The pop-ups also benefit artists, say dealers, who are pushed to produce relentlessly for art fairs, often at the expense of their own practice.
“We’re applying to fairs a year in advance and a lot can happen in a year in terms of the artist’s studio,” Fitzpatrick says, referring to how an artist’s practice can change over the course of several months. The pressure to produce a certain type of in-demand work for fairs, he says, has “hindered creativity.”
Much comes down to timing: While Condo has done well to energize art-world audiences when little else is happening, some gallerists warn against organizing pop-ups during busy moments of the art world calendar. Still, in cities less saturated than global art centers such as New York or London, galleries have successfully taken advantage of high-traffic art events. Berlin gallery KOW
, for instance, set up a pop-up show of work by
in the São Paulo home of a gallery employee’s family, coinciding with the city’s SP-Arte art fair.
Having that kind of on-the-ground connection is also key to making a pop-up venture take off. Wagner, for example, had a strong ground game: She knew artists, collectors, press contacts, and fellow galleries in New York, who brought friends, helped spread word of mouth, and facilitated networking to make her time there worthwhile.
While her pop-up was an independent initiative, it and other ventures such as Condo encourage the spirit of collaboration that emerging galleries say is critical to their survival, says Sultana.
“We need to get strong all together and build a new generation,” he says, “and it’s very good timing for that.”