Art Basel & UBS Report. The Art Market 2020 Overview: Art Fairs

Ugne Nagrockaite

In 2019, art fairs remained of crucial importance to the art market’s infrastructure. Such key events comprise a substantial portion of global art markets sales, since they prove to be central to art dealers’ businesses and act as a major force bringing dealers and buyers together, usually from geographically diverse locations.

The number of international art fairs has increased from just around 55 in 2000 to almost 300 in 2019, covering broad areas of art and collectibles markets. Some of the earliest international art fairs, such as Art Cologne and Art Brussels that emerged in the 1960s in Europe, were still running in 2019. In fact, Europe accounted for the highest percentage, namely 51%, of all art fairs taking place around the globe, while Asia accounted for 10% and The US remained the largest national base for art fairs with 28%.

Art fair sales were estimated to have reached $16.6 billion in 2019, increasing by less than 1% since 2018. Interestingly, dealers reported that 15% of these art fair sales were made even before the fair took place ($2.5 billion), 64% during the fair ($10.6 billion), and 21% after the fair as a direct result of exhibiting at the event ($3.5 billion).

However, recently there were quite a few disruptions to art fairs, including cancellations, or suspensions as a consequence of COVID-19. Due to this and other specific reasons, there are signs that the growth in fairs reached its peak in 2018, and may have begun a period of stabilization.

 You can find more key information and data on art market in The Art Market 2020 An Art Basel & UBS Report, prepared by Dr. Clare McAndrew