Vilnius gets first art fair

City capitalises on Moscow cancellation

Piekary Gallery from Poznan, Poland, will show Andrej Wasilewski's Pin Up Fruits Unexpected Lift, 2008, at ArtVilnius

LONDON. The first contemporary art fair in the Baltic states will take place this summer in Vilnius, capital of Lithuania and currently one of the European Capitals of Culture. ArtVilnius’09 will run from 8-12 July, hosting 101 galleries from 31 counties.

The fair is organised by the Lithuanian Art Gallerists’ Association and curated by Professor Raminta Jurėnaitė of the Vilnius Art Academy, formerly of the Soros Contemporary Art Centre, who sees it as an opportunity for the country’s art industry to “open the door to the global art market”.

ArtVilnius is pitching itself as a bridge between east and west, bringing galleries from countries in the former Soviet bloc together with galleries from western Europe; there will be galleries from as far away as Kazakhstan and India in the east, and Canada and Argentina in the west. Germany heads the list of foreign participants with ten galleries, led by Walter Bischoff and Schuster from Berlin, while Lithuania itself is represented by 26 galleries.

Fair manager Ilma Nause­daite said there were no fairs in neighbouring countries, and that the nearest were, usually, in Vienna and Moscow—however, this summer’s Moscow Art Fair has been cancelled because of the financial crisis. “We have a good chance to jump onto the art fair train while it is slowed down a bit,” she told The Art Newspaper.

The Lithuanian government has provided about $888,000 in funding for ArtVilnius, and galleries will not have to pay any rent to take part because the Litexpo exhibition centre in Vilnius has agreed to host the fair at no profit.

The fair will be the biggest exhibition of contemporary art ever held in Lithuania, and is planned to be an annual event.


Piekary Gallery from Poznan, Poland, will show Andrej Wasilewski's Pin Up Fruits Unexpected Lift, 2008, at ArtVilnius
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