”Accessibility” has become the holy grail of the art world. After centuries of being thought of as a highbrow pursuit for the well-heeled, everyone appears bent on making art “accessible”.

In the context of art the term has had various definitions. Art events, like art fairs, that take place outside of sterile white-cube settings are pegged as accessible because the public doesn’t have to step into these supposedly austere settings.

You wouldn’t think a large convention centre, the setting for the Joburg and Cape Town art fairs, is more inviting than a small, street-fronted gallery. Nor would you think paying to browse art would make it more accessible.

How accessible do you want to make art, anyway, when its inaccessibility is perhaps one of its attractions?

The Turbine Art Fair is set in a much more friendly and inviting location – the regenerated Turbine Hall in the inner city. The interpretation of accessibility the organisers have been touting has to do with the price of works.

When it started out five years ago they imposed a cap on the cost of the art – no works could sell for over R20,000. That limit shifted to R40,000 and this year they announced R50,000 was the cut-off price. The cost of art is going up with the cost of living.

What sort of art can you buy for under R50,000? One-off paintings by hot artists are probably out of reach, but those by rising talents remain “accessible”. However, new names are risky if you are out of the loop of art trends.

Yet you can snap up a surprising amount of collectible names for under R50,000. Strauss & Co’s online auction, which runs until July 17, offers an array of works by well-known artists. A selection will be on view at its stand at the Turbine Art Fair. read more