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Sales at ARCOmadrid Point to the Beginning of a Recovery in the Art Market
People walk next to an artwork entitled "Old Friends" by Thomas Schutte from Germany at ARCOmadrid, an international contemporary art fair, in Madrid. REUTERS/Juan Medina.

MADRID.- ARCOmadrid_ 2010, the International Contemporary Art Fair, closed its doors on 21st February with positive results well above initial forecasts. At a press conference held to take stock of the fair, the Chairman of IFEMA Executive Committee, Luis Eduardo Cortés, stated that “galleries have done better than expected,” and that “Spanish and international collectors have demonstrated their ongoing commitment with art.” Thus, ARCOmadrid would seem to confirm the beginning of a recovery in the art market that had been already detected in major contemporary art auction sales weeks before the fair.

Organised by IFEMA, the art fair was officially opened on Thursday 18th February by T.R.H. the Prince and Princess of Asturias. Throughout its five days it registered a total of 148,000 visitors in Halls 6, 8 and 10, a figure lower than previous years due to the fact that the fair was one day shorter this year. However, public interest remained as high as in previous editions.

Most galleries in the fair’s various programmes put together a sensible booth with important pieces by young artists already making a name for themselves or consolidated mid-career practitioners, a decision that proved crucial in the positive outcome of this 29th International Contemporary Art Fair, with much better results than anticipated. Therefore, we can safely say that ARCOmadrid_ 2010 was able to dissipate the tension induced by the worldwide economic downturn with good sales and with a widespread positive perception for the first big international contemporary art event in 2010.

A positive feeling among gallerists
After the closure of the fair, many of the galleries exhibiting at ARCOmadrid_2010 expressed their satisfaction for the sales and contacts made throughout the fair. That is the case of JUANA DE AIZPURU, who declared that she had formalised “much more sales than last year.” The veteran gallerist said that the public “was of a higher quality” and underscored “the role played by Spanish private and institutional collecting, who had bought both liberally and passionately.”

The directors of SANDUNGA, a gallery based in Granada, Spain, endorsed that positive outlook, stating that ARCOmadrid_ 2010 “has more than exceeded our expectations,” adding that they sold a large number of pieces, particularly those in small formats and at affordable prices. They closed sales right up to the last day of the fair, and even “had to bring works out of the storeroom.” A view shared by CARRERAS MÚGICA, who perceived “better and more fluid contacts” and, as a whole, “a positive outcome.”

In turn, LA CAJA NEGRA –which sold works by virtually all the artists on show at its booth– underlined the role “of private collectors, already showing signs of revitalisation and currently buying art again.” At its booth, it received visits from both small and big collectors alike, “people fed up with the doom and gloom and who have shaken off the anxiety of last year.”

Generally speaking, the international galleries also positively valued their participation at ARCOmadrid_ 2010. That is the case of the Austrian gallery GEORG KARGL, who underlined “the good professional level of the fair.” For this Vienna-based gallery, ARCOmadrid was a positive experience, “because it is a fair with a high level of exchange, with a large attendance of young people and also because it is a good opportunity to share views and opinions.” This judgment was shared by THADDEUS ROPAC, who made many contacts and sales throughout the fair, as well as by KUCKEI + KUCKEI, who have a highly positive view of the fair in terms of the quality of the visitors and the results obtained; and also by THE PARAGON PRESS, who registered better sales than last year.

In turn, the French gallery CATHERINE PUTMAN also made a positive analysis of its participation at the fair, though, according to them, “the financial downturn has made buyers more cautious when it comes to making their final decision.” But they had good sales and received visits from many collectors, “mostly from Spain and France, but also from Portugal and Germany.”

MARLBOROUGH claimed that sales were slower but were good, particularly in the case of works by Manolo Valdés and Juan Genovés. Besides, the fair brought them interesting new contacts and many visits from Spanish and Portuguese collectors and international collectors invited in the VIP programme.

This view was also shared by the galleries taking part in the PANORAMA: Los Angeles section, many of them first-timers at ARCOmadrid. All of them declared good results and an excellent public response. Just a few hours after the fair closed fair, CHERRY & MARTIN declared that they “had more than met their expectations and had sold many works.” So much so that they announced that they hope “to come back to the fair very soon.”

THOMAS SOLOMON from Los Angeles also expects to come back to Madrid. A gallerist with a long-standing trajectory, he expressed “his surprise at the intense movement at the fair, the interest of the people and very especially of Spanish collectors coming from other cities to ARCOmadrid, who showed a lot of interest in certain pieces and thoroughly pondered their purchases…” He has a highly positive view of the fair where they have not just made good sales, but also “many contacts that will surely materialise in future transactions.”

Lines for the future
In the light of the positive results, after the closure of the fair, ARCOmadrid_ 2010, the International Contemporary Art Fair, is already preparing its upcoming 30th edition. At the press conference taking stock of the results, Lourdes Fernández, director of ARCOmadrid, said that now is the moment to rethink strategies and policies for next year and to work together with the organising committee to design the next fair.

Some of the issues to be reviewed are a stronger focus on emerging art and the Latin American participation at the fair. In upcoming months it will also be decided what country or city will be the guest of honour at the 30th International Contemporary Art Fair of Madrid. These are the working lines to continue reinforcing the fair, its international status, prestige, quality and ranking among the world’s best contemporary art fairs.

ARCOmadrid_ 2010 | Luis Eduardo Cortés | IFEMA |

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