Art Fairs & Gallery Weekends to Visit in September 2021

Emilie Trice | September 2, 2021 (Updated October 28, 2021)

The Armory Show. Photo by Teddy Wolff.
Emilie Trice is a writer, curator and artist based in Denver, Colorado. Her writing has been published online by The New York Times, The Paris Review, Artnet and Artforum, among other outlets.

Despite the persistence of “unprecedented times,” art fairs are returning to the fall calendar en masse. 

The international art fair calendar for September is shaping up to be the most frenetic season-opener in recent history, in spite of ongoing travel restrictions and other challenges due to the ever-evolving pandemic. To simplify the offerings, we’ve curated a list of the best fairs and gallery weekends to visit, organized by geographic region.

Art fairs aren’t just moneyed social events for the well-heeled glitterati to see and be seen—they’re also major business drivers in the art market. According to a 2020 study by UBS and Art Basel, fairs accounted for over 40% of gallery sales prior to the pandemic. 

Fortunately, that loss of revenue was counterbalanced by the outrageous art fair costs that galleries were spared when Covid-19 shut down travel, leading to widespread fair cancellations. Art fairs require a massive up-front investment from exhibitors and there’s no guarantee that galleries will turn a profit, let alone break even. Some dealers reported relief at being able to step off the art fair treadmill, while others have decided to forgo fairs entirely going forward. 

While the future fate of art fairs remains to be seen, many fair organizers are putting on a brave face and plowing ahead this month—including the grandmaster fair of them all, Art Basel.

Where possible, we’ve noted the Covid-19 protocols that are in place for specific fairs, but it’s recommended to double-check updated requirements on each fair’s website prior to attending since even the best-laid plans change quickly in a pandemic.

Case in point: on Monday, August 30th, the EU removed the US "from a 'safe list' of countries whose residents can travel to the 27-nation bloc without additional restrictions, such as quarantine and testing requirements," according to the New York Times. 

For gallerists, artists, collectors, and other arts professionals, art fairs represent the best and worst of the industry. It's no secret that networking plays a major role in the art world and fairs offer a highly concentrated nexus of art market players, from private curators to museum directors and patrons.

Artwork Archive enables artists, collectors, gallerists, and dealers to access and showcase their art inventory through any wifi-enabled device, from anywhere in the world—making it the art market’s must-have travel accessory for art fair season.

Without further ado, here’s our list of the best fairs and gallery weekends around the globe to visit in September.

Art fairs in North America

The Armory Show at the Javits Center, New York. Image courtesy the Javits Center and The Armory Show.

Spring/Break Art Show (New York, NY)

September 8 - 13, 2021

The buzziest fair for emerging artists, experimental curators, and cutting-edge contemporary art — every iteration of Spring/Break Art Show is an immersive, site-specific experience, with installation-heavy works that respond to a central curatorial theme. For this occasion, the event is entitled HEARSAY/HERESY and will include 100 exhibitors — curators, artist-curators, and an array of galleries — showing art with tongue-in-cheek references to medieval times, like … the plague.

The fair’s website states, “due to Covid-19 protocols, advanced timed tickets are required,” so plan your trip accordingly.

Must-see Exhibitors: Alejandro Jassan, Ted Riederer, Melinda Wang

The Armory Show (New York, NY)

September 9 - 12, 2021

Arguably New York’s most established art fair, The Armory Show returns this year, but to a new location — the Javits Center.  With an all-star exhibitor list of highly respected international galleries, The Armory Show is known for juxtaposing modern masterpieces with up-and-coming artists whose stars are on the rise. While the fair boasts 212 exhibitors this year, it’s important to note that some will be exhibiting “online only,” due to international travel restrictions. 

Due to Covid-19, The Armory Show will have a limited capacity with timed entry and coordinated crowd flow. The Armory Show will require that all individuals wear a mask indoors, regardless of vaccination status.

Must-see Exhibitors: HOUSING, Carl Kostyál, Night Gallery, Galerie Thomas Schulte

Art on Paper (New York, NY)

September 9 - 12, 2021

The premier art fair for works on paper, “Art on Paper returns to downtown Manhattan's Pier 36 in September 2021 with 100 galleries featuring top modern and contemporary paper-based art.” 

Must-see Exhibitors: The Heliotrope Foundation, LaiSun Keane 

Independent (New York, NY)

September 9 - 12, 2021

Founded in 2009 by gallerist Elizabeth Dee and Matthew Higgs, curator of the beloved nonprofit space White Columns, Independent is routinely touted by art world insiders as a refreshing and well-curated alternative to the labyrinth halls of more generic art fairs. 

