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Berlin Loses its Most Important Contemporary Art Fair

Updated: Jan 25, 2020

By Alex Stuart

The organizers of Art Berlin have discontinued the art fair due to its lack of profitability. It had been running for three years, held in the hall of the abandoned Tempelhof airport. The organizers cited a number of reasons for its closure, including the lack of state support which is standard for other European art fairs, such as Vienna Contemporary and ARCO Madrid.

In his article for Monopol, art dealer Johann König criticized this lack of funding, arguing it shows disregard towards the importance of art and culture for society and the potential financial benefits for the city arising from the four day art fair, which attracts visitors and buyers from all over Europe.

Perhaps the art market schedule is too crowded with the sheer number of high-profile commercial art fairs around the world, for this recent entrant to attract enough buyers and high-profile galleries. The 2019 edition had already downsized from around 100 exhibitors in its first edition to just 60.

The organizers also highlighted the uncertainty around securing Tempelhof for future editions; their agreement with the venue expired in 2019. A shame for the Berlin commercial art scene, but fortunately the organizers’ other fair, Art Cologne, founded 52 years ago and considered to be the world’s oldest contemporary art fair, continues to thrive down in North Rhine-Westphalia.

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