The Art Shows

This past week, NYC was filled with art shows. Restaurants were packed, people from around the globe were here, galleries had new installations, and art was being shown. I went to the Frieze and the Future Art Fair, which was enough.

We have attended these shows for over a decade; Frieze launched in 2012. There was a lot to like. We saw artists’ work worldwide, and I was always left inspired. I began to tire of them around 2018. No matter where you see the show, be it in New York, Miami, London, or Paris, they all look the same.

The cost of these shows for the galleries is enormous. From the booth to shipping the work to the show and setting it up and having to be there for days on end, hotels, and food, the few days can cost a gallerist hundreds of thousands of dollars. They need to sell double the cost to break even.

For the gallerist to survive, the price of art is being pushed up, and young artists are not being shown. Finding anything not in the $100K range at Frieze was difficult. Are galleries pushing up prices that will eventually fall, or will the artists hit the ceiling on the value of their work? How many contemporary artists’ works can be worth $100K or more? Even work at the Future was higher than it should be.

The art world has become dominated by mega-art galleries, mega-prices, and mega-collectors; what happens to the up-and-coming artists? There is nothing like seeing art in person, but perhaps it is time to rethink how often these shows appear. I have talked to more than a handful of galleries who are passing on shows. The cost is killing them.

How the art world operates is changing, and speaking to a young gallerist and how she is thinking about how she will manage her gallery made me hopeful. To me, there is an opportunity to come up with a new paradigm to the art shows, they really aren’t doing it for me.