Art fairs rev up the commercial-art engine, yet the format of the art fair is positively medieval—selling wares in one category, in one place, over a brief period of time. If you compare 12th-century Leipzig with Miami Basel, the chief difference lies in whether you prefer a Rhenish flask or a mixologist’s cocktail. Jane Cohan hopes to provide an update. Coproprietor, with her husband, James, of a contemporary art gallery in New York’s Chelsea neighborhood, Cohan began contemplating an online art fair three years ago. But how to translate the phenomenon? One ploy was restriction. “It’s a one-week event, so it’s limited time only,” she explains. “That creates excitement, enthusiasm, and urgency.” Quickly enlisting such blue-chip galleries as David Zwirner, Gagosian, and White Cube, the VIP art fair (January 22 to 30) has grown to include 120 dealers in 27 countries. Potential buyers can zoom in on details of a piece with a click of their computer mouse and talk with a gallerist by phone, Skype, or IM. Much thought has gone into making the viewing of the art more realistic and informative, but at least as important is the social pecking order. Standard tickets are $20, although those who buy $100 tickets can see the art early, take personalized tours, and gain admission to a VIP lounge. If only they could attend the most exclusive parties! Maybe in VIP Art Fair 1.2 (vipartfair.com).
Images: courtesy of Blum & Poe; courtesy of David Zwirner; courtesy of James Cohan Gallery, New York; courtesy of Erwin Wurm and Lehmann Maupin Gallery; courtesy of Thomas Ruff and David Zwirner; courtesy of Galerie Lelong, New York