CFP: ‘The Art Fair’ @, London 14/15 July 2017

This Call for Papers is now closed.
‘The Art Fair’ @

Deadline: 12 March 2017

Keynote speaker just announced:
Noah Horowitz, Director Americas, Art Basel Miami Beach

First Conference of TIAMSA, The International Art Market Studies Association
London, 14 and/or 15 July 2017

Art Fairs are booming. Established fairs grow and proliferate at break neck speed, new venues are mushrooming, and the clientele is increasingly diverting its attention from the permanent gallery spaces to these events. The art fairs’ current global outreach and their diversity seem unprecedented, yet they have a long history that goes back at least to the early modern period. This conference of the recently founded International Art Market Studies Association aims to elucidate the art fair’s phenomenal evolutions through a multi-disciplinary approach.

Bringing together specialized players and a wider audience, art fairs provide a highly competitive forum for transactions and networking. To the uninitiated they may appear like randomly cut slices of particular markets, yet their success usually depends on careful steering, curating and vetting.

  • Who controls these processes and what are their effects?
  • Can one discern patterns of interaction and hierarchy among a fair’s convenors, among its exhibitors, and among its visitors?
  • How do the organizers ensure the fair’s respectability, how do they convey that the objects on offer are of enduring value?
  • Are there significant rituals that punctuate an art fair’s usually short life span and can a fair succeed in setting new trends, thus affecting the wider reception of art or the manner in which art is being sold and bought?
  • Where and when did art fairs originate and how have they changed over time?

While this call for papers is thus seeking contributions that focus on the event and its making, it is equally interested in analyses of the art fair’s context. The successful fair depends on conducive social, economic and cultural settings and it seems promising to elucidate what these might be. Legislation, due diligence, sponsoring, a fair’s accessibility, its history and location, the economic make-up and power of the surrounding region – these and many other factors may have a decisive effect on a fair’s character and sustainability. Looking still farther afield, this call also welcomes papers that propose to investigate ‘fair-like’ structures. Some of these – such as Salons, Biennales and Secessions – may have served as the art fair’s models, others might provide elucidating comparisons or points of reference. Contributions addressing such questions are just as welcome as proposals that address the art fairs’ impact on the nature of the art market, on public institutions and on the reception of art.

The recently founded International Art Market Studies Association (TIAMSA, is a rapidly growing academic network that brings together scholars from all disciplines, as well as art market professionals, collectors and interested individuals. Among its institutional members are the ‘Getty Research Institute’ (Los Angeles) and the ‘Centre allemand d’histoire de l’art’ (Paris); its board comprises well-known art market specialists from six countries.

In line with the aims of the International Art Market Studies Association, this conference will approach the chosen topic from a range of viewpoints and thus welcomes proposals on any period or geographic location and from any discipline (e.g. art history, economics, law, history, sociology, etc.).

APPLICATION: Applicants are invited to submit an abstract of max. 300 words for 20 minute contributions and a short CV to Those who require financial assistance (e.g. students, unemployed) may apply for a lump sum travel grant (Europe: GBP 150; overseas: GBP 400) by submitting a simple accompanying letter / e-mail explaining why this support is needed and stating whether their participation in the conference depends on the receipt of such a grant.

Conference Committee: Susanna Avery-Quash (National Gallery, London); Antoinette Friedenthal (Independent, Berlin); Veronika Korbei (Independent, Vienna); Johannes Nathan (Nathan Fine Art, Zurich / Potsdam); Kim Oosterlinck (Université libre de Bruxelles); Olav Velthuis (Universiteit Amsterdam); Jonathan Woolfson (Sotheby’s Institute of Art, London)

Application deadline: 12 March 2017

14 and/or 15 July 2017; Sotheby’s Institute of Art, 30 Bedford Square, London

Conference language: English

Contact: Dr. Veronika Korbei,