What Sold at ARCO Madrid 2016?
The presence of blue-chip galleries did not translate into a sales frenzy.
As reported in our Top 10 Booths feature yesterday, ARCO Madrid is celebrating its 35th anniversary with a bigger and bolder edition than ever. That’s beacuse instead of the traditional guest country section—a staple of the fair for many years—this year the fair has launched a special anniversary section, titled “Imagining other futures.”
The section includes blue-chip galleries such as Marian Goodman Gallery, Sprüth Magers, Lisson Gallery, Galerie Lelong, Esther Schipper, Alexander & Bonin, Team Gallery, and Victoria Miro Gallery. But did the presence of such heavy-hitters translate into a frenzy of sales?
Well, not necessarily—at least not during the first day and a half, from what artnet News gathered across the aisles. Sales seemed uneven, and responses from dealers varied substantially, ranging from mild disappointment at the slow pace of sales and attendance during the preview hours, to guarded enthusiasm.
Among the more enthusiastic, unsurprisingly, were the best-known international names. London’s Lisson Gallery for example—which had not just one, but two booths (one in the general section and one in the anniversary section)—reported brisk sakes in the first hours. Angela de la Cruz’s Deflated Yellow sold quickly for a price within the region of £20,000-50,000. Four Stanley Whitney gouaches, and one acrylic and pencil work by Carmen Herrera also changed hands for undisclosed prices, while one large drawing by Jorinde Voigt sold for a price between €100,000 and €150,000.
Galerie Lelong was holding court in a massive booth featuring works by artists including Etel Adnan, Günther Förg, Jaume Plensa, Sean Scully, Antoni Tàpies, Barthélémy Toguo, and Juan Uslé. A slew of works were sold by the end of the first day, including an iPad drawing by David Hockney (for €28,000), a sculpture by David Nash, an etching by Kiki Smith (for €4,000) and a small Jannis Kounellis wall sculpture, for €8,000.
Lelong is in fact a loyal regular at ARCO, having participated in each edition since the fair debuted 35 years ago, according to director Patrice Cotensin. “We love coming to ARCO. It has always made sense for us for many reasons, including that the gallery has a strong relationship with Spanish art, as throughout the years we have worked with many Spanish artists, like Joan Miró, Tàpies, Eduardo Chillida, Plensa, and Uslé,” he told artnet News.
“It’s also important to remember that in the early 1990s ARCO was one of the first fairs, if not the first, that started organizing symposia, talks, and round tables, and inviting important curators and museum directors to participate in them,” Cotensin added. “They were innovators in that sense, realizing the huge potential of bringing art professionals to attend the fair, besides art collectors.”
A similar sentiment was echoed by Victor Gisler over at Mai 36 Galerie. Besides reporting a number of sales in the first few hours—including a Robert Mapplethorpe photograph for $32,000, a couple of paintings by Cuban artist Flavio Garciandía, and a pair of sculptures by young Spanish artist Jacobo Castellano (within the €5,000-7,000 range)—the director and founder of the Zurich-based gallery waxed lyrical about the fair, which he’s been taking part in since 1989.
“ARCO has always been a strong fair, the first few years were fantastic, before all other fairs began to appear and Art Basel got so strong,” he told artnet News. “ARCO is always been a great meeting point for international, Latin American, and Spanish collectors,” he added.
“I have kept coming to the fair, even in the years of recession. Many galleries do a fair a couple of years, then stop, then maybe come back. But that is no way of establishing rewarding links with any fair and scene around it. For it to work, you have to engage with it, think long term, keep coming back,” he explained.
“Another aspect I like about ARCO,” Gisler added, pointing to his generous stand, “is the possibility of experimenting and doing proper presentations. At other art fairs real state is so incredibly expensive it’s hard to afford to take risks, but ARCO allows it,” he enthused.
