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ARCOmadrid_2011 exhibition view. Photo: Ilze Žeivate

Everything in the twentieth century belongs to Spanish art. They have left a great impression on contemporary art, and many artists are still influenced by them. You can see this best at ARCOmadrid,” says Žeivate. 

“Since ARCO is one of the oldest fairs in Europe, you can find not just contemporary art, but also the greatest classics of twentieth-century art. At ARCOmadrid, you can always find works by Pablo Picasso, Jose Arpa, Joan Miro, Juan Gris, Georges Braque, Alexander Calder, Antoni Tàpies, Antonio Saura, Lucio Fontana, and Luize Burzua. You can see the impulses from which contemporary art has developed. This year as well, the Spanish represented themselves the best and the most colorfully, in comparison with other countries. You couldn’t fail to notice them! This is rooted in their self-confidence, which has taken shape along with art history.” I asked Žeivate if the Spanish still have their finger on the pulse of the art world. She answered, “The Spanish would want to still have their finger on the pulse of contemporary art, but they had an entire century devoted to them, which can still be felt to this day: you can still see the strong influence of Antonio Sauras and Antoni Tapies on both drawing and painting. Today, however, the Portugese, English, Germans, and Japanese stand out more amongst contemporary artists, but not the Spanish. Either that or I haven’t had the chance to meet them.”

Yet once again, reading through the list of prize-winning galleries and artists at ARCOmadrid_2011, I concluded that the majority of awards have gone to local artists, with polite exceptions in separate categories. The prize fund was created to promote and develop an artistic heritage. This means that the Spanish aren’t just resting on their laurels, but purposefully continuing to work and invest in local art, and much more.

On Pleasant Surprises in the Art Market

ARCOmadrid surprised audiences this year with the large number of works sold. Summing up the total balance, the figures considerably exceed the most hopeful previous prognoses. Almost every gallery had something to say in this regard, and their overall satisfaction could be read in many commentaries. Representatives from the Madrid gallery LA FÁBRICA (which was chosen as the best gallery at ARCOmadrid_2011) had the following to say: “This year we’ve been able to establish contacts with many international art collectors, and these days were particularly intense for the gallery in terms of sales.” One of the largest galleries to participate at the fair, MARLBOROUGH from the United States, asserted that the works on view at their stand were for the most part purchased in the first two days, and only by professionals. 

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