Art Moscow debuted in 1996 and continues to hold on to the status of being the largest art fair in Eastern Europe; this autumn, from 21-25 September, it celebrated its 15th anniversary. The 4th Moscow Biennial of Contemporary Art was also going on currently; this created an overlapping of the Fair's and the Biennial's openings (this has been the case since 2009, when Art Moscow “moved” from spring to autumn), and for a moment, Moscow became the citadel of contemporary art.
The air at Art Moscow 2011 was literally vibrating from the competitive battle among galleries for the attention of potential buyers. A symbolic indication of what sort of world you were about to enter was fittingly achieved by the displayed works selected from the collection of the New Rules fund, headed by the Moscow publisher and collector, Pierre Brochet (of French decent), and Dmitry Tselkin's “Brains for a Shopping Center” (2010): a shopping trolley containing an enlarged replica of a human brain.
Since we're talking about a market, the amount of items purchased should be mentioned. The turnover for Art Moscow 2011 was 3.38 million euros. (For comparison – last year's was 4.465 million euros, but in 2006, when the fair celebrated its 10th anniversary, profits were around 3.245 million euros.) 37 galleries from 14 countries participated in this year's Fair. Of the 37 galleries, 17 were from Russia, and 20 from elsewhere (Latvia, Estonia, Ukraine, Romania, Serbia, Austria, Hungary, Switzerland, USA, Cuba, Japan, Germany and Spain).
An interesting point is the proportion of sales – 69% of the Fair's income came from international galleries, while Russian galleries contributed just 31% of the total. It's interesting because this was a first for Art Moscow – never before had foreign galleries surpassed the income of local galleries. Russian galleries always, even if just slightly, have been ahead in the game. (For comparison, last year's income proportions were 44% for foreign galleries vs. 56% for local galleries; in 2006, it was 34% for foreign galleries vs. 66% for Russian galleries.)
The top three earning Russian galleries at this year's Fair were Frolov, Fine Art Gallery and The Marina Gisich Gallery. Of the foreign galleries, the winners were Art & Space (Munich, Germany), Barbarian Art Gallery (Zurich, Switzerland) and Tatyana Mironova's Gallery (Kiev, Ukraine).
In an interview after the Fair, the creative director of Art Moscow 2011, Christina Steinbrecher, stated that she was pleasantly surprised about the positive outcome: “No one was sure of what to expect in today's economic climate, but practically every stand sold something.” Even though collectors most likely had hoped otherwise, even small-format paintings by young artists weren't priced at any less than 5000 euros. One of the most expensive works of art sold was “Putin – Mona Lisa”, by the American artist, David Datuna (1974). It was represented at Art Moscow 2011 by Tatyana Mironova's Gallery from Kiev; its starting price was 100,000 euros, but it was eventually sold for 220,000 euros, to a Russian businessman who wished to stay anonymous. The Russian Prime Minister's portrait is made up of millions of tiny images of the Mona Lisa, and its bubble-like covering is made from eyeglass lenses.
However, another indicator that is just as important as sales results is – how “good” was the art on offer at the Fair? >>