FRIEZE SPECIAL: How to Survive an Art Fair

Posted in Art Style Files by Charlotte Broomfield on 10th October 2014

Jean Wainwright is a London-based art historian and critic. Her areas of expertise are in contemporary art and photography, with particular reference to Andy Warhol on whose life and works she is an internationally recognised expert. As a writer and academic she has published extensively in the contemporary arts field, contributing to a number of catalogues and books as well as appearing on television and radio programmes. Jean gives us her top tips on how to survive an art fair.
Art Fairs
 
WHAT'S THE CRAZIEST THING YOU'VE EVER SEEN AT AN ART FAIR?
I have seen a number of provocative projects and performances at Art Fairs but the two that stuck out for me for different reasons was the excitement caused when Jake and Dinos Chapman drew on twenty and fifty pound notes at the 2007 Frieze Art Fair. The queues and the queue jumping, where some collectors paid other people to queue for them, became in itself a refection on art commodity and value. There was panic on some faces when the cash machine ran out and they thought they had lost out on an artwork. I also loved the atmosphere created by the ‘Interlopers’ Andrea Zittel’s artwork where hikers slept in the Frieze Art Fair at night while ‘hiking’ around London during the day. The hikes and the club were not art but ‘everything around them was’. 
 
SO, ART FAIRS (FRIEZE IN PARTICULAR) ARE HUGE. 3 QUICK TIPS ON HOW  TO SURVIVE FRIEZE?
Get the printed map so that you can tick off which galleries you have seen. This has the advantage that you can gauge how many stands you have NOT seen, which of course means you must speed up and stop hugging air kissing and talking to all those people you want to catch up with. 

- Wear flat shoes (I do not take my own advise on this one) 

Be focused, pace yourself and smile  – you don’t want to appear on blogs, face book or in a photographs looking stressed.  

 
Frieze
 
HOW DO YOU PERSONALLY PREP FOR AN ART FAIR IN ADVANCE?
I look at the website and the press links. I like to see what the talk programmes are offering. I speak to galleries in advance to see who they will bringing and if they are profiling a particular artist. 
 
ART FAIRS ARE GOOD FOR...
Being surprised, spotting trends, meeting great people, absorbing the energy and the atmosphere. Enabling late openings, focused events and tours of galleries. 
 
Frieze
 
3 TIPS FOR SNEAKING INTO A PRIVATE VIEW?
She/he who hesitates is lost just look as if ‘of course you are on the list’ 
Make friends with the security guard
Arrive early
 
London Art Fair
 
Do art fairs become more enjoyable/manageable the more frequent you attend them? 
Yes more people to greet, more familiar spaces and faces  – but avoid FFF Frenetic Fair Fatigue somehow the more times you go the less you see. 
 
What are your thoughts about purchasing Art at an Art Fair?
It doesn't matter where you purchase Art, whether its at an Art Fair, gallery, online galleries, what you need to do is to buy something you love. The online presence can be important as both a taster teaser and also to put you in touch with work that you may have missed, or you want to find out more about. 
 
What do YOU think? Do YOU have any Art Fair tips & tricks? And if you want to keep track of the best in Art and Design, Take our ART STYLE QUIZ and BECOME A MEMBER. It is free and you'll get access to the best new art from top Museums, Galleries and Artists.