Detail of "Montcalm Pool, Los Angeles" (1980) by British artist David Hockney
"We are always looking for pioneers, whether those are the pioneers of the day, or the people who were pioneers before they became incredibly important seminal figures," says Marc Spiegler, one of the directors of Art Basel, about the fair's selection process.
Need a steel dolphin or a giant bronze pumpkin to complete your collection? Head to Art Basel – "Self-Portrait (Fright Wig)" (1986) by American artist Andy Warhol
The event has a decidedly international flair, and not just when it comes to galleries and artists represented -- collectors from Asia, Middle East, North America and Eastern Europe all fly in to the picturesque Swiss town specially for the show. They do more than just browsing -- this year's biggest sale was a self-portrait by the legendary American pop-artist Andy Warhol, shown above, which went for $35m.
Need a steel dolphin and a giant bronze pumpkin to complete your collection? Head to Art Basel – "With every stencil a revolution, one after another" (2009) by Moroccan artist Latifa Echakhch
"On the other hand, it's not enough to just do a platform for buying and selling art -- we have created an expectation that an art fair will be a place where you can learn about art, where you can meet people who are not involved in the commercial aspects but are curators, museum directors and so forth," Spiegler adds.
"Continuel Mobile - Sphere rouge" (2001 - 2013) by French-Argentinean artist Julio Le Parc
The Unlimited sector is where works whose size transcends the limits of a traditional art fair booth are housed, and their full scale and impact can be taken in.
Want a steel dolphin and a giant bronze pumpkin for your collection? Head to Art Basel – 'Refrigerator' by American artist Rob Pruitt
Each edition of Art Basel is shaped by its host city, and Marc Spiegler says that the fact that the Swiss base might not have as much much cosmopolitan allure as its counterparts in Hong Kong and Miami might actually be an advantage: "It's not a city where much else is going on that competes with the show. It's not a place where you have a lot of film stars or the same amount of night life as in Hong Kong or Miami. Even if you're going out until four in the morning, you're going out with a museum curator and members of the art world," says Spiegler.
"Reason with No Horn" (2006) by Japanese artist Katsura Funakoshi
When it comes to the future, Art Basel organizers say they want to expand their offering with works from regions not traditionally represented at blockbuster art shows: "We are actively on the lookout for galleries from Africa which are ready and able to participate in Art Basel," says Marc Spiegler, "right now we only have galleries from South Africa, and we would like to see more from the rest of the continent."