Free Art Fair


The art fair where all the work is given away

The Free Art Fair will take place for the third and final time in London in 2009 at The Barbican Centre. This will be the biggest best most fun version ever. Artists participating were asked to incorporate the idea of free into their work by making work that they always wanted to make but felt like they couldn’t.

In 2007 Jasper Joffe set up the first Free Art Fair with the participation of 25 artists all giving their art away for free in three empty shop spaces in Portman Village, near Marble Arch, London. It offered an alternative to the art market’s focus on price and status. This had become alienating not just to artists but also to viewers, and art as a creative and social object was being lost. In simple terms we wanted to say art was worth more than money. The first Free Art Fair was a great success. Viewers seemed to really engage with the concept and the individual artworks, and in a wider sense it resonated with many artists, including those showing at the large commercial art fairs, who felt that the art world had been hijacked by big money. People who got art included students, homeless people, teachers, a nurse, and many people who never would have been able to become art collectors otherwise.

In 2008 (download catalogue) 50 artists gave away art work including Stella Vine, Bob & Roberta Smith, Gavin Turk, Chantal Joffe, Danny Rolph, Harry Pye and many others. People queued for three nights to become free art fair collectors, 2000 catalogues were given away, and thousands of people saw the exhibition. The giveaway was discussed as a counterpoint to the commercialisation of the art world in global publications and was featured live on all the main UK TV channels.

This year’s fair will be the last in London.  The Free Art Fair is made entirely without any budget with everyone giving what they love or do best for free.

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Last updated on 3 September 2008