Thus spoke Marc Spiegler

By Afraa Zammam and Albrecht Behmel

Marc Spiegler, Global Director, Art BaselPaula Polito, Global Client Strategy Officer, UBS
Gianni Jetzer, Curator Unlimited, Art Basel
Maxa Zoller, Curator Film, Art Basel
Samuel Leuenberger, Curator Parcours, Art Base

He is one of the most visible people at Art Basel or perhaps the art world in general: Marc Spiegler. The energetic global head of the world’s most prestigious art fair seems to be everywhere at once while having a ton of fun. So I asked him, what excites him most about the show this year.
“What excites me most are all these perspectives, all these angles, all these examples of seeing people more open-minded. The artist is more open-minded, the curator being more open-minded, the idea and what it means to be a successful artist.”
Indeed, UBS research showed that only 13% of their clients collect for profit, 65% have never sold a piece of art from their collection. 25% of UBS clients think their collection is priceless. So even though there is a lot of talk about numbers and money, in particular, this isn’t what Marc meant when he shared his thoughts about success in the art world with Portraymag.
“Oh, I don’t only speak of just financially successful, someone whose work is internationally renowned, and has an international impact, the possibilities have gotten much broader than it used to be 10 or 15 years ago, there are people who don’t have galleries, they work only on a series of biennial and on commission, people who don’t have galleries and work only with Instagram. This could be an endless lecture, but I think what’s really interesting in the art world is the way in which our old notion of borders are broken down by technology. The border between science and art is broken down, what we see in Messeplatz; the unchoreographed 4-hour performance in the pavilion would have been seen as something that’s right for a dance festival but certainly not for an art fair 25 years ago. In general, what I think that excites me when borders are broken and what happens in the spaces where these borders used to be.”

Federico Herrero – Mural at UBS lounge
I also wanted to know what roles galleries played in all these new developments.
“We live in a difficult time for many galleries, it’s a time of consolidation, where the market often focuses on a few galleries and few artists. 
The galleries who are in the middle or in beginning of their carriers have harder times. We’re seeing a time where galleries are looking for
new modules, working for their artists.”
What does that mean for Art Basel 2019?
“This is the first year where we have implemented into the Basel show and will implement in Miami and Hong Kong shows, a slightly different pricing module. This module allows the galleries with smaller booths to pay less per square meter than those with larger booths. It’s not merely a symbolic thing, it actually has a real impact for the galleries, most importantly beyond the financial impact, it shows that we listen to the galleries, and we see the struggle they’re having.”
What other factors have brought changes?
“We have two dynamics going on here: on one hand; we have the natural rejuvenation of the show which occurs to the young galleries coming in. Galleries are linked to digital native artists from all over the world.”

Check out Portray’s Art Basel article 2019

About the author

Albrecht Behmel, award-winning artist, writer and photographer looks at inspiring art and conducts interviews.