2019 edition of Sydney Contemporary at Carriageworks. Courtesy Sydney Contemporary. Photo: Zan Wimberley.

Chicago, Paris, and Sydney Fairs Push Dates to 2021

Three art fairs scheduled for this September have announced postponements because of the Covid-19 pandemic. Expo Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, is now planning to present its ninth edition at Navy Pier next spring, and Sydney Contemporary and La Biennale Paris will both return next September.

Organizers of Expo Chicago said that the decision to not keep the fair’s usual September time slot was a collaborative one, made with galleries, collectors, institutional partners, and city officials. To help exhibitors that may be struggling financially, the fair plans to make deposits nonbinding and allow for a flexible payment schedule for participants. It has also promised to provide financial support to both the Art Dealers Association of America (ADAA) and the New Art Dealers Association (NADA) with proceeds from the exposition.

“Moving our dates will enable our exhibitors and partners in Chicago to focus on reopening their galleries, launching their upcoming exhibitions, and begin the process of rebuilding so that together we can prepare for this important convening moment for the global art community in Chicago next April,” Expo Chicago president and director Tony Karman said in a statement.

His comments echo those of Georges De Jonckheere, the president of La Biennale Paris, who announced the fair would be moved on Monday. “Our priority is to ensure the health of all concerned and to act responsibly for the benefit of our profession, which is already hard hit by the Covid-19 outbreak. We owe it to dealers to eliminate all uncertainty by informing them of the decision today, so that they can enjoy proper visibility in the last quarter of this year.” He added: “Thanks to the early measures put in place by the Syndicat National des Antiquaires, the organizer of the Biennale Paris, our exhibitors face no financial risks.”

In March, the Paris fair informed its exhibitors that they would be able to pay their participation fees over a four-month period. In 2021, La Biennale Paris will take place inside the Jean-Michel Wilmotte–designed Grand Palais Éphémère. A number of dealers, including Brun Fine Art (Milan, London), Colnaghi (London, Madrid, New York), Galerie Yves Gastou (Paris), Yves Macaux (Brussels), and kamel mennour (Paris, London), have already confirmed their intention to take part in the thirty-second edition of the event.

Sydney Contemporary, which has been staged in the arts center Carriageworks since its inception in 2013, cited the ban on large public gatherings and restrictions on travel when it announced it would push back its 2020 fair. Forced to cancel much of its programming as well as a number of big-ticket events, Carriageworks decided to go into voluntary administration last week in an attempt to remain solvent.

Founder Tim Etchells said: “Sydney Contemporary is a truly unique fair amongst the busy program of international and regional art fairs. I am confident it will return strongly in 2021 to showcase the work of local and international artists and to support the vibrant and resilient Australian arts sector.” The annual five-day event draws more than 25,000 visitors, and according to a release, the last four editions generated $52 million for participating galleries. Etchells also voiced his support for Carriageworks, calling it “one of the best venues in the world for an art fair.”