ArteFiera, held here 23 to 27 January, is a good indicator of the Italian contemporary art market. This year there were fears of a recession, both on a national level, with troubles at Fiat and worries about the “Euro effect”, and internationally, with the threat of war in Iraq and economic crises in Germany and France, but this was not the case. After five busy days there was no great sense of euphoria, but most agreed that the Italian art market was holding its own.
There was significant commercial success for Transavanguardia artists exhibited, in particular Nicola De Maria (priced at about E70,000), whose works were shown by Cardi & Co. from Milan and Daniele Ugolini from Florence; and Mimmo Paladino, who was presented on some 13 stands (priced at about E85,000). This was also true for other rising Italian artists, such as Uncini, Isgrò, Bonalumi, Toti and Scialoja, whose works sold well. For more established names there were also one or two good sales, Farsetti from Prato, sold a de Chirico and a drawing by Severini “quite easily”, and Carlina from Turin had to completely restock as they had “sold out”.
But others had difficulties selling works by the big names of Modern art. One of the biggest dealers in this sector Massimo Di Carlo of the Galleria dello Scudo in Verona, president of the Italian dealers’ association, showed a group of important de Chiricos. “This economy is not the happiest and transactions are being carried out more in the E150,000 (£99,000, $160,000) mark, while the top historical market has taken a back seat. There is a growing trend for collectors to come to fairs out of curiosity and seek out something new. The historical market does not appeal to this sense of discovery.”
Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, as in the case of works by Burri (exhibited at, among others, Sapone), whose works were selling at E200,000-500,000; Hartung and Max Ernst (E500,000). Gian Franco Zonca, of the Milanese gallery of the same name noted, “The Bologna fair is getting to be much better quality; it only needs one final sprint to become definitively international.”
The young artists section on the first floor of the pavilion sold well with prices around E10,000, both Italian (Loris Cecchini, Cristiano Pintaldi, and the new generation Neapolitans), or from outside Italy (Jacob Hashimoto, David Simson and Van Der Kaap).
This reflects a change in the buying public, said Hélène De Franchis from Studio La Città: “The public has broadened and is not just made up of collectors with specific interests, but people new to art who have a small budget.”
Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as ‘“Collectors want something new”