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Art Brussels 50th anniversary: End of fair report 2018
Alice Anderson, La Patinoire Royale - Galerie Valerie Bach, Art Brussels 2018. Photo David Plas.

BRUSSELS.- The 50th anniversary edition of Art Brussels, one of Europe’s oldest and most reputable fairs, closed its doors on Sunday, 22 April 2018. Art Brussels has, once again, cemented itself as one of Europe’s leading art fairs with strong engagement and pedigree of collectors, significant sales throughout the duration and a resoundingly positive response to its distinctive and intelligent artistic programme. The exceptionally sunny and warm weather did not detain the art lovers from their annual Art Brussels rendezvous.

Anne Vierstraete, Managing Director of Art Brussels: “We are truly pleased with this landmark 50th anniversary which was a significant celebration of the role that Art Brussels has played in the burgeoning art scene in Belgium, having contributed enormously to its growth. We are extremely happy with the multiple sales across the board to Belgian and international collectors who came in strong as usual. We were also informed of sales to – and interest from – important Belgian and international museums and foundations. The Discovery section was also at the centre of many conversations with several galleries being sold out.”

This year’s edition celebrated its roots with a strong show of support from key blue-chip Belgian galleries, who made up 32% compared to 18% last year. Many Belgian newcomers and returning galleries enjoyed huge success such as dépendance, Xavier Hufkens, Rodolphe Janssen, Harlan Levey Projects, Greta Meert, OV Project, Tommy Simoens, Sofie Van de Velde & PLUS ONE, Tim Van Laere, Zeno X,among many others. Zeno X, returning to the fair after seven years, quoted “on preview day, we already sold one of our major pieces by Mark Manders and a selection of works from our SOLO booth with Bart Stolle”. As well as a significant number of international newcomers including Blain|Southern, London who enjoyed very strong sales, and Martos Gallery, New York who met many new collectors and reported that the fair was a great success. We were happy to hear that the galleries Piero Atchugarry, Garzon, Blain Southern, London, Conradi, Hamburg & Brussels, Jahn und Jahn, Munich, Michael Janssen, Berlin, Lelong& Co, Paris & New York, Galerie Mazzoli, Berlin & Modena, Nosbaum Reding, Luxembourg, Filomena Soares, Lisbon, who participated in both Art Brussels and Art Cologne, did remarkably well at Art Brussels.

This year’s fair has also attracted over 46 different museums and collector groups from Europe such as patrons from Palais de Tokyo and Tokyo Art Club, Centre Pompidou, Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Le Louvre, Jeu de Paume, The Royal Academy of Arts, Modern Art Oxford, Parasol Unit, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam, Stedelijk Museum, Witte de With and Rockford Art Museum from the US among others. As well as numerous collector groups such as Art Society, Christie’s, Independent Collectors, Larry’s List, Sotheby's Preferred, The Cultivist and many others. As well as important collectors groups from Russia, School of Collectors and Cosmoscow Art Collectors Club.Belgian and international museums, foundations and corporate collections showed great presence at the fair with attendance from Suzanne Swarts (Director of Museum Voorlinden), Axel Wieder (Director of Bergen Kunsthalle), Bernard Blistène (Director, Centre Pompidou), Suzanne Cotter (Director, MUDAM), Aaron Cezar, (Director of Delfina Foundation), Alun Graves (Senior Curator at V&A Museum), Caroline Bourgeois (Curator, Collection Pinault), Sophie Lauwers (Head of Exhibitions at BOZAR Centre for Fine Arts), Dirk Snauwaert (Director of WIELS Contemporary Art Centre), and independent curators Adam Carr, Robert Grunenberg, Martha Kirszenbaum, Abaseh Mirvali, Beatrix Ruf, among others.

