Mihály Munkácsy, Béla Kádár, Andy Warhol, André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy – just to name a few artists whose works of art can be admired at this year’s Budapest Art Fair antique and contemporary exhibition and fair in the M?csarnok (Art Hall) between 20 and 23 November 2008. The antique and contemporary exhibition, looking back to a period of 15 years and renewed last year both in its name and profile, is the most significant event of arts in Hungary, that gradually became a cultural event on the international scene too.
Over the years the exhibition introduced under the name of Antique Interior in the Ethnographic Museum 15 years ago has undergone spectacular changes. The exhibition was launched simultaneously with the rebirth of the Hungarian art treasure market. Due to the huge interest both on the side of the trade and the public, the exhibition had to be moved to a new site as early as three years after its launch. In 1997, the 4th Antique Interior exhibition of antiquities was organized in the Art Hall. Since the number of the exhibitors rose to its double and the supply was becoming more and more rich, also the number of visitors grew significantly and reached 10,000 at that time. Soga auction House, the first foreign gallery from Bratislava showed its works of art in 2001 for the first time, followed by two galleries from Paris in 2005. With the market dynamically developing, the exhibition became more and more attractive on the international market, too. Due to increasing interest, in 2007 three famous French galleries – Galerie la Minotaure exhibiting both antique and contemporary works, Galerie Pascal and Galerie Vallois – also introduced themselves in addition to Komart Gallery from Bratislava and Gilden’s Art Gallery present both in London and Tel-Aviv.
The art fair reacted to market changes as well – due to the increasing demand for contemporary works, the Plug contemporary art fair was introduced as an independent exhibition in the tent beside the Art Hall, as a co-event of Antique Interior in 2005. Following the world trend, last year the exhibition was renewed in terms of both its name and profile still extending to traditional values, which is well reflected by its motto of “Fresh, colourful, multicultural” – in addition to the rich domestic and international supply of the exhibition the assortment was increased also through several events representing different arts.
Though the market of classic works is declining, in recent years contemporary arts have become more and more popular which is proven by the sales of the two biggest auction houses (Christie’s and Sotheby’s), that have grown to its triplicate in the past years. The international art treasure market is characterized by the dominance of contemporary arts followed by the works of the 19th century and modern arts. In the first half of the year the works of the most famous artists (Francis Bacon, Mark Rothko, Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst) sold at prices record high.
The sales of works of art on the international market have been growing at a high pace from Asia to the United States – in the past five years revenues have doubled and reached EUR 43.3 billion. From among the strengthening markets of Russia, China and India, the art trade in the Chinese market has showed the most significant development, which has caught up with the sales of the market leaders United States, England and France. Last year the sales on the domestic art treasure market amounted to HUF 8 billion – 70% of the sales came from paintings and graphics, followed by jewellery and silver works having a 10% share and frequently purchased for investment purposes as well as by other ornaments, ceramics, carpets, arms and furniture. As to styles, the first half of the 20th century was the most popular in the auctions of domestic paintings but the popularity of contemporary works has been rising, too, well reflected by a success with Hungarian relevance: the top list of the Hungarian contemporary arts is led by the works “M.A.4 Marial” of Simon Hantai, the recently deceased painter, for which EUR 560 thousand (about HUF 137 million) were paid at the Christie’s auction in 2005. As for 2008, results of the first half of the year were favourable but in September the disadvantageous effects of the global economic crisis began manifesting themselves on the art treasure market as well. As compared to the January data the average prices at the auctions lagged 14.5% behind the level at the beginning of the year all over the world. The decline can be experienced both in the significant centres of art trade (New York. London, Paris) and the evolving markets, in all segments of the works from top category pieces sold for millions to the items purchased at prices less than EUR 10,000 and from market leaders to provincial auction houses. In the opinion of the experts of Artprice, leading data provider in the field of art treasure, the market reached its peak in late 2007 and early 2008. The adjustment of market prices was necessary and expectable since in the recent period the prices of the international art treasure market have shown a market rise of 48.9% as compared to international stock exchange indices, for example the Dow Jones index of 24.5%.
Last year’s successes for contemporary art galleries resulted in contemporary works of art gaining equal importance at this year’s Budapest Art Fair with the greatest representatives of classical and modern paintings, valuable furniture, carpets, textiles and unique works of art (porcelain, glass and crystals, jewellery, watches). To guarantee the high level of the art fair, in accordance with the experience of former years and the international practice, a jury consisting of independent experts will review all the works on the basis of a system of criteria set for each category separately and the pieces will be allowed in the exhibition this year also only with the consent of the committee. The jury includes five renowned experts: László Lengyel art historians and legal expert in paintings, József Horváth goldsmith, legal expert in jewellery, gems and precious metals, Péter Molnos art historian, Ferenc Vörösváry art collector and Miklós Szentkirályi painting-restorer.
