The Return Of The Art Fair (And Why We're So Glad They're Back), For almost two years art fairs were...
November 23, 2021

The Return Of The Art Fair (And Why We're So Glad They're Back)

For almost two years art fairs were off, now ― they’re back, and teaching us important lessons about contemporary art while they’re at it.


For contemporary art to thrive, we need community and the irreplaceable conversations that stem from it. Nothing could have taught art lovers that lesson more than nearly two years of viewing art in isolation. The much-coveted jet set calendar of art fairs dotted across the globe changed the holiday highlights for thousands of us ― no longer were we planning Autumn in London for Frieze Art Fair, followed by a quick Eurostar over to Paris for FIAC, with a moment of rest before it was time to fly across the Atlantic for Art Basel Miami and Art Miami.

But this Autumn, art fairs have returned ― filling Instagram feeds with new cutting-edge artists at FIAC, the return of the modern masters at Frieze London, and an excitement for the first Art Basel Miami in over a year. To mark the comeback of this epochal art fair and in celebration of Maddox’s inclusion in the thirty-first edition of Art Miami, here’s what the return of the world’s most incredible art fairs has taught us.



The New (Old) Kids Are on The Block

Andy Warhol has a new diehard fan. Talking at the opening of FIAC in Paris, rock legend Alice Cooper spoke about his love for Warhol and his own collection of the artist’s prints. Cooper wasn’t the only one, the breakout artists of Autumn’s art fairs weren’t the young things. In fact, at Art Basel in Switzerland, Warhol was one of the highest selling artists, rating higher than the newer up and comers at the fair. Across The Armory Show in New York, the biggest buzz was around a Warhol silkscreen print of Jean-Michel Basquiat that sold at auction last week, and in London at Frieze, talk was on the return of one of the greatest YBAs, including Marc Quinn, Grayson Perry and Damien Hirst, who exhibited 10,000 of his NFTS in the Frieze exhibition Damien Hirst: A History of Painting.



The Female Gaze

For those who love the female gaze as an art movement, good news ― it’s here to stay. Across the fairs, most of the works captured and disseminated through Instagram were of women, including Kusama and Issy Wood. This new gaze has collectors under its wing too, with the market for women collecting art booming. Both gallerists and auction houses were keen to note that these radical female collectors are pushing for more diversity, from LGBTQ+ artists to lesser-known street and graffiti artists. Female collectors such as Berlin-based Julia Stoschek, Johannesburg-based Makgati Molebatsi and Ukrainian collector Luba Michailova are leading the way, with micro-collecting becoming an accessible way to buy art. Pre-Art Basel Miami, art lovers aren’t just interested in the six figure pieces, but the rare prints and lithographs on show by the likes of Kusama that make the perfect addition to a growing collection, with works ranging between £2,000 to £5,000 becoming increasingly popular.



Pick up Your Spray Can

The return of the world’s most loved art fairs offered one conclusion for sure, street art and graffiti continue to be one of the most enduring artforms. From the season’s art fairs we see the growing emergence of ‘fine art graffiti’ ― street art and graffiti with elevated concepts around race, politics and civil rights. This has art lovers and street art devotees very excited - why? After a pandemic that encouraged a newfound sense of vulnerability, fine art graffiti hits the perfect note, operating in its own, rule-free sphere, in the art world. 


Digital is Out

Discover the artist on Instagram but see their work in person ― this is the mantra of the art fair season. The digital trend was great during lockdown, and helped many see art, but it’s the ability to see work in real life that keeps contemporary art moving. Collectors including Nadia Samdani, who founded the DAS art symposium in Dhaka, Bangladesh agreed ― art can be devoured online, but the face-to-face experience of standing in front of a Banksy or the latest up and comer can’t be beaten. Royalty agreed, as Princess Eugenie was seen snapping up work at both Frieze London and The Armory Show.




Discovering New Continents, For a Fresh Era of Travel

The opening day of Art Basel Miami 2021 will also mark two years of art lovers not being able to travel. The way we travel has undoubtedly changed, and now, the urge to discover new contents and the untapped art they hold is more palpable than it ever has been. At the art fair 1-54, art from African continents saw a significant increase in sales. At The Armory Show, artists including Jean-Michel Basquiat and Arthur Timothy were some of the most talked about artists across the fairs ― with musician collectors including Swizz Beats and Jay Z adding their figurative paintings to their own art collections.





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