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In Berlin, where the pandemic permits, digital viewing rooms are being remade offline. Elsewhere, galleries are mounting ever richer online presentations.

Galleries Augment Basel Online With Clicks-and-Mortar Exhibitions

Kerry James Marshall, Untitled (Blot), 2015. © Kerry James Marshall. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner, London.

Art Basel's Online Viewing Rooms go live 17–26 June, taking the place of the physical fair that was first postponed until September and then, on June 6, cancelled altogether. (Satellite fair VOLTA cancelled soon after). In a strange twist, some galleries are staging real world exhibitions to support the online event.

More than 30 galleries have signed up for the Basel by Berlin initiative, installing in their physical spaces the same works they're uploading to their Art Basel Viewing Rooms. From 17–18 June, audiences in the German capital will be able to see the works in person, while online audiences will be able to see images of how they look on the walls. Participating galleries include König Galerie, Galeria Plan B, Peres Projects, Esther Schipper, and Société Sprüth Magers.

The event reverses the trend of the past few months, where more and more exhibitions moved from offline to online. For some, the added convenience of viewing works online, often with prices clearly stated, hasn't made up for seeing works in person.

'An Amazon art world sounds more like hell than heaven,' wrote Art Basel director Marc Spiegler in an opinion piece for the Financial Times published June 13. Nevertheless, Spiegler concedes, 'the skills that gallerists have developed under duress will not be unlearned, nor will their investments in online operations be abandoned.'

Indeed, while some galleries are opening their doors, others are using the occasion of Basel Online to draw attention to online activities that have become became far richer and more sophisticated since they went into lockdown.

David Zwirner is launching an online-only exhibition that can be viewed simultaneously in Art Basel's Online Viewing Rooms and at David Zwirner Online from 17–26 June. Following on from Studio: Jeff Koons, which explores the origins of the artist's hypnotising Balloon Venus Lespugue (2013–2019), Fifteen Rooms will features works by Josef Albers, Donald Judd, Joan Mitchell, Giorgio Morandi, Alice Neel, Sigmar Polke, Harold Ancart, Carol Bove, Yayoi Kusama, Kerry James Marshall, Oscar Murillo, Neo Rauch, Josh Smith, Wolfgang Tillmans, and Lisa Yuskavage.

Gagosian is also attempting to extend its presentation at Basel Online to the gallery's own website, releasing over 20 artworks from 14–24 June in presentations that will rotate every two days. The artists being presented in the first of five 48-hour cycles are Georg Baselitz, Nathaniel Mary Quinn, Mary Weatherford, Brice Marden, and Joe Bradley. —[O]

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