The fifty renowned galleries – including Gilden’s Arts being present both in Tel-Aviv and London as well as Galerie le Minotaure of Paris, showing classic and contemporary works as well – are preparing for the event to be held in late November with the crème of their collections. Erdész & Makláry Fine Arts focuses upon those 20th-century and contemporary Hungarian artists who live in France, their adopted homeland, where they are widely acclaimed and have been restored to recognition by the Hungarian public over the past few years. At the Budapest Art Fair among the artists visitors can meet the artworks of József Csáky, Miklós Gusztáv, Alfréd Réth, Endre Rozsda, Judit Reigl, and the artists died in the past one year: Tibor Csernus, István Sándorfi and Simon Hantai. Besides the works of such classics as Mihály Munkácsy, Antal Bíró, Béla Kádár, Alfred Reth and Chagall visitors of the Fair can enjoy the extraordinary and sometimes provocative works of internationally acclaimed contemporary artists both from Hungary and abroad.
The galleries bring rarities and unique artworks to Budapest Art Fair. The Ernst Gallery returning as an exhibitor after nine years, famous for purchasing the painting by József Rippl-Rónai entitled „Woman with a cage” at a record price of 520 thousand dollars at a Chicago auction in 2005, brings to the audience several curiosities, thus two valuable works by József Rippl-Rónai: his protected painting entitled “Marching French soldiers”, painted in 1914, which takes a prominent place in Rippl-Rónai’ life work, as well as three plates that were designed by Rippl-Rónai in 1898 and made at the world-famous Zsolnay Factory in Pécs. The specialty of the plates lies in the fact that the whole enterior designed for the dining room of the Andrássy palace got lost or annihilated; therefore, each and every piece that is recovered represents a sensation. The value of each plate is more than 10 million forints. The other rarity of the gallery is an object that can be found almost only in museums; a wine-cooler that was designed by the Austrian architect, Josef Hoffman, one of the most significant artist of the Viennese Art Nouveau and was made at Wiener Werkstaette to the Wittgensteins, the topflight maecenas family of the turn-of-the-century.
This year, Pólus Palace Gallery exhibits a truly special painting at the Fair. The spectacular artwork depicts animals at fight. The previously unknown painting showed up only recently and is part of a private collection. It attracted the Gallery’s attention. Although opinions differ regarding the painter, there is a consensus that the centuries old painting originates from the workshop of one of the famous Flemish animal painters. According to professional opinions the painter can be found somewhere in the circles of Nicasius Bernaerts (1620-1678). There are some who go further and name Frans Snyders (1579-1657), perhaps one of the most famous animal painters, and teacher of Bernaerts, as the painter.
The Virág Judit Gallery and auction House is going to present, among other things, the most prominent works of its winter auction. The visitors cannot only see Sándor Bortnyik’s legendary picture entitled „Machine Knight”, but they also have the opportunity to see and hear – on a film – further interesting news about the painting and the artist. The exhibition – occasionally accompanied with a performance – will most probably be popular with those who are fond of paintings.
This year will see jubilees as well. The antique and contemporary arts fair is organized for the 15th time this year, supported by CIB Bank, the second biggest bank in Hungary and the dedicated supporter of culture, which has been the main sponsor of the event for 5 years now. Franco Adami, Italian sculptor and István Nádler, Munkácsy and Kossuth prize holder, Hungarian painter will be congratulated on the occasion of his 75th and 70th birthday, respectively, but Várfok Gallery also turns to 18 this year. The Várfok Gallery celebrates a double holiday – it became of age in 2008, and István Nádler, one of the members of its artist circle and a dominant figure of the Hungarian applied arts, will be 70 this year. On the occasion of the birthday of the artist – who has had regular exhibitions in the Várfok Gallery since 1997 – the Gallery is awaiting the visitors to the Budapest Art Fair at a separate stand dedicated to Nádler’s new works. The international image of the Gallery will be given a special role at the Fair. At the Várfok Gallery’s stand the visitors can see – among other things – the works of Martin C. Herbst. His monumental portraits – made with a special technique, based on aluminium and suggesting great power – are very popular with the visitors both in Europe and overseas. The Budapest Art Fair will also feature the works by Endre Rozsda, one of the founders of the European School, the first Hungarian representative of surrealism, as well as the works by the world famous Françoise Gilot, Picasso’s former spouse and contemporary artist.
In addition to them, of course, other artists of the Várfok Gallery are also presented, featuring: franyo aatoth, Zsuzsi Csiszér, El Kazovszkij, László feLugossy, László Gy?rffy, Levente Herman, László Mulasics, Sándor Rácmolnár, Ray Monde, János Szirtes, László Szotyory, Péter Ujházi, Róbert Várady, Sebastian Weissenbacher.
