Fair fatigue! The Wall Street Journal declares the era of the universal art fair over and story concludes that no one ought to go to all of the art fairs around the world because … its not necessary!
Dallas collector Howard Rachofsky and his wife, Cindy, used to plan vacations around attending far-flung fairs, but lately they have winnowed to a few favorites like Art Basel Miami Beach and Frieze Art Fair in New York—and they don’t feel guilty if they don’t go at all. “Fairs are like supermarkets today,” Mr. Rachofsky said. “You’re wandering around miles of aisles looking for new flavors, but I already know what I like. Fairs are not critical to growing our collection anymore.”
Michael Hort, who runs a paper-printing company in New York, said he and his wife, Susan, were worried a few years ago when a medical issue caused the couple to delay their trip to the Basel Miami fair by a couple of days—arriving long after hundreds of VIPs might have picked over the offerings. It turns out, “we hadn’t missed a thing. A long time ago when there were fewer fairs, getting in first was important. We no longer need to be first,” Mr. Hort said.
Indeed, the underlying, unstated conclusion of the story is that as the art market grows beyond the bounds of relatively small coterie of deeply committed over collectors, it is bringing in a larger population of buyers. That’s a good thing. Next up on the agenda, however, is dealing with the under-supply of appealing art and tendency for work to gravitate toward similar themes:
New Jersey-based art adviser Clayton Press agrees, saying the fair onslaught reveals how “homogenous and repetitive” the current art scene can be when it’s continually being trotted out under a tent. Fairs bill themselves as a way to track the latest art trends, but Mr. Press said this marketing tactic can backfire if the same pieces keep cropping up at fair after fair—a “ship it until it sells” approach that can turn off savvy shoppers.
“There should be an international moratorium on art made with mirrors, Mylar, aerosol paint, and virtually any ‘found objects’ no matter how esoteric or dear,” he added, citing typical art-fair offerings.