ARCO did not reach 100,000 views in its 39th edition, closed this Sunday with a high level of satisfaction among the more than 200 galleries from 30 countries participating in an International Contemporary Art Fair that loses public but strengthens its commercial muscle. As usual, sales figures were not provided, but organizers and gallery owners talked about “commercial success” and celebrated the quality level of the event. And that despite the drop in visitors of 7% that left 93,000 registered attendees, a drop of 7,000 visits attributable, perhaps, to the epidemic of the coronavirus.

“The galleries are happy and sales have gone well,” said Maribel López, happy in her first year as director of ARCO, shortly before closing, after taking Carlos Urroz’s witness. He considered his goals of granting all the prominence to the artists achieved, favoring the commercial success of the galleries and making the fair propitiate the birth of new collectors.

The psychosis did not work and did not prevent the presence in ARCO of the eleven Italian galleys participating in an edition with few controversial pieces and with abundance of spectacular works of great masters of the twentieth century. Works such as a Picasso of 6.2 million euros and a sculpture of Chillida of more than five that may already have a new owner.

Low and testimonial masks

The presence of masks in the IFEMA pavilions was testimonial and the alarm against the coronavirus did not alter the fair’s agenda, which once again officially opened the kings. Yes there were casualties among the collectors who invited the fair. There were about 30 among the 300 called those who canceled their trip to Madrid before the advance of COVID-19, “a very reasonable figure with viruses and without viruses,” according to the director.

Maribel López stands out as “very positive” in the balance of the fair the increase in the number of women artists, which went from 26% of 2019 to 32%. It is a modest increase, but the organization does not consider measures to raise this percentage. “The figures will improve year after year,” predicts Lopez, convinced that growth “should be encouraged from the galleries’ programs.”

Among the gallery owners, the satisfaction at the close of a hopeful edition also prevailed. “There has been an excellent level of the best Spanish collectibles,” said Leandro Navarro, whose leaders claimed to be “happy” with the level of sales and feel “very compensated.”

Casado Santapau also highlighted the “great level of collectors” and considered that ARCO “is a solid fair”. Like José de la Mano, who presented a risky project by six unknown artists and sold all the important pieces of his space, improving the results of previous editions. «Our buyers include the Reina Sofía Museum and the María Cristina Masaveu Peterson Foundation. We are proof that a women’s project with a serious and well presented research work works perfectly, ”they say.

Among the foreigners, Thomas Schulte congratulated himself on the sale of three “important” pieces while from Lelong they explained that they have sold well works by Spanish artists such as Plensa, Miró or Juan Uslé.

Chile says no

Without a guest country in 2020, there was in ARCO a section dedicated to the work and the influence of Cuban-American artist Félix González-Torres in which 13 galleries with 16 artists participated. Although it was a risk, both the participating galleries and López were also very satisfied with the result of the proposal.

López and IFEMA are already working on the next edition of the fair, which will turn 40 in 2021 and was about to have Chile but the Andean country declined the invitation to the instability of the country mired in a wave of riots and protests since months Eduardo López-Puertas, CEO of IFEMA, continues to look for alternatives for his next and historic edition.


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