How to Buy Art at Art Fairs?

How to Buy Art at Art Fairs?

Most major cities around the world now have one or more art fairs. With dozens of participating dealer and galleries, exhibiting artworks of different qualities and styles, buying a piece at an art fair can be an intimidating affair. Our editors have selected a few issues to consider at the time you are evaluating a purchase at an art fair.


The quality of artworks at art fairs can vary tremendously. Each participating gallery, dealer and artist (in certain cases) is required to pay rent for the exhibition booth. Art fairs view dealers and galleries as their clients and may be willing to overlook important factors, such as quality of the artworks and the artists.


The cost for renting a booth at an art fair, combined with transportation, shipment of artworks, staff expenses, etc. can often exceed the actual rent at the gallery many-folds. As such, artworks being exhibited at the art fairs can be overpriced and should be evaluated closely. It should be noted that most art fairs are not required to monitor the fair prices of the artworks in exhibition.


Most art fairs last between 2-4 days. In combination, with a large supply of artworks, packed exhibition booths, and possible crowds, buying art at an art fair may be a tricky matter.

The following suggestions may assist you in making art buying decisions:

- Ask for a biography of the artist and prior sale prices (if possible)
- Ask for a brief history of the gallery
- Research to see if the artwork is reasonably priced and the alternatives that may be available.
- See if the artworks come with a money-back return guarantee.
- Confirm whether you will receive a Certificate of Authenticity.
- Above all, take your time before rushing to a decision- It is your money and you will be the one living with the artwork.


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