Roberta Smith publishes her own worrisome piece on how the success of the global art market—through the channel of the international art fair—has stifled local art. To Smith, the local gallery scene in New York had lost its vigor even before the setback of Hurricane Sandy. Sixty years before, New York wrested the title of capital of the art world from Paris. Today, the global art market has moved away, not to another city but to another dimension:
The machine driving this expansion — a sparkling sphere of money, shiny art and shiny people — hovers like a giant, top-heavy spaceship above what I consider the serious art world, where real art comes from. You see it when you pick up the equally shiny art magazines. But unless you’re one of the players actually involved in buying or selling, it remains remote, a world unto itself. Sometimes it seems as if it could just take off — with all its bling, astounding prices and show-off collectors and climbers — and park in some other part of the art galaxy, there to thrive or collapse of its own accord.
But that’s probably not going to happen. The fairs in particular have become an essential fact of the lives and livelihoods of art galleries of all kinds, not just the blue-chip ones catered to by the various Basel and Frieze iterations. Attending several art fairs a year, mainly in the United States and Europe, is now what many galleries do, even the fledgling ones on the Lower East Side. It is how they sell art, make contacts and establish their bona fides with dealers from other cities. But as dealers stretch themselves thinner and thinner, it is inevitable that local art scenes will pay a price. […]I found myself walking around a lot this fall thinking that people need to do better. There were too many vacant-looking, phoned-in exhibitions by artists from all over the world, shows that looked like something art dealers were doing to kill time between fairs. And there were moments when galleries seemed to be trying to fight back with immense, festivalist art-fair extravaganzas.