March 18, 2008 - ARCOmadrid - Defies Economic Doldrums
March 18, 2008

Defies Economic Doldrums


The celebration of ARCO08, from the 13th to the 18th of February, has raised a great expectation. Gallerists, mass media, collectors and the general public have followed the art Fair, inaugurated by the King and Queen of Spain, with great interest. The show attended more than 190,000 visitors.

The uncertainty generated by a floundering economy, and its possible impact on the sales of this first major international contemporary art event of 2008, was a huge question mark hanging over this latest edition of ARCO. Nevertheless, the ARCO sales jump-started by the first two days, open exclusively to collectors and professionals, have confirmed the consolidation of the structural aspect of the market, not only supported by collectors and institutions, but also with a much larger group of upper-middle-class Spaniards.

Moreover, there was also a great deal of curiosity regarding ARCO’s new home, the recently inaugurated Halls 12 and 14 at the Feria de Madrid exhibition complex, which welcomed 295 galleries. The new spatial design as well as the reorganization of the event’s contents was devised by the architect Juan Herreros.

Sales, many and varied. For yet another year, Spanish galleries generated proportionally higher sales, precisely because of this solid and mid-level market segment of collectors from all over Spain. Regarding galleries from abroad, those that were ARCO “regulars” did better than those that were not. The reason is obvious: those galleries that have been working the Spanish market for years, introducing their roster of artists, have already become points of reference for collectors in Spain.

Especially noteworthy was the presence of Brazil. Its galleries surpassed their sales expectations, with highly positive results, as well as making valuable professional contacts for the future.

Great collectors and international museums
A larger contingent of international collectors, as well as the arrival of delegations from leading international museums, has been decisive in the fair’s results. The most remarkable are the Latin American Acquisitions Committee of the American Patrons of the Tate; the MoMA’s Latin American and Caribbean Fund ; the Bronx Museum; the Casa Lamm Cultural Centre ; The Circle of Friends of MAMCO ; the Latin American Acquisitions Committee of the MFAH, Houston Museum of Fine Arts; the International Center of Photography; MALI, the Lima Museum of Art; the Sao Paulo Museum of Modern Art, MAM ; the Miami Art Museum; the Serpentine Gallery; the Friends of the Pompidou Centre; and the Victoria Art Foundation.

Institutional collectors go all out for ARCO. Public institutions have created a major acquisitions programmes and projects for creating new collections with work bought at the art fair. This is the case of the Pedro Barrié de la Maza Foundation, as well as the new Ars Fundum collection.

Moreover, a number of institutions that traditionally buy at ARCO made major purchases; these include: the Reina Sofía ; IFEMA, for the ARCO Foundation ; the Coca-Cola Foundation; the MUSAC; the Province of Malaga; the Murcia Regional Administration; the City of Pamplona; the Unión FENOSA Museum; El Monte Art Collection; CGAC ; Caja Sol Foundation; Regional Administration of Cantabria; CAB / Burgos; Madrid Regional Administration and the Picasso Foundation.

On the corporate side, the Bergé Group, VIP Lounge´s sponsor and the Official ARCO Vehicle fleet (with Hyundai), have also made major acquisitions at the art fair.

Another major ARCO sponsor, Silken Hotels, made a wide range of new acquisitions.

Brazil, ARCO’s biggest draw. This year’s guest country stood out for its diversity, sensuality, freshness, and rich imagery of its projects. Its curators, Moacir Dos Anjos and Paolo Sergio Duarte, opted for basing their selection on artists rather than on galleries, and for presenting established creators side-by-side with young emerging artists.

Other programming. Great deals of the interest include the new section called ARCO40, with the high quality of many of its galleries, and PERFORMING ARCO, with extraordinary pieces of performed live. EXPANDED-BOX showed the very latest trends in electronic and audiovisually-based art. It also included different initiatives for promotion media, such as the BEEP Awards, which was won this year by the sound installation Luci, by the Catalan artist José Manuel Berenguer, represented by the gallery LLUCIÀ HOMS.

The next edition of ARCO will be held 11-16 February 2009, in Halls 12, 14 and 14.1, of the Feria de Madrid exhibition centre, and will have the presence of India as the special Guest Country.
Among the initiatives on the drawing board for ARCO09 are innovative projects as ARCO URBANO, showing the fair’s commitment to promoting public art on the street and a tender to locate a public art piece for an emblematic location in London, where URVASCO-SILKEN is building a high-end complex designed by
Norman Foster.

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