Spiegel gives an overview of Art Forum Berlin, the big German fair over last weekend,
When asked how the Art Forum in Berlin went, many of the gallerists sounded a lot like politicians: upbeat. On the whole the fair was “really good”, the atmosphere was great, many “good discussions” were held and “good contacts were established.” The sales were “satisfactory” and pieces “sold well.” One gallerist from New York says that he would be returning home with less than he came with — he didn’t specify whether he meant dollars or artworks.
“The quality still needs to be improved, the Berlin fair has potential,” Frankfurt-based gallerist Bärbel Grässlin says. And one needs to bear in mind that the acquisitions and choices the galleries made came at the same time as the low point in the global financial crisis, she says. Grässlin hopes that there will be more cooperation with larger art institutions in the future and that the fair will be more visible to both collectors and the city’s inhabitants. Unlike other cities, Berlin does not have an “established upper middle class” with wealth enough to carry an entire art fair. The Art Forum also needs to become more international, she added.
Bloomberg wants to be optimistic but they can’t find many sales to report. So they’re left chatting with the fair’s directors:
More than 40,000 visitors showed up between Sept. 24 and Sept. 27, the organizers said, with 130 galleries exhibiting works. The new co-directors, 44-year-old Eva-Maria Haeusler and 57-year-old Peter Vetsch, both joined Art Forum last year from Art Basel, the world’s biggest contemporary-art fair.
“In these economically difficult times, there are some galleries which sell a lot, some which don’t sell much,” Vetsch said in an interview in Art Forum’s VIP lounge. “In previous years, almost every gallery had good sales. Now the buyers are slower — they can wait for a couple of years.” […]
Berlin’s art market might not be as badly affected as London and New York because it’s not a financial center and relies less heavily on bankers with bonuses, Vetsch said. The city is home to about 6,000 artists and as many as 500 galleries, which helps attract museum curators and other collectors who come to visit the artists, Vetsch said. Such buyers are more likely to buy art consistently over the years, regardless of the economy, he said. […]
Haeusler, the co-director of Art Forum, said she is noticing signs that buyers and dealers are more upbeat than they were a year ago as the world economic crisis wanes.
“People are more optimistic,” she said. “There is a chance the art market will recover quickly because interest in contemporary art is still there. It’s just a question of when.”
Super Works, Reasonable Sales and a Lot of Distractions (Spiegel)
Berlin’s Trendy Art Fairs Draw Wary Collectors as Crisis Hits (Bloomberg)