Art Fairs Online 2020-2021

Data from the first Pandemic Year

     From the beginning of the global alarm due to Covid-19, art fairs around the world have changed their relationship with the audience by adapting to the current situation. The increase of online Art fair has grown up exponentially, and except for small periods of stability during the coronavirus crisis, the face-to-face art fair has suffered a large number of cancellations all around the world.

Online Art Fairs during first P.A. year

Since the first online art fair initiative Art Basel – Viewing Rooms March 2020, which replaces one of the first big affected, Art Basel Hong Kong 2020, April 2020 is a searching period for solutions, that leads to an unprecedented increase in online art fairs in May. The postponements (and subsequent cancellations) with just a month of margin as decided by some fairs, were not enough for a situation of pandemic alert that was beginning to be known the scope.

June, July and August announced cancellations with date changes to September, as Art Basel and its satellites art fairs as the best example of the seriousness of the situation, just as digital initiatives seemed to shrink with prospects for a return to normal after summer dates.

Many physical art fairs postponed to October-November are finally canceled, and the ‘Plan B’ already planned, stronger and more experienced in digital, come back at the same time. Since the maximum of online Art fairs in Oct 2020, the online alternative grows in number and matches the calendar of physical fairs (do not forget that some online art fairs have durations of more than 30 days).

Online/Physical Art Fairs during first P.A. year

The 1/1 half during the pandemic alert arises the first online projects to reduce to show work in physical format possibilities. Medium and large art fairs choose to remain present on the date through online, but many postponed or canceled in case of not finding suitable dates or waiting for greater stability. The more stable situation in June, July and August gives advantage to celebrate art fairs in physical format, despite the large cancellations such as Art Basel (Basel) and its week of satellite fairs.


The 2/2 half of P.A. There is a significant increase in digital platforms but there is also a gap for physical celebrations, especially from September to October, coinciding with an improvement in Europe, with fairs in Germany and France (among others).

The total (digital and physical) from the period between Mar 2020 to Feb 2021, was 121 events. Regarding the interest of the fairs and galleries-artists, where the face-to-face encounter with the public has been corroborated as irreplaceable in the current situation, the total between online art fairs and physical art fairs is more balanced despite a first impression can give. However, the number of fairs held in face-to-face format from September 2019 to February 2020 was 314 art fairs, this represents a reduction of 17% from the previous period.

Physical Art Fairs during first P.A. year

In an exclusive face-to-face physical art fair vision along the period P.A. from this analysis, it gives us the key how the changes (postponed) multiplied the number of calls in the art fair calendar. Postponed and canceled is part of the analysis with the aim of showing the effort that many art fairs have made to find the right moment, up to two times, and finally in many cases it is canceled.

The first half of the P.A. period Mar 2020 to Aug 2020 there are fewer fairs compared to the following period and only 11% of the fairs called take place (change of season July – August). Sep 2020 to Feb 2021 increases to 22% the fairs held, and the postponed dates from the first half of P.A. move to the second in the graph.

There is the case of the art fair that does not propose a date in the art fair calendar, so they are excluded out of this analysis.