Located in the historic Battery Maritime Building at the city’s South Street Seaport, this year’s fair will implement the following Covid-19 measures, according to its website: “All guests will be required to wear masks, present proof of vaccination at the door to gain entry to the fair, temperature checks will also be conducted. PCR tests will not be valid for entry.”

Must-see Exhibitors: Downs & Ross, Peres Projects, Axel Vervoordt Gallery

Future Fair (New York, NY)

September 10 - 12, 2021

Future Fair launched in 2019 with a novel approach — unlike other art fairs, Future Fair offered to split profits amongst its exhibiting galleries, thereby allowing more emerging and mid-size galleries to participate. The move was applauded throughout the industry and the fair was celebrated for its mix of international artists, risk-taking galleries, and thoughtful curation.

The fair returns in 2021 with an intimate list of 34 exhibitors and 16 bespoke exhibition rooms. “The fair encourages cross-exhibitor collaboration, with several exhibitors partnering with a curated concept to encompass their shared room,” according to its website.

Must-see Exhibitors: New Discretions, Stems Gallery, Swivel Gallery

Affordable Art Fair (New York, NY)

September 23 - 26, 2021

The Affordable Art Fair is the ideal fair for young collectors looking to either begin or add to their collection — without breaking the bank. The fair’s mission is to “showcase original contemporary artworks ranging between $100 and $10,000,” via a curated selection of over 70 local, national, and international exhibitors.

Must-see Exhibitors: Axiom Contemporary, Chiefs and Spirits

The Other Art Fair (Santa Monica, CA)

September 23 - 26, 2021

Presented by Saatchi Art, the online art marketplace, The Other Art Fair appeals to a younger crowd by featuring 140 emerging and independent artists with prices in the $100 to $10,000 range. With eight fairs worldwide, The Other Art Fair has become something of a franchise, but always delivers refreshing and fun perspectives on contemporary art.

Must-see Exhibitors: Chuck Stolarek, Varouján Hovakimyan

Art Market San Francisco (San Francisco, CA)

September 30 - October 3, 2021

Billing itself as “the Bay Area’s premier art fair,” Art Market San Francisco opens its tenth edition with 85 modern and contemporary galleries in 2021. Art Market specializes in emerging art, with an eclectic mix of contemporary voices.

Must-see Exhibitors: Melissa Morgan Fine Art, Rebecca Hossack Gallery

Art fairs in South America

Photo by Thales Botelho de Sousa on Unsplash

ArtRio (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil)

September 8 - 12, 2021

ArtRio will take place both in-person and online this year, but all tickets must be pre-scheduled, so plan ahead. Noted as the premier fair for contemporary and modern art in Latin America, ArtRio includes sections devoted to both established and emerging galleries, as well as “experimental curatorial projects.” 

Must-see Exhibitors: Mendes Wood DM

ARTBO (Bogotá, Colombia)

September 30 - October 3, 2021

Scrapping the traditional fair model, ARTBO decided to spread out across Bogotá in 2021 and rebrand as a “city ​​event dedicated to the reactivation of the arts sector.” The fair will include an online element with exhibiting galleries, but the real attraction is Bogotá itself, including an array of galleries, museums and private institutions. 


Art fairs in the UK & Europe

Left: Grand Palais Éphémère, copyright: Wilmotte & Associés Architectes. Right: Art Paris 2020 at the Grand Palais.

Art Paris (Paris, France)

September 9 - 12, 2021

Art Paris takes place in a stunning space — the Grand Palais Éphémère, which was “designed by renowned architect Jean-Michel Wilmotte … [and] is situated in front of the École Militaire and close to the Eiffel Tower.” With 140 galleries from over 20 countries, Art Paris will include 26 solo exhibitions, including a presentation of works by Pablo Picasso, as well as intimate black-and-white polaroids by Andy Warhol. 

Must-see Exhibitors: 193 Gallery, Kamel Mennour

Photo London (London)

September 9 - 12, 2021

Photo London specializes in historic, vintage and contemporary photography from an international array of dealers and galleries. The fair also includes a “Talks Programme,” curated by William A. Ewing, former Director of the Musée de l’Elysée, and former Director of Exhibitions at the International Center of Photography, New York; as well as several artist awards, headlined by the Photo London Master of Photography Award.

Must-see Exhibitors: Iranian artist Shirin Neshat presents “Lands of Dreams” for the first time in full in the UK, as part of the Master of Photography Award.

