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Record numbers visit art fair

Art Basel featured some 5,000 works

(Keystone)

Art Basel - the annual fair of modern and contemporary art - has attracted a record number of visitors. Its organisers say 53,000 people attended the six-day event, three per cent more than in 1999.

The 31st fair is also believed to have been the most successful in terms of sales. Although figures are not yet available, the 271 galleries represented were describing business as "excellent", and by the end of the fair many of their exhibited works had been sold.

These included paintings by modern masters which would have fetched high prices at auction.

Classical moderns are the mainstay of Art Basel, to which leading dealers from all over the world bring works by such artists as Degas, Picasso, Matisse and Miro.

But the fair also gives space to works by young artists. A successful innovation this year was "Art Unlimited", a sector which offered artists and galleries a platform to exhibit works rarely seen at other fairs because of lack of space.

These included outsize paintings, huge installations and a wealth of new media art by up-and-coming "cutting edge" artists.

Organisers say the record number of visitors and healthy sales figures reflect the current buoyancy of the world art market and a growing interest by the public in modern and contemporary art.

by Richard Dawson

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