Art fair news

March 27 2017

Image of Art fair news

Picture: Tefaf NY

A roundup of some news from the art fair world: 

First, the ATG wonders if Tefaf should move from Maastricht (to say Amsterdam)? Exhibitors seem to be split on the idea, but it seems to me like a good idea. The best argument in favour of keeping the fair in Maastricht is that, because it's relatively dififcult to get to, and because there's not much else to do when you get there, then the punters really come with a buying attitude. But it seems clear on the evidence of declining sales that such an approach doesn't work these days, and pays scant heed to the need to draw new audiences; if you're a millionaire vaguely interested in Old Masters, you're not likely to want to take three days out of your schedule to get to and visit an art fair. You go to the main auction houses in London or New York instead. For this reason, it was a shrewd move by Tefaf to open up two fairs in New York. For what it's worth, my ideal venue would be an art fair at the Royal Academy in London. Where would AHNers have their ideal art fair, and at what time of year?

Second, the new exhibitor list at Masterpiece (London's leading art and antiques fair) has been unveiled, and reveals a high turnover of exhibitors. I used to enjoy Masterpiece when I worked at Philip Mould. It's a good fair, and certainly creates sales, but appears yet to establish itself as one of the world's leading art fairs. I think this may be because it doesn't focus on one specific type of art or antique. It's fun, from a visitor's point of view, that you can buy a Riva boat there, and a souped up Harley Davidson, as well as a Picasso. But that diversity makes it hard to get a single message across in a media and marketing sense. 

Finally, the vexed problem of vetting at art fairs was highlighted with The Art Newspaper reporting that the entire vetting committee at PAD (Pavilion of Art and Design) Paris and PAD London has resigned. As ever, it seems vetting ahs become a political issue. While I understand some fairs feel the need to have things 'vetted', it often creates a false sense of security from a buyer's point of view. Vetting is, let's face it, rarely done well, or objectively. Caveat Emptor is always the best approach - do your own homework, rather than relying on someone else. 

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