This past weekend Art Toronto took over the biggest city for Canadian art. With private collection tours, artist talks, discussion panels, and not to mention all the parties...and after-parties....the last few days were jam packed. After having been to Frieze, FIAC, the Armory Show, Art Basel Miami Beach, the Winter Antiques Show and various satellite fairs, it was nice to finally attend one on home turf.
Overall the fair was a success. Many of the galleries and artists in attendance told us that while the costs were high, the quality of attendees and buyers made the venture worthwhile.
Historical art took a backseat to contemporary sales, at least in terms of volume. It was apparent that the majority of buyers in attendance were looking for contemporary. The booths that were well stocked with a variety of art, well staffed and welcoming were the ones selling the most. There were too many booths that perhaps needed a lesson in customer service 101.
There seemed to be a surprising number of artists in attendance, more so than any other fair we’ve been to, which made the experience more personal.
It stood out to us that everyone was sporting the same white walls and occasionally we caught ourselves trying to remember which booth was which as many didn’t brand their space with so much as their logo. Furthermore, there were no jaw dropping moments, which is not to say there wasn’t amazing art, but the art was relatively safe and saleable. With white walls, no logos or risky art, how can a booth stand out? The question every dealer needs to ask prior to installation next year is what can be done to make the space memorable and represent the gallery’s brand.
The programming surrounding Art Toronto that took place within other cultural institutions throughout the weekend were varied and well selected, making it a weekend that wasn’t just about a fair but truly highlighting exceptional art in the city.