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Tony Karman on EXPO CHICAGO

The 4th edition of EXPO CHICAGO will take place September 17–20, presenting 140 galleries from 16 countries. Flash Art talked with director Tony Karman.

EXPO CHICAGO goes into its 4th edition. Has a lot changed since the first edition?

Our effort to bring collectors and art professionals to Chicago is the same, no matter if you are in the first or twentieth edition. But we have a bigger global reach now, and the programs that we have established are maturing and building a legacy. We are taking the In/Situ program outside, siting works in the park district of Chicago. We changed the time frame to September, which is not only better on the international art fair calendar, but it coincides with the opening of the fall art scene. It’s a beautiful time to be in town.

Is the focus on Chicago and the region?

You cannot just be a regional fair, but we must make an international fair that is strongly rooted in the region. We have programs focusing on China, Italy, Germany and France. Our marketing strategy is to make sure that we are representing the greater Mid West, including Toronto, Cincinnati, Saint Louis, Kansas City, Minneapolis, Dallas and everywhere in between. All places where there are great institutions and active collectors. Also, we fly in institutional curators from the greater Mid West.

What makes Chicago interesting for the arts?

There are excellent institutions like the Art Institute, the School of the Art Institute, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and many others. The gallery scene is growing. World famous artists like Kerry James Marshall, Theaster Gates and Nick Cave live here. All those things are coming together to form Chicago.

You are also actively cooperating with art schools.

When you can see great talent coming out of schools in your backyard, that is a pretty strong opportunity to take advantage of. Many of the collectors who are coming to Chicago want to find the next generation.

How will the art fair develop?

My plans are not to expand in size, but to stay put. This is as big as the fair ever gets, with 140 galleries. Our growth will be not in size but in significance and quality.

by Jurriaan Benschop