How Artists Are Pivoting And The Business Of Art Is Changing During The Pandemic

Superfine NYC 2019. SUPERFINE

Forbes, by Amanda Lauren, Aug 30, 2020

The pandemic has impacted every single industry, but especially the art world. Traditional art investors have not only pulled back due to financial uncertainty but also because galleries have been closed and events such as art fairs have been canceled. At the same time, the overall societal connection to art and design has increased immeasurably. Everyone is spending more time at home, leading to a major shift with many people moving, renovating, and at the very least, redecorating.

Pandemic Gallery Life

Like most retail, some galleries have shuttered entirely due to COVID, while others are currently operating, albeit in a different way. “Our business model has changed significantly due to the global pandemic… Haykoff currently offers online and private viewings at the client’s desired location, with a maximum of two people in attendance. “In other words, we bring the gallery to you, which was never done before.” … The appointments, which attract serious buyers only, require two to three personnel staff to showcase the work. The art can also be shown just outside the gallery’s vault. … With prices ranging from $1 to $5 million, buyers are unlikely to spend that kind of money without seeing a physical product first.

The Future Of Art Fairs

Superfine plans to operate under a “Resilience Plan.” It requires all artists, vendors, staff, fair-goers, etc to undergo health screenings including having their temperature taken. The number of guests will also be limited to between 75 to 100 people at one time to maintain social distancing. Entry is limited to approximately 90 minutes to allow as many people as possible to experience the fair.

While organizers will surely make Superfine 2021 a great experience, there’s no getting around the fact that it won’t feel exactly the same way it did prior to the pandemic. But that isn’t necessarily a deterrent because while everyone must assess their own risk, the fair will likely only attract serious buyers. Furthermore, timed entry slightly increases the pressure to buy, which is good for artists.

It’s also important to understand that Superfine isn’t a traditional art fair. Co-founded by partners by Alex Mitow and James Miille, it caters to affluent 26 to 45-year-olds. All pieces are priced accessibly ranging from approximately $100 to $15000 with most costing under $2500. 


This article was useful for me to see how a more typical business-minded professional would cover a story about COVID-19 solutions in the arts. I am curious whether Short North galleries are using similar tactics as Haykoff, and when I reach out to them I will be sure to ask about that. Haykoff’s COVID-19 selling solution is seemingly effective, but I wonder how it would apply to artwork that is not worth millions of dollars? What is the “by request only” equivalent for DIY exhibitions, zine parties, or makers marts? As for the section about Superfine festival, I did not find their solutions particularly innovative, probably because it is very similar to the way stores are handling COVID-19.