Paris Photo launches online viewing room in response to COVID-19 pandemic

Paris Photo announced back in March the cancellation of its inaugural edition in New York, which was due to be held at Pier 94 from April 2 through 5.

The photography fair has now launched its own online viewing room, in an effort to accommodate the 127 galleries and 47 publishers who had been set to be involved in the inaugural Paris Photo New York.

The online viewing room, open to the public through April 30, gives access to more than 1,200 photographic works by Robert Mapplethorpe, Nan Goldin, Andreas Gursky, Peter Hujar, Dorothea Lange, Sally Mann and Diane Arbus.

Collectors will also have the opportunity to discover contemporary artists like Roe Ethridge, Ari Marcopolous, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, Tyler Mitchell and Ming Smith, who was notably the first black female photographer to have a work acquired by the Museum of Modern Art in 1975.

The online catalogue does not include the prices of works on view, although Paris Photo provides potential buyers details to contact participating galleries for sale inquiries.

Paris Photo is the latest art fair to launch an online viewing room as a substitute for its physical fair, in a move similar to the one taken by the also-canceled Art Basel Hong Kong, Dallas Art Fair and London Original Print Fair.

Although major fairs have had online portals for years, the global COVID-19 pandemic has forced art professionals to reimagine how to conduct sales under the physical distancing restrictions.

More than 250,000 visitors visited Art Basel's Online Viewing Rooms, where over 2,000 works were on view with an overall value of approximately $270 million.

The initiative provided a virtual sales platform to all the galleries that had signed up for this year's Hong Kong fair at no cost, with organizers stressing that the Online Viewing Rooms were not meant to replace the future editions of the fairs in Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong.

Earlier this April, Frieze New York also announced that it will offer participating galleries the opportunity to display works in new online viewing rooms without any charge.

Details about the virtual platform are still scarce at the time of writing, although the project had been in development before the cancelation of the New York fair.