Gallery Owners Sell to New Collectors
art KARLSRUHE with significantly increased reach
The 17th edition of art KARLSRUHE attracted approximately 50,000 art collectors and art lovers to the exhibition halls in Karlsruhe. From 13 to 16 February, the Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre was transformed into a showcase and marketplace for art from a time span of over 120 years. A total of 210 nationally and internationally renowned galleries from fifteen countries presented their programmes, which ran the gamut from Classic Modern to Contemporary art. The fair’s steadily growing importance was particularly evident in the increased participation by international galleries and the longer travel distances, especially for first-time visitors. Many exhibitors enthusiastically reported brisk business with new collectors.
Britta Wirtz, Managing Director of Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre, explains the conceptual approach of the art fair: “In Karlsruhe, passion prompts people to buy art. Our consistently high numbers of visitors and the strong satisfaction expressed by visitors and exhibitors alike confirm our concept. We see ourselves as perhaps the most democratic of all art fairs: art KARLSRUHE adeptly builds a bridge between works by established artists on the one hand and less costly yet nonetheless artistically valuable positions that pave the way for new aficionados to begin collecting art.” In accord with the latter objective, the trade fair also highlights graphic prints. This year’s presentation featured the collection of Hans-Peter Haas, Germany’s most important screen printer, whose compilation of graphic artworks was warmly received by visitors.
In keeping with the fair’s tradition, art KARLSRUHE also gives high priority to sculpture and its interplay with the other genres of fine art on display. art KARLSRUHE’s Curator Ewald Karl Schrade comments on the design of this year’s fair: “I am pleased that our concept is so successful. This year we sorted and arranged the artworks even better in accord with the focal points of our halls, while simultaneously creating a harmonious image for the trade fair, especially through the interplay between two-dimensional art and sculpture.” The traditional twenty Sculpture Areas were augmented in the atrium by a sculpture garden, which was supported by the Vollack Group. art KARLSRUHE also awarded the Loth Sculpture Prize for the third time: sponsored by the L-Bank, this year’s prize was awarded to the artist Gary Schlingheider and to the Galerie Burster (Berlin, Karlsruhe).
Numerous sales and a knowledgeable audience
art KARLSRUHE 2020 was very successful for Galerie Ludorff (Düsseldorf). Manuel Ludorff says: “We sold two very large objects and we are very happy about those sales. A large painting by Karin Kneffel was purchased for 180,000 euros and a watercolour by August Macke for 550,000 euros. Of course, these are big highlights that you don’t sell every day, but here in Karlsruhe you meet collectors who buy objects in this price range.” Kunsthandel Osper (Cologne) is similarly pleased with good sales throughout the fair. Knut Osper says: “We were fortunate to sell our most costly painting within the first two hours – a Gerhard Richter that was sold 850,000 euros. There was plenty of activity afterwards too and we again sold briskly on the final days.” Thole Rotermund Kunsthandel (Hamburg) likewise recorded six-figure sales in the Classic Modern genre.
Kirsten Floss from Galerie Floss und Schulz (Cologne) especially praises the audience: “Our concern is that our clientele of collectors is ageing. That’s why it’s nice to see so many 30- to 40-year-olds walking through the halls this year. Many of these younger collectors are on a strict budget, but they are nonetheless ready and willing to spend within their means. We held many in-depth discussions. There’s a great deal of interest and we were pleased to welcome numerous new customers. We consciously focused on initiating new contacts and our expectations were met. Galerie Feldbusch, Wiesner and Rudolph (Berlin) is likewise quite satisfied with its first participation at art KARLSRUHE. Andreas Wiesner says: “We only sold to new customers. That’s very important for us. We had a very good response to our presentation. And we will surely come back again.”
Kirsten Eggers from Galerie König agrees: “We are incredibly pleased that we won the art KARLSRUHE prize for the best One-Artist Show with Annette Kelm’s solo presentation. We are all the more delighted that this prize is associated with a museum’s purchase. We met many of our collectors here and we also sold two works by Annette Kelm and Peter Dreher.”
A newcomer at art KARLSRUHE, Gad Edery from Galerie Gadcollection in Paris: “This is my first fair in Germany. I see plenty of terrific art here. We are in good surroundings. And, I must say, the German public is keenly interested in high-class photography. We were able to sell several photos to new customers and we reached a new audience. People from all over Germany, Luxembourg, France, Switzerland and even Argentina visited our stand.”
Strong presence for women artists in the halls and on the podium
Many galleries brought works by well-known women artists to Karlsruhe this year. Kunsthandel Dr. Nöth showed artworks by Lotte Laserstein, Galerie Friese from Berlin hung works by Franziska Holstein, Galerie Cyprian Brenner exhibited needle-felted sculptures by Stefanie Ehrenfried, and Helga Schmidhuber’s works were honoured with the Hans Platschek Prize for Art and Writing, which was awarded for the thirteenth time at this year’s fair.
The talks at art KARLSRUHE also brought women in the art market into sharper focus. In the SWR 2 Talk, Karin Kneffel described her path to art: “I do believe that it is more difficult to assert oneself as a woman. I had a belief in painting and then I came into Richter’s class, where everything was called into question. I wanted to look at the world with an open mind, so I consciously chose not to internalize the prohibitions that I saw coming towards me from outside.” In the ARTIMA art meeting, the sculptor Vera Röhm talked about art’s role, especially in the context of today’s societal discourse: “Female and male artists undoubtedly have a special responsibility. Our responsibility is to make artworks that offer an interpretation of this world and give people a chance to see the world from a different point of view.”
Agile contacts exist in Karlsruhe between the trade fair and the city. This cultural dialogue reaches its annual peak during art KARLSRUHE. The award of the title “UNESCO City of Media Arts” to the city of Karlsruhe at the end of 2019 confirms the commitment to art by both the trade fair and the city. Christiane Riedel, managing director of the ZKM (Centre for Art and Media), spoke about the award and the significance of media art in the Monopol Talks: “The ZKM wants to become the Prado of media art so that people can continue to benefit from our expertise, also 500 years from today. The ZKM is founded for the future: we convey the past into the future.”
The next art KARLSRUHE will take place from 25 to 28 February 2021 at Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre.