With one of the highest per capita GDPs globally, Switzerland has the advantage of a healthy existing and potential art-buying market. The strength of the local and regional market has been recognized by the art world, with 5% of the world’s major art fairs held in Switzerland (according to The Art Basel and UBS Global Art Market Report 2018) - a relatively large percentage for the size of the country.
Boasting a rich local collector-base and an easily-accessible location, Geneva is hosting artgenève for its eighth year running. Local gallerists have - perhaps surprisingly - credited the event as an opportunity to engage local collectors, many of whom travel often and find little free time to focus on the local scene: “an event like artgenève motivates them to come, spend time and be surprised by both international and local galleries” said Paul-Aymar Mourgue d’Algue, Director of Truth and Consequences in Geneva.
Positioning itself as complimentary to art fair giant, Art Basel, this smaller, more ‘boutique’ fair places its focus on quality rather than quantity: this year attracting 90 distinguished galleries from 18 countries and anticipating a high calibre of collectors who are well-suited to a more focused offering. Valentina Volchkova, Managing Director of Pace Gallery’s permanent space in Geneva, describes the Swiss collector scene as “very discreet and committed,” explaining that, “people like to follow word of mouth and develop confidence in a dealer or gallery.”
Alongside renowned galleries - including newcomers Hauser & Wirth, Capitain Petzel, Eva Presenhuber, Raffaella Cortese, kamel mennour, ShanghART and Marlborough - artgenève dedicates a significant portion of its floor space to non-commercial ventures, including private and public collections as well as curated shows. Whilst this model is increasingly popular at art fairs, artgenève offers a particularly strong program of institutional and original curated shows.
For the second year, artgenève is teaming up with PAD (Pavilion of Arts and Design, Paris & London) to bring around 30 galleries showing an eclectic mix of decorative arts and design to a dedicated space at the Palexpo exhibition centre in Geneva. In an interview last year, the organizers told The Art Newspaper, “It's about enlarging the offer towards art collectors who like the finest and most original [works] in general, but we'll also be able to attract a new clientele that's close to the worlds of design and primitive arts.”
The 2019 edition of the fair is also celebrating the fifth anniversary of ‘The Estate Show’ - an annual event at artgenève presenting a monumental work by a historic artist - this year featuring Chris Burden’s immense ‘40 Foot Stepped Skyscraper’. Further impressive large-scale installations include a hanging work by Kimsooja presented by the Musée d’art contemporain de Lyon at the entrance of the fair as well as the displaying of a magnificent neon form by Cerith Wyn Evans at the centre of the Salon.
Alongside the visual arts program, artgenève/musique is presenting a range of performances and a series of talks featuring art world personalities in conversation. artgenève/sculptures also returns this year, with a public exhibition of around ten sculptures on display in Geneva’s historic city centre.
UBS is the principal partner of artgenève, proudly supporting the fair since 2013 in its aim to establish and grown an artistic platform in the French part of Switzerland.