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by Brook S. Mason
The third edition of the Salzburg World Fine Art Fair won’t be opening as scheduled on Aug. 15-23, 2009 at the Austrian city’s historic Residenz. Nor for that matter will the Boston Ellis Antiques Show, which typically opens at the end of October, celebrate its 50th anniversary as planned. Organizers say both the Beantown fair and the Austrian event are postponed until 2010.

Traditional art and antiques shows like those are especially feeling the pinch of shrinking pocketbooks. But lately, their attrition rate has been soaring.

Geneva-based fair organizer Yves Bouvier, who heads up Art Culture Studio (ACS), organizer of the Salzburg show, also suffered another casualty recently. He shuttered the doors of his five-year old Moscow World Fine Art Fair earlier this year due to the Russian economic crisis.

"While Art Culture Studios is not going to mount these fairs in 2009, we’re still in business," says Sixtine Crutchfield, the firm’s general manager. She cited the dismal economy as the contributing factor.

New on their project list is the inaugural Monte Carlo Luxury Fair slated to take place at the Grimaldi Forum, July 17-19, 2009. The Monaco government is backing that fair which will feature fashion, jewelry and art. "We’re approaching Russian jewellers for it," says Crutchfield.

In addition, Bouvier is developing the Singapore Free Port, a storage facility. He has recruited the Israeli-born, London-based designer Ron Arad to fine-tune the interiors of that storage enterprise. Bouvier happens to be a huge Arad fan and he is loaning some of his sculptures to the upcoming Arad retrospective taking place at Museum of Modern Art this summer.

Salzburg seemed like a sure thing for an art fair, as the fair dates capitalized on the more than 200,000 music lovers who descend on the Viennese town in August for the Salzburg Festival. Plus, the fair setting, which dates from 1595, was right in sync with much of the offerings on display. No less than Mozart performed there on a regular basis.

Even so, that wasn’t sufficient for London and Munich dealer Konrad Bernheimer, who heads up Colnaghi, to return as a participant to the Salzburg fair this time around. "For me, not coming back has nothing to do with the economic crisis," says Bernheimer. "August is the summer holiday month for our galleries, so it’s simply a matter of bad timing for us," he says.

Clearly, changing taste is also a factor. The Boston show, which routinely opened in November like clockwork, was organized by Chris Jussel of Antiques Road Show fame. Longtime dealers had been Carswell Rush Berlin, Georgian Manor and Hyland Granby. Lack of corporate sponsors and a dwindling number of dealers signing on had made mounting the show difficult.

With the Ellis and Salzburg shows supposedly counting on a revived market next year, other fairs will be watched closely. Perhaps, the question is why fair organizers are having such trouble finding a new generation of collectors.

-- Brook S. Mason