Art Fair Madrid
A list of events during ARCO
When is the art fair week in Madrid?
from the 21st to the 25th of February
Art fair Madrid: The capital of Spain will soon become a prolific hub for art lovers. From contemporary art, emerging art to street art, Madrid has something for everyone. The most artistic week of the year is taking place in Madrid led by ARCO art fair. Just like Venice Biennale or Art Basel, there are many smaller satellite events happening around the same time as the main event. We here subjectively list them below, considering our mindset: art in the context of the digital era.
ARCO, the Elder of the art fair Madrid
- Date: 21 – 25 Feb 2018 (21 & 22 for professional only)
- General public ticket: Friday 23 and Saturday 24, 40€. Sunday 25, 30€
- Address: IFEMA, Feria de Madrid. Halls 7 and 9, Avenida del Partenón, 5
Art Fair Madrid: Being the largest and most important art fair in Spain (and in southern Europe), ARCO is in the league with other top art fairs in Europe: It gathers a total of 211 galleries from 29 countries, as well as tens of thousands of visitors. If you have time for only one art fair and don’t mind traveling out of city center, ARCO will be my recommendation. The curation and the exhibition are consistent and professional. However, after having 36th editions in its past, ARCO is facing a small problem: it only exists under the flag of IFEMA, an organization that holds large-scale conventions and fairs. IFEMA has a lot of resources at its disposal and holds a strong backbone for ARCO. But on the downside, not being independent means many of its decisions have to go through tedious administrative processes.
Are you planning to visit a few but could not decide which ones? Here I put my two cents in and subjectively list them below considering our mindset: art in the context of the digital era.
The future versus the past
The curatorial concept of ARCO 2018 is “the future”. Its slogan of this year is reflecting some of its current issues:
“What is going to happen is not ‘the future’, but what we are going to do”.
Very well. This year, ARCO has taken a step forward and made collaborations with Artsy. However, how can you shout out loud about the future when its domain name is www.ifema.es/arcomadrid_01/ (redirection from www.arcomadrid.es) and its Facebook pictures are often pixelated? That is not all: visit the fair and you’ll see plenty of artworks dating from almost 50 years ago. Open an incognito tab on your browser, I defy you to find another national level art fair that is not ranked at the first position on Google when you write its name. Instead, a British factory equipment and clothing company show up at the top… Wake up! The future is already here!
Old versus young
Furthermore, ARCO announces itself as the meeting point between Europe and Latin America. Cities like São Paulo and Buenos Aires are becoming centers of the world’s contemporary urban and street art movements. So why not exhibiting artists like L7M, Stinkfish, WERC, Valdi Valdi, INTI, or Farid Rueda? I bet one of the reasons being its tradition. ARCO has a strong bond with its long-term collectors, who are neither young themselves nor interested in emerging young artists. They would return to visit their favorite galleries and collect works of their favorite artists, same old same old every year. ARCO delivers what its clients demand, but this isn’t the future.
A late early bird
Being the main art fair with the longest history, It is clear that the curators are holding onto the idea of institutional contemporary art while many other art fairs around the world have already accepted urban art on their walls. ARCO was an early adopter of many styles and mediums such as new media art, but it has to continuously evolve in order to catch up. Otherwise, ARCO will stand for the late majority and lose attractiveness in the eyes of new generations of collectors.
URVANITY, the New Comer
- Date: 21 – 25 Feb 2018
- General ticket: 10€
- Address: LASEDE del COAM, Calle Hortaleza, 63, 28004 Madrid
Started last year, Urvanity has immediately become as popular as other parallel events during the art fair week in Madrid. It uses the concept of “the new contemporary art” created in Miami and narrows its niche to urban art. I would call the equivalent of easy listening music for art, in opposition to the traditional elitist intellectual contemporary art. It is the urban art market after Banksy.
In its first edition, Urvanity has brought 17 galleries, of which 12 are international. This year, 20 galleries will present at the fair. its curatorial choices are reflecting its contender position and adding a nice flare to the contemporary art fairs during ARCO. That’s what we need!
From the point of view of communication, Urvanity’s communication team has made a strategic move: making a collaboration with WideWalls, one of the most influential online magazines for urban and contemporary art in the English language. From the first edition, its website could draw as much traffic as the Art Madrid or JustMad (respectively 13th and 9th edition). Giving it a bit more time, the good groundwork of communication will pay off and attract more visitors to this evermore emerging fair.
