Why the PAN Art Fair is just plain fun

Why the PAN Art Fair is just plain fun

Nov 23, 2012 |  by  |  Art, Event
About the author
Thomas (25) is a recently graduated art historian with a passion for modern and contemporary art. He loves writing about interesting artists and unexplored art spaces, so if you are or know one, don't hesitate to get into contact with him.

Judging by their attendance records, art fairs like the PAN Art Fair range among the most popular art-events today. Even so (or perhaps because of this), fair-bashing is a favourite pastime of many self-respecting critics. Some complain about the poor conditions of display at art fairs, others have a problem with the decidedly commercial goings-on at these events. Here’s why art fairs in general, and the PAN in particular are fun anyway.

Give me a reason

First of all, at most major art fairs there is great art to be found – just check the gallery below. Yes, you’ll probably also see a lot of crap there, and yes, you’ll have to look for the quality stuff to find it. But isn’t it more fun to explore and discover something you really like, instead of having your mind made up for you?

Secondly, since the PAN in particular is also a fair for antiques and design, there are all sorts of curious and downright bizarre things on view apart from art. These rather obscure objects usually don’t get labelled as ‘art’ – but so what? It’s okay to be intrigued by strange rarities like vintage duelling pistol kits or hand-crafted 19th century religious paraphernalia. The God of Fine Art will probably let it slide if you are.

Art fairs are your only shot at seeing lots of rare objects before they disappear into private collections forever.

Thirdly, while most museums are broke and can’t afford to buy art by arrived or dead artists, such art is presented in great volume at art fairs. In fact, you probably won’t get to see as many works by canonical artists in one place as you will at art fairs like the PAN. As such, art fairs are basically your only shot at seeing lots of rare objects before they disappear into some corporate fat cat’s private collection forever. Unless you have some horribly rich sugar daddy, of course.

Why so serious?

Serious critics might object that I take a rather naive approach to art fairs like the PAN. And let’s face it, a lot of major art fairs may indeed mainly thank their popularity to peoples’ desire to see and be seen. Many of the rumours about cut-throat competition between participating galleries may also very well be true. Art fairs are what they are, there’s no denying it. But as long as they continue to give penniless bastards like myself a chance to be amazed by the many strange and wonderful things that are out there, I really don’t care.

PAN Art Fair

When: 18-25 November
Where: RAI Amsterdam, Hall 8
Admission: €15
Website: http://www.pan.nl/

Photos by Victorine van Alphen.

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