Art and Entertainment

Matt Dunham/AP
A Christie's employee poses in front of an untitled piece by Enzo Cucchi.

London Art Fair Offers More Than $170,000 in Art—for Free

October 20, 2008 05:30 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The London Free Art Fair gave away artwork in an effort to encourage the love of art for art’s sake, not for investment.

Crowds Swarm at Free Art Fair

The Free Art Fair in London is giving away expensive artwork for free in an effort to counter the commonly held art-as-investment attitude. Some of the artwork is worth £10-15,000 (about $17-25,000), but Fair founder Jasper Joffe told the BBC he hopes people will take the opportunity to choose art they really like rather than pieces that are worth a lot of money.

Some people waited in line overnight to get their pick of pieces by established and up-and-coming artists. Joffe hoped that people would pick pieces that they truly wanted to keep in their homes forever. “I thought we should do something different from what everyone else is doing at this time of year and non-commercial, and something that excites people and values art not selling,” wrote Joffe on the Free Art Fair Web site, according to Reuters.

Background: The art market during the downturn

Perhaps it is no coincidence that the Free Art Fair coincided with London’s Frieze Art Fair held in Regent’s Park. Some art was sold at this year’s fair, but significantly less than in past years, according to The New York Times. Many of the usual collectors simply looked instead of bought this year. Despite unease about the economic downturn, the Times reported that many galleries carried on as though nothing was wrong.

For some time, art seemed impermeable to the effects of economic troubles. In May, two major auctions at Sotheby’s and Christie’s revealed that the wealthiest collectors were still willing to pay high prices for art. Although there was less diversity of bidders, at the time it seemed that the art market was largely untouched by worldwide economic woes. Now as the financial situation worsens, it seems that even major investors are toning down purchases.

Reference: Fine art


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