The evolving nature of commercial art fairs

Publication Type:
Exhibitions, Trade Fairs and Industrial Events, 2018
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Art fairs belong to the commercial side of visual arts, which offers high quality art for sale and viewing. Unlike auctions, the general public can see the art for the cost of a ticket. However, for the visual arts, the proliferation of international contemporary art fairs is the clearest evidence of the increasing importance of market structures in the art world. For city authorities, they are useful for attracting art tourists and others to a particular place. Originating in the 1960s, these fairs are becoming the commercial rivals of the great periodic exhibitions, such as the Venice Biennale International Art Exhibition. Accordingly, it has been found that private-sector arts events continue to evolve. A case study approach is applied in this chapter to highlight changes as the Hong Kong International Art Fair became Art Basel Hong Kong in 2013 and afterwards. This evolution is investigated in detail; for example, the event experience offered, the use made of public lectures, and industry networking and cross-cultural discussions, whilst ascertaining whether there is a role for an associated digital event to play in building the event’s popularity and selling art.
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