Historical Social Research

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Christian Morgner: The Evolution of the Art Fair [Abstract]

This paper focuses on one of the key facets of the global art market, the art fair. Art fairs, which have proliferated in recent years and can be found in large numbers all over the globe, provide a crucial infrastructure for the sale and exhibition of works of art. Despite their current popularity, however, the history of the art fair, the development of its organisational form, and its importance to the market and society have largely been neglected in scholarly studies. Therefore, this paper adopts an evolutionary approach to better understand the development of the art fair, including its network-like structure, and how it became the core business structure of the contemporary art world. This paper demonstrates that art fairs inherited a great number of business practices from previous times, such as observational principles for the creation of prices, aesthetic features, and branding strategies to emphasize their outstanding and almost religious nature. Furthermore, the paper shows that the network-like structure of the art fair has contributed to its contemporary success.

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