The Art Market 2020

Chapter 4 Art Fairs

Chapter 4 provides a brief overview of art fairs, reporting on sales, attendance, exhibitors, costs, and other key variables. It includes an analysis of the content of fairs in terms of the gender and level of acclaim of the artists exhibited, and reveals some key findings from high net worth (HNW) collector research in relation to attendance at fairs and other events. It also considers some of the wider issues related to the environmental impact of art fairs and the sustainability of the art market.

Key Findings

Art fair sales were estimated to have reached $16.6 billion in 2019.

Estimated Art Fair Sales 2015−2019

Dealers reported that 15% of these sales were made before the fair ($2.5 billion), 64% during the fair ($10.6 billion), and 21% after the fair

Art Fair Sales Share 2019

The share of dealers’ annual sales by value made at art fairs has grown from less than 30% in 2010 to 45% in 2019, declining 1% year-on-year from 2018.

Share of Reported Dealer Sales at Local vs. International Art Fairs 2010–2019

On average, dealers attended four fairs in 2019, stable on 2018. Galleries with sales in excess of $10 million exhibited at more than twice as many fairs (eight on average) as those with turnover less than $500,000 (averaging three).

Number of Local vs. International Art Fairs in 2019 by Turnover Level

While fairs accounted for 30% of sales for dealers with turnover of less than $500,000, this rose to 47% at the higher end for dealers with over $10 million in annual sales.

Share of Sales at Local vs. International Art Fairs in 2019 by Turnover Level

HNW collectors reported attending an average of 39 art-related events in the last 12 months, including seven art fairs, on par with visits to gallery exhibitions.

Average Number of Exhibitions and Events Attended by HNW Collectors in 2019

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