Basel Is Getting a New Art Fair Dedicated to Works on Paper This Year

The German fair Paper Positions will exclusively sell drawings, collages, and other works on paper.

Paper Positions, Berlin 2017. Photo by Oana Popa. Courtesy of Positions Berlin.

This year, the paper-based art fair Paper Positions is expanding beyond its homeland of Germany to bring around 30 dealers to Basel, June 12-17. The new fair is an offshoot of the slightly older event Positions Berlin, which does not focus on any one medium and runs concurrently with the notably larger art berlin fair (formerly abc) every September.

But Paper Positions is something quite different from the others—the much more concentrated format lures collectors by dedicating itself entirely to drawings, paper cuttings, collage, and the like.

Paper Positions Munich, 2017. Photo by Clara Wenzel-Theiler. Courtesy of Positions Berlin.

Since the younger fair launched, it has hopped between German cities, starting in Berlin in 2016 before taking its 2017 edition to Munich. This year, it is expanding to Switzerland while maintaining its two other locations. And it seems that collectors and dealers are responding well to the fair’s medium-focused, concentrated presentations. Each gallery gets a wall, as opposed to separated booths, creating a more salon-style environment.

“We are addressing all collectors, and there are both more expensive works and offerings with lower prices.” says fair director Kristian Jarmuschek. “Paper is the perfect starting point for art collecting.”

Indeed, paper-based art is of growing interest. The immediacy of the medium makes it more accessible to new collectors and shipping costs are relatively negligible. Next week, Paris launches its 27th edition of Drawings Week, as the paper-based fair “Drawings Now” readies to open at Salon du Dessin, concurrent to the 12th edition of the fair Drawing Now that will bring together 72 international galleries this year.

Or take New York’s Ronald Feldman Gallery, which dedicated its booth at this year’s Armory Show to a live-drawing presentation by Ryan and Trevor Oakes. Nearby, the fourth season of Art on Paper enjoyed its largest edition yet, after seeing more than 20,000 visitors in 2017.

And last year, Turin’s Artissima devoted an entire section to drawings called Disegni, which focused on contemporary works on paper from 26 dealers. Curated by Kunsthalle Lisbon’s directors Luís Silva and João Mourão, Disegni is set to return in 2018.

Paper Positions, Berlin 2017. Photo by Clara Wenzel-Theiler. Courtesy of Positions Berlin.

“Paper is versatile. It often shows the spontaneous artistic impulse, but with its fine texture and delicacy it offers also a possibility to make an artist’s particular focus visible,” says the fair’s co-director Heinrich Carstens. But the medium risks getting lost at larger fairs, taking a backseat to louder or larger-scale artworks. “The breadth and complexity of this medium is particularly evident when one perceives various works in a concentrated presentation and at the same time has the opportunity to see individual works in an intimate format,” he adds.

Paper Positions’ Basel edition will take place just around the corner from Art Basel’s Messeplatz, presenting 30 international galleries in the Ackermannshof, a historic multipurpose venue. The Berlin edition of Paper Positions will run alongside Gallery Weekend Berlin this year, and feature 46 international galleries with drawings, collages, paper cuttings, text-based works, photography, and art books. Munich’s edition will take place again in October.

DODO (Dörte Clara Wolff)’s Puppy Love (1929) will be presented by Kunkel Fine Art at Paper Positions Berlin 2018. Courtesy of Kunkel Fine Art.

Arno Beck Untitled (2018) will be presented at Paper Positions Berlin 2018 by Golestani Gallery. Courtesy of Golestani Gallery and the artist.

Karol Bethke’s Quadrat 142 (1992) will be presented at Paper Positions Berlin 2018 by Bernheimer Contemporary. Courtesy of Bernheimer Contemporary.

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