Part I : Why You Should Go + What to Expect
Art Fairs provide us with an exhaustive selection of what's hot in the international art scene. Or at least, what is for sale. This gives new collectors the opportunity to meet face-to-face with gallerists (also called dealers) and learn about the work on display. The gallery scene can be intimidating, so if you are looking to get your feet wet & learn about contemporary art, this is a great place to start. If you are serious about collecting, you already know that much of the most desirable work is claimed at VIP Previews.
If this is your first time venturing to art fairs, there is a great explanation in Forbes regarding tickets, protocol and what to wear. You will have to wait until next December for Art Basel Miami Beach, but scroll down to the 7 ESSENTIAL TIPS FOR ATTENDING AN ART FAIR.
Collectors flock from all over the globe to attend the fairs, and competition is stiff. In fact, some galleries won't sell to a new collector unless they are introduced by someone they trust. This makes sense if you consider that artwork represents the culture of our time! Assuming it grows in value as a cultural object, both the artist and dealer hope that it will be shown in museums, and may call on you (or your children) decades from now to loan the art for serious exhibitions. Dealers have the goal of optimizing the return on investment for all. Respect that.
Building a relationship with an artist or dealer takes time--money alone may not be enough to win the prize. The international artworld takes itself very seriously. These are not just pretty pictures. Think of the role of a collector as the caretaker of the artwork. No matter how you approach collecting, you have to gain the trust of those selling to you.
Now that you know the basics, how do you choose your fairs? You probably can't (or don't want to) see them all. We suggest a few tactics in the next article, click here.