TEFAF (online edition)

September 11 - 19, 2021

The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) is one of the world’s most refined and longest-running art industry trade shows. TEFAF’s September 2021 edition is entirely digital, with a tight curatorial premise — each of the fair’s 250 exhibitors have been invited to display up to three artworks “that tell a single, compelling story when in conversation with one another,” according to the fair’s website. 

TEFAF is known for featuring a range of art genres, including: antiquities and works by Old Masters, rare books and manuscripts, decadent jewels and gemstones, modern and functional design, and contemporary conceptual art. 

Must-see Exhibitors: Van de Weghe Fine Art, Tina Kim Gallery

Barcelona Gallery Weekend (Barcelona, Spain)

September 15 - 19, 2021

Gallery weekends have become a popular alternative to art fairs, and a meaningful way for local art lovers to converge and exchange ideas, while supporting one another. Barcelona Gallery Weekend (BGW) has different platforms tailored to various audiences, from art world professionals to budding collectors. 

The event organizers offer a range of social events, personalized guided tours, and a full calendar of talks, performances and openings, all with the intention of exposing the city’s diverse cultural offerings.

Berlin Art Week (Berlin, Germany)

September 15 - 19, 2021

Berlin Art Week is a bit of an oxymoron — it’s always art week in Berlin. To make this particular week-long event extraordinary, the organizers have partnered with a range of institutions for a jam-packed program, including: the House of World Cultures (Haus der Kulturen der Welt); the city’s contemporary art museum, the Hamburger Bahnhof; and private collections such as Sammlung Ivo Wessel, which focuses on conceptual art and new media.

Expect a variety of performances, concerts, impromptu DJ sets and more academic events like lectures and panels, as well as neighborhood gallery tours spread across Europe’s most avant-garde city.

Copyright: POSITIONS Berlin & Clara Wenzel-Theiler

POSITIONS BERLIN (Berlin, Germany)

September 16 - 19, 2021

This art fair takes place in a historic airport hangar known as Flughafen Tempelhof and will present 110 exhibitors across the sprawling former terminal, with a focus on contemporary and conceptual art. As the official fair partner of Berlin Art Week, ticket holders to Positions Berlin will also have access to selected exhibition openings of Berlin's major museums such as KW Institute of Contemporary Art, Berlinische Galerie, and Gropius Bau. 

Must-see Exhibitors: Galerie Eigen + Art Lab

Arco Lisboa (online edition)

September 16 - 19, 2021

The Lisbon-based art fair decided to keep it digital this year and will be entirely online. This art fair caters to emerging galleries in order to bring fresh perspectives into the art market, with an international exhibitor list selected by Luís Silva and João Mourão, curators and directors of Kunsthalle Lissabon. Additionally, Arco Lisboa will include a special focus on galleries from the African continent, selected by Paula Nascimento, curator and architect.

Market Art Fair (Stockholm, Sweden)

September 17 - 19, 2021

Founded in 2006 by galleries representing the Nordic countries of Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, Market Art Fair is the destination art fair for the Scandinavian art scene. More intimate than most art airs, Market Art Fair will feature 34 galleries in 2021 with a focus on solo booths and curated presentations of Nordic artists.

Must-see Exhibitors: Helsinki Contemporary, V1 Gallery

miart (Milan, Italy)

September 17 - 19, 2021

Milan’s international modern and contemporary art fair will return in 2021 for its 25th edition and take place both physically and virtually. According to the fair’s website, the inspiration behind this year’s fair was “taken from Charles Simic's 1971 collection of poems, Dismantling the Silence, with the sincere hope that miart will also contribute to filling the cultural void caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

Must-see Exhibitors: Galerie Lelong, Clearing

Zurich Art Weekend (Zurich, Switzerland)

September 17 - 19, 2021

Zurich Art Weekend was originally founded by some heavy-hitters in the international art scene, among them gallerists Eva Presenhuber and Victor Gisler. The weekend-long event brings together Zurich’s major public and private art institutions in order “to shed new light on the art scene of Switzerland’s largest city,” with over 100 events in 60 different locations dotted across this idyllic lake-side town.

LISTE (Basel, Switzerland)

September 20 - 26, 2021

Widely accepted as the “feeder fair” to Art Basel, LISTE is the place to find uber-conceptual art by tomorrow’s blue chip stars. This fair is so cutting edge, it hurts. Now in a new location, collectors can rest easy knowing they won’t have to climb countless flights of stairs to enjoy the emerging art on view, presented by 81 galleries from 33 countries.

