Today the celebrated contemporary art fair ARCO Madrid draws to a close. This was the 34th edition of the Spanish fair which this year featured 218 galleries from 29 countries, making it one of the largest contemporary art fairs in all of Europe. Opened by Felipe VI and Queen Letizia, art fans and collectors flocked to the capital with the fair expecting to draw some 200,000 visitors.
To capitalise on the influx of art lovers from across the world the city also held over 150 private and public shows which ran concurrently with the fair itself. The fair is of huge importance to the Spanish art market: in 2014 the fair contributed 100 million euros to the Spanish economy and ARCO Madrid usually generates approximately 60% of all the art fair sales in Spain each year. Despite the financial crisis that has shaken the Spanish economy, ARCO remains strong, largely thanks to the solid involvement of Latin America.
Indeed, this year there was a 52% increase in Latin American galleries, amounting to a total of 47 galleries originating from 10 different countries and a special section of the fair was also dedicated to Colombia. “It was inevitable to look to Latin America,” says Carlos Urroz, director of the fair since 2011. He goes on to explain how the fair has always had a connection with Latin America, but that it has grown even stronger since the financial crisis, as conversely Latin America’s economy and its art market has picked up pace.
Ever since its establishment in 1982 Arco has been an important channel between Europe and Latin America, and despite the competition it now faces from Art Basel Miami Beach Arco remains a relevant and important bridge between South America and Spain. It is now thirteen years since Art Basel Miami Beach was established and ARCO’s continuing success is evidence of the two fairs slightly different positions within the market. Whereas at Art Basel Miami Beach vast sums of money change hands and parties and celebrities proliferate, ARCO maintains a more modest price point and a slightly less hectic atmosphere.
Although the fair featured many emerging artists, ARCO also hosted work by renowned names such as Alex Katz at Galeria Javier López and included a special solo booth of artworks by the Colombian-born, London-based art superstar Oscar Murillo at Carlos/Ishikawa.