Art Brussels has retained strong ties with many international collectors from neighbouring countries, and key attendees from the US at this year’s fair included Don and Mera Rubell, Michael and Susan Hort, James Keith Brown and Eric Diefenbach, Joel Wachs from the Andy Warhol Foundation, among others. The fair was also honoured with the presence of Asian collectors from Indonesia and Taipei. Key collectors from Europe included Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo and her son Eugenio, Daniel and Florence Guerlain, Josée Gensollen, Joseph Kouli, Ole Farup, Eric and Fabienne Bernheim and Anita Zabludowicz. Loyal Belgian collectors who came out strong in attendance this year also included Mimi Dusselier, Galila, Frédéric de Goldschmidt, Benedict Van der Vorst, Bruno and Gael van Lierde, the Boghossian family, Walter Vanhaerents, Olivier Gevart and Alain Servais, among others. Galleries were impressed by the enthusiasm of key international and Belgian collectors this year. Kukei + Kukei said “The collectors at Art Brussels are very serious about collecting and are incredibly knowledgeable” and Rodolphe Janssen who said “all the Belgian collectors are here”. Greta Meert added “...They’re very dynamic in requests and buying”. New Art Centre, Salisbury quoted “Art Brussels creates an opportunity for us to reach a very open, eager and thirsty collector base. The conversations we have with collectors at Art Brussels are so much more intelligent than at other fairs”. Many also reported forming relationships and selling to new collectors they had not yet met including pop/off/art Gallery, Moscow, and also the Belgian Zeno X.

Art Brussels’ flagship artistic project Mystic Properties, curated by HISK curator Elena Sorokina, was unanimously praised and an international art centre is looking into the possibility of including it in its future exhibition programme.

Sales highlights

Zeno X, Antwerp had strong sales including a major work by Mark Manders, works by Dirk Braeckman, Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven, Paulo Monteiro, and several works in the SOLO show by Bart Stolle.

Xavier Hufkens, Brussels whose SOLO show of works by Nicolas Party won the SOLO prize. It was extremely popular and sold out within the first hour at price range between €50,000 to €70,000. Important works were sold from the group show, among which several works by David Altmejd, and works by Antony Gormley, Thomas Houseago, Tracey Emin, Sherrie Livine, Walter Swennen, Michel François, Katherine Bernhardt.

Galerie Templon, Paris, Brussels whose sales included an Omar Ba for €35,000€ which sold in the first hour of the opening, as well as a work by Ivan Navarro for $125,000. Three works by Jan Fabre sold each for €25,000 – €110,000. Prune Nourry’s SOLO show was also a hit with six works sold for prices ranging from $20,000 - $38,000. Ceysson Bénétière, Paris, Luxembourg, Saint-Etienne, New York reported important and numerous sales. Highlights include five Mounir Fatmi, among which one at €80,000, two Bernar Venet for €175,000 and a sculpture installation by Daniel Firman at €75,000 among others mainly to Luxemburg and Belgian collections.

Blain | Southern, London reported fantastic sales and quoted “we have a very loyal following in the Brussels area who we knew wanted us to participate”. Sales included two Bill Viola for €200,000 each, four paintings over €80,000 and a work by Chiharu Shiota. New Art Centre,Salisbury were very pleased and reported selling numerous works in the range of €50,000 to collectors from the UK and Belgium.Nathalie Obadia, Brussels, Paris reported amongst their sales works by Josep Grau-Garriga and Laure Prouvost for over €50,000. Tim Van Laere,Antwerp sold among others the large scale self-portrait by Rinus Van de Velde at €42,000 to an important New York collection, two works of Friedrich Kunath in the price range of $30,000 to $40,000, and an important video sculpture of Gelitin to a major Belgian collection.Anne Mosseri-Marlio, Basel was very pleased with the fair and quoted “Art Brussels delivers us a complete mix of collectors, and so we aim to provide a booth which caters to everybody”. Amongst her sales were five historical works by artists Larry Bell and Minoru Onoda. She sold to collections from UK, Belgium and the Netherlands and has interest in historic work from an important museum in the Netherlands.

