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Dallas Art Fair Joined the Rush: Too Much of a Good Thing?

by Jerome Weeks 22 Jun 2012 9:47 AM

“The explosion in the number of art fairs is the most significant change in the market since the turn of the century” – The Art Newspaper.


We knew creating an art fair for Dallas wasn’t exactly a novel idea four years ago and we knew that there were quite a few others out there, vying for attention. That was plain ever since Art Basel became Art Basel Miami Beach and the Venice and Whitney Biennales spawned, oh, the Iowa Biennial and the Light Art Biennale Austria.

But 189 major art fairs, plus 100 biennials — and growing?

According to The Art Newspaper, those numbers more than doubled since 2005:

Indeed, so overwhelmingly important have art fairs become that the general consensus is that they are beginning to replace the gallery sales model.

The reasons for the proliferation of fairs have been often cited: the need to offer a buy-it-or-you’ll-lose-it situation to challenge the auction houses; a way of extending a gallery’s global reach; a way of making contacts with both artists and buyers around the world; and the need to be part of today’s event-driven culture.

This brings in its wake the need for more inventory. The art market is currently growing: based on art sold at auction, turnover last year was the highest ever, at $11.8bn, according to Artprice. But the market is supply-driven and ultimately rests on the artists’ ability to produce enough material. With more fairs on the horizon, is the current model sustainable?

And that puts pressure on artists and galleries.  One leading gallery owner, quoted in the story, participated in 15 art fairs last year. But surely, there’s only so much flat champagne a person can sip.

Hence, Peter Doroshenko’s counter-invention/deconstruction of the one-shot Dallas Biennale.

photo from Neiman Marcus Daily