Art Basel 2016

7 things you wanted to know about Art Basel but were too afraid to ask

The facts and figures behind Hong Kong’s giant art fair, attracting the biggest name artists and galleries from China, Europe and the USA

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 March, 2016, 4:12pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 March, 2016, 4:12pm

What, exactly, is Art Basel?

Basel is a town north west of Zurich, in Switzerland. In 1970 three galleries in Basel decided to put on an art fair, attracting some 16,000 visitors to see works from 90 galleries, representing 10 countries.

In 2002 Art Basel debuted another show - in Miami Beach, Florida. The first edition featured 160 galleries from 23 countries and attracted 30,000 visitors and is now considered the leading art event in the USA. Art Basel launched in Hong Kong in 2013, attracting some 60,000 people. Originally held in May, Art Basel Hong Kong runs from Thursday, March 24 to March 26 .

How many galleries are involved, and is it all paintings?

There are 239 galleries displaying paintings, drawings, sculptures, installations, photographs, film, video and digital works.

What Hong Kong galleries will show at the Art Basel 2016 fair

Where are they from?

In total the galleries hail from 35 different countries and territories - half of which are from the Asia-Pacific region - with the heavyweights from New York, London and Paris all represented.

How many artists are involved?

More than 3,000.

How many people come to visit?

Last year saw approximately 60,000 people over three days.

Can I bring the kids?

Art Basel’s Hong Kong website states that ‘Introducing children to Modern and contemporary art can be the beginning of a life-long adventure.’ Strollers are welcome, and Art Basel specifies that all children under 16 must be accompanied by an adult. Nobody wants to be the parent of the child who accidentally punches a hole in a multi-million dollar painting...

What’s the most expensive work on display?

Art Basel does not take commissions from their galleries so all transactions between galleries and buyers are private. The SCMP can reveal last year someone paid HK$15,510,597 for David Zwirner’s work Dead Monkey - Sex, Money and Drugs not long after the doors opened on the Friday night, while two paintings by Neo Rauch were sold for HK$7,755,298 to a Shanghai collector just before the doors closed.

What’s the biggest work on display?

There are often huge installations in the Encounters section of Art Basel, but Tatsuo Miyajima’s work Time Waterfall must rank as the largest - he will be putting on a public light installation from March 21 to 26, utilising the 490 metre high ICC building on the Kowloon harbour front.