TURIN— The 19th edition of Turin's contemporary art fair Artissima closed this past Sunday with 50,000 registered visitors in just four days. Open to the public from November 9 – 11, this year’s fair title was “It’s Not the End of the World” — a reference both to the Mayan prophecy as well as the ongoing economic meltdown. And given its turnout (a significant increase over its prior editions), chances are that most of its attendants, with financial straits in mind, agreed with the sentiment.
Having lost Francesco Manacorda to Tate Liverpool, Artissima is now under the direction of Sarah Cosulich Canarutto, who this year shifted its focus to a more pronounced emphasis on global art. Of the 172 participating galleries, two-thirds were international (versus 53 Italian galleries), with representatives from Morocco, Guatemala, Israel, and Eastern Europe.
International collectors were comparatively high in attendance, particularly guests from countries impacted less from the global financial crisis, such as Turkey, Brazil, and Saudia Arabia. This likely played into the fair’s 2012 success, which was an important factor not just for Italy’s contemporary art market, but for Turin: the city’s economic outcome in 2011 amounted to €4 million ($5.1 million).
Its Thursday-night VIP opening was relatively tame, with just a few sales and no headline-making transactions. Collectors abstained from monumental works (and matching price tags) in favor of small pieces and works by young artists. A few of those seemed to be keeping financial woes in mind: such as bank foundation CRT (which annually purchases artwork for Turin museums Galleria d’Art Moderna and Castello di Rivoli), which reduced this year’s purchasing budget from €600,000 to €350,000 ($750,000 to $446,000).
Prices of sold works were generally on the lower end, ranging between €5,000 and €30,000 (circa $6,000 to $38,000). But there were some more expensive works offered: such as those by Antony Gormley at Galleria Continua, which reached €300,000 (circa $380,000), and by Roni Horn at i8 Gallery, which were priced at €280,000 (circa $360,000).
The most successful sales during opening night were those at Galleria Continua by young Italian artist Giovanni Ozzola (born 1982), who currently has a show with Ai Weiwei at the gallery’s space in San Gimignano. A giant black-slate engraved map of ancient navigation by Ozzola sold for €22,000 ($28,000); the artist’s smaller works started at around €4,000 ($5,000). Weiwei was also represented at Artissima with a new work, a helmet made of marble, priced at €60,000 ($76,000).
In addition to its Roni Horn pieces, i8 Gallery from Reykjavík presented works by Icelandic artist Ragnar Kjartansson, ranging between €6,000 and €23,000 ($7,600 to $29,000). The artist has been held in high esteem at earlier fairs, by collectors such as Patrizia Sandretto, who bought the 150 paintings created by Kjartansson at the Icelandic Pavilion during the 2009 Venice Biennial (which are currently on view at the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo through January 6). Kjartansson was also featured in Artissima’s parallel program, with a music performance at the Fondazione on Sunday morning.
Also headlining the parallel program was Dan Perjovschi, who created a site-specific work for Palazzo Madama, and whose works were offered by Berlin/Ljubljana-based gallery Gregor Podnar. A composition of 80 postcards that the artist sent to Cosulich Canarutto during the curator's earlier position at Villa Manin went for €40,000 ($51,000).
Another Berlin-based gallery, Peres Projects, presented three new artists: Italy’s Marinella Senatore, who currently has a solo show running at Peres’ Berlin space, represented at the fair with a photograph from her current film project at €6,000 ($7,700); Belgian artist trio Leo Gaben, at prices ranging €8,000–15,000 ($10,200-19,000); and Canadian Brent Wadden, from €5,000–12,000 ($6,300–15,300). The gallery managed sales on opening night of works by Wadden, Gaben, and Los Angeles-based artist Alex Israel.
Italian gallery Massimo Minini also had an impressive run on opening night, with immediate sales of new works by Letizia Cariello for €12,000 ($15,300) each. Other artists in high demand at Minini included Hans-Peter Feldmann, with C-prints sold for €24,000 ($30,000) each; David Maljkovic, with works at around €9,000 ($11,500); and Italian artist Alberto Garutti, who is scheduled for a major retrospective in Milan starting November 17, with one work offered at €24,000 ($30,000).