The northern Swiss city of Basel is the capital of the global art world for the next six days. The world's leading modern and contemporary art fair, Art Basel, opens to the public on Wednesday, and is expected to attract at least 50,000 visitors.
This year in Basel, 271 exhibiting galleries were selected by the admissions committee from a record 800 applications. They have over 5,000 works of art on show by more than 1,000 artists.
Traditionally, rare masterpieces of the classic modern and leading contemporary artists are exhibited and sold by dealers at the fair, which provides the market with pointers to future trends.
But up-and-coming artists are also encouraged by the Basel organisers. An innovation this year is "Art Unlimited" in a new hall, where extraordinary art projects are presented in the form of an open exhibition which is not divided into gallery stands or sectors.
Visitors can see and buy works rarely displayed at fairs because of space, technical or financial limits. These include outsize installations and sculptures, video projections, large-scale wall paintings and Internet art.
Art Basel also announced on Monday it is to have an even broader canvas. Next year it will launch a sister event in Florida, Art Basel Miami Beach.
Describing it as a perfect location for such an event, Art Basel's director, Samuel Keller, said Miami was a bridge between North American, Latin American and European cultures: "It will be the main winter meeting of the international art world," he said.
Both fairs will be run by joint management to guarantee interplay - and joint promotion - as they alternate in a six-month rhythm. Keller says Art Basel's high quality standards will also apply to Art Basel Miami Beach.
by Richard Dawson