Saturday, March 01, 2008

Romano on the "New Art Fair" model

Eric Romano is the producer of the highly successful PULSE art fairs, and he read my ideas on a new art fair model and adds some thoughts on the subject:

Hi Lenny,

I just had a look at the blog and would kindly give you my thoughts… although, unfortunately, I don’t think they are very insightful.

There are a huge number of factors involved in creating a successful art fair, mostly tangible and some intangible. The key to the success of Basel, Frieze, Basel Miami, ARCO (a bit different) and the Armory lies in the draw of an international group of collectors that travel to each show.

These are the “major collectors” that the galleries love so much, which also includes curators. The majority of work sold at the big fairs, and fairs like ours, is from this population, which is why all the other fairs have sprung up around them.

The model that you are proposing, with large institutional support, would resemble ARCO, which is partially funded by the Madrid regional government and attracts over 200,000 visitors.

ARCO is a regional fair, if you look at Spain as a whole, but mostly attracts a local audience.

They do, however, pay for and fly in a group of over 200 collectors from around the world which helps push sales. FIAC is another example of a strong regional fair that mainly attracts Parisians.

I would look at this as a regional fair, for the reasons you sited, Miami is in December and New York is, well New York.

As a regional fair, it would have to pull on the local collectors and moneyed set... as you pointed out.

A huge fair, with institutional backing and government backing, does offer a wide range of opportunities to create buzz and multiple programming... i.e. performance art, lectures, an architecturally designed space, installations, curated video sections etc...

This can, if done well, create a community happening or event that transcends a traditional art fair and become the must see event for the entire community that creates a true dialog between art and the public in an atmosphere that is more open and dynamic than a museum. This is what happens at ARCO.

As with anything else, it would all depend on the people organizing the fair, their vision and their ability to work with the community, the government, and the museum.

All the best,


Akemi Maegawa at Irvine Contemporary in DC