On the day of the festive opening of the Budapest Art Fair, Franco Adami – sculptor who was born in Italy but is living in France – is going to celebrate his 75th birthday at the stand of the Ráday Gallery – this is the first time he is visiting Hungary, thus paying a compliment to the exhibition through his personal presence. Adami is a simple and pleasant personality – these are qualities that are actually present in his sculptures as well. He always takes efforts to retain the human dimension in his works; his purpose is to get as many people as possible to understand his works without any need for mediation and interpreting assistance. His technique is based on immediate carving. This method – which is much more restricted than the modelling-based work process – requires incredible patience from the artist. He must put huge energy into his work, whereby he transforms the given block of material into the required form with the help of tools adjusted to the qualities of the material. In the 1960s and 1970s, Adami worked exclusively with wood, but later marble became his favourite material: „I have chosen this material not only due to its immortality but also out of respect to collectors” – says the artist. Over the past decade, Franco Adami – who belongs to the leading sculptors in Europe – displayed his sculptures at numerous places worldwide. Since 1965, he has regularly participated in exhibitions in Paris and in large international events. His works of art are exhibited in the most prominent museums of the world, and several of his monumental statues can be found in public squares in numerous countries of the world, ranging from Verona to Abidjan and Yamoussoukro (Ivory Coast).
This is the third year OCTOGONart Gallery participates in Budapest Art Fair. This time the Gallery follows the Fair’s keyword ‘multicultural’, and expands its repertoire with an international project, while at the same time opening towards a Hungarian-International artistic co-operation as part of the ‘Matinok és lagyarok – Latino-Hungarian Art 2008’ theme. At the stand of Knoll Gallery visitors can get an insight into the newest works of Luca Göbölyös. Besides the works of Hungarian artists, the Gallery will also present works of internationally known artists who are in co-operation with it: the drawing of Tony Cragg, the video-project of Fischli and Weiss, and some artworks by Paul Horn, Blue Nosese and the AES+F. Vintage Gallery offers a selection of contemporary and historical photography. Besides the latest works of young artists represented by the Gallery, notable among historical photographs are the works of André Kertész, László Moholy-Nagy, Márton Munkácsi, Alexandre Trauner and György Kepes.
At the stand of kArton Gallery the audience can find a selection from the material of the 4th Caricature and Comics auction. The auction will take place in the Auditorium of M?csarnok on the 23rd of November 2008, from 11 a.m., selling graphic works unique in Hungary. Andy Warhol’s graphics are to be a true speciality, just as the drawing of Batman’s creator, Bob Kane. The Hungarian material of individual colourful comics is supplemented by the auction of Ern? Zórád’s painting of the Tabán, and the erotic reinterpretation of Popeye’s adventures. Among the caricature and comics going under hammer at the auction, young children will surely be interested in well-known cartoon figures like Scooby Doo, Sponge Bob and Bambi.
Children and young visitors are specifically addressed at this year’s Budapest Art Fair: they will be offered the opportunity of interactively getting familiarized with contemporary arts, as usual in international practice. The exercises, held for two age-groups (5-12 and 13-18-year-old), will be aimed at enabling the participants to get an inside view of art trends, techniques and operation mechanisms in a playful yet thought-provoking way and to get familiarized with basic art terms. In the interactive play house participants will be asked to write reviews about selected pieces or artists, to draw strip cartoons and design posters, or offered the opportunity of getting familiarized with the techniques of fine arts and of participating in play auctions.
The accompanying events of the Budapest Art Fair antique and contemporary exhibition and fair will include guided tours for groups, and an Artmagazin Forum on arts and the art market. At the panel talks of Artmagazin, managers of galleries and other institutions will be discussing important issues such as the misconceptions versus reality concerning the trade of contemporary art gallerists, or art institutions’ strategies aimed at involving the private sector. Two new programs that will attract many with all probability will be involved as novelties by the event. At the 2008 Budapest Art Fair, with the title of ‘Video on the horizon – video and digital art in the Hungarian art market’ special focus will be given to digital and media art reviewing its historical and technical issues, ways of presentation, analysing the related copyright problems and examining its market position. During the exhibition in the Auditorium of Art Hall, a four-day series of presentations will take place, which will be divided into blocks dedicated to a certain aspect. Each block of presentation will be preceded by a guided discussion featuring invited experts, artists, university students and public personalities.
Following its successful improvisation – based series of performances in London for five years and in Stockholm for two years, ‘Lifegame’ has been on in Budapest for quite a while. ‘Lifegame’ is a conversation throughout the evening, at which time the guest leads the audience through his or her life. The host asks questions, the guest speaks, the actors and actresses perform, the musician plays but none of them knows what will happen next. Instead of a pre-written, adapted and well-rehearsed cliché, a new play is created before the very eyes of the audience. No gimmicks and no catches. Anything can happen and it does… This play, which is performed at theatres, is on at the Budapest Art Fair 2008, naturally befitting the character of the event, performed by artists of the fine arts as guests: on the first day with Laca feLugossy, next day with Imre Bukta.