Georgina Adam publishes a state-of-the-art-fair report in The Art Newspaper. And though she repeats what has now become a very familiar refrain (the number of fairs is daunting; can artists produce enough work; and, are art fairs are changing the gallery model?) there is this very interesting counter-argument from the big galleries with sufficient staff to handle the planning, staffing and logistics:
“We work with more than 50 artists and even with four spaces, our problem is programming them regularly enough,” Tim Marlow says. “You can save work from the gallery to show at a fair—you’re not necessarily stretching the artist.” In the case of David Zwirner, supply for fairs is boosted by a big chunk of the gallery’s secondary market dealing and its management of some major estates. Julia Joern, a director of the gallery, estimates that approximately 50% of its turnover comes from this source. White Cube, Ropac and other big galleries often make about 20% of their sales in the secondary market as well: Hauser has been sharing part of the renowned collection of Helga and Walther Lauffs with Zwirner.
In other words, the current state of the art dealing model favors—as in so many other businesses—larger operations with greater volume of sales, artists represented and economies of scale. Previously we ascribed that to the need to support an archipelago of galleries across the world. Now we can see that the same scale is necessary have a sufficient and sufficiently exciting art fair program.