Shulamit Nazarian, Los Angeles were delighted with the fair and quoted “Coming from Los Angeles, the 50th anniversary of Art Brussels was a big success for us. The audience was enthusiastic and the gallery placed two works by Fay Ray within the first hour of Thursday’s preview. We met dedicated collectors throughout the fair and sold additional artworks each day, ranging from $4,000 - $25,000, by American artists Fay Ray, Cammie Staros, and Summer Wheat. Considering these artists mainly exhibit in the United States, we were excited to place several works in private collections throughout Europe.”Thomas Brambilla Gallery, Bergamo sold very well, among others four works by Ron Gorchov in price range €40,000, one Simon Linke, a work by Erik Saglia, and quoted: “Always happy with Art Brussels - every edition is positive, this year the energy is great, like it has been in previous years. The scene here is enthusiastic, something that you do not see everywhere. The collectors here are open and knowledgeable. They are the best. They support the galleries” pop/off/art,Moscow were very happy with numerous sales of historical works by artists such as Olga Chernysheva and Vitaly Pushnitsky.Galeria Senda, Barcelona enjoyed very strong sales including Stephan Balkenhol at €36,000, and several works by Oleg Dou, AES+F, Ola Kolehmainen, and quoted “We have been exhibiting at Art Brussels for 15 years, we find that the collectors here are very knowledgeable and are very consistent with their collections”.Meessen De Clercq, Brussels who sold so well they had to re-hang most days reported amongst their sales a Claudio Parmigiani for € 45,000 to a French collector based in London. Brandstrup, Oslo sold an important work by Marina Abramovic for €130,000.Jahn und Jahn, Munich amongst their sales sold an Imi Knoebel for €80,000. Kristin Hjellegjerde, London who moved into the PRIME section this year sold seven works to American collectors Michael and Susan Hort. She also sold to the Rubell’s and Bruno and Gaël van Lierde, a major Belgian collection.Ron Mandos,Amsterdam enjoyed strong sales among which Renato Nicolodi at €22,000, a charcoal drawing by Renie Spoelstra for €20,000, and a few ceramics by Levi van Veluw in price range €18,500 to collectors from The Netherlands, London, Germany, France and Belgium. Strong sales were also reported by 10 Chancery Lane, Hong Kong, ADN Galeria, Barcelona, Baton Gallery, Seoul, Eric Dupont, Paris, Thomas Fischer, Berlin, FOLD, London, Jean Fournier, Paris, Mitterrand, Paris, Michel Rein, Paris & Brussels,Semiose, Paris, Sorry We’re Closed, Brussels, Pietro Spartà, Chagny, among others.

Galerie Antoine Laurentin, Paris,Brussels enjoyed strong sales for all three artists Evelyne Axell, Balder, Jacques Verduyn. He sold Evelyne Axell to a Belgian museum, several paintings of Balder and other works to a foreign museum and important collectors from Switzerland, France, US. Axel Vervoordt, Wijnegem, Hong Kong, reported among their sales several Lucia Bru between €15,000 and €40,000 and was successful with its Rediscovery artist Ida Barbarigo selling works between €20,000 - €40,000.

Dauwens & Beernaert, Brussels were very satisfied selling a work by Loïc Van Zeebroek to a prominent museum in the Netherlands. The gallery sold a total of 18 pieces and enjoyed museum interest for Karl Philips after having showed a monumental sculpture of the artist in Art Brussels’ outside sculpture project.

Parafin, London who have been exhibiting at Art Brussels for 3 years, enjoyed strong sales for their first time in the Discovery section quoting “Discovery section opens up a new collector base for a gallery like ours”.

Stems, Brussels presenting Tyrrell Winston, sold to a Belgian and a Swiss Foundation, and other collectors. They have gone home with a waiting list for the artist’s work.
Joseph Allen from Galerie Allen, Paris said “We are pleased to confirm that we found new collectors from the region for our artists. One private collector acquired several significant Emmanuel Van der Meulen pieces”.

Hunter / Whitfield, London presenting Christopher Page, sold out their entire booth.
SMAC, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch, won the Discovery Prize and was hugely successful with artist Georgina Gratrix.As well as others who reported strong sales such as Conradi, Hamburg and Brussels, PACT, Paris, Dürst Britt & Mayhew, Den Haag, Barbara Seiler, Zürich, Ani Molnár, Budapest, Felix Frachon, Brussels, and The Hole, New York.

Prizes 2018:
Winner DISCOVERY PRIZE, supported by Moleskine:
SMAC, Cape Town, Johannesburg, Stellenbosch with artist Georgina Gratrix.

Winner SOLO PRIZE, supported by Van Den Weghe:
Xavier Hufkens, Brussels with artist Nicolas Party.

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