The Art Newspaper reports that Art Basel is thinking through the implications of their selection criteria which include that galleries have a retail location, employees and an exhibition program.
There are good reasons for those requirements, The irony is Art Basel’s role in launching the art fair revolution, which has made it possible for dealers to consider running a business without a retail location.
With an estimated 270 art fairs a year globally and a reported 41% of gallery sales taking place at art fairs in 2016, according to Art Basel and UBS’s global art market report, dealers are increasingly embracing them as viable alternatives to a year-round permanent space. Most art fairs now accept galleries with no fixed abode. Victoria Siddall, the director of Frieze art fair, says it is not a prerequisite that galleries show their artists’ work in a single space, but “exhibition-making is an essential part of being a contemporary gallery”.
However, for some dealers the jam-packed art fair calendar has become too onerous. In an email in March announcing the closure of London’s Vilma Gold gallery after 17 years, the co-owner Rachel Williams blamed “an endlessly accelerating global cycle of fairs” for the demise of “a physical space where artists, collectors and curators could engage directly with the exhibition programme”. Williams says she is now “working towards a new model of collaboration with both living artists and estates”.
Bricks and mortar galleries: Art Basel holds the line (The Art Newspaper)