The members of the world of art are in 2019 like those squirrels of the peninsular myth: they can travel from fair to fair without touching the ground. This February, without going any further, the faces have been seen in Zona Maco, in Mexico, the new Frieze Los Angeles and, since yesterday, in Arco Madrid, which today receives the visit of the King and Queen of Spain for its official inauguration and will remain open to the public between Friday and Sunday. Then come the Armory Show in New York, the Dubai Fair, Art Basel ... So, what moves 70% of the 205 galleries of 31 countries present in Arco to travel to Spain?
On the one hand, participating in the event in Madrid, which has started with optimism and good value among professionals, is cheaper than doing it in others. The spaces cost in Ifema between 5,700 and 50,000 euros (installation and logistics costs separately). Collectors and international gallery owners also valued the "great atmosphere" that exists in the city this week, in which it is also possible to go, like the sciuromorphic rodents, from sarao to sarao, from night to night. Different is for national dealers, such as Espacio Mínimo, in Madrid, who have the most seen city and can not use surprise factor with local collectors.
One of its founders, José Martínez, calculated at 40,000 euros the investment that he will have to recover based on sales that, even if they are closed at the fair, may end months after the closing (it is also fair to say that many times purchases are agreed before the start of the appointment, when collectors receive the menu of what they will find). "At least," he explained at the end of the morning, "we have already awarded these two pieces," he added, pointing to a couple of works by the Guipuzcoan artist Manu Muniategiandikoetxea.
It is possible to place Minimum Space in the middle class of the Arco society. With more than a quarter of a century behind him, it is not The Ryder, a space in London with four years of life, that participates in Opening, a program for ventures with more future than the past; to Arco they come with a piece made ex profeso - "site specific", in the jargon of Andrea Galvani, who has hired "some astrophysicists of the Complutense" who draw on the wall formulas on matters related to dark matter. The buyer acquires the right for scientists to visit him at home to repeat the experiment for a price that, depending on the surface, ranges between 6,000 and 15,000 euros.
Minimal Space is also not the almighty Swiss Hauser & Wirth, with headquarters in Zurich, London, New York, Somerset, Los Angeles, Hong Kong and Gstaad. It is the firm that will reopen on April 17 Chillida-Leku, near San Sebastián, and Arco has brought a monographic stand of the American Jenny Holzer, which exposes, shortly before a major retrospective at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, one of his usual leds (400,000 euros) and paintings in which he mixes watercolors with declassified documents of the US Government.
The Ryder and Hauser & Wirth, which occupy the two ends of the city of Arco (the small neighborhood in the process of gentrification in front of the Champs Elysees), are at least similar in that: their commitment to a single artist. "Fairs are increasingly abandoning the showcase effect," explains Ricardo Ocampo, from WaldenGallery, based in Buenos Aires, which exposes Mexican artists, pioneers of feminism, Magali Lara and Mónica Mayer. "Going to a gallery to buy a piece is very from the eighties, collectors are waiting for these appointments, which also take advantage of the trip," adds Ocampo.
It is the desire of the directors of Arco (Carlos Urroz, who says goodbye, and Maribel López, whose era starts) that the stands reduce their offer to avoid the dispersion of the market itself. They impose it on curated programs, such as Dialogues, that has a selection of spaces that confronts artists in intergenerational key. It has also resulted in the interesting offer of ARCOPerú, guest country: 23 artists from 15 galleries arranged in an original architecture in the shape of a desert rose, in which yesterday one of the vitality of the embassy of the country that has flooded the city of cultural offer (Nobel Literature included).
Some of the big names in the general program, such as Madrid's Helga de Alvear, they have also pointed to the trend. The veteran collector and gallerist has opted for Julian Rosefeldt. One of the members of his artistic squad, Santiago Sierra, starred in the most controversial polemic of the last edition when presenting the piece Political prisoners of contemporary Spain, which De Alvear withdrew at the request of Ifema. The gallerist confessed that she had not seen the ninet of Felipe VI that this year signs Santiago Sierra with Eugenio Merino in the Italian gallery Prometheus and that he chooses something exhaustingly to the title of "the great controversy of 2019". He also said that Sierra proposed him to build this year "a wall in front of the stand". "I told him that we'd better leave it for August, when the gallery was closed."
De Alvear took the time of lunch to acquire two pieces by the Italian artist Mario Merz in Giorgio Persano. He trusted that they would reduce the price of 300,000 to 250,000 euros. "I have bought several more things because the market has to be encouraged. Whatever you say, it sells very little and the times ahead are not good for optimism. The international scenario is to scare and here in Spain is not better either. The only sensible candidate is Pedro Sánchez, I hope that people will vote for him. " Nekane Aramburu, about to conclude her time as director of the Es Baluard museum in Palma de Mallorca, said, on the other hand, that this is a great opportunity for Arco to "take hold as a market". The manager has been able to verify that "other Latin American fairs are suffering a downturn in their activity", in reference to Bogotá, Buenos Aires and Mexico.
Beyond the purchases and sales, Arco, which accentuates the biennial pretensions with the artistic monoculture of the spaces, also served yesterday to take the pulse of the trends of contemporary creation. Namely: there is a boom in painting, which traditionally commands in Arco, a certain rebound of sculpture and the decisive commitment of the market, which for this time follows the wake of institutions, for craftsmanship as a theme and as a medium. Mud, pottery, textiles and tiles abound in veteran artists (Teresa Lanceta) and young people (Elena Alonso).
It also confirms the continuous revision of the canon, the strength of Latin American political documentary art and the relentless search for names cornered by the system. This is the case in the section Dialogs. One of its commissioners, Agustín Pérez Rubio, was proud yesterday to have selected a payroll "diverse to no longer able", "with 70% of women and 100% of artists who had never exhibited before in Arco".