The veteran art dealer explains why he has soured on the art market’s central apparatus.
The central driver of the modern-day art market, at least when it comes to galleries, is art fairs. They promise efficiency: for a hefty booth fee (plus travel and shipping costs), dealers from around the world can convene in a lucrative faraway region for a chance to sell lots of work over a short span of days to a churning swirl of eager collectors, the sales equivalent of fish in a barrel.
In recent years, these frenetic events have grown ever more important, offering increasingly busy art professionals and their clients a chance to socialize, exchange ideas, and hoover up information about new directions in art with such streamlined speed that it has begun to displace other traditional avenues, like going to the brick-and-mortar galleries themselves.
Some dealers, especially the biggest ones, find this to be an immensely rewarding system. Others, especially smaller operations like Team Gallery, have begun to find them a losing bet. That’s why, after a final appearance at Art Basel Hong Kong later this month, Team founder Jose Freire says he will never do another art fair again.