The mood at the stand of Vienna’s Galerie Nächst St. Stephan was also buoyant. The gallery had devoted a part of the booth to showcase works on paper by artists including Donald Judd and Dan Flavin, and it seemed to have worked well. An acrylic on paper work by Katharina Grosse sold for €20,000 and an ink on paper work by Alice Attie changed hands for €7,500, while a small sculpture-cum-seat by Sonia Leimer, called I Beam (2015), sold for €4,300. Standing tall in the booth, an MDF, wood, and paint sculpture by Manfred Pernice titled Piccolo XL (2016) was on hold for €32,000 at the beginning of the second day.
At Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, which hasn’t participated in the fair since 2010, big was the way the forward. The selection of works was certainly on the pricey side, including one of the most expensive works at the fair, Georg Baselitz’s €1,5 million bronze sculpture Yellow Song (2013). Eye-watering price tags are a risky business at ARCO, a fair that excels at the mid-market range, which suggest the selection of pieces—which included works by Robert Rauschenberg, Joseph Beuys, Tony Cragg, Alex Katz, Antony Gormley, Markus Schinwald, and Miquel Barceló—was more of a statement than a strategy. That’s perhaps why director Jose Castañal seemed unfazed by the slow pace of the first day.
“Knowing the fair well, I can say the first day has been slower than usual, but this is a fair where stuff happens every day, rather than just in the first few hours,” he said, referring to the usual “first hour frenzy” on display at the Art Basel and Frieze fairs.
None of that frantic behavior was spotted at ARCO. In fact, while everybody knows that as a dealer, location is your best friend at any art fair, that was never truer than at the ARCO preview, where aisles near to the entrance were jam-packed while those towards the back (and not on the highly coveted route towards the VIP lounge) where definitely quiet.
Air de Paris, situated in a prime location as part of the 35th anniversary section and showcasing a phenomenal presentation of works by Dorothy Iannone and her mother, Sarah Pucci, hasn’t sold any works by the beginning of the second day, although the ARCO Foundation had shortlisted one piece for acquisition.
But Florence Bonnefous, co-director and co-founder of the Parisian gallery, was pleased with the attention and interest the booth received. “There’s been a lot more activity and interest than last year, when we participated at the main section. We will see what happens through the rest of the week,” she told artnet News.
Similarly, Richard Saltoun Gallery had received strong interest in a series of works by Renate Bertlmann from the committee of acquisition of Museo Reina Sofía (which spent over €350,000 at ARCO last year), but by end of the second day the deal still hadn’t been sealed.
For a good number of Spanish galleries, the mood at the start of the second day was optimistic. Most exhibitors agreed that the blue-chip aura infused by the big international galleries at the 35th anniversary section had indeed made this edition look sleeker, but didn’t actually triggered a massive shift in terms of attendance or sales, although some identified a bigger presence of US collectors, usually not ARCO’s strongest suit.
At the stand of Madrid gallery MaisterraValbuena, several clusters of B-Wurtz’s Pan Paintings (2015) sold for €10,000 a pop, a number of paintings by Néstor Sanmiguel Diest sold in the range of €8,000-€20,0000) and a Dan Shaw-Town had also changed hands for €10,000.
Moisés Pérez de Albéniz, a Madrid-based gallery with a focus on Spanish and Basque artists, but which also represents established international artists like Tony Oursler, Phil Collins, and Willie Doherty, has done particularly well. At the end of the first day, a painting by Juan Uslé sold for €110,000, another painting by Pello Irazu has found a new home for €14,000, a sculpture by Oursler went for €60,000, and a photograph by Carlos Irijalba changed hands for €14,000.
Over at Galeria Marta Cervera, a David Reed mixed-media collage sold for $10,000, while a Patrick Hamilton photo kept in the backroom sold for $5,200. At The Goma, a large painting by the young Spanish painter Jose Díaz sold €6,000, a wall-sculpture of marble and paraffin by young Portuguese artist Ana Santos sold for €2,500, and diptych painting of vinyl and oil painting on canvas by Enrique Radigales has been reserved for €10,000.
At the Opening section, García Galería has placed two works by the young artists Karlos Gil and David Bestué in the collections of two institutions. A textile wall piece by Gil, titled Stay Gold (Red) (2014), was purchased by the Frac des Pays de la Loire in France for €5,000, while a €20,000 sculpture by Bestué was acquired for the CA2M Museum in Madrid.
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