Whilst the majority of the Western world enters a much feared second lockdown due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic crisis, all eyes were on China as the 2nd edition of the Shanghai International Art Fair took place from the 19-22nd November 2020. With many of the world’s top art fairs such as Art Basel Miami Beach fair set for December 2020 cancelled, and the Frieze London and Frieze Masters 2020 moved online back in October, there is not much of the supposed global art world left to see in person. It is with baited breath then that the world’s art lovers and professionals alike look to Asia for the last vestiges of familiarity with the fairs of the past, and a clue as to what the fairs of the future – and who attends them in person – could be like.
Is a global art world still possible?
Whether it is even possible to describe a global art world is something that has been much in debate as the financial growth of various local art markets have grown and their interconnectedness made more apparent. Buyers and dealers will often travel multiple times a year and wait apprehensively for figures to come in from one fair for an understanding about what might happen in the next. This massive trading of art and services was valued in 2018 at roughly 67 billion USD – a growth of 3 billion USD up from 64 billion USD in 2017. Whilst the majority of these sales were made offline there was already a growing trend in the number of online sales seen that many are expecting to increase further due to circumstances dedicated by the current pandemic.
The majority of trade for the art market has previously been seen in North America, with hot sites such as New York and Los Angeles, seconded by the market in Europe featuring heavily in London, UK, although the Louvre in Paris, France tops the list as the world’s most visited art museum. China had previously come in third for total revenue for an art market, yet as the coronavirus pandemic continues to hinder trade in the West, art fairs like the most recent Shanghai International Art Fair are starting to emerge as potential key components in the art market’s future global growth.