Art Basel Just Called Off a 3-Day Abu Dhabi Event Because of a ‘Short Timeline’ for Planning

Planned for February, the event had been shrouded in mystery from the start.

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Ever since it was first announced in September, Art Basel Inside, a three-day event due to take place in Abu Dhabi early next year, was shrouded in mystery. The fair, which runs annual editions in Hong Kong, Miami Beach, and Basel, Switzerland, did not offer many details about what, exactly, Art Basel Inside would be, and artists involved were never named. Now the fair has called off the event altogether.

In a statement sent to ARTnews, the fair said it had canceled Art Basel Inside, which it said had been scheduled for February 14–16. (The event would have overlapped with this year’s edition of the Frieze Los Angeles fair.) The decision, the fair said, was made in collaboration with Abu Dhabi’s department of culture and tourism, which had been on tap to co-host the event.

“Art Basel Inside in Abu Dhabi in February 2020 was always an ambitious project on quite a short timeline,” the statement reads. “Despite a lot of excitement for the project, support from our partners, and incredibly hard work by the team, we were not able to move forward with Art Basel Inside.”

Little had been announced out about Art Basel Inside. Marc-Olivier Wahler, the director of the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire in Geneva, had been brought on to curate it. Asked by ARTnews to explain Art Basel Inside in September, he said, “[It’s] not in an art fair, not in a museum, and also not really a summit. It all started with this idea for offering to art lovers a kind of experience that doesn’t exist elsewhere.” An artist list was never announced, though it was known that Art Basel Inside would have focused on immersive installations and site-specific commissions, and Artnet News reported that tickets would cost $15,000.

The announcement comes as some have been wondering if Art Basel would call off its annual Hong Kong fair in March, amid unrest in the city. Last week, ARTnews reported that Art Basel Hong Kong was moving forward as planned.


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