How to Navigate the International Art Scene, with Mark Hughes

With more than three decades of experience in the art world including over ten years in New York, Mark Hughes has an extensive knowledge of local and international contemporary and modern art. Regularly traveling abroad to visit art fairs, exhibitions, and events, Mark’s knowledge of the international art scene is intertwined with his contributions to the Australian sector through his roles as a former Trustee of the Art Gallery of New South Wales Foundation, a member of the Advisory Board for the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair, and an Ambassador for the Museum of Contemporary Art. 

What advice would you give to someone who’s wanting to start dipping their toe into collecting international art?
There is an endless amount of art ‘out there’, so initial research is very important. One of the best places to do this is at an art fair. Regional international fairs are only a short plane ride away; Auckland, Tokyo, Singapore, Taipei, and Hong Kong all offer annual art fair experiences. If travel is not an option, go online to explore the galleries showing at these fairs and then deep dive into their websites. 

Visiting the Antony Gormley exhibition, Rodin Museum Paris 2023

How hard is it to buy and import works from other countries?
It isn’t hard, but it can be expensive. Art shipping isn’t cheap, and there are taxes and duties applicable when art arrives in Australia. Always get a couple of quotes, use reliable shippers recommended by the gallery selling the work, and always include insurance.

How important are the international art fairs these days? Should we still be planning our calendars around them?
Art fairs locally and internationally are very important for the art market ecology. Many galleries do a good percentage of their business at fairs, and they are excellent places to see art in person, make brief but meaningful connections with gallery staff, and to share your experience and thoughts with other collectors. They also offer an introductory but important education around the work of artists from all over the globe. 

Mark at a Nicolas Party exhibition, Hauser & Wirth, NYC / Photographed by Callan Butler

What’s unique about the Australian art scene that you think differentiates it from the rest of the world?
The most unique visual voices we have are those of both the traditional and non-traditional contemporary Indigenous artists. Their work is specific to Australia and yet speaks with clarity to international audiences. Interest continues to grow both in the primary and secondary market internationally. The stories told are unique to Australia but connect far and wide.

What are three of your favourite museums and galleries around the world to visit?
Not including my beloved institutions in Australia, my three favourites would be the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Glenstone in Maryland DC, USA, and the Beyeler Foundation in Basel, Switzerland. It is impossible to leave any of these institutions with disappointment in either the art on show or the experience.

See more at and follow Mark on his travels at @markhughesart on Instagram. 

Banner Image (detail): Mark at a Nicolas Party exhibition, Hauser & Wirth, NYC / Photographed by Callan Butler

February 2024