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The world is in crisis mode, the art market seems to be celebrating. In our three-part review of the art market coverage, we take another look inside and behind the scenes. We start with the fairs.
The autumn season has not yet begun, there is already the first fair cancellation. Anny Shaw reports in The Art Newspaper the cancellation of the Paris Design Miami, since the authorities for safety reasons the use of the Place de la Concorde had canceled. In the FAZ there is a report on this by Ursula Scheer.
Paris+ par Art Basel does not do things by halves when it comes to the successor to Fiac, reports Olga Grimm-Weissert in the Handelsblatt: "Paris Plus will not only take place in the Grand Palais Ephémère from October 20 to 23, but will also take over all the additional venues of Fiac for further sales offers: With large sculptures in the Tuileries Park near the Louvre, on the Place Vendôme, where an artist or his gallery is always in focus, as well as in the small Musée Delacroix, which the Louvre co-manages."
Ursula Scheer visited the fairs and Chart and Enter Art Fair in Copenhagen for the FAZ: "Danish and Swedish exhibitors make up the largest share, the smaller Norwegians, Finns and Icelanders. Persons Projects and Dorothée Nilsson came from Berlin, Croy Nielsen from Vienna. Local, frugal, personal, sustainable: with this profile, CHART also distinguishes itself from its younger and globally oriented competitor Enter Art Fair, which takes place outside Copenhagen. At Kunsthalle Charlottenborg on Nyhavn, the exuberance of Tivoli is far gone. Compared to the debate-fueled art world elsewhere, it's a marked difference in temperature and reflects the interest of domestic collectors. Painting dominates, from figurative to abstract, often in soft, pastel-light tones, inspired by nature, organic in appearance or with a twist into the fantastic." I was at Art-o-Rama in Marseille for the Handelsblatt and Artmagazine.
Frieze Seoul's first serve (along with the seasoned Kiaf) seems to be an ace, believes The Art Newspaper's notoriously sunny fair coverage, in this case by Reena Devi, which nevertheless contains some analytical aspects: "Asian galleries also held their own at both Kiaf and Frieze, making it very clear the region remains the ascendant force in the market. [...] Kiaf is shining a spotlight on the domestic scene with its satellite fair Kiaf Plus (until 5 September), featuring emerging and new media art showcased by more than 70 experimental local galleries at Seoul Trade Exhibition and Convention. [...] 'I think people have understood this is not just about an art fair,' [gallery owner Brett] Gorvy says. 'This is about Seoul being a cultural center, an international center, and if it has the possibility to be equal to Hong Kong or other areas in Asia where you've got these international art fairs.'"
You have to think of Vienna as a lucky city. Despite all the intrigues and quarrels, the metropolis on the Danube manages to successfully hold two art market events of international caliber at the same time: the art fair Viennacontemporary and the gallery marathon Curated by. Victor Sattler describes synergy effects at Monopol: "On the first day of the fair, some of the gallery owners who would have expected more sales were still relying on magic. However, there was no understanding for the grumbling of the others at the Viennese gallery Georg Kargl Fine Arts - instead a beaming smile about the magnificent fair. Although only one painting by Katrina Daschner had been sold here so far, the flow of visitors from the curators and directors had never stopped. And with David Fesl and David Maljković, the gallery directly extended an invitation to the gallery festival Curated By, which opened at the same time and in the context of which it is showing Fesl and Maljković. In this respect, Viennacontemporary, which is perhaps the most versatile of art fairs, is understood as a long-term mission."
Among other things, Elena Witzeck visited the Positions art fair during Berlin Artweek mid-September for the FAZ: "Berlin is once again an international art market location! Neustart Kultur, the rescue fund, also supported the fair, the Minister of State for Culture's wish to do so: Promotion of young artists, sustainability, diversity. A gallery from Ukraine is taking part and five countries bordering on Ukraine are represented. The focus on Eastern Europe has been supported by the Senate of Economics, even if there is not too much Ukrainian on show. As at the Gallery Weekend, money is being collected for the "Be an Angel" association, which supports refugees. Much of what is on show here is colourful, compatible and affordable. Here and there it becomes political".
Josie Thaddaeus-Johne investigated for Artsy which galleries participate in most art fairs in September and October. The front-runners Perrotin and David Zwirner take part in six events - in these two months alone! This illustrates the gap between gallery groups and the army of medium-sized galleries, which are increasingly limiting themselves to two or three fairs a year.
The trend that has characterised Frieze in recent years is confirmed by Patricia Grzonka at Monopol: "But anyone who would have thought that the stands of the 120 or so exhibitors at this year's Frieze London or Frieze Masters in Regent's Park might show a moment of insecurity due to the current global crises would be proved wrong. Colourful, garish and often bold is the motto of the hour, neo-pop art and abstract expressionism thought dead are back from the brink."
Gina Thomas is also slightly alienated by the spectacle in the FAZ: "At the Frieze fair for contemporary art, members of the club of the upper ten thousand and so-called VIPs cavorted at the preview like a waiting woman who confessed not to know what she was in line for, perhaps a performance or a glass of champagne. Between gimmicky installations, such as the leather pumpkins by Anthea Hamilton at the stand of Thomas Dane, which fit more into a championship for giant vegetables, monumental canvases by young artists, fresh from the studio, imposed themselves. They looked as if a command had gone out that painting was all the rage this year. All the better if the artists are female and the subjects postcolonial."
Bad times for art fairs: Production costs have increased by 20 to 50 per cent, Kabir Jhala researched for The Art Newspaper. The prices are unlikely to be passed on to the exhibitors.
The eagerly awaited Art Basel subsidiary Paris+ had its successful premiere last week, which was received positively by the international press, with some critical overtones. Scott Reyburn sums it up in the New York Times: "For all its less-corporate, French charm, FIAC had a reputation with some international dealers as a less commercially successful fair than its London rival Frieze. At last year's FIAC, the New York dealer David Zwirner told The Times that, though he thought Paris was 'such a great city for a fair,' FIAC had 'tended to underperform' for his gallery. Enter Art Basel's global 42-member team that manages V.I.P. relations. It put together a program of exclusive receptions, talks and visits to studios and museums that was more extensive than anything FIAC had ever offered and that drew in a much stronger guest list."
Immediately after the premiere of Paris+ par Art Basel, the second initiator of the coup that meant the end of Fiac is also leaving. Marc Spiegler is leaving Art Basel, to be succeeded by Noah Horowitz, according to a press release (PDF). In an initial report, Kate Brown at Artnet mistakenly puts James Murdoch's share in MCH Group AG at 49 per cent, which she later corrects to 38 per cent. The error is repeated throughout the report, for example by Maximiliano Durón for Artnews. In the FAZ Ursula Scheer also makes Horowitz Spiegler's successor as CEO of Art Basel, a newly created post that did not exist before. There is an introductory message from me in the Handelsblatt. I wrote a commentary on the Spiegler era for Monopol.
In early November Silke Hohmann brings back impressions from Turin for Monopol. Eva Karcher compares Artissima in the Tagesspiegel to a supposedly "more sophisticated and global Milan fair Miart". Actually, in Turin, 60 per cent of the exhibitors were from abroad, in Milan the figure was 30 per cent. Jenny Dogliani reports for The Art Newspaper. I visited Artissima for the Handelsblatt and spoke to its director Luigi Fassi for Artmagazine.
In Paris, two high-profile fairs took place at the same time. Bernhard Schulz visited the merger of two fairs for art and antiques for the Tagesspiegel: "In addition, two Paris fairs have joined forces to make their presence felt under the new name Fine Arts Paris & La Biennale. This November, the venue is once again the Carrousel du Louvre, before the move to the completely renovated Grand Palais is scheduled for 2024. The rooms of the Carrousel are elegantly furnished so that the 86 participating galleries are shown to their best advantage, even with different stand sizes. The principle of this hybrid fair is to mix the 14 categories represented, from Old Master paintings to non-European art, in a colourful way. None of the categories stands out quantitatively, neither the old masters nor the arts and crafts traditionally strong in France, from inlaid desks to gilded candlesticks."
At the Paris Photo held in parallel, Olga Grimm-Weissert took a look for the Handelsblatt: "The overall impression of this 25th edition with a good 180 exhibitors, including publishers, is satisfactory. Not any more. The director of Paris Photo, Florence Bourgeois, looks worried. If the fair is not a commercial success for the exhibitors and the organiser RX France, it could threaten their existence. This is exactly what happened to the 'Fiac' fair, also organised by RX France. It had financial problems in the Corona years, claim rumours in Paris. Since the French Ministry of Culture, to which the United Museums and the Grand Palais are subordinate, insists on reliable payment of their rents, the October date of the Fiac was unceremoniously given to the competitor 'Art Basel'."
Art Cologne, which Georg Imdahl visited for the FAZ, has positioned itself permanently in November again: "'Everyone is cautious - everyone', a gallery owner from the Rhineland emphasises categorically. At last year's Art Cologne, many colleagues were already satisfied, economically speaking, if they 'got off lightly'. This time, the caution of some local galleries has gone so far that they are not even taking part in the 55th edition of the fair. The fair is planned in a very airy way, offers a lot of space for supposedly large sculptures, presents itself in a dignified way with light-coloured carpeting and a colourful, even motley range, as if numerous exhibitors had agreed to address the public with inviting rather than bulky, sometimes uncomfortable art. The result is less something like market heat and more a certain feel-good flair. But the principle of 'playing it safe' in the booths is probably a sign of how the suppliers assess the collector's desire to experiment."
Towards the end of a press release for the next edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, the Swiss pointed out that the fair was getting a new director in Angelle Siyang-Le. Adeline Ooi will devote herself to Art Basel's strategy in Asia as Director Asia. Similar wording could be read when Vincenzo de Bellis was hired to support Marc Spiegler.
Art Karlsruhe gets a new leadership, Susanne Schreiber reports in Handelsblatt: "Olga Blaß is a house call. Since 2017, the art historian already operationally controls the fair. The surprise is the not exactly underemployed gallery owner, BVDG board member and fair founder Kristian Jarmuschek as chairman of the advisory board. There he is supposed to be responsible for strategy and repositioning."
20 years of Art Basel Miami Beach, 15 years of Marc Spiegler - technically a reason to celebrate. But when even Anny Shaw and Gareth Harris of the media partner The Art Newspaper warn of troubled times, concern is in order: "The art market is said to lag behind broader economic realities by several months-but some of those realities are already starting to be felt at Art Basel in Miami Beach this week. There's a whiff of something in the air,' says one anonymous blue-chip dealer. And he is not just referring to the rain clouds that rolled in on Thursday afternoon, bringing a sudden downpour. 'The market has reached something of a zenith and now everyone is buckling up for a bumpy ride.' He notes a drop in visitors from other US cities, including New York, Chicago and Dallas, as well as a smaller cohort of Europeans and even fewer clients from Asian countries, where covid travel restrictions have only recently been lifted. It's a combination of a reticence to travel and a reticence to buy,' the dealer adds."