Magazine article Art Business News

Art Forum Berlin Makes Fifth Annual Appearance

Magazine article Art Business News

Art Forum Berlin Makes Fifth Annual Appearance

Article excerpt

BERLIN--What probably stands out the most about this year's fifth annual Art Forum Berlin is how very much it differed from the continent's other major national festivals.

True, Berlin is a major international art fair, and it does attract galleries from around the world--159 this year from 23 countries, not to speak of an important press presence--1,000 journalists from 30 countries. In that regard, Messe Berlin (the official name of Art Forum Berlin) was an unqualified success "with significant increases in attendance, higher sales figures, and, above all, a stronger image," said Anja Lechner, a spokesman for the fair.

But, there are some startling differences that give Berlin its unique personality and account for its attractiveness to gallery owners and collectors alike.

Foremost among those differences is its appeal to U.S. galleries and collectors. Strangely enough, many U.S.-based galleries come to Berlin to sell American art to American collectors.

The American institutional presence was also impressive, with representatives present from the Denver Art Museum, the Art Pace Foundation of San Antonio, Texas, and Fellows of Contemporary Art of southern California. Many of them returned with impressive purchases, including many works by American artists.

New York dealer Anton Kern, a past participant of Art Forum Berlin, was surprised he had to come to Berlin to sell a major piece to a collector from Los Angeles. Kern lauded the "good spirit" he said he regularly finds at Berlin, and, moreover, noted it was the place to go to sell to the continent's major museums. "This year," he said, "we placed several pieces in European museums, with one of them at $30,000."

Interestingly enough, German dealers participating in the event said foremost among their major clients were--surprisingly--other German galleries and institutions. …

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