ecosystem, many are returning to carefully selected artfairs which continue to inspire and speak to regional communities and cities. The artfairs located in Portugal, Spain, Germany, Brussels, Italy, Austria, for example, as well as the US and Canada have been capturing new visitors with a selective cultural directive and focused programming. The city of Chicago itself, Mr. Karman notes, also plays the vital role as host and cultural hub while Expo Chicago continues to present a broader discourse providing new talent exposure to art dealers and artists alike. Art collectors worldwide are geared up for a fresh exploration of the 2019 Chicago Expo, which kicks off early in the art season with a bang!
Could you tell us about the history of EXPO Chicago? EXPO CHICAGO is built on a long tradition of Chicago hosting an international art fair. Back in 1980, when there were very few fairs in the world, the Chicago International Art Exposition opened at Navy Pier and ran until the early 1990’s. Soon after, Art Chicago was formed and ran at several
locations until 2011. I began my career in Chicago at the first exposition in 1982 and returned back to it years later. In 2012, that I felt strongly that we needed to re-launch a fair with a commitment to quality, not quantity of dealers; a strong focus on international programming to support our exhibitors and visiting collectors, curators, and patrons; a strategic move back into Festival Hall at Navy Pier and to establish our mission to deeply engage both the Chicago and regional arts communities. As we are about to celebrate our eighth edition, I am proud that the annual international artworld calendars are marked for Chicago and that we play an important role in the cultural ecosystem and fabric of our great city. What are your thoughts on the current art market, and where do you predict it will be in the next decade? Although internet sales seem to be increasing and art commerce sites are constantly being added, there is no replacement for the experiencing of an artist’s vision for their work than in a gallery setting. Presenting a show in a gallery (and ultimately in a museum) allows for a more complete conceptual statement and art fairs amplify this experience by allowing the work to be seen throughout the world. Art fairs are an important “convening” moment that fosters exposure, broader discourse,
direct sales and growing a collecting base and I think we need to be innovative to stay relevant in this cultural ecosystem. I am ever optimistic about the market and I do think that we (art fairs) are here to stay. As in the past, there will be some galleries and fairs that will close to be replaced by new and exciting models to support artists in the future. With the rise in art fairs annually, (reaching over 200 art fairs globally just in 2019), how does your art fair continue to maintain a highranking position with many top collectors, galleries and 40,000 visitors participating each year? As I mentioned earlier, we benefit greatly from a long tradition of Chicago hosting an international art exposition and most importantly from the unwavering support of our institutions, civic leaders, galleries and artists. Chicago is uniquely positioned geographically in the center of the Greater Midwest and America making it easy for U.S. and international collectors, curators and art patrons to attend. Most importantly the city is fully engaged in helping us welcome the world and Chicago’s great restaurants, institutions, hotels and attractions add greatly to the mix making
September 2019 | 79