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  • Van Weyenbergh Fine Art

Too many art fairs worldwide?

Too many fairs empty the galleries?

Fairs are actually criticized for having become the obligatory point of passage for galleries, which in consequence empty their visitors to their gallery. The fairs have indeed met with a spectacular success in a few years, responding quite well to the expectations of collectors: a regular appointment, an expanded offer, and a form of urgency and excitement likely to compete with those of public sales.


But most disturbing is that this increase of the fairs takes place without any appreciable increase in their activity.

According to Clare McAndrew, the turnover of galleries and antique dealers would have increased by only 6% in ten years. This would not be a problem in itself if the cost of attending a fair was marginal. But this is not the case, since according to the report, the exhibitors spent $ 4.5 billion last year to participate in fairs, an amount added to the costs of managing their spaces.

One can always argue that, without the fairs, the turnover of the galleries would have fallen, but that seems unlikely in view of the evolution of the art market as a whole. So there is a paradigm shift, as the profession has been complaining about for some time. A change that goes hand in hand with a phenomenon of concentration: large galleries are becoming larger and can afford to spend to go to the fairs. A luxury that can not afford the average gallery, not always adapted to the new model.

Nothing is lost, however, it is a cyclical and non-structural crisis. It’s are the medium large galleries that bring the most value, by consolidating the offer by identifying, coaching and promoting artists who have emerged in small galleries. The better they do their usual job, the more they will be able to take advantage of fairs, which are only distribution channels

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