2023 was the year of the independent gallerist. Or at least, it was here at Elephant where we fell hard for the gallerists taking matters into their own hands, creating worlds within their living rooms, abandoned shopping malls, newsagents, sandwich shops, run-down chapels, and underground nightclubs. For the most part, it is a true reflection of our times that our thirst for glamour and excess has been replaced by reverence for the underdog. But it wouldn’t be fair to discount the major players.
At Frieze in October, Frieze’s “Artist to Artist” illuminated the importance of community in the arts and saw a baton-passing ritual from established artists (including Tracy Emin, Olafur Eliasson, and Alvaro Barrington) to the lesser-known artists they had nominated. Then, less than a week later, the art world crossed the channel to Paris+, where the notoriously impenetrable French capital proved to be a welcoming hotspot for emerging artists.
Some months after Paris+, I sat down with a group of recent Fine Art graduates and asked them where they would be moving to pursue residencies. The result was almost unanimous – Paris. They told me that while attending Paris+ in October, they had seen how the city was opening up to emerging artists and how the scene in Paris promised more financial stability, studio space, and realistic opportunities for recent graduates than they had realized. The fair, at least in their case, opened new and unexpected doors for them.
It can be tempting to dismiss art fairs as mere corporate conglomerates. But, in 2023, there was an impressive amount of support for emerging talent on display, not just in sharing their work but also in providing practical financial support. If we pay close enough attention, we may well find cause for excitement beyond the shining lights and oyster bars.
Below, we have listed some of the major events that are set to shape 2024.
Condo is a decentralized art fair that was originally devised by Vanessa Carlos and has taken place in London, New York, São Paulo, Shanghai, Athens, and Mexico City. In each city, a group of galleries plays host to galleries from other cities and countries. Currently in London, Condo is an exciting beginning to the new year in the art world at a time that is otherwise relatively quiet. Be sure to check out Emalin, hosting Galerie Neu, and Arcadia Missa hosting Bridget Donahue and High Art.
Luna Luna was initially founded in 1987 by the young Austrian artist André Heller. Heller was an artist himself and envisioned the world’s first art amusement park. Heller sourced artists from across the globe to make this dream become a reality and commissioned art from the likes of Keith Haring, Dalí, and Basquiat, whose work was sprawled across carousels and ferris wheels. However, shortly after opening, a change of management saw the fairground closed and the works locked away. Until now. The fairground has reopened thanks to some attentive restoration work and funding from a surprise angel investor – Drake.
The Venice Biennale is perhaps the most important event on the calendar this year. The Biennale happens every two years and determines the best of the international art world. This year we are particularly excited about the Nigerian Pavilion, which has been curated by Nigerian-British curator and art historian Aindrea Emelife and features the work of Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, Ndidi Dike, Onyeka Igwe, Toyin Ojih Odutola, Abraham Oghobase, Yinka Shonibare, Fatimah Tuggar, and Precious Okoyomon.
The Whitney Biennial, a cornerstone of American art since its inception in 1932, returns for its eighty-first installment this March. This biennial exhibition, hosted by the Whitney Museum of American Art, showcases the dynamic evolution of contemporary art within the United States.
ZsONAMACO is Latin America’s leading art fair. Despite being international, the fair focuses on Latin American art, making it a brilliant insight into the work happening in the region. This year ZsONAMACO celebrates its 20th anniversary in Mexico City.
It wouldn’t be a roundup of major art world events without mention of Frieze. This year Frieze will be in LA, Seoul, and New York. This year we are particularly excited for Frieze Seoul (4-7th September), which is still a relatively new fair and is particularly apt given the exciting talent emerging from the Korean art market.
Frieze London & Frieze Masters
And, of course, we are looking forward to Frieze’s return to Regents Park in October. The energy truly is like no other, and between Frieze London and Frieze Masters, there is real value in the variety of works on display.
The Armory Show
The Armory Show was founded in 1994 when four art dealers decided to create a new art fair with the goal of attracting global attention and supporting their local artists from New York. Needless to say, they succeeded. Today The Armory Show is one of the most important fairs in America and continues to capture the fast-talking, hard-working spirit of New York City.
Art X Lagos
Art X is the first fair of its kind in West Africa and goes beyond the bounds of a traditional art fair. We are particularly excited about Art X Live, a one-of-a-kind showcase that features collaborations between some of the fastest rising artists and musicians on the African continent.
Written by Emily Burke