When it comes to displaying art, there is a clear distinction between an art show and an art exhibit. An exhibition is a public display of one or a few pieces of artwork to a small group of people. It is usually intended to educate viewers about the artwork or object. On the other hand, an art show is a public exhibition of a large selection of items, often united by a theme.
For example, a single fossilized dinosaur skeleton in a museum lobby would be considered an exhibition, while a collection of dinosaur skeletons in a museum wing would be considered an art show. The difference between the two lies in the scale. An exhibition denotes the idea of showing, while an art show can connote showing, selling and entertaining together. Art exhibitions have played a crucial role in the new art market since the 18th and 19th centuries. In the past, exhibitions were held in traditional galleries. However, nowadays, small exhibitions can be held in bars, restaurants, lobbies of office buildings or other places used for other purposes.
This began a period in which exhibitions, often one-off exhibitions, were essential for introducing the public to new developments in art and modern art. In 1863, the government allowed alternative exhibitions to be held in Paris, known as the Salon des Refusés (Salon des Refusés). This included works such as Édouard Manet's Lunch on the Grass (Le Déjeuner sur l'Herbe) and James McNeill Whistler's The Girl in White. In 1976, the Felluss Gallery in Washington DC organized the first American art fair with dealers. There are also many smaller art fairs held in public rooms and other places where artists and galleries can rent a table or stand and sell their works. Instead of having a single curator who selects the works based on artistic merit and the relevance of the theme of the exhibition, the organizer rents space at art fairs to galleries who then choose what to show. When displaying archival artifacts or objects made on paper, it is important to emphasize conservation considerations since damage and change in such materials are cumulative and irreversible.
In 1968, art fairs in Europe became fashionable with the arrival of the Cologne Art Fair sponsored by the Cologne Art Merchants Association. In conclusion, there is a distinct difference between an art show and an art exhibit. An exhibition is typically smaller scale with one or few pieces of artwork on display for educational purposes. An art show is larger scale with many pieces of artwork united by a theme that may include selling and entertaining.