Get Off the High Horse, Jerry Saltz! Kenny Schachter Mounts a Last-Ditch Defense of Art Fairs

artnet News | Kenny Schachter

Like Paul Revere riding into town in the dead of night to warn the colonials of the impending British invasion, Jerry Saltz rolled into the art world’s inboxes and social media feeds on the morning of the opening of two New York mega fairs, Frieze and TEFAF, to sound an urgent alarm. Fresh off his Pulitzer, the critic proclaimed to one and all in his New York mag column: “As a system, art fairs are like America: They’re broken and no one knows how to fix them.” I have some (dispositive) news for you, my dear friend Jerry: You live in a parallel universe. The only thing broken with fairs was the air conditioning at Frieze this year. (They may have saved some money by skimping on the electricity, but they might pay an inordinate price for their parsimony; see part two of this column, coming shortly.)

The Art Basel art-market report, formerly known as the TEFAF report (now even market reports are beginning to trade like Stingels, it seems), calculated that in 2000 there were 55 fairs as opposed to 260 today. I should go to all of them in a single year as a joke, like when Damien Hirst launched his Spot Challenge in 2012 for anyone who visited all 11 branches of the Gagosian empire then dotting the globe to view his spot paintings. The prize then was a signed, dedicated print (big whoop). What would I win if I managed to trawl all the fairs? A free hospital stay? Oh, by the way, there are now 16 Gagosians and a flood of more spots—the Hirst machine is still at it…read more

Image: Photo illustration by Kenny Schachter.