Ibrahim El-Salahi

Talking PointsState of the Arts
Harper's Bazaar
 

Nazy Vassegh on how the world’s galleries, fairs and auction houses are having to adapt for the times

 

Only ve months ago, I was sitting at my desk in London nalising the arrangements for Eye of the Collector, a new boutique art platform inspired by shows held in historic palazzi at the Venice Biennale and by my years working in the art world. I wanted to develop something new and bring a fresh experience to collectors.

 

The global art market in 2019 totalled $64.1 billion, galvanised by more than 350 international fairs, with gal-lerists regularly ying around the world to reach clients. This hive of activity encouraged me to create an event that would take guests on a voyage of discovery, doing away with booths and presenting art and design within the striking architec- tural setting of London’s Two Temple Place.

 

Today, I find myself in a makeshift home o ce in Sussex, having decided to postpone the physical fair to 2021, when I will be looking at a very di erent landscape. Since March, we have seen many events postponed or cancelled, with most reinventing them- selves as online-only initiatives: Art Basel has now launched two digital viewing-rooms and Frieze is hosting its second this month. I decided to stage the rst edition of Eye of theCollector as a curated virtual presentation, the Eye Viewing Room, on the day our London launch should have taken place.

 

Despite the challenges, there have been many other positive initiatives. Big galleries such as David Zwirner have helped smaller ones, including Kate MacGarry and Sid Motion, by sharing their digital platform. Artist-support initiatives have


proliferated, and auction houses have begun working with fairs and dealers on new ideas. The shift to online has led to more transparent pricing, driven innovation and achieved a true global
reach: our Eye Viewing Room was visited 
by people from 92 countries. Meanwhile, the streaming of major auctions such as Christie’s One, a live sale of 20th-century art that was relayed in sequence from Hong Kong, Paris, London and New York, has shown that the appetite for great works of art remains undiminished, whether they are discovered on- or o ine.

 

What the future holds for the sector remains uncertain, but it is clear that in order to survive and develop, we need to be open, resilient, nimble and optimistic; after all, we are in this together.