Must-see Exhibitors: Fitzpatrick Gallery, Super Dakota

VOLTA Basel (Basel, Switzerland)

September 20 - 26, 2021

The VOLTA fairs, which take place in Basel, New York and — more recently — Miami, feature emerging galleries and contemporary art from around the world at accessible price points. 

Must-see Exhibitors: Karl Oskar Gallery, Abigail Ogilvy Gallery

Copyright: Art Basel

Art Basel (Basel, Switzerland)

September 20 - 26, 2021 

The world’s most prestigious art fair, Art Basel in Switzerland is a mecca for die-hard art collectors and the gallerists who cater to them. The fair includes an all-star lineup of exhibiting galleries, as well as curated projects and myriad talks and panels by the industry’s best and brightest. 

With numerous curated sections including a public art program, a film series, and focused presentations devoted to massive sculptures and installations, Art Basel is the art world’s favorite international event. The people watching is sometimes as good, if not better, than the art. 

According to the Art Basel website, “Federal regulations in Switzerland require all those attending to be fully vaccinated, supply a recent negative COVID-19 test or have proof of antibodies,” so come prepared.

UPDATE: As of Monday, August 30th, the US issued a “do not travel” advisory for Switzerland. Also important to note: "not all vaccines are recognized by Swiss authorities—Astra Zeneca is not on the list, raising alarm for many UK-based exhibitors and collectors," according to Artnet.

The Art Newspaper further clarified that "anyone required to isolate will be able to remain in the same hotel to do so." 

Despite the reported widespread concern of US-based galleries about the fair's viability, in light of these updates, as of Friday, September 3rd, the fair is still scheduled to take place.

Must-see Exhibitors: They’re all good. See everything.

Design Miami / Basel (Basel, Switzerland)

September 21 - 26, 2021

The sister fair of Art Basel, Design Miami/Basel is the world’s go-to fair for functional art and avant garde design. Originally founded in Miami, as the name suggests, this year’s Design Miami/Basel is curated by Aric Chen and will “explore the theme of Human Nature—examining the evolving relationship between humans and the increasingly constructed natural world,” according to the fair’s website.

As with Art Basel, “Federal regulations in Switzerland require all those attending to be fully vaccinated, supply a recent negative COVID-19 test or have proof of antibodies.”

Must-see Exhibitors: Friedman Benda, Geoffrey Diner Gallery

Affordable Art Fair (Brussels, Belgium)

September 22 - 26, 2021

The Affordable Art Fair returns to Brussels with over 70 contemporary exhibitors featuring contemporary art priced up to 7,500 EUR. 

Must-see Exhibitors: Visus Gallery

Art fairs in Russia

Photo of Moscow University, by Evgeniy Ivanov on Unsplash

CosMoscow (Moscow, Russia)

September 10 - 12, 2021

Moscow’s contemporary art fair will return in hybrid form this year, with an in-person event, as well as an online edition. All works will be available for “contactless” purchase on-site via QR codes. The fair showcases many established and emerging Russian galleries, as well as galleries from Asia, South America, and across Europe.

Due to Covid-19 protocols, visitors must pre-register for an e-ticket with a fixed entry time to attend the fair.

Must-see Exhibitors: Fābula Gallery, Temnikova & Kasela, Triangle Gallery


Art fairs in Asia

Photo of West Bund, Shangai, by Freeman Zhou on Unsplash

Art Beijing (Beijing, China)

September 9 - 12, 2021

One of China’s main art fairs, Art Beijing will host an iteration of its Discovery expo showcasing works by Chinese artists ranging from classical paintings to contemporary pieces. This edition of the fair will also allow for “art agent” exhibitors, essentially dealers without a brick and mortar gallery space, which the fair believes reflects the current arts ecosystem and will help to usher these unsung art heroes into the market’s more visible mainstream.

Photofairs Shanghai (Shanghai, China)

September 23 - 26, 2021

Photofairs is “dedicated to presenting fine art photography and moving image art from leading international galleries and their artists in dynamic and cutting-edge destinations,” according to the fair’s website. The 7th edition will include over 40 exhibitors. Due to ongoing travel restrictions, this year the fair will initiate two new screen-based curated platforms: “Film” and “Digital.” 

Additionally, the fair has introduced a new “Not for Profit” initiative to showcase China’s top photographic institutions that are “cultivating and advancing photographic culture in China.”

Must-see Exhibitors: Danysz Gallery, Matthew Liu Fine Arts

Stay safe out there, folks. The pandemic’s not over yet, and neither is the art world.

The show—as they say—must go on.

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