If you thought art fairs were just about collectors, investments and making money, you’d be mistaken. They offer “a rapid education about what’s happening in the visual world — a cultural turbocharge”, says Mark Read, chair of the Everard Read group of galleries. They’re about “the importance of the cultural message”, says Laura Vincenti, director of the Investec Cape Town Art Fair. And they’re “invaluable at growing the art market”, says Glynis Hyslop, MD of Joburg’s Turbine Art Fair.

If anything, art fairs have become major cultural and social events in many of the world’s biggest cities. The phenomenon has been evolving for decades, starting with Frieze London and Art Basel. Today Art Basel is hosted not just in Switzerland, but also in Miami and Hong Kong. Frieze is held in Los Angeles, London and New York, and the Armory Show (now also owned by Frieze) takes place in New York...

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