As the coronavirus pandemic continues to make it difficult for large events to be held throughout the remainder of 2020, another top art fair has been canceled, marking the second event of its kind to be called off this week alone. The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) said in a statement that it will not host its New York edition, which had been postponed from May until the end of October.
“These past few months TEFAF has been working hard to plan a socially distanced fair for the fall, taking into account the many protocols that would allow the fair to open a safe and successful event,” the statement reads. “We have concluded that, despite our efforts, it will not be possible to host TEFAF New York 2020.”
The fair’s managing director, Sofie Scheerlinck, attributed the cancelation to “the uncertainties surrounding health and safety, the limitations on occupancy in the building, the cancelation of the vernissage, restrictions on international travel, and New York City’s strict reopening plan.”
As part of its cancelation, TEFAF said that it will provide its exhibitors will full reimbursement of fees already paid for their booths. The fair also said that it was working on “an online initiative” that will launch in the fall, in lieu of the in-person fair, but did not provide details.
Earlier this year, as the pandemic was beginning to rapidly spread across the world, TEFAF was forced to close its marquee fair in Maastricht, the Netherlands on March 11, four days early, as a result of the coronavirus. Its early closure came after reports that an exhibitor of Italian modern art had tested positive for Covid-19 and that he had attended the fair from March 5–7 but was not showing symptoms while present. Later that month, the Art Newspaper reported that at least 25 confirmed cases of Covid-19 could be traced to TEFAF Maastricht.
Shortly afterward, TEFAF announced that it would push the spring edition of its New York fair, which focuses on modern and contemporary art, to the fall, when its other New York fair, which typically places an emphasis on antiquities, Old Masters, and decorative arts, is usually held. The dates for the now-scuttled fair, which was to be held at the Park Avenue Armory, were October 31–November 4.
On Tuesday, the organizers of Frieze London and Frieze Masters announced that they would cancel the two fairs scheduled for early October and that they would proceed with an online iteration of the fair, as it did after canceling its New York fair initially planned for May. Paris’s FIAC fair, which would take place between the London and New York fairs canceled this week, has said it will make a decision about its in-person fair at the end of the month.
Update, July 17, 2020: This article has been updated to reflect that FIAC will make its decision about its October fair at the end of July.