ARCOMadrid 2015 Highlights

By Aina Pomar - Thursday, March 5, 2015
ARCOMadrid 2015 Highlights

ARCOmadrid, the most important and influential contemporary art fair in Spain, closed on Sunday 1 March with renovated hope in the art market. After a few difficult years, the galleries and organisers had positive expectations of this edition of the fair that has been running for 34 years in Madrid.

ARCOMadrid 2015 Highlights

ARCOmadrid, the most important and influential contemporary art fair in Spain, closed on Sunday 1 March with renovated hope in the art market. After a few difficult years, the galleries and organisers had positive expectations of this edition of the fair that has been running for 34 years in Madrid.

A total of 218 galleries from 29 countries participated in this art fair, demonstrating the loyalty of the participating galleries and the incorporation of new ones in this edition of ARCO, which had remarkable highlights.

© ARCOmadrid 2015

An art fair with a Latin-American scent.

ARCOmadrid has always worked as a gateway to and from Europe for Latin-American artistic creation.  After having had Mexico and Brazil as guest countries in past editions, now was the turn for Colombia.

Bogotá has been recently highlighted as one of the 12 essential cities worldwide in terms of contemporary art according to “Art Cities of the Future: 21st-Century Avant-Gardes’ (Phaidon Press). With all the art centres and events created in the last ten years in Colombia, the country can be considered one of the potential artistic hotbeds.

Besides this, ARCOMadrid has been presenting #Solo Projects Focus Latin America for the last four years, with the aim of offering a space for analysis of the creative scene and identification of key agents of Latin American creation. In 2015 #SoloProjects has focused in three main themes to select artists and galleries: The legacy of Latin American avant-gardes, Rethinking Formalism: Abstraction and vernacular sources and Gender Performativity and research-based practices in Latin America.

© ARCOmadrid 2015

ARCO’s red carpet

Just like in an Oscar’s ceremony, visitors and press are always expectant to point out the most controversial and flashy pieces of the year.

Among the most disputed artworks of 2015 there was Vaso de agua medio lleno (Glass half full) by the Cuban artist Wilfredo Prieto, consisting of what its title explains and priced 20.000 euros. As an allegory of job insecurity, Papel triturado (shredded paper) by Miguel Ángel Sánchez had a value of 8.000 euros. And the gallery Elvira Navarro sold for the amount of 38.000 euros the artwork by Pilar Albarracín, who created her Mandala Rojo (2012) with red lady pants.

Among the projects presented by Colombian galleries there was Work in progress by Jorge Magyaroff in the booth of El Museo, a work between the accident and the incident, where the artist included the brushes and paint pots used to create it.

Also in #ArcoColombia, Doce Cero Cero gallery presented the embroideries by Suntuosa Vulgaridad. This groundbreaking piece made with a very traditional technique approached the topic of the feminine erotic pleasure.

Other artworks that caught visitor’s attention were a Basquiat of 1985 in Elvira González gallery, which represented the artist’s main symbology; People by Julian Opie, exhibited in the booth of Mario Sequeira gallery that showed the daily nature of the act of walking; and a majestic sculpture by the German artist Katharine Grosse represented by Helga de Alvear gallery.

A reinvented fair

Five years ago, Spain’s economic situation expanded its consequences to the art market, making ARCO go through its bigger crisis. In light of this situation and with an increase of art sales taxes in the country, Carlos Urroz was then appointed director of the fair with the challenge to regain the confidence in ARCO.

His strategy has focused in developing attractive programmes, offering a space for encounters of art market professionals, and, most of all, being realistic. This has been materialised as making the art fair smaller, but orientated to create a place for the collectors to discover new artists, new galleries and new arts scenes.

In the eighties ARCO had a format close to a festival, in the nineties it had an academic approach and nowadays, after Urroz’s reinvention, ARCO is definitely a market platform.

© ARCOmadrid 2015

A place for curators

One of ARCO’s main strengths is the selection of its contents, as it attracts art professionals and collectors to the fair. For this reason, the organisers know the importance of working close with curators to ensure an accurate approach in each project.

For 2015, ARCO invited Juan Andrés Gaitán, recent curator of the 8th Berlin Biennale for Contemporary Art, to select ten Colombian galleries for the special edition dedicated to this country.

#Soloprojects has been directed by Irene Hofmann, Phillips Director and Chief Curator of SITE Santa Fe, and the independent curator and writer Lucía Sanromán. They have worked with curators Miguel A. López, Kiki Mazzuncchelli and Emiliano Valdés all of them commited to rethinking and expanding the art historical canon in Latin America.

The art fair also included the curated programme #Opening, dedicated to 28 emergent galleries selected by Luiza Teixeira de Freitas and Chris Sharp with projects.


ARCOmadrid introduced last year a new section called SOLO/DUO, which presents either individual artists or artistic pairs that dialogue with each other. In this last edition, ARCO has relied again on this format, reinforcing the presence of new talents. 31 projects of the 160 galleries of the general programme had this format.

Also #ArcoColombia where there was two artists in each of the ten selected galleries in this section and, of course #Soloprojects joined the initiative of including only one artist in each booth.

© ARCOmadrid 2015

Optimistic figures

ARCOMadrid 2015 closed its 34th edition with an increase of 10% in the number of professional visitors, which meant more than 27.380 collectors and other art agents. The art fair has received around 100.000 visitors in its five days.

One of the most positive results has been the dynamism in the sales, which has been reactivated thanks to the presence of 300 collectors from 33 different countries, and the renewed of the interest of Spanish collectors in ARCO. New this year has been the presence of Chinese art dealers interested in Spanish contemporary art.

Aina Pomar graduated in Sociology and Photography before completing a Master in New Media Art Curatorship. She has collaborated with Fundació Pilar i Joan Miró in Majorca and with CCCBLab and Fundació Foto Colectania in Barcelona. She moved to London to work at the Cultural Office of the Embassy of Spain, where she coordinated visual arts and exhibition projects with the aim of promoting Spanish culture and artists across the United Kingdom. She currently collaborates with various galleries and art projects in London.

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Lawrence Abu Hamdan, Earshot, 2016

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