SHANGHAI, LONDON, ABU DHABI, PARIS, AND MIAMI - It all starts in China. Then it rockets over to London, across the Channel to Paris, all the way down to Abu Dhabi and ends up over in sunny Miami. I’m talking, of course, about the non-stop action on the international art fair circuit. (And that’s a very abbreviated version, too, hitting only the highlights.)

Dealers, collectors and artists are all given to world-weary sighs about how busy and overwhelming the art fair parade has gotten, but the bottom line is that they also find it exciting—and necessary—to gather in one place periodically.

First up, starting this weekend in fact, is SH Contemporary: The Asia Pacific Contemporary Art Fair (Shanghai, 7-9 Sept). The fair is still tilted toward Chinese galleries and collectors, but it’s grown substantially since its founding in 2007, boasting 100 exhibitors this year.


Shanghai’s New International Exhibition Centre will home to SH Contemporary in September.
© 2012 SH Contemporary.


Come October, it’s Frieze time (London, 11-14 Oct). Especially in light of the success of its first New York edition in May, Frieze has further cemented its position in the top echelon of art fairs. Not only is the roster of galleries impressive at both Frieze London (contemporary art) and Frieze Masters (older art), the organizers have found just the right tweaks to some of the non-art elements that make people feel they just can’t miss it.


A shot of Paul McCarthy’s White Snow Dwarf, Sleep #7 (Midget), 2012 from Frieze’s last fair in May in New York.  © All rights reserved by Frieze New York.

To wit: Annabelle Selldorf, the German-born, New York–based architect behind many of today’s top gallery and museum buildings, is handling the environment design of Masters, and Michelin-starred restaurant Locanda Locatelli is on tap as one of the dining options (the Frieze folks have a major foodie streak, which was amply on display in New York).

November brings the fourth edition of Abu Dhabi Art (Abu Dhabi, 7-10 Nov), which must be doing something right to attract dealers like Larry Gagosian and Thaddaeus Ropac. Paris Photo is hot on its heels (15-18 Nov ). This fair has a reputation of getting real business done among photography lovers, and its setting—the Grand Palais, about 5 steps from the Seine—certainly couldn’t be any more chic.

Once the first few days of December roll around, the art world’s top players are trained to get on a plane for Florida to attend Art Basel Miami Beach (Miami, 6-9 Dec), the big daddy of all American art fairs, both in terms of size and prestige. No other fair has spawned as many satellite fairs and events, and the entire week has turned into a sort of hybrid exhibition-meeting-party-Champagne reception. Details haven’t been announced yet—but we’ll update you when they arrive.


It’s too far off for photos of this year’s Art Basel Miami Beach, but this photo from last year’s fair gives a taste of what’s to come. Courtesy of Art Basel.

Tags:Art Fairs