New Exhibition Hall (Hall 1). PHOTO: © MCH MESSE SCHWEIZ (BASEL).

BASEL, SWITZERLANDIsabelle Paagman, Sotheby’s Senior Director and Specialist of Contemporary Art, tells us what makes Art Basel one of the most important art events of the year.

What do you look forward to most at Art Basel?
The art of course – and the chocolate.
Why is it one of the preeminent art events in the world?
I think because it was started by a group of innovative gallerists – Trudi Bruckner, Balz Hilt and Ernst Beyeler – and the influential impact of Basel’s cultural institutions; Fondation Beyeler, Kunstmuseum Basel, Kunsthalle Basel, Tinguely. Basel has such an historical significance, as the home to the world's oldest art collection at the Kunstmuseum.
What differentiates Art Basel from other major art fairs?

It’s intensity. Basel itself is so small so when the art world descends on it all in the same week it becomes pretty crazy.
Are you planning on attending any of the other events that take place around the art fair in Basel?

With our Contemporary Art sales in London at the end of June I really only have a two quick days in Basel, so I try to balance hitting as many events as sanely possible with seeing friends who all descend on Basel at once. Parcours is on my list alongside, Unlimited, Tinguely and Isa Genzken, Die Kleine Bushaltestelle (Gerüstbau). I also can’t wait to see the new Herzog & De Meuron Messe – oh, and the Picassos at the Kunstmuseum. Lots to do.
What would your advice be to a first time visitor to Art Basel?
Book your hotel at least a lifetime ago!