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An Insider’s Guide to Art Fairs

An Insider’s Guide to Art Fairs

By Jeremy Larner

Art fairs have seen a tremendous boon over the past decade. Taking place throughout the year, and on every side of the globe, they attract a sophisticated and discerning crowd. Art fairs are an extension of any gallery’s program and often set the pace, tastes, and prices for the upcoming year. The art fair movement is in part occurring due to a shift in the demographics of art collectors, as we’re seeing a younger and wider range of art collectors become the faces of the art scene.

These Cultural Experiences Are Entering Travelers’ Must-See Lists

Attending an art fair should be on your travel itinerary if you’re even the slightest bit interested in art culture – whether you want to buy it, learn about it, or simply experience it. Blue chip and established galleries (David Zwirner, Hauser and Wirth, Gagosian, etc.) set up booths alongside their emerging counterparts to compete for the dollars and accolades of collectors and critics alike. Knowing where to go and what to do will help you get the most from your art fair experience.

To navigate an art fair, it’s typical to grab a map and circle the booths you’re interested in seeing, or simply walk up and down the aisles and stop whenever something jumps out at you. The key is to refrain from giving your sole attention to galleries you’re familiar with. Be open to discovering new artists, because that’s part of the strategy. You can certainly do some research on the fair website before your visit, so that you know which artists’ booths you’ll be wanting to prioritize.

Art Fairs Attract a Cosmopolitan Crowd

Miami Art Basel WeekArt fairs are a spectator sport and are frequented by a discerning and worldly crowd, and they certainly dress the part. VIP previews occur prior to the public opening of the fair and are a proxy catwalk for the art world elite. Though there are many fairs around the globe.  The most important and visited are Art Basel (Switzerland, Miami, Hong Kong) and Frieze (London, New York). Knowing where to go in each place gives you a leg up, and an opportunity to mingle with the monied crowd. Standards like the Grand Hotel des Trois Rois in Basel, SoHo House in Miami, Chiltern House in London, and The Mark Hotel Bar in New York are all places where gallerists, curators, and collectors congregate after art fair hours. In addition, local museums and galleries tend to time special projects and exhibitions around art fairs. The Peres and Bass Museums in Miami, The Tate Modern and Serpentine in London, and The New Museum in New York are all must see museums during any art fair trip.

A Social Gathering Unlike Any Other

The directors of the fairs consistently work hard to maintain its status. They keep in mind that not every visitor attends the fair to collect or learn about art, which is why they ensure that the experience itself is worth the trip. Ancillary events include lavish parties sponsored by luxury brands such as Audemars Piguet, Perroni, Dior, BMW, Aesop, and Ruinart. Often there are also special performances put on by world-renowned musical guests.  

MiArtIf you’re planning on travelling to one of these popular cities, plan your trip during the art fair if possible. It’s not everyday that hundreds of the most trendsetting artists from around the globe will be presenting their best works under one roof. It’s an ideal activity for anyone looking to educate themselves on art culture, get inspired, buy art or invest in art. Unlike your typical museum visit, art fairs are much more interactive and dynamic – plus you can actually purchase the art at a fair. They also offer an attribute of practicality for art collectors, as one gets to see a massive variety of works by different artists at one time, under one roof. Additionally, there’s the social aspect to think about. These art fairs are incredible networking opportunities, and act as a social gathering place for like-minded, cultured individuals.

About Jeremy Larner

Founder and President of JKL Worldwide, Jeremy Larner conducts art procurement and investment strategies for a select clientele, placing hundreds of works of art among the world’s foremost collectors and institutions. He can often be found traveling the globe, attending the largest world-renowned art fairs in search of the best investment opportunities.

Photos courtesy of Shutterstock

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