Inspiration can come from a variety of sources, both expected and unexpected. From our day-to-day routines to the exposure to different cultures we might experience when we travel, we are constantly soaking up inspiration. In this article, we explore some of the world’s most prominent art fairs–aka. an extra tool you can use when you’re looking for a little artistic inspiration in your life.
An amazing source of artistic energy, creativity, and passion, if you’re looking for that little hit of inspiration, art fairs need to be on your radar.
Luckily, art fairs take place all over the world at various times of year, so there’s always an opportunity to get inspired, no matter where you are in the world. We’ll walk you through all the amazing art fairs going on in the world, organized by geographical location.
No doubt about it, art fairs in North America are essential destinations for art lovers and professionals alike. They are vibrant celebrations of artistic expression, which draw enthusiasts, collectors, and artists from around the world. We broke it down into art shows in the United States and Canada, so you can find the show that works best for your location.
- Art Basel Miami Beach: Held annually in Miami Beach, Florida, this fair is a melting pot of contemporary art. It showcases a diverse range of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to digital and multimedia installations. With its beachfront location, Art Basel Miami Beach seamlessly combines art with the vibrant energy of the city’s cultural scene.
- The Armory Show: A historic art fair hosted on the piers along the Hudson River in New York, The Armory Show is a highlight of the city’s art calendar. The fair’s focus on innovation and experimentation makes it a must-visit for art lovers.
- Frieze Art Fair: Frieze is another prominent art fair in New York City that emphasizes contemporary art. It’s known for its curated sections, cutting-edge installations, and thought-provoking talks and presentations. The fair is a hub for galleries, artists, and collectors, creating an atmosphere of artistic exploration.
- LA Art Show: Located in the heart of the American West Coast, the LA Art Show is one of the country’s largest and longest-running art fairs. It encompasses a wide spectrum of art genres, from traditional to cutting-edge. The fair often features a diverse range of international exhibitors, making it a well-known location for cross-cultural artistic exchange.
- Chicago Expo Chicago: This annual fair brings a global perspective to the city’s thriving art scene. The fair’s emphasis on engaging with the local community through art makes it a unique and enriching experience.
- The Toronto Outdoor Art Fair (TOAF): Held in Toronto, Ontario, the Toronto Outdoor Art Fair is one of Canada’s largest and longest-running outdoor art exhibitions. This event provides a platform for both emerging and established artists to display their work in a public, accessible space. Visitors can explore a wide range of art forms, while engaging directly with the artists. TOAF fosters a sense of community and connection between artists and those who appreciate art.
- Art Toronto: As Canada’s leading contemporary and modern art fair, Art Toronto takes place annually in Toronto. Art Toronto provides a comprehensive overview of the Canadian art scene and offers a platform for international artists to gain exposure in the Canadian market.
- Plural: Formerly known as Papier, this is an important annual art fair held in Montreal, Quebec. It is dedicated specifically to contemporary works on paper, making it a unique and specialized event. This fair provides a platform for artists and galleries to showcase various artistic creations, including drawings, prints, photographs, and other paper-based art forms. Papier has gained recognition for its emphasis on promoting and celebrating the medium of paper in contemporary art.
Forever a hub for artists to gather inspiration, Europe doesn’t disappoint in its abundance of art fairs. We’ve highlighted a sampling of what they have to offer, organized by country.
- London Art Fair: London Art Fair, held annually in the capital city, is one of the UK’s top art events. London Art Fair places a strong emphasis on British art, providing a platform for artists of all experience levels to display their work. The fair also features curated sections and themed exhibitions, making it the perfect spot for exploring the latest trends and innovations in the art world.
- Frieze London: Frieze London is a globally renowned art fair held in Regent’s Park, London. It is part of Frieze Art Week, which includes other events like Frieze Masters and various satellite fairs and exhibitions throughout the city.
- The Other Art Fair: This fair is unique because it takes place in various locations across the UK, including London. What sets this fair apart is its commitment to showcasing emerging artists directly to the public. Visitors can explore a diverse range of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to prints and digital art, and interact with the artists themselves. The Other Art Fair fosters a sense of discovery and accessibility in the art world.
- FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain): FIAC is one of the most prestigious contemporary art fairs in the world. Held annually in Paris, it gathers leading galleries, artists, collectors, and art enthusiasts. The fair also extends its influence beyond the Grand Palais with outdoor exhibitions and events throughout the city, making it a pivotal event in the global art calendar.
