Niru Ratnam

The rise of the art fair – and the death of the small gallery

In the age of the ubiquitous art fair, traditional private galleries are becoming an expensive loss-leader

The sharp end of the art market: an Aleksandar Duravcevic sculpture at the Cologne Art Fair [Getty Images/Shutterstock/iStock/Alamy]

In 1967, two Cologne-based gallerists came up with the Cologne Art Market — a trade fair where German galleries could set up temporary gallery-style spaces for a few days to showcase their stock. The following year, three dealers in Basel copied the idea but opened up their event to international galleries.

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