Art fairs play an important role in the Sotheby's Institute MA curriculum, both in the classroom and as part of each program’s global study trips. An integral part of the art market ecosystem, art fairs bring together artists, dealers, collectors, curators, critics, patrons, and other advocates of the visual arts all in one place at the same time. The fairs are often catalysts for a number of new ideas, projects, relationships and collaborations, and this gives the fair an important place, and a special kind of power, in the art world.
At Sotheby’s Institute, courses that cover the art market and the history of modern and contemporary art look at the fair as a phenomenon that has accompanied art's commercial rise over the past 150 years. In the last 20 years, the rise of the art fair has gone hand in hand with the rise of the international biennial - two platforms that have substantially increased the visibility and reach of contemporary art and artists. Indeed, the biennial and the fair have much to do with our understanding of what makes art 'contemporary.’
Outside of the classroom, our students travel to fairs and biennials all over the world, be it the Armory Show in New York, Art Basel Miami Beach, The European Fine Art Fair in Maastricht, the Venice Biennale, Art Basel Hong Kong, or any of the associated satellite events. Students have the opportunity to interact with the leadership and staff of these organizations to see what’s involved in mounting such massive, complex projects. As businesses that must concern themselves with real estate, finance, marketing, logistics, customer service, and public relations, art fairs have become premiere embodiments of the expanding field of art business, which is why we believe it’s so important for our students to be on the ground and experience these events first hand.