- Art Paris: Art Paris is an annual art fair in the French capital. The fair’s thematic approach to each edition adds depth and context to the artworks on display, making it a dynamic and engaging event.
- DRAWING NOW Art Fair: DRAWING NOW is Europe’s leading contemporary drawing fair, taking place in Paris. This fair is dedicated exclusively to drawing as an art form. It brings art enthusiasts to celebrate the versatility and innovation of contemporary drawing. Visitors can explore a wide range of drawing styles, techniques, and expressions, making it a unique and specialized event for those interested in this medium.
- Art Cologne: Art Cologne is one of the oldest and most renowned art fairs in the world. Held annually in Cologne, it has been a hub for contemporary and modern art since its inception in 1967. The fair features a wide range of artistic genres.
- Berlin Art Week: Berlin Art Week is a prominent event that takes place annually in the German capital. It is a week-long celebration of contemporary art, featuring exhibitions, gallery openings, performances, and public art installations. Berlin Art Week offers a unique opportunity to explore the city’s thriving art scene and engage with cutting-edge contemporary art.
- Positions Berlin Art Fair: Positions Berlin is an annual art fair that coincides with Berlin Art Week. It provides a platform for galleries and artists to present their latest works. Positions Berlin is known for its curated exhibitions, giving visitors a curated view of the current trends and developments in the art world.
- Arte Fiera Bologna: Arte Fiera Bologna is one of Italy’s most prestigious art fairs. With a rich history dating back to 1974, it has played a significant role in promoting Italian and international art. The fair features a diverse range of artistic expressions, from painting and sculpture to multimedia installations. Arte Fiera Bologna is an essential event for collectors, galleries, and art enthusiasts interested in the Italian and European art scenes.
- MiArt Milan: MiArt Milan is an annual art fair held in Milan, Italy’s fashion and design capital. It is dedicated to modern and contemporary art and encompasses various artistic mediums.
- Artissima Turin: Known for its innovative approach and commitment to showcasing emerging artists and cutting-edge trends in the art world, Artissima offers a wide range of art forms. The fair’s emphasis on experimentation and exploration makes it a key event for those interested in the forefront of contemporary art.
Don’t forget to check out some of the innovative and inspiring art fairs going on in Asia! With a rich history of art and a modern scene experiencing a lot of growth, this is an area of the art world that you don’t want to miss out on, whether you are local or planning your next trip abroad.
- Art Beijing: Art Beijing is an annual art fair held in the capital city of China. It features a diverse range of contemporary and modern art from both Chinese and international artists. Art Beijing has become a prominent platform for galleries, collectors, and art enthusiasts to engage with the rapidly evolving Chinese art scene.
- West Bund Art & Design: Located in Shanghai, West Bund Art & Design is a major contemporary art and design fair that takes place annually along the West Bund waterfront. The fair offers a wide spectrum of artworks and has become the go-to destination for artistic innovation and creativity.
- Shanghai Biennale: The Shanghai Biennale is one of China’s most important international art exhibitions. Held every two years, it features contemporary art from both Chinese and international artists. The biennale explores thematic concepts and provides a platform for artists to respond to current global issues through their works. It’s a significant event for artists and fosters dialogue between different cultures and artistic perspectives.
- Art Fair Tokyo: Art Fair Tokyo is one of Japan’s premier and oldest art fairs. It is held annually in Tokyo and showcases various art forms, including traditional Japanese art and crafts. The fair features both domestic and international galleries, making it a significant location for art in Asia.
- Roppongi Art Night: While not a traditional art fair, this annual fair is a unique and immersive experience that combines contemporary art with the city’s vibrant nightlife. The event features various art installations, performances, and exhibitions that take place in public spaces, galleries, and museums throughout the night, creating a dynamic fusion of art and urban culture.
- Aichi Triennale: The Aichi Triennale is a major international art festival held every three years in Aichi Prefecture, Japan. It explores thematic concepts and provides a platform for artists to engage with contemporary social and cultural issues through their works. It has gained recognition for its diverse and thought-provoking exhibitions.
Another part of the world with an extensive history of cultural art as its base, Latin America is full of inspiration. We’ve listed a selection of their most prominent contemporary art fairs.
