acutely aware of the important role that the fair plays within the region’s cultural scene and for our galleries, both in Asia and across the globe. Our team dedicated extensive time and effort to ensure our show in March would be a success over the course of the past year. Unfortunately, the sudden outbreak and rapid spread of the novel coronavirus radically changed the situation.”
ORIGINAL POST (January 29, 2020): Amid the coronavirus outbreak, museums and public art institutions across China and Hong Kong continue to close their doors. The National Art Museum of China in Beijing, the Guangdong Art Museum in Guangzhou, and the Union Art Museum in Wuhan are among the establishments that have made closure announcements according to Artnews.
Three galleries have also pulled out of the forthcoming Art Basel Hong Kong fair, which is slated to launch on March 19, because of growing concerns surrounding the coronavirus and the ongoing pro-democracy protests. An Art Basel representative expressed in a statement that the fair’s organizers are “taking the recent outbreak and spread of the new coronavirus extremely seriously. We are closely monitoring the developments and recommendations issued by the World Health Organization and national governments, as well as consulting directly with relevant experts. We will provide updates on the implications for our Hong Kong show as soon as possible.”
According to the New York Times, there are currently eight confirmed cases of coronavirus in Hong Kong with 4,600 confirmed cases in mainland China and 80 confirmed cases outside of China since last Tuesday. The virus has killed over 100 people.