Finding What’s Right and Wrong with Art Fairs by Way of Tokyo


Jean Snow‘s site pointed us over to a report on the recent Art Fair Tokyo by Ashley Rawlings, “The Market of the Mediocre.” While it’s an interesting snapshot of the event, which you might find of some interest, its strength lies in talking about the idea of an “art fair” in general. In short, it says that, to be successful, these types of fairs, just like those in Miami, Milan, London, etc., they have to be all things to all people, yet in doing so, they suffer greatly because there’s the fear of challenging or confusing certain attendees. Sure, safe sells, but too much safety becomes quickly dull and ultimately might lead to the demise of the event itself. But that’s just one of the problems. Here’s some, describing another issue:

The majority of those participating in AFT have not put enough thought into their presentations; every gallery is displaying in a booth that is considerably smaller than its own exhibition space, yet many of them have crammed in every artist they represent. Many of the galleries handling older art look like cluttered little antique shops, and the contemporary galleries that have over-hung their spaces have produced some jarring clashes between otherwise individually strong artworks. This may not matter much to a one off buy-and-run collector, as a good rummage around for something that will look good on the living room wall will no doubt turn up something to everyone’s taste, but these slightly desperate displays do not convey any care for the artists, a discouraging first impression to collectors looking to build lasting relationships with galleries.