- Zona Maco: Zona Maco is one of the most prominent contemporary art fairs in Mexico and Latin America. Held annually in Mexico City, it features a diverse array of art and attracts art leaders, making it a significant location for commerce in the region.
- Material Art Fair: Material Art Fair is an exciting and innovative contemporary art fair held in Mexico City. It focuses on both new and established artists, providing a platform for experimental and cutting-edge art. Material Art Fair has gained recognition for its emphasis on fostering dialogue between artists and collectors and for its unique approach to showcasing the freshest trends in contemporary art.
- São Paulo Art Biennial: This art fair is one of the most prestigious and long-standing art exhibitions in the world. It takes place every two years in São Paulo and focuses on contemporary art.
- SP-Arte: SP-Arte is an annual art fair in São Paulo that features modern and contemporary art. SP-Arte showcases a diverse range of artworks, from paintings and sculptures to photography and new media.
- ArtRio: ArtRio is one of the leading art fairs in Brazil, held annually in Rio de Janeiro. It focuses on contemporary and modern art, attracting both Brazilian and international galleries and artists. ArtRio showcases a wide variety of artistic expressions and has contributed significantly to the art scene in Rio de Janeiro.
It might be a long flight for artists not already living in Australia, but if you’re up for the travel, these art fairs are definitely worth the trip.
- Sydney Contemporary: Sydney Contemporary is one of Australia’s most well-known art fairs, held annually in Sydney. You’ll find both Australian artists, as well as international artists, featured throughout the fair. In addition, there’s plenty of diversity in art forms to keep you engaged and inspired.
- Melbourne Art Fair: Another significant art event in Australia, held in Melbourne, this fair has a long history that focuses on contemporary and modern art.
- Sydney Art Month: Sydney Art Month is an annual festival that celebrates creativity in Sydney. While not your typical art fair, it features a wide range of events, including gallery exhibitions, studio visits, and public art installations. The festival aims to promote and engage with Sydney’s thriving art scene.
- Sydney Contemporary Satellite Program: In addition to the main Sydney Contemporary fair, there is a Satellite Program that extends the reach of the fair throughout the city. It includes exhibitions, talks, and events hosted by various galleries and cultural institutions, providing opportunities for a deeper exploration of contemporary art.
- TARNANTHI – Festival of Contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Art: TARNANTHI is a major biennial festival held in Adelaide, South Australia, that focuses on contemporary Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander art. While not a traditional art fair, it showcases a wide range of Indigenous art forms, including painting, sculpture, textiles, and performance art.
For those living in or planning a visit to South Africa, we gathered a list of some of the largest art fairs with the most diverse selections of artwork in the area.
- Investec Cape Town Art Fair: The Investec Cape Town Art Fair is one of South Africa’s most well-known art fairs, held annually in Cape Town. It focuses on contemporary art and provides a platform for artists from all over the world to showcase their work. The fair features a diverse range of art forms that range all the way from painting and sculpture to photography and video.
- FNB JoburgArtFair: The FNB JoburgArtFair is a significant art event held annually in Johannesburg. This fair is known for its diverse offerings that will keep you entertained from start to finish.
- Cape Town Art Week: Cape Town Art Week is a city-wide celebration of contemporary art in Cape Town, which includes events, exhibitions, and open studios across the city. While it may not be like most other art fairs you attend, it still offers a rich array of opportunities to engage with the local art scene.
- Turbine Art Fair: The Turbine Art Fair takes place in Johannesburg and showcases contemporary art from both the South American artists you already know, as well as the up-and-coming that you need to have on your radar.
- RMB Turbine Art Fair: The RMB Turbine Art Fair in Cape Town is an extension of the Johannesburg fair, offering another opportunity to experience contemporary South African art.
Which art fairs will you be attending?
As you can see, art fairs around the world are plentiful and as varied as the artists they represent. There are always new fairs popping up to keep artists inspired, engaged, and creatively driven. Keep in mind, this is only a small sampling of what the art world has to offer when it comes to inspiring events.
Be sure to keep your eyes open for local events, including gallery openings, festivals, and various community events. Many art communities and galleries hold a free public art walk once a month, such as the First Friday Art Walk in Portland, Maine. Some cities also offer digital art walks of public art, such as the one available in Toronto, Canada. You might be shocked to discover all the artistic inspiration that is available right under your nose.
When the time comes to get out there and explore what the world has to offer artistically, we hope this list helps you find the inspiration you are searching for.