Two Art Fairies
(Yes, like the tooth fairies, small but lovely)
Art U Ready
- General ticket: Free
- 19 – 25 Feb 2018
- 19th February: Performance & Exhibition of Misael del Rosario. 20 h. The
SibaristGreenhouse of XIX century. San Lorenzo, 11. 21thFebruary: ART AUCTION with Debajo del Sombrero Association. San Lorenzo, 20. Wunderhouse Student Residence
It isn’t an art fair, but a set of events featuring artworks in private and extraordinary spaces that are usually closed. Art U Ready theme is “emotion and impact” and the goal is to present a well-adjusted blend of architecture, design, and art. A roundtable, a performance, an exhibition in a unique greenhouse, a charity auction in a 19th-century palace and a complete schedule of openings concentrated in San Lorenzo Street.
Art U Ready defines itself as a platform bringing together different kind of creations (performance, painting, sculpture, installation, music, dance, architecture, interior design) and showcasing them in harmony. If you’d like to have a walk in the city center without getting stuck with a lot of people in a large hall, then this event is for you.
Impact among the art fairs
The only thing it lacks now is the impact – it is the lesser-known event among other art related events happening in the week of ARCO. Perhaps Art U Ready could leverage its cross-disciplinary network to gain a competitive edge.
- Date: 23 – 25 Feb 2018
- Ticket: 7€
- Address: Hotel Petit Palace Santa Bárbara, Plaza de Santa Bárbara 10, Madrid
Hybrid aims to be one of the best alternative parallel events to ARCO, the most legit contemporary art event. It hopes to achieve this through the unique format and its dynamic list of participants, as well as a comprehensive transdisciplinary programme of activities with live music and performances.
Hotel (beds) for artists
Hybrid tries out some exceptional concepts: artists and gallerists are invited to showcase their artwork in hotel rooms and beds, then sleep in the very same beds they exhibit during the day! Intimacy is their trademark – can you find a better place to greet and talk about art? Besides, the exhibitors’ package includes the hotel nights and room services.
Among many of their featured galleries and artists, here’s a subjective selection of what we were seduced by Xavier Xray of Le Carburateur, Argentinian street artist Animalito Land, Berta Jeanne Duval’s mythology, Alba Cosz’s subtle photography and Pierre Louis’ abstract and luminous canvas made of fabric. If you like to meet directly the artists in a relaxed environment and have a chat, go for the Hybrid.
The Clone Wars
- Date: 20 – 25 Feb 2018
- Ticket: 15€
- Address: Palacete de Carlos María de Castro, C/ Fernando el Santo 14, Madrid
While low-cost airlines are bringing geographical mobility to a larger population, affordable art fairs like JustMad are showcasing affordable contemporary art to local collectors. JustMad positions itself as the emerging art fair version of ARCO, following similar curatorial lines but featuring more local galleries (mostly Spanish, a few European). JustMad is a good opportunity to connect with the local art scene and source your favorite local galleries if you have recently moved to Madrid.
JustMAD art fair gives more attention to the people than the artworks. Go on its website and you will notice the portraits of the curators and its sponsors more than the artworks. If they want to support the emerging Spanish art, they should put art in the spotlight and sell it hard. Another problem is that JustMAD has put themselves in a somehow awkward position from the beginning – as inferior to ARCO, instead of the alternative to ARCO. In 2017, their curatorial note said: ‘last year I was in JustMAD, this year I am in ARCO.’ This comparison would really hurt their potential in many ways. By the way, ARCO is already giving out an emerging art award sponsored by a large alcoholic beverages company. If you are fond of art or don’t have the time or energy to take a trip out of the city center for ARCO. Then yes, JustMAD is a good option. If you are already exhausted from visiting ARCO, you can skip this one.
- Date: 21 – 25 Feb 2018
- Ticket: 14€
- Address: Galería de Cristal de CentroCentro, C/ Montalbán 1, Plaza de Cibeles
The 13th edition of Art Madrid Contemporary Art Fair is taking place in this beautiful venue surrounded by museums and art centers. Art Madrid gathers around 50 art galleries, presenting itself as the international and multidisciplinary art fair dedicated to painting, sculpture, printmaking, and photography from the 20th century to nowadays. It also features performances, video art, and other site-specific projects. However, multidisciplinary is often used when you mix one discipline such as art, with other disciplines or fields like science or business. I believe by saying ‘multidisciplinary within art’ would be more accurate.
Alongside with JustMAD, Art Madrid is clearly the more affordable version of ARCO. And it can be interesting for new collectors and art enthusiasts. Larger than JustMAD, it also focuses more on the artworks than on the “people”. Furthermore, it is accepting Urban Art within its walls.
The art of selling
Again, it is nothing out of the ordinary. It is one of these usual professional art fairs as so many others in the world. Its business model is just like any other trade fairs: making the most out of booth rentals from galleries. You may say, oh well, it is how the market works. But should it be?
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