Art Basel was started in 1970 by Basel gallerists Ernst Beyeler, a Swiss art dealer and collector. who became "Europe’s pre-eminent dealer in modern art", according to The New York Times, and "the greatest art dealer since the war", according to The Daily Telegraph.
Trudl Bruckner and Balz Hilt also played a big role in creating an international art fair that proves to be a success from the start: in 1970s more than 16,000 visitors attend the inaugural show to see 90 galleries and 30 publishers from 10 countries.
Today’s artworld has its roots in the 1980s. As Art Basel entered its second decade, galleries proliferated from New York to Cologne, new movements arose, and markets opened up. Yet the art community also faced deep trauma, most notably with the AIDS crisis, which claimed the lives of many artists and prompted new forms of activism. President of Art 11’80 and General Director of the Swiss Industries Fair was Dr F. Walthard.
In 1990s the Director of Art Basel fair was Lorenzo Rudolf, a Swiss art impresario, curator, art fair organiser, advisor and key note speaker. He revolutionized the international art fairs market and initiated a global expansion of the fair, developing a waiting list of over 700 galleries by the time he left in 2000.
In 2000–2007 the Director of Art Basel was Sam Keller. During his time, the fair successfully expanded into the USA with Art Basel Miami Beach, where it was able to establish itself as the leading art fair in North America.
At the period of 2007–2008 the Directors of Art Basel were Cay Sophie Rabinowitz, Annette Schönholzer and Marc Spiegler. Since the year of 2012 the main Director is Marc Spiegler, an American/French art journalist. He is ranked in ArtReview's Power 100 among the top 25 most influential individuals in the art world.
Thanks to the professional team of the Art Basel fair, for more than 50 years Art Basel is one of the most significant international art fair in the world. Now it is the leading global platform connecting collectors, galleries, and artists. Art Basel's fairs in Basel, Hong Kong, and Miami Beach are a driving force in supporting galleries as they nurture the careers of artists.
Life path after career of Art Basel Director
Ernst Beyeler and his wife founded the Beyeler Foundation to show his private collection, which on his death was valued at US$1.85 billion.
Trudl Bruckner opened her Riehentor gallery in Basel and mounted more than 200 exhibitions over the 44 years, giving early shows to artists such as Helmut Federle and Franz Gertsch.
Balz Hilt also opened a gallery named "Die Galerie Hilt", that located in Basel.
Lorenzo Rudolf founded Art Stage Singapore, Southeast Asia’s first international art fair which gave special importance to the region’s self-contained national art and created a new Southeast Asian awareness and understanding.
Sam Keller became a museum director of the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen near Basel.