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Art Basel 2006 - Short report from the fairs

Art Basel

Fans, ventilators and bottles of water are, along with the works of over 2.000 artists, the basic elements at the fairs taking place these days in Basel. Indeed, the market is hotter than ever. With the prospects of the $62 million sold at the last Armory Show and the magnificent results at the spring auction sales, the 37th edition of Art Basel opened last Tuesday, June 13. The hot temperatures registered these days in Basel, and the price rise, have not prevented, however, a great affluence of public and the acquisitions euphoria.

As unavoidable appetizer, Liste, the young art fair opened on Monday with around 60 galleries, artists under 40, and a great number of collectors. "This fair attracts a very interesting public, and a large number of international collectors. We sold the whole stand and even other works by digital images in just a few hours" - explained Berlin gallerist Jan Wentrup-. With the current buying fever the art market is living, it is not surprising that some galleries sold the whole stand right on the opening day. "The beginning of the fair has been fantastic"- agreed Diana Stigter, from Amsterdam-. "We sold everything from Iris Van Dongen from 15.000 to 18.000€ on the opening day. Her fellow countrymen from Upstream Gallery, equally sold most works by Christian Anderson and Lucy Wood within a few hours: "This is our third year at Liste, and it is really incredible. He already had to change the stand".

As expected, sales at the opening of AArt Basel one day later were even more frantic. Just a few minutes after the opening, some galleries, such as the Germans "Produzentengalerie" and "Contemporary Fine Arts" had already sold a number of pieces by hot artists Jonas Bürgert, Norbert Schwontkowski and Jonathan Meese. Similarly, Juana de Aizpuru sold within minutes a very good drawing by young artist Cristina Lucas (6.000€). "Collectors are buying drawing and painting first, leaving multiple edition Works for later. They come, leave works on reserve and run away" -were saying some dealers-. "It's crazy. I even saw some people fighting for the works"- told me a friend curator- "while with the prices being paid for young artists I can hardly buy anything for my museum".


Opened on Wednesday 14, the second edition of Volta offered a similar view. Started by gallerists Friedrich Loock, Kavi Gupta and Ulrich Voges in 2005, this fair has soon achieved to attract the collectors attention. With over 50 international galleries, Volta fills a gap between Liste's young energy and Art Basel's established positions. Of special mention were the booths of New York's Roebling Hall (with photographs by Eve Sussman sold between $10.000 and $12.000), Pierogi (with some "illustrative" works by the deceased Mark Lombarda, between $6.000 and $200.000) and Museum 52 (with an individual Project by YBA John Isaacs)

Only 5 minutes away by boat, we reached Balelatina. "Latin American art, due to globalization, information Technologies and thanks to larger exposure Art Basel Miami Beach's is more recognised everyday" - explained fair director's Mariangela Capuzzo-. "This fair offers international galleries the opportunity to present their Latin-American artists to the European market". Though sales are still slow, "this fair samples high quality art, and has succeeded to attract important collectors, both private and institutional". In a relaxed atmosphere, at the Rhine shore, there are pieces available by emerging artists such as Argentinian artist Tomas Saraceno (Andersen, Copenhague), Alexander Apostol, Juan Enrique Bedoya (Espacio Distrito 4, Madrid), and Eduardo Balanza (T20, Murcia). "We expect, however, further sales will be concluded during the weekend and in the next months" - said, optimistic, Mariangela Capuzzo- " and to offer a greater variety of events, activities and parties next year".

Text: Raúl Martínez
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