See the Best of Vienna Fair 2014

The fair's 10th anniversary edition widens its collector base.

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Georg Kargl's Booth
Photo: © Alexander Forbes
KOW Berlin's Booth
Photo: © Alexander Forbes
Galerie Plan B's Booth
Photo: © Alexander Forbes
Viktor Bucher's booth
Photo: Christian Jungwirth via VIENNAFAIR
Galerie Nächst St. Stephan's booth
Photo: Christian Jungwirth via VIENNAFAIR
Kerstin Engholm Gallery 's booth
Photo: Kristina Kulakova via VIENNAFAIR
Galerie Nikolaus Ruzicska's booth
Photo: Kristina Kulakova via: VIENNAFAIR
Galerie Crone's booth
Photo: Christian Jungwirth via VIENNAFAIR
Dawid Radziszewski's booth
Photo: Kristina Kulakova via VIENNAFAIR
Galerie Gabriele Senn's booth
Photo: Kristina Kulakova via VIENNAFAIR
Galerie Ernst Hilger's booth
Photo: Kristina Kulakova via VIENNAFAIR
Galerie Krinzinger's booth
Photo: Kristina Kulakova via VIENNAFAIR

One hundred fifteen galleries from 25 countries have set up shop in the Austrian capital this week for the 10th anniversary edition of Vienna Fair. This year marks the first edition under the sole direction of Christina Steinbrecher-Pfandt. Her former partner, Vita Zaman, resigned last month after a nearly year-long rolling back of her involvement in the fair’s artistic direction.

The duo took over as directors in 2012, following a sizable investment in Vienna Fair by Russian real estate mogul Dmitry Aksenov. At the time he was partnered with Sergey Skaterschikov on the project. Skaterschikov stepped out after one year. Aksenov has reportedly now committed to supporting the fair for three more years.

Two things stick out in particular when initially combing the halls at Vienna Fair’s 2014 edition. The booths—at least for Western European galleries—are bigger on average. The fair has 28 fewer participants this year. And that has allowed for Steinbrecher-Pfandt to lose one overly-packed hallway of too-small booths that was at the center of the 2013 fair.

In the unofficial Central and Eastern European section of the fair, located on the hall’s left half when entering the fair, booths are smaller and more packed with works. But, at least two-thirds of those participants offer an interesting view on their countries’ art scenes, which are generally overlooked at major art market events worldwide. Thirty-one of those galleries have received financial support of varying magnitude from Erste Bank to participate.

On purely aesthetic terms, the fair is brighter and more colorful this year. One gets the impression that dealers have allowed themselves to relax the overall seriousness of the art that has characterized the fair in the past. There is still plenty of challenging and conceptually rigorous art on display, of course. What has occurred is a widening of appeal.

The shift’s ultimate effect on sales remains to be seen. But due to Vienna’s still-tepid relationship to contemporary art—though one that continues to warm—and the numerous groups of budding collectors from Russia and other countries from the former Eastern Bloc, it’s a canny move indeed.

See highlights from Vienna Fair 2014 in the slideshow, above.

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