VIENNAFAIR – The International Contemporary
Art Fair FOCUSED ON CEE
A new organisational structure and new partners:
A success story with new drive
+++ VIENNAFAIR – Central Europe’s most successful international trade fair for contemporary art focused on CEE/SEE now has a new licensee – VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH +++ New operative partnership secures future activity +++ Reed Exhibitions Messe Wien remains venue manager and technical service provider +++ Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schöllhammer confirmed as artistic directors +++ Date: 20th – 23rd September 2012 +++
VIENNA (25th January 2012) – ‘Since becoming part of the Reed Exhibitions portfolio in 2005 the VIENNAFAIR has become central Europe’s most important international trade fair for contemporary art focussing on CEE/SEE. We are delighted to have been able to contribute so much to this development’, enthused Matthias Limbeck (Dipl.Ing.), Reed Exhibitions Messe Wien’s New Business CEO, commenting on the seven years of success enjoyed by the VIENNAFAIR so far. ‘Now we need to give the art fair the security it requires to continue to develop in the international trade fair sector, because in the future the show will also need to provide support for the development of the domestic gallery segment. Above all, it is vital the immensely beneficial focus on activity in central and south-eastern continues to be expanded upon. The partnership with VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH is a guarantee for the long-term implementation of the VIENNAFAIR show concept’, explained Mr Limbeck.
From a local exhibition-style event to an international art scene showcase
In 2004 the venue of the ‘Kunst Wien’ – the art fair for domestic galleries – had become a limiting factor. Increasing numbers of galleries were demanding an opportunity to link up with the international gallery community to ensure continued development of the art fair, and of Vienna as a stage for art. Reed Exhibitions Messe Wien put their heads together with important representatives of the Austrian galleries community to produce an expo format that at last was able to attract influential international galleries to Vienna. Vienna’s geo-political location made the focus on central and south-eastern Europe a logical consequence. This region became one of the most important and internationally regarded points of emphasis from the very first edition of the VIENNAFAIR back in 2005. ‘The VIENNAFAIR was a rough diamond. Together with the advisory committee and the curators we were able to showcase the entire spectrum of art and gallery community activity. I would like to take this opportunity to thank all those involved in enabling us to write this seven-year success story’, declared Matthias Limbeck (Dipl.Ing.) expressing his gratitude to the numerous people responsible for the development of the VIENNAFAIR.
A seven-year period of sustained development
The art community activities in the neighbouring countries to the east of Austria were already at the centre of attention at the first edition of the show. Dr. Gabriela Gantenbein, the fair’s first artistic director, was able to attract 18 galleries to Vienna for the VIENNAFAIR from beyond Austria’s eastern borders, as well as several well-respected internationally active western European galleries. During Edek Bartz’s era as artistic director from 2006 to 2010 the VIENNAFAIR acquired international recognition as a small but specialised art fair at which there was a very good possibility of discovering exponents and examples of Eastern European art. This opportunity was particularly effective in attracting US art collectors to Vienna. In 2011 two immensely experienced experts on art from eastern and south-eastern Europe, Dr. Hedwig Saxenhuber and Dr. Georg Schöllhammer, took on the artistic directorship of the event and attracted a record number of 49 galleries from the countries in focus, thus – at their first show – providing the VIENNAFAIR with lasting conceptual and