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Following Improved Results, ARCOmadrid 2011 Anticipates a Change of Trend
A man looks at an artwork by Venezuelan artist Jesus Soto at a section of Latin American Art, entitled Solo Projects Focus Latin America, during the 30th International Contemporary Art Fair ARCO in Madrid. The art fair with Russia as special guest ran until 20 February. EPA/EMILIO NARANJO.

MADRID.- On February 20th 2011, the 30th ARCOmadrid closed its doors with a positive balance for gallerists, collectors, artists, professionals and general public. The optimism that has prevailed in this edition indicates a recovery of confidence in the market that led to brisk sales, with purchases by private collectors, investors and also by public institutions adding new pieces to their museums and collections. Organised by IFEMA, the fair opened its doors on Wednesday 16th February, and the tape was officially cut on 17th February by Their Royal Highnesses the Prince and Princess of Asturias. As it was closing, the number of visitors to the fair stands at around 150,000, a figure similar to last year, though with an increase in the number of visitors in the two professional days.

ARCOmadrid rejuvenated itself for its 30th birthday, introducing changes that have been very well received by exhibitors and visitors alike. The new layout of the fair, with the reduction from three to two halls and the new distribution of the galleries are the most highly valued new features. The general consensus is that they have made ARCOmadrid more comfortable and accessible to the public. Also receiving the thumbs up of approval were the efforts to enhance the fair’s professional profile fair, a focus on higher quality and the reduction in the number of galleries—with a total of 197 exhibitors—together with the monographic presentation of Latin American proposals in the SOLO PROJECTS section and of young recently created galleries in the OPENING programme. Another positively valued introduction is the incorporation into the GENERAL PROGRAMME of the galleries from the Guest Country—FOCUS RUSSIA programme—thus allowing a greater interaction in the context of the fair.

This year, ARCOmadrid has also reinforced its digital communication, with the creation of the free app for smartphones and tablets, the ARCOmadrid Digital Guide, which saw over 3,000 downloads in the opening days, helping visitors to plan their visits and their contacts, share information about their favourite artists and galleries, see images of the stands, and receive updated and real time info on the activities held at the fair. The use of social networks, with the ARCOmadrid profiles in Facebook and Twitter, was an exciting innovation that connected artists, gallerists and visitors, as well as allowing the dissemination of the latest news about the fair in real time, through videos, photographs and reports on the Professional Encounters and Forums.

Satisfied Galleries
The evaluation of this year’s edition of the fair has been almost unanimously positive, especially if we consider the economic backdrop. The fact that it is the first fair in the international circuit held in the year gives it a touchstone value for the evolution of the art market this year. The evaluation is grounded in more positive results and on a recovery of confidence. Just a few hours before ARCOmadrid drew to a close, the SOLEDAD LORENZO gallery believed that their participation was “highly positive: sales are working very well, we’d say that even better than last year, and there is a good in-flow of people.” Similarly, two of Madrid’s best-established galleries, JUANA DE AIZPURU and ELVIRA GONZÁLEZ, were also satisfied and declared to have made sales. “It has been a great fair in terms of contacts and operations and also concerning organisation,” claimed the HELGA DE ALVEAR team, adding: “returning to the fair and to the committee has been highly positive for the gallery.” At LA FÁBRICA, apart from confirming that “there have been two highly intense days for the gallery,” they emphasise that made contact with “a larger number of foreign collectors.”

In turn, MARLBOROUGH claims to have sold most of the pieces on display at their stand in the two first days for professionals only. Likewise, the managers of ESPACIO MÍNIMO say that “there have been days of many sales,” adding that “for the gallery, taking part at ARCOmadrid has always been a good experience.”

The presence of international buyers was unanimously well valued by galleries. LUIS ADELANTADO maintains that “a big effort has been invested in the collectors’ programme, with a solid core of international collectors.” For other galleries, like EL MUSEO, a gallery based in Bogotá, Colombia, many of the sales went precisely to those international collectors. “We are very pleased with the energy at this fair, with the positive attitude and with the changes we are already perceiving,” these gallerists stated. Another Latin American gallery, JORGE MARA-LA RUCHE, which had been very cautious before the fair, now says: “We have made many sales, much more than we expected. The photographs of the Argentinean artists we brought met with an excellent response.”

Satisfaction is the general feeling expressed by the galleries participating at the OPENING section. “The programme awoke a lot of interest,” say at CRÈVECOEUR, a gallery taking part at ARCOmadrid for the first time. It was also highly positive about the attendance of experts at the Professional Encounters, and “the large amount of visitors and the excellent coverage in the Spanish media.” The person in charge of the Hungarian gallery VILTIN, expressed his views in similar. Making its debut at the fair, it “sold two pieces to Spanish collectors,” a source of satisfaction and a confirmation of the growing interest for young international art from Spanish collectors.

Several pieces on show at EDWARD TYLER NAHEM FINE ART also went to Spanish collections. At the gallery they say that they are “happy because sales have gone well.” At ANDERSEN’S CONTEMPORARY, back again at fair within the ARCO40 programme, they claim to be very pleased and express their intention to come back in coming years. “We have made good contacts with collectors and with art institutions,” the gallerist explains. LUIS CAMPAÑA, a Berlin-based gallery also at ARCO40, made a positive balance: “we have sold works and made good contacts with private collectors.”

Brisk Sales
The gallerists taking part at this edition are—in most cases—confirming a level of sales higher than in previous years, stimulated by the gradual recovery of the art market. The invited international collectors have been pretty active, making a significant number of buys. But also Spanish collectors—more restrained over the last year—have also made major acquisitions.

The return of confidence was also visible in the public and institutional investment. Notwithstanding the current financial downturn, they have made a big effort to maintain their purchasing programmes this year. The list is headed by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía. The museum announced the purchases of 20 works at the fair, by artists from various origins, for a total value of €680,260. They range from an oil painting by the surrealist master André Masson, to a concrete and iron sculpture dated in 2009, by Asier Mendizabal.

On another note, the City Council of Pamplona has acquired the work Paisaje by the Argentinean artist Eduardo Stupía, for €16,000, from Galería Jorge Mara-La Ruche; Comunidad de Madrid bought, through its ARCO Comunidad de Madrid Young Artists Awards, the work Come mierda (2010) by Paula Rubio Infante at Galería Formato Cómodo; and the Government of Cantabria purchased a piece titled Camuflaje, by the painter Nuno Nunes-Ferreira, on display at Galería Juan Silió.

Private institutions and corporations also made significant acquisitions. For instance, Fundación Coca-Cola Juan Manuel Sáinz de Vicuña invested nearly €100,000 in the purchase of ten pieces by seven artists, in media ranging from sculpture and painting to photography and video, more than 25% than the money they spent last year. In turn, Fundación María Cristina Masaveu Peterson also acquired a total of nine works, including a photograph by Santiago Sierra on show at Galería Helga de Alvear; a piece by Marina Abramović at Galeria Luciana Brito; and a photograph titled Árbol con una nube by Chema Madoz, at Galería Oliva Arauna. Other institutions, like CAC Málaga and ARTIUM Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Vitoria-Gasteiz confirmed their intention to buy works at the fair. In the next few weeks, the Asociación Colección Arte Contemporáneo will announce its purchases for the collection of the Museo Patio Herreriano, in Valladolid.

And of course we have Fundación ARCO, which invested €71,266 in eight pieces by the artists André Komatsu; Carlos Bunga, Juan Araujo, Matias Duvile, Margarita Paksa, Regina de Miguel and Emilio Pérez.

ARCOmadrid_ 2011 Awards
ARCOmadrid has also been the venue for several prize-giving ceremonies in the field of contemporary art. For the 15th year running, the Amigos de ARCO Association has distinguished the work of private collectors and institutions through its ARCO Collecting Awards. Created to support and promote the creation of art heritage, these awards are now in their 15th edition, and this year the awards went to Isak Andic, in the Private Collecting category; BESart –Banco Espírito Santo Collection in the Corporate Collecting category, collected by its chairman Ricardo Espírito Santo Silva Salgado, y and to the Ekaterina Cultural Foundation from Russia, in the International Collecting category, collected by its founders, the collectors Ekaterina and Vladimir Semenikhin. Beside these annual awards, for the first time ever, the association decided to present an In Memoriam award to the collector Antonio Fernández Villalba, who died recently.

In turn, the awards granted by AECA (Spanish Association of Art Critics) went to the artist ÁNGELA DE LA CRUZ, represented this year by the HELGA DE ALVEAR and KRINZINGER galleries, in the Best International Artist category; and to the Valencia-born artist JUAN GENOVÉS, in the category of Best Living Spanish Artist, whose work was on view at the MARLBOROUGH stand. Finally, the Madrid-based gallery, LA FÁBRICA, was awarded the prize for Best Gallery at ARCOmadrid_ 2011.

To stimulate new media art was the founding mission of the ARCO/BEEP Electronic Art acquisition award. The piece Expanded Eye by the Brazilian artist Anaisa Franco, exhibited at Galería ADORA CALVO, was the winning piece in this 6th edition of the award. Her project consists of an interactive sculpture that invites the public to play with eyesight in a magical context where perception is coupled with self-reflection and observation.

Likewise, the Comunidad de Madrid granted its 8th ARCOmadrid_2011 Comunidad de Madrid Young Artists Acquisition Award, distinguishing the best visual arts work by an artist under the age of 40 on view at the fair. This year, the award went to the local Madrid artist Paula Rubio Infante, for an installation titled Come mierda (2010) consisting of a 150 cm x 300 cm b&w photographic diptych, drawings and models, exhibited at the booth of the gallery FORMATOCOMODO.

Another repeat award at ARCOmadrid is the illy Sustain Art Prize, created to promote young art practitioners under 35. In its 4th edition, the prize went to the young Brazilian artist André Komatsu, represented by the gallery Vermelho, for his work Concreto Periódico, on show at the Solo Projects: Focus Latin America section.

Besides these veteran awards, ARCOmadrid also hosted new ones, like the Heineken CA2M at ARCOmadrid Award, which went to Start Series, by the Portuguese artist Ricardo Valentim. The piece, acquired from the Portuguese gallery PEDRO CERA, will be added to the Centro de Arte Dos de Mayo CA2M collection, belonging to the Comunidad de Madrid. Apart from this donation, the Dutch company also presented the 1st Your Heineken-ARCOmadrid Design Competition, won by Belén Segarra and Lourdes Echeverría, whose designs will now decorate the legendary Heineken bottle.

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