- Thomas P. McNulty
International modern and contemporary art fair. The brainchild of three Swiss art dealers (Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner, and Balz Hilt), the first annual Art Basel fair was held in 1970, at which 90 galleries and 30 publishers from 10 countries exhibited. Participation has grown significantly, with its 2014 iteration showcasing 527 galleries in its three locations (Basle, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong).
In terms of longevity, Art Basel is exceeded only by Art Cologne, the current name for the international fair that was first held in September 1967 as Kölner Kunstmarkt. Art Basel was, from the start, international in scope; Art Cologne, by contrast, allowed only German galleries to participate. In its earliest days, Art Basel projected a democratic, almost populist image; in addition to its inclusion of large, unique masterworks by established contemporary artists, it also offered a wide range of prints and other multiples, which were within the reach of new collectors with relatively modest budgets....