PARIS – The coronavirus pandemic has led to the cancellation of this year's premiere global art fairs since March, stymieing the main commercial artery of the multibillion-dollar industry.
But Art Paris, which is France's second-biggest contemporary art fair, is opening its doors to thousands of visitors from Thursday in the Grand Palais. The four-day show is going ahead despite a spike in COVID-19 infections in the country.
Art Paris is the first big international art fair to physically go ahead since the coronavirus swept through the world, grounding flights, triggering lockdowns and devastating commerce.
In 2019, before the coronavirus pandemic struck, the global art market was valued at around $64 billion.
“We had this conviction that we had to do this fair because it’s so important for the galleries to meet their collectors, you know, after six months of total inactivity. And, you know, everything was shut down, so it’s really essential,” Art Paris General Curator Guillaume Piens told The Associated Press.
Organizers acknowledge there’s a “risk,” and say a health team is on-site to evacuate any potential COVID-19 clusters from the galleries. But they hope that proceedings won'tt be marred by any fair-linked infections.
“The space of the Grand Palais is majestic just so it’s not seen as a confined space. It (has) more than a 45-meter-high ceiling,” Piens said.
Nonetheless, amid fears of a second wave, members of the French public have expressed dismay that such a big fair is going ahead.