7 Mar 2023

Two Decades of art KARLSRUHE

A special festival of art will be celebrated, when the twentieth edition of art KARLSRUHE (4-7 May) transforms the four high-ceilinged, light-flooded halls of Karlsruhe Trade Fair Centre into an international showcase and marketplace for the art industry

Pictures from the first art KARLSRUHE in 2004. Photo: Messe Karlsruhe/Jürgen Rösner

This year’s fair in Karlsruhe again remains true to its successful concept: as it did at its premiere in 2004 and throughout the two subsequent decades, art KARLSRUHE presents the entire spectrum of 120 years of art.

art KARLSRUHE as a marketplace of artistic diversity

Project manager Olga Blass explains: “We have always assured that art KARLSRUHE is a fair for everyone. That is particularly appropriate for an art fair because art excludes nothing and no one.” The art marketplace in south-western Germany will again offer an exciting experience for all aficionados in 2023, when 207 national and international galleries display the full spectrum of the art market – from first-rate Classic Modern paintings to outstanding Contemporary artworks. The list of artists includes numerous established masters such as Picasso and Miró, Nolde, Pechstein and Kirchner. Among many other creations, works by members of the ZERO group (Mack, Piene, Uecker) will be shown in the Post-War section. art KARLSRUHE’s visitors an also look forward to big names in the field of Contemporary art such as Imi Knoebel, Karin Kneffel and Georg Baselitz.

The diversity of artistic positions is reflected not only in the many different styles that are brought together at the fair, but also in the price ranges on offer. art KARLSRUHE thus not only provides established collectors with a favourable platform for adding new artworks to their existing collections. Exciting works of art in all price classes await discovery in each of the four exhibition halls.

An exciting stroll through four exhibition halls

art KARLSRUHE’s founding father and curator Ewald Karl Schrade retrospectively regards this twentieth edition of the fair as yet another confirmation: “Our basic concept of thoughtfully recognizing and taking into account the interests of both the exhibitors and the public has proved its worth.” Schrade has been a gallery owner for over fifty years and intends to retire from his post as art KARLSRUHE’s organizer after the upcoming twentieth fair. During the planning phase for each edition of the annual art event, Schrade has always prioritized the creation of optimal gallery neighbourhoods, while simultaneously ensuring that visitors can enjoy a stimulating parkour through the four exhibition halls. In 2023, the halls will again be divided according to their traditional focal points: Hall 1 contains graphic prints and objects in limited editions; Hall 2 highlights art after 1945 and Contemporary art; Hall 3 focuses on works of Classic Modern art in interplay with Contemporary artworks; and Hall 4, the dm-arena, hosts Contemporary Art21. Art can also be experienced outside the halls in the Sculpture Garden, sponsored by the Vollack Group, where three-dimensional artworks are displayed outdoors.

Sales fair, networking forum and stage for award ceremonies

Among the unmistakable trademarks of art KARLSRUHE are not only the numerous One-Artist-Shows staged by the participating galleries, but also the generously designed Sculpture Areas, which have been a regular feature of the fair’s programme since 2004. This year’s fair includes 26 of these large-scale installations, which are strategically interspersed among the galleries’ stands to create spaces for interaction between artworks and their viewers.

In addition to its focus on the art trade, art KARLSRUHE also serves as an important forum for sharing information and for networking. The art scene meets in Karlsruhe to discuss new projects, upcoming exhibitions and challenges currently facing the art market. “With art KARLSRUHE, we have successfully positioned the city as an important location for art in the German-speaking region of Europe. It is wonderful to see how the fair has evolved since its founding in 2004, steadily gaining in reputation and charisma, and repeatedly inviting the national and international art business to Karlsruhe, UNESCO’s City of Media Arts”, says the fair’s managing director Britta Wirtz. art KARLSRUHE’s twentieth anniversary is a good indication of the importance of the fair, Wirtz adds. Having begun with approximately 75 galleries in just one hall, two decades later art KARLSRUHE now provides a platform for more than 200 galleries to present themselves and their artists’ creations. “Of course, the fair’s reliability and consistency have much to do with the ingenious and time-tested concept of its founder and mastermind Ewald Karl Schrade, who has always been passionate about offering our exhibitors the best possible fair experience”, Wirtz declares.

Award ceremonies have been an integral part of the fair for several years already. The three prizes that will again be awarded at the twentieth art KARLSRUHE in 2023 are the art KARLSRUHE Prize, the Loth Sculpture Prize (donated by the L-Bank) and the Hans Platschek Prize for Art and Writing.

Many exhibitors have been with the fair from its beginning

It would be impossible to imagine Germany’s calendar of art fairs without art KARLSRUHE, says Berlin-based gallery owner Werner Tammen, who is not only a member of the current advisory board, but was already an exhibitor at the fair when it was first founded in 2004. Tammen is convinced by art KARLSRUHE, as are a great many of his colleagues, who likewise plan to participate for the twentieth time in Karlsruhe in 2023. The broad spectrum of offerings from Classic Modern to the latest Contemporary art, the spacious exhibition halls and, last but not least, the enthusiastic response from the public keep Tammen returning to south-western Germany every year. “It’s an obligation I gladly uphold”, the well-known gallerist says, “not least thanks to the fact that the density of collectors is so high at this fair – and handsome sales are accordingly generated.”

Galleries such as Schwarzer (Düsseldorf), GNG (Paris), Brennecke (Berlin), Obrist (Essen), Rothamel (Erfurt) and the Galerie an der Pinakothek der Moderne (Munich) also eagerly participate year after year and are among the galleries that have accompanied art KARLSRUHE since it was first founded in 2004.

The Mainz- and Venice-based gallery owner Dorothea van der Koelen, who has likewise been a participant since 2004 and is active on the fair’s advisory board, has regularly set up Sculpture Areas over the past two decades featuring works by her artists, who include Lore Bert, Francois Morellet, Fabrizio Plessi, Günther Uecker and Bernar Venet. “We have always received a strong and positive response”, she reports. “Of course, this popularity had to do with the art itself, but the wonderful light-flooded exhibition halls surely played a role too by creating optimal conditions in which to experience art.”

Portrait Eric Dewald
Eric Dewald
Press Officer
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