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Art Market Budapest 2011: the art fair closes with over 10,000 visitors and remarkable success
In its first year as Central and Eastern Europe’s fully contemporary art fair, Art Market Budapest hosted 65 separate exhibitors and presented over 1,000 works from around 300 artists to a local and international audience.

BUDAPEST.- The Hungarian capital was at the center of the Central and Eastern European contemporary art scene for 4 days. Art Market Budapest 2011, the region’s new contemporary art fair held from October 27 to 30 was attended by more than 10,000 visitors. The event attracted great interest from both visitors and exhibitors: the number of exhibitors taking part in the event, held at a former industrial building in the city’s Millenaris Park, rose to just under 70, late applicants had to be turned down. Exhibitors included many top galleries from Hungary and the region, site specific art projects, art institutions and publications. In its first year as Central and Eastern Europe’s contemporary art fair, Art Market Budapest closed with remarkable professional and commercial results. The exhibition hall and the related spaces hosting the varied international professional programs, artist talks and roundtable discussions were fully booked, and an estimated 100 artworks from the approximately 1,100 works on show by around 300 artists found new owners during the fair with further deals concluded post-fair.

As Nicola Trezzi, US Editor of Flash Art International and Curator of the Prague Biennial Foundation summarized: ”Art Market Budapest is not just an art fair, it is a gathering, a place for people to meet, discuss and exchange information about an artistic community which is very sophisticated but still to be discovered.”

In its first year as Central and Eastern Europe’s fully contemporary art fair, Art Market Budapest hosted 65 separate exhibitors and presented over 1,000 works from around 300 artists to a local and international audience. In addition to the top local galleries, a quarter of the exhibitors came from a number of countries within and beyond the region including Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Romania, Slovenia, Finland, the Netherlands and the UK. Due to the overwhelming success of the fair this year and on the basis of indications received from future exhibitors, it is anticipated that interest by exhibitors and visitors will continue to grow ahead of next year’s fair in 2012.

An estimated 100 sales were made at Art Market Budapest 2011, with further sales completed after the fair – a particularly promising figure given that a number of the exhibitors, such as site specific projects, were not sales-driven.

The organizers’ decision to set a minimum booth size of 30 square meters was a success since it enabled exhibitors to present their sophisticated installations and curatorial concepts in spacious surroundings. Naturally, many exhibitors requested larger spaces. The largest booths were taken by the Gaudens Pedit Gallery (Austria) with 120 square meters, the acb Gallery (Hungary) with 100 square meters and the NextArt Gallery (Hungary) with 80 square meters.

In addition to the main exhibition hall, a site specific outdoor sculpture exhibition was created entitled “Steel Promenade” which showcased works by Central European metal sculptors.

The decision to highlight Hungarian and Central European photography was based on the heritage of such internationally-known twentieth century photographers as André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy, Brassai, Robert Capa, and it emphasized the important involvement of the region’s artists in the development and global appreciation of photography. In addition to the internationally significant collection of the Hungarian Museum of Photography, over a dozen galleries exhibited only or partially photography. These exhibitors included Slovenia’s leading photo gallery Photon, the Mai Mano House of Photography from Budapest, and even the youngest generation of photographers was represented by the Masters Program of the Moholy-Nagy Art University. On the first day of the fair, an inspiring professional roundtable discussion dedicated specifically to this topic included Guillaume Piens, Director of Art Paris (formerly Director of Paris Photo), Péter Baki, Director of the Museum of Photography, Dejan Sluga, Owner of Photon Gallery and Attila Pőcze of the Vintage Gallery, so far Hungary’s only representative at Art Basel.

Some of the events of the professional program entitled ‘Inside Art’ attracted more visitors than the conference room could contain. Main attractions of the program included talks by further internationally known experts as Ursula Krinzinger, owner of the Krinzinger Gallery from Austria, Nicola Trezzi, US Editor of Flash Art International and Curator at the Prague Biennial Foundation, Gábor Gulyás, Director of Kunsthalle-Műcsarnok, Barnabás Bencsik, Director of the Ludwig Museum, Marianna Gergely, Advisor to the Nancy G. Brinker Collection and such internationally known art collectors as László Vass and János Rechnitzer in addition to many other contributors.

“It was so uplifting to see the conference room packed with people during the roundtable about Eastern and Central European art. And I am glad I was there to learn something from the protagonists. Without Art Market Budapest such a highly attended and inspiring discussion would not have been possible.” – said Nicola Trezzi.

A further highlight of the fair was the contemporary art of the Gipsy or Roma minority. This consisted of around 60 works of art by Gipsy artists who were selected from private collections in a special exhibition, and a gallery specializing in Gipsy art was invited. A project involving Gipsy fine and applied artists organized by the artist Róza El-Hassan was also presented. A specialist roundtable discussion concentrated on this complex and exciting social and artistic phenomenon while a fashion show with traditional Roma inspirations by the group Romani Design was one of the fair’s surprise events.

Art Market Budapest achieved wide International support. Patrons of the event included Nancy G. Brinker, former US Chief of Protocol, Founder and Director of Susan G. Komen for the Cure and Goodwill Ambassador of the World Health Organization and Hungary’s Foreign Minister, János Martonyi. Members of the Board included Soraya von Stubenberg, Advisor to Sotheby’s and Uniqa, Nicola Trezzi, US Editor of Flash Art Magazine and Curator of the Prague Biennial Foundation, Lóránd Hegyi, Director of the Musée d'Art Moderne de Saint-Étienne Métropole in France and Gábor Gulyás, director of Hungary’s Műcsarnok-Kunsthalle.

In addition to the above professional events, the fair’s supplementary programs under the heading Art Week Budapest included around 50 different cultural events at both the exhibition hall and various other locations throughout Budapest which turned the city into a contemporary art festival and a true capital of Central and Eastern Europe’s art.

Educating the younger generation was focused on very thoroughly by the organizers of Art Market Budapest. With generous support from B.Braun, a complex youth and museum education program attracted half a thousand children. Their votes for the most popular exhibition booth were collected and the winner of this competition is the Léna & Roselli Gallery, the exhibitor of photos by the world-known Russian artist Oleg Kulik. The prize is discounted participation at Art Market Budapest 2012.

”It was in 2011 that Art Market Budapest was first organized as the international contemporary art fair of Central and Eastern Europe. The numbers and the results speak for themselves: the art world needs such a special art gathering that focuses entirely on the art of this amazing geographical and cultural region. In order to make sure that a proper place is saved for Central and Eastern Europe in everybody’s art calendar, the dates of Art Market Budapest 2012 will soon be selected and announced.” – said Director of the fair Attila Ledényi in his closing remarks to the exhibitors of Art market Budapest.

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