Art fairs

A guide to Art Forum '99, Berlin

100 collectors have been flown in for the contemporary art event


The fourth year of Art Forum is capitalising on the move of the German parliament back to Berlin. The international pull is considerable; more than half of the exhibitors this year are international galleries, with US and Scandinavian galleries a particular presence.


In keeping with the federal government’s aim of transparent government symbolised by Sir Norman Foster’s Reichstag dome, the members of the vetting committee have been announced for the first time in this young fair’s history. Two art experts from contemporary institutions have joined (see box) the gallery owners to apply the admissions criteria to the 151 participants: each gallery must have an individual programme profile and must make a “relevant contribution” to international contemporary art.

Collectors’ incentives

The young galleries section, which offers smaller stands for more recently established galleries with less capital, will benefit from another initiative: collectors’ forum Berlin which is arranged by European Galleries, the organising body behind the fair. This offers collectors a meeting place in the city, serving as a information exchange, while encouraging the greener collectors on the contemporary scene through lectures. Eighty collectors turned up to the inaugural reception, all bar four Berlin residents, which bodes well for a permanent collecting presence in the capital city.

Yet most gallery owners are hoping for big-spending US collectors. Many of these are coming as the guests of the principal sponsor Bankgesellschaft Berlin to participate in a customised programme. One hundred collectors, from all over the world are to be flown to Berlin for the three-day programme: a collector’s preview, a guided tour through the Reichstag’s art collection (The Art Newspaper No. 92, May 1999 p.6), museum visits, Berlin tours, receptions at the homes of Berlin collectors and a gala banquet.

These incentives, coupled with the architectural and artistic buzz surrounding the regenerated capital city seem to have pulled more potential punters than ever before. Thomas Schulte, chairman of the admissions jury and gallery owner admitted that he was surprised by the response. “I see this as a response to both Art Forum’s good name and the international interest in the city.”

Government support

Berlin’s regained status as the capital of Germany has encouraged local and national government spending. The city of Berlin has pledged to spend DM130,000 (£44,369, $69,932) on purchases for the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Kupferstichkabinett. The fair catalogue looks in detail at this art project and more generally at the topic of art and government. The appointment of Michael Naumann, the Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Media, as this year’s patron of Art Forum, has already provoked debate. Some dealers feel that he is more interested in getting German films shown in the US than in encouraging Germany’s pivotal role in contemporary art.

What the fair looks like

Art Forum is very much a contemporary fair; there were few Modern master galleries last year and this year there are even less. Some visitors saw these as a flight from the contemporary installations and the truth is that the big names for such art prefer the long established Basel and Cologne fairs. European Galleries and Messe Berlin emphasise their goal to host a specialist fair for those interested in contemporary art, with some pre-1945 art to provide a frame of reference.

The galleries are arranged alphabetically on one floor, in a four-sided arrangement of the halls around a rotunda, which houses bookshelves with catalogues.

Some clues about taxes

Gallery owners from outside the EU can temporarily import works, so avoiding VAT unless they sell to a collector resident within the EU. Gallery owners within the EU do not have to pay VAT at all, while foreign galleries (non-EU, i.e. US, Switzerland or Norway), selling to an EU resident, pay 7% VAT on each work of art and for photographic works of art they are charged an extra 3% by customs. Once the proud owner of a work of art, if the collector wishes to ship the work to his non-EU home country, if declared correctly, he should not have to pay tax. Shipping is not automatically organised by Art Forum.

Previous years

The timing of Art Forum has been carefully considered this year. Having been extended to last for five days, it runs through 3 October, the tenth anniversary of German reunification. Last year the initial day of Art Forum fell on Yom Kippur—and then a stock market crash occurred in the middle of the fair.

The event is building up a loyal audience; more than 75% of the galleries are repeat exhibitors, while the many activities arranged by European Galleries for the edification of their guest collectors take full advantage of all Berlin’s regenerated architecture and the exhibitions which make up Kunstherbst Berlin 1999.

Fact sheet

Dates 30 September-4 October

Type of art contemporary

Number of exhibitors 163 from twenty-three countries, more than 75% of them are repeat participators

Basic cost of stand DM270 (£92; $145) per square metre, includes flat-rate energy costs, stand signage, lighting, stand cleaning services, reserve storage, exhibitor badges, artist badges, vernissage tickets, preview tickets

Hidden costs Telephones must be rented from the organisers for DM171-545 (£58-186; $92-292)

Size of fair 7000 square-metres of stands

Size of stands 15 square-metres (for young galleries), 30 square-metres, 60 square-metres, 90 square-metres, 120 square-metres

Number of years operating Four

Patron Michael Naumann, Federal Government Commissioner for Cultural Affairs and the Media

Admission, travel and special events

Opening hours 11am-8pm

Professional preview 29 September 2-4pm

Opening night 29 September 4-9pm

Nocturne 1 October 11am-10pm

Location Berlin Fair Grounds, entrance “Kleiner Stern” (Hammarskjöldplatz), halls 11.1-17

Admission prices full day ticket DM30, children and university students DM16, groups (of more than five) DM20, evening ticket (after 6pm) DM20, opening night DM40

Catalogue “Art and government—the public art project in Berlin’s Parliament buildings” (fair price DM30). Can also be ordered from Kartenkontor fax +49 30 30 67 20 30 (DM30 +shipping and handling)

Guided tours art:berlin, informations and reservations Tel: +49 30 28 09 63 90

How to get there package available for plane or rail transportation, admission, reservations through Hapag-Lloyd Tel: +49 40 30 01 43 55. Special airfares on Lufthansa, information in Germany % 01 803 803 803, in US/Canada % 1 800 221 8747

Further information infoline Tel: +49 30 88 55 16 46, fax +49 30 88 55 16 45, internet

Vetting committee

Tim Neuger Galerie Neugerriemschneider, Berlin

Claes Nordenhake Galleri Nordenhake, Stockholm

Gabrielle Maubrie Galérie Maubrie, Paris

Rose-Marie Schwarswälder Galerie Nächst St Stephan, Vienna

Dr Thoedora Vischer Museum of Contemporary Art, Public Art Collection, Basel

Professor Dr Stephan Schmidt-Wulffen Art Society Hamburg

Thomas Schulte European Galleries (chair)

Galleries, arranged alphabetically as in Art Forum itself

20.21 Galerie Edition Kunsthandel Gmbh, Essen, Aidan, Moscow, Helga de Alvear, Madrid, Mikael Andersen, Copenhagen, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Antonio de Barnola, Barcelona, Arndt & Partner, Berlin, Art Affairs, Amsterdam, Artcore, Toronto, Artelier, Graz, Asbaek, Copenhagen, Asian Fine Arts Berlin/Prüss & Ochs Gallery, Berlin, Berinson, Berlin, Bismarck, Bremen, Lars Bohman, Stockholm, Borgemeister, Berlin, Bugdahn und Kaimer, Düsseldorf, Camargo Vilaca, Sao Paulo, Maria Chailloux, Amsterdam, Charim Klocker, Vienna, Chicago Project Room, Chicago, Mehdi Chouakri, Berlin, Barbara Claassen-Schmal, Bremen, c/o Alte Gerhardsen, Oslo, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Cult, Vienna, Christopher Cutts, Toronto, DeChiara/Stewart, New York, Martina Detterer, Frankfurt/M., Volker Diehl, Berlin, Dörrie*Priess, Hamburg, Anselm Dreher, Berlin, Elke Dröscher, Hamburg, DV Galeria, San Sebastian, Eigen + Art, Leipzig, L & R Entwistle, London, Equrna, Ljubljana, Éri, Budapest, Fahnemann, Berlin, Feichtner & Mizrahi, Vienna, Konrad Fischer, Düsseldorf, Franck & Schulte, Berlin, Marlene Frei, Zürich, M.+R. Fricke, Berlin, Six Friedrich Lisa Ungar, Munich, Gebauer, Berlin, Wolfgang Gmyrek, Düsseldorf, Goldstrom, New York, Bärbel Grässlin, Frankfurt/M., Greene Naftali, New York, Griffin, Venice, Haas & Fuchs, Berlin, Hammelehle und Ahrens, Stuttgart, Heimeshoff, Essen, Richard Heller, Santa Monica, Maz Hetzler, Berlin, Susan Hobbs, Toronto, Heinz Holtmann, Cologne, Hübner, Frankfurt/M., Michael Hue-Williams, London, I-20 Gallery, New York, Brigitte Ihsen, Cologne, Grita Insam, Vienna, Interim Art/Maureen Paley, London, Asprey Jacques, London, du jour, agnès b, Paris, Rob Jurka, Amsterdam, Galleri K, Oslo, Casey Kaplan, New York, Rudolf Kicken, Cologne, Peter Kilchmann, Zürich, Klosterfelde, Berlin, Kondeyne, Berlin, Christine König & Franziska Lettner, Vienna, Leo König, New York, Eleni Koroneou, Athens, Tomio Koyama, Tokyo, Koyanagi, Tokyo, Andrew Kreps, New York, Krinzinger, Vienna, Achim Kubinski, Berlin, Kuckei + Kuckei, Berlin, Susanna Kulli, St Gallen, Kunstbuero 1060, Vienna, L.A. Galerie, Frankfurt, Laden/Schillerstraße, Berlin, Eugen Lendl, Graz, Lindig in Paludetto, Nurenburg, Lombard-Fried, New York, Javier López, Madrid, Charlotte Lund, Stockholm, Tommy Lund, Copenhagen, Philomene Magers, Cologne, Mai 36, Zürixh, Martinez, New York, Gabrielle Maubrie, Paris, Bill Maynes, New York, Karlheinz Meyer, Karlsruhe, Marion Meyer, Paris, Meyer Riegger, Karlsruhe, Mezzanin, Vienna, Miro, Prague, MK Expositieruimte, Rotterdam, Axel Mörner, Stockholm, The Modern Institute, Glasgow, nächst St. Stephan, Vienna, Christian Nagel, Cologne, Neu, Berlin, neugerriemschneider, Berlin, Bodo Niemann, Berlin, Marco Noire, S.Sebastiano Po, Nordenhake, Stockholm, Georg Nothelfer, Berlin, Giti Nourbakhsch, Berlin, OMR, Mexico, Patrick Painter, Santa Monica, Ute Parduhn, Düsseldorf, David Pestorius, Brisbane, Photology, Milan, Produzentegalerie, Hamburg, Anthony Reynolds, London, Markus Richter, Potsdam, Rothamel, Erfurt, Tanya Rumpff, Haarlem, Galerij S65, Aalst, Sander, Darmstadt, Schipper & Krome, Berlin, Andreas Schülter, Hamburg, Christa Schübbe, Düsseldorf, Seitz-von Werder, Berlin, Senda, Barcelona, Susan Sheehan, New York, Side 2, Tokyo, Sollertis, Toulouse, Specta, Copenhagen, Springer&Winkler, Berlin, Nils Staerk, Copenhagen, Jiri Svestka, Prague, Micheline Szwajcer, Antwerp, Tanit, Munich, Thomas Taubert, Düsseldorf, Lutz Teutloff, Beilefeld, Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Trayecto, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Brigitte Trotha, Frankfurt/M., Vanguardia, Bilbao, Vedanta, Chicago, Sabine Wachters, Brussels, Jan Wagner, Berlin, Walcheturm, Zürich, Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen, Wallner, Malmö, Rupert Walser, Munich, Wang, Oslo, Barbara Weiss, Berlin, Wiens Laden & Verlag, Berlin, Wittenbrink, Munich, Wohnmaschine, Berlin, Enja Wonneberger, Kiel, XL Gallery, Moscow, XL/Xavier LaBoulbenne, New York, Elke und Werner Zimmer, Düsseldorf, Zinc, Stockholm, Zwinger, Berlin

Correct as on 16 August 1999

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'A capital event'