The occasion is the second annual ArtRio in Rio de Janeiro, a fair spread over 7,500 square meters (80,730 square feet) in four warehouses on Guanabara Bay. It will feature 120 galleries, including David Zwirner and White Cube, as well as events hosted by Christie’s and Sotheby’s. (BID) The size and participants reflect a growing interest in the world’s sixth-largest economy.
“People who are better economically are turning to art,” said Brenda Valansi, a partner in ArtRio, in a phone interview.
The ranks of Brazil’s high net-worth individuals -- those with at least $1 million in financial assets -- grew by 6.2 percent between 2010 and 2011, the largest increase among the top 12 countries measured by such individuals, according to the World Wealth Report.
ArtRio’s organizers convinced local authorities to exempt the art sold during the fair from an 18 percent tax, helping to promote sales at the event, Valansi said.
Brazil’s own world-class artists, including Ernesto Neto, Vik Muniz, Adriana Varejao and Beatriz Milhazes, are another draw for international buyers and exhibitors. The Sao Paulo Biennial, founded in 1951, is the oldest art biennial in the world after the Venice Biennale. Rio’s art scene bristles with artists, galleries, critics and curators, said Amy Cappellazzo, chairman of postwar and contemporary art development at Christie’s.
“There are a lot of wonderful collectors, including young professionals, who are interested in Brazilian art and international works,” Cappellazzo said. “It’s not about chasing five or 10 rich people.”
“The population of people collecting seriously has exploded in the last five years,” said Allan Schwartzman, who has been advising Bernardo Paz, a mining magnate who founded Inhotim, a 5,000-acre contemporary-art park in the country’s southeastern state of Minas Gerais.
The prices for Brazilian artists spiked in recent years. Varejao holds the auction record for a Brazilian artist with a $1.8 million sale of “Wall With Incisions a la Fontana” at Christie’s in February 2011. In June, a Milhazes canvas fetched $1.5 million at Christie’s in London.
Gagosian is taking 80 pieces by 30 artists to ArtRio. The gallery’s selections cover a broad spectrum of prices and periods, from a $10,000 photograph by New York-based artist Roe Ethridge to Picasso portraits with asking prices between $10 million and $15 million.
Two sculptures by Alexander Calder priced between $5 million and $10 million will vie for buyers with four Warhols, including a 1965 Campbell’s soup can and a 1986 self-portrait in a fright wig, valued between $1 million and $10 million. The gallery will display some works in a booth at the fair; others will be included in a separate sculpture exhibition, also part of the fair.
“It’s a little bit of a risk-taking situation,” said Victoria Gelfand-Magalhaes, a New York-based Gagosian director who worked on the project with her Paris-based colleague Serena Cattaneo. “We don’t know if there’s a market there for works in the $10 million to $15 million price range but we hope if we bring real masterpieces, people will respond.”
As Brazil’s contemporary artists passed the $1 million mark, Gagosian has seen an increase in inquiries from the country’s collectors about international artists in that price range, Gelfand-Magalhaes said. Works by many of them, including Serra, Damien Hirst, Takashi Murakami, Urs Fischer, Mark Grotjahn and Cecily Brown, will be available for sale during ArtRio.
The group is “bigger than what we’d bring to a typical art fair,” Gelfand-Magalhaes said. “We are trying to make a great first impression.”
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