Winter Art Fairs Around the Globe Are Reshuffling Their Dates Yet Again as Omicron Freezes the Return to Normalcy

The London Art Fair, Art Genève, and the Outsider Art Fair are among those postponing their winter events.

London Art Fair 2020. Photo: Mark Cocksedge

As we enter the third year of the pandemic, the winter months are once again posing an existential threat to art fairs. As the seemingly milder but more contagious Omicron variant spreads across the world, many fairs slated for January and February have had to yet again postpone their dates to warmer days in early spring or summer.

Among those to announce postponements in recent days are the London Art Fair, which will shift from January to April 20–24; the India Art Fair in New Delhi will move from February to April 28–May 1; and Paris’s Salon du Dessin and Drawing Now have moved from March to May 18–23 and May 19-22, respectively.

In New York, the Outsider Art Fair announced this week that it will postpone its event from February to March 3–6 at the Metropolitan Pavilion—and will make proof of a vaccine booster shot compulsory for entrance. New York’s Winter Show has said it will also delay its January 21 opening, but has yet to announce a new date.

artgeneve 2020. Photo: Julien Gremaud

artgeneve 2020. Photo: Julien Gremaud

The most recent fair to drop off the January and February calendar is Art Genève, which told Artnet News today that it will now take place from March 3 to 6, instead of its usual dates in the last week of January.

“Pushing the salon back by five weeks poses a particular challenge for everyone involved,” Thomas Hug, the fair’s director, told Artnet News. “However, since it will technically be the same fair, we will not really need to re-structure it.”

The boutique Swiss fair, which is growing in profile, was set to host 80 galleries, including Thaddaeus Ropac and Perrotin. It noted that “most” participants were able to reschedule, but not all.

“It was to be expected that the fair would be postponed,” said Silvia Bonsiepe, co-owner of Klemm’s, which is participating in Art Genève. “But of course it is a pity when the year starts off again in this manner… It makes the planned schedule for the next months— exhibition openings, fair traveling—definitively more demanding.”

The Swiss and U.K.-based fairs attribute their decisions not to government restrictions, but to a general sense of uncertainty.

“We have worked with our exhibiting galleries from the U.K. and internationally to make this decision,” said Sarah Monk, director of the London Art Fair. “We are working closely with all our exhibiting galleries to deliver an outstanding fair in April 2022 and have had an overwhelmingly positive response to the new dateline

For the India Art Fair, the date change was mandatory because it fell under the category of business-to-business exhibitions, and was therefore not allowed to take place.

Visitors at Jack Shainman’s booth in Miami Beach, Florida. Photo by Cindy Ord/Getty Images.

Some winter fairs, however, are proceeding as planned. In California, Frieze Los Angeles, which opens in mid February, and FOG Design and Art, which takes place between January 20 and 23 in San Francisco, have confirmed that they are going ahead. Meanwhile, SEA Focus, which opens in Singapore next week, is also proceeding as planned, as is Art Basel Hong Kong, which takes place later in the first quarter of this year, between March 24 and 26.

“We are aware that the situation surrounding the ongoing pandemic is very dynamic, and we are closely monitoring developments,” said a spokesperson from Art Basel. “We are introducing robust measures to create a safe fair environment.” The fair expects to share further details on its Hong Kong edition later this month.

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