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Art Brussels 2017: End of fair report
International newcomers and return exhibitors were delighted with introductions to new, highly active collectors at the fair and benefitted from Belgium’s depth of discerning collectors for contemporary art.

BRUSSELS.- For its landmark 35th edition in April 2017, Art Brussels, which closed for business on Sunday, reinforced its reputation as one of Europe’s leading art fairs with a resoundingly positive response to its distinctive and intelligent artistic programme, the strong engagement and pedigree of collectors and significant sales throughout the duration.

Anne Vierstraete, Managing Director of Art Brussels, said: “We have been overjoyed to have enabled so many new positive encounters between our galleries’ artists and an extensive group of thoughtful, national and international collectors and curators. Art Brussels believes in galleries that support their artists throughout their evolution, invest in their relationships and have a good knowledge of their collector base, and each of our exhibitors have proven themselves to share these values. Creative collaboration is another essential part of the DNA of Art Brussels, and working with leading exhibition maker Jens Hoffmann and curator and critic Piper Marshall on the fair’s artistic project has been both an honour and a delight. The resounding praise we have received is testament to the exceptional offering from new and returning international galleries for this year’s edition, and gallerists confirmed the high quality of the Belgian and international crowd that visited and bought at the fair”.

International newcomers and return exhibitors were delighted with introductions to new, highly active collectors at the fair and benefitted from Belgium’s depth of discerning collectors for contemporary art. Art Brussels has always been tightly interwoven with the Belgian collectors’ scene, with prominent Brussels collectors at the fair including Mimi Dusselier, Frédéric de Goldschmidt, Alain Servais and Olivier Gevart, as well as international faces Dimitris Daskalopoulos, Paris-based Sandra Hegedüs and Dorith Galuz, Berlin-based Axel Haubrok, Robert and Renee Drake, based in The Hague, American collectors Michael and Susan Hort, and Brazilian collector Pedro Barbosa. Many exhibitors reported meeting new collectors particularly from the US, UK and Hong Kong, as well as Australia, Turkey, Monaco, Switzerland, Greece, and France.

The process of ‘discovery’ was proven to be a strong motivation for Belgian and international art collectors supporting artists early in their careers with significant sales in the DISCOVERY section, while important artists represented by the nine galleries in REDISCOVERY saw strong resurgence. Art Brussels secured its reputation as a fair encouraging a deeper understanding of individual artistic practices through the huge success of individual presentation of artists in SOLO, and significant sales were experienced in Art Brussels’ PRIME section of 108 established galleries representing internationally known artists.

Mementos: Artists’ Souvenirs, Artefacts and Other Curiosities, Art Brussels’ artistic project curated by museum director Jens Hoffmann and Piper Marshall, offered an alternative view to the investment in art objects by displaying belongings of artists whose galleries could be found participating elsewhere in the fair. Exhibitors reported strong interest from major public institutions and private foundations at the fair, with SFMoMA and Belfius reported to be buying work, and other museum directors at the fair such as Centre Pompidou President and Director Serge Lasvignes and Bernard Blistène, Director of Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris Fabrice Hergott, Stedelijk Museum director Beatrix Ruf accompanied by the Stedelijk Museum group, WIELS Director Dirk Snauwaert, S.M.A.K. Director Philippe Van Cauteren, and Museum Dhondt Dhaenens and Palais de Tokyo’s private patrons’ group the Tokyo Art Club.

Artists also flocked to the fair, including Turner Prize winner Laure Prouvost, Léon Wuidar, Almagul Menlibayeva, Kris Martin, JODI, Benoit Maire, Karl Holmqvist, Kendell Geers, Germaine Kruip, Waseem Ahmed, Sophie Nys and Dirk Braeckman, who represents Belgium at the 57th Venice Biennale, and Shezad Dawood who described Art Brussels’ Mementos... exhibition, ‘a real furtive pleasure’.

Sales highlights


Newcomer Robilant + Voena (London, Milan, St Moritz) sold a Julian Schnabel painting to a Belgian collector for a price in the region of £500,000. Chelouche Gallery (Tel Aviv), were delighted with the sale of two Roxy Paine works among others, while Gallery Baton (Seoul), in their first fair participation ever in Europe, reported they were very happy with both healthy sales and the number of quality new collectors met at the fair. Other newcomers, Jahn und Jahn (Munich) and Pearl Lam Galleries (Hong Kong, Shanghai, Singapore), both for the first time at Art Brussels, were also extremely satisfied with the level of sales and the interesting contacts made at the fair.

Tina Kim Gallery (New York), in her second year at the fair, counted sales including a painting by Dansaekhwa artist Ha Chong-Hyun in the range of €180,000- €200,000. Managing Director Nicole Calderon commented: “It’s a great fair, and keeps getting better. This year has very strong presentations, and we are excited to come again next year”. Galerie Lelong (Paris, New York) were delighted to have sold a significant painting by Günther Förg, while Galerie Krinzinger (Vienna) made several important sales including of Gavin Turk in the preview, and Galleria Massimo Minini (Brescia, Milano) sold an important work by Sheila Hicks. Geukens De Vil (Antwerp) sold out the entire booth on the first day, while Axel Vervoordt (Wijnegem, Hong Kong) were thrilled with sales of all three editions of an Angel Vergara LED wall, with strong museum interest in the artist proof, a Michel Mouffe painting for around €50,000, and a cast glass sculpture by Ann Veronica Janssens for around €30,000.

New Art Centre (Salisbury) saw significant sales in the preview, selling works by Edmund de Waal, Phyllida Barlow and Anthony Caro, with individual prices reaching €150,000. Director Stephen Feeke said: “As always, the quality is very high, in terms of the level of questions, the level of interest. It’s very typical of Belgium, people take a long time to look, listen and talk about the work. It’s satisfying as it makes you feel the work is going to good, serious collections, which is great for our artists.” Ani Molnár Gallery (Budapest) also praised the ‘serious collectors’ they met at the fair, and the ‘great location, and good atmosphere’.

Axel Vervoordt (Antwerp, Hong Kong) sold work by Japanese Gutai artist Ryuji Tanaka in REDISCOVERY for a price in the range of €60,000. Rodolphe Janssen (Brussels), whose sales also included a Sean Landers painting for $95,000 to a major European collector, also sold well in his REDISCOVERY presentation of Léon Wuidar with seven works going in the preview, while Ceysson & Bénétière (Saint-Etienne, Luxembourg, Paris) saw strong sales of Jean Messagier in REDISCOVERY, reflected by the sales of numerous works of his PRIME booth to American, Belgian and French collectors.

A delighted Galerie Mitterand (Paris), with a highly successful SOLO booth of Niki de Saint Phalle, reported the sale of a rare 1967 work for a price between €150,000-200,000 to a new collector they met at Art Brussels, and several other works for prices up to €50,000, commenting: “It is the best year, in terms of sales and in terms of new contacts”. Sorry We’re Closed (Brussels) sold over 30 works from their SOLO booth of Josh Sperling to collectors from Hong Kong, the US and UK among others, for prices up to €5,200, many in the first hours of the preview. Benoît Maire, who won the SOLO prize, sold well at Meessen De Clercq (Brussels) with several sculptures and paintings going for prices up to €15,000, while Amsterdam gallery Ron Mandos (Amsterdam), who sold out of Levi van Veluw during the preview, also reported significant sales of their SOLO booth of video and photography work by Mohau Modisakeng.

First-time exhibitor Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery (London) were thrilled with sales of most of their DISCOVERY solo presentation of Mali artist Amadou Sanogo during the preview to Norwegian collectors, with prices from $12,000 to $14,000. Dauwens & Beernaert (Brussels) reported selling out of Italian artist Marco de Sanctis, Thierry Goldberg Gallery (NYC) sold out of Tschabalala Self and The Hole (NYC), returning for a fourth year, sold eight of nine works by Eric Yahnker: Director Kathy Grayson, delighted to have also placed a work in a major European collection, was “very happy with so many sales”. Galerie Conradi (Hamburg, Brussels)’s Director Elena Conradi commented “The audience here is fantastic if you want to ensure an international visibility for your artists.” Neumeister Bar-Am (Berlin) counted among sales a major video piece by Micah Hesse, and Harlan Levey, of Harlan Levey Projects, winner of the DISCOVERY Prize, reported: "The 35th edition of Art Brussels was outstanding… we were thrilled to place all of our works in excellent collections."

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