There’s an art fair every day this month -- for collectors who have the stamina to hop from Seoul to Santiago, Budapest to Buenos Aires, Moscow to Manila.
Art fairs have been sprouting across the globe, with 269 in 2015 compared with 105 a decade earlier, according to a report by The Art Newspaper and Momart. ArtBinder, which produces an app used by galleries, is tracking 52 fairs in October alone. Some of the biggest fairs are opening as the market is contracting, forcing collectors and dealers to evaluate how they allocate their time and money.
“It doesn’t allow any breathing room -- not for the galleries, not for the collectors, not for the artists,” said Abigail Asher, a New York art adviser. “People are groaning under the weight of so many fairs a year.”
The first major test takes place this week in London where Frieze Week, the biggest concentration of art events in Europe, includes nine fairs. Next up is Paris, with a group of fairs centered on the main event known as FIAC. The European Fine Art Foundation, or TEFAF, which operates a prestigious fair in the Netherlands, is holding its first New York edition, overlapping a portion of FIAC.
The stakes are high. Like the broader art market, sales at fairs expanded -- about 50 percent since 2010 -- but fell slightly from the 2014 peak to $12.7 billion last year, according to an annual report by TEFAF. Fair sales account for 20 percent of the global art trade. For many galleries, these shows represent at least 40 percent of sales.
Frieze London, whose 14th edition opens Wednesday in Regent’s Park, showcases more than 160 international contemporary-art galleries. The event’s younger sister, Frieze Masters, focuses on historic art. Last year, the two fairs drew 105,000 visitors.
“My week is looking more like a marathon,” said Alain Servais, a Brussels-based collector and independent investment banker, who travels to about 20 art events annually. “Frieze is filling up my diary day and night.”
Servais, like other collectors, will juggle fair openings, visits to private collections, receptions at galleries and museums as well as dinners and parties that last late into the night.