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Art exhibition

An art exhibition is traditionally the space in which art objects (in the most general sense) meet an audience. The exhibit is universally understood to be for some temporary period unless, as is rarely true, it is stated to be a "permanent exhibition". In American English, they may be called "exhibit", "exposition" (the French word) or "show". In UK English, they are always called "exhibitions" or "shows", and an individual item in the show is an "exhibit".

Such expositions may present pictures, drawings, video, sound, installation, performance, interactive art, new media art or sculptures by individual artists, groups of artists or collections of a specific form of art.

The art works may be presented in museums, art halls, art clubs or private art galleries, or at some place the principal business of which is not the display or sale of art, such as a coffeehouse. An important distinction is noted between those exhibits where some or all of the works are for sale, normally in private art galleries, and those where they are not. Sometimes the event is organized on a specific occasion, like a birthday, anniversary or commemoration.

There are different kinds of art exhibitions, in particular there is a distinction between commercial and non-commercial exhibitions. A commercial exhibition or trade fair is often referred to as an art fair that shows the work of artists or art dealers where participants generally have to pay a fee. A vanity gallery is an exhibition space of works in a gallery that charges the artist for use of the space. Temporary museum exhibitions typically display items from the museum's own collection on a particular period, theme or topic, supplemented by loans from other collections, mostly those of other museums. They normally include no items for sale; they are distinguished from the museum's permanent displays, and most large museums set aside a space for temporary exhibitions. Exhibitions in commercial galleries are often entirely made up of items that are for sale, but may be supplemented by other items that are not. Typically, the visitor has to pay (extra on top of the basic museum entrance cost) to enter a museum exhibition, but not a commercial one in a gallery. Retrospectives look back over the work of a single artist; other common types are individual expositions or "solo shows", group expositions (collective exhibitions or "group shows"), or expositions on a specific theme or topic ("survey shows"). The Biennale is a large exhibition held every two years, often intending to gather together the best of international art; there are now many of these. A travelling exhibition is another category of art exhibition.

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  • A juried exhibition, such as the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition in London, the Chianciano Biennale at the Chianciano Museum of Art, or the Iowa Biennial, has an individual (or group) acting as judge of the submitted artworks, selecting which are to be shown. If prizes are to be awarded, the judge or panel of judges will usually select the prizewinners as well.
  • In an invitational exhibition, such as the Whitney Biennial, the organizer of the show asks certain artists to supply artworks and exhibits them.
  • An open or "non-juried" exhibition, such as the Kyoto Triennial, allows anybody to enter artworks and shows them all. A type of exhibition that is usually non-juried is a mail art exhibition.
  • O'Doherty, Brian and McEvilley, Thomas (1999). Inside the White Cube: The Ideology of the Gallery Space. University of California Press, Expanded edition. .
  • New York School Abstract Expressionists Artists Choice by Artists, New York School Press, 2000. .
  • National Information Standards Organization. Environmental Conditions for Exhibiting Library and Archival Materials. Bethesda, MD: NISO Press, 2001.
  • National Preservation Office. Guidance for Exhibiting Library and Archive Materials. Preservation Management Series. London: British Library, 2000.
  • Francis Haskell, The Ephemeral Museum. Old Master Paintings in the Rise of Art Exhibition, Yale University, 2000.
  • Bruce Altshuler, Salon to Biennial: Exhibitions That Made Art History. Volume I: 1863-1959, Phaidon Editors, 2008.
  • Bruce Altshuler, Biennials and Beyond: Exhibitions That Made Art History. Volume II: 1962-2002, Phaidon Editors, 2013.
  • Where Art Worlds Meet. Multiple Modernities and the Global Salon, ed. Robert Storr, Marsilio, 2005.
  • What Makes a Great Exhibition, ed. Paula Marincola, Philadelphia Exhibitions Initiative, 2006.
  • Hans Ulrich Obrist, A brief history of curating, Zurich-Dijon 2008.


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