What is a Contemporary Art Fair All About?

We are no strangers to art fairs at Byard. Art fairs are events where art enthusiasts come together to view and purchase contemporary art from all over the world! These fairs can range in size from small regional events to large international gatherings, and they provide an opportunity for artists to showcase their work and for buyers to discover new artists and add to their collections.

The very first art fairs can be traced back to 14th century Europe, where artists would display their work in public spaces. Since then, fairs have evolved and become an important part of the art world. They offer a platform for emerging artists to gain exposure and for established artists to connect with collectors and galleries. Art fairs also provide a space for art enthusiasts to engage with contemporary art and learn about new trends and styles.

Attending an art fair can be an exciting and enriching experience – it certainly is for us! They allow visitors to view a wide range of artworks from different artists and galleries in one place. Fairs also provide an opportunity to meet and network with other art enthusiasts and professionals.

What Are Art Fairs?

Art fairs bring together artists, galleries, collectors, and art enthusiasts to showcase and sell works of art. They are an excellent opportunity for artists to gain exposure and for collectors to discover new talent.

The Purpose of Art Fairs

The primary purpose of art fairs is to provide a platform for artists and galleries to showcase their works to a wider audience. Art fairs also serve as a marketplace for collectors to purchase art directly from the artists or galleries.

Types of Art Fairs

There are various types of art fairs, each with its own focus and audience. Some of the most common types include:

  • Contemporary Art Fairs: These fairs focus on contemporary art and showcase works by emerging and established artists.
  • Antique Fairs: These fairs feature antique and vintage art and collectables.
  • Regional Art Fairs: These fairs focus on art from a particular region or country and showcase works by local artists.
  • Online Art Fairs: Many art fairs now have an online component, allowing collectors to purchase art from the comfort of their own homes.

Art fairs are an important part of the art world, providing a platform for artists to showcase their works and for collectors to discover new talent.

A Brief History of Art Fairs

The Origins of Art Fairs

Art fairs have a long history dating back to the Middle Ages, when they were known as trade fairs. The first recorded art fair was held in the Netherlands in 1460. These fairs were primarily held to promote trade and commerce, and art was just one of the many commodities that were traded. In the 18th and 19th centuries, art exhibitions were held in Europe, which showcased the works of contemporary artists.

The Evolution and Growth of Art Fairs Over Time

The 20th century saw the rise of modern art fairs. The first modern art fair was held in Basel, Switzerland in 1970. The fair was called Art Basel and it was a huge success. This fair showcased contemporary art from around the world and attracted a lot of attention from art collectors and dealers.

Since then, art fairs have become a major part of the art world. They are now held in major cities around the world, including London, New York, Miami, and Hong Kong. Art fairs have become an important platform for artists, galleries, and collectors to showcase their work, network, and make sales.

Art fairs have also evolved to include different types of art, such as photography, sculpture, and video art. They have also become more inclusive, with emerging artists and galleries being given a platform to showcase their work alongside established artists.

The history of art fairs shows that they have come a long way from their humble beginnings as trade fairs. They have become an important part of the art world, providing a platform for artists, galleries, and collectors to connect and showcase their work. We can’t wait for our next one!

Planning and Participating in Art Fairs

When preparing for an art fair, there are a number of things to consider if you’re an artist looking to showcase your work. It’s always important to research the fair you are interested in participating in. Look into the fair’s history, the types of art that are usually exhibited, and the audience that typically attends. This will help you to determine whether the fair is a good fit for your work.

Next, make sure you have all the necessary paperwork in order (this is an important step to cover yourself and others). This may include applications, contracts, and insurance documents. It’s also important to ensure that your artwork is properly labelled and priced, and that you have all the necessary materials for displaying your work, such as frames, pedestals, or lighting.

The Impact of Art Fairs Across the World

Economic Influence

You may not know this, but art fairs have a significant impact on the economy, both locally and globally. They generate revenue not only for the galleries and artists but also for the host cities and countries. According to a report by Statista, the global art market generated nearly $68 billion in 2022, with 58% of art collectors having purchased from an art fair in 2023.

Cultural Significance

Art fairs are not only important for the art market but also for cultural exchange. They provide a platform for artists and galleries to showcase their work to a diverse audience. This allows for the exchange of ideas and perspectives, which can lead to new collaborations and artistic movements.

Come and Visit Us!

Our art gallery is nestled in the historic city of Cambridge, and we welcome you to  shop our artwork and view our upcoming fairs online. We’d be delighted to see you in our gallery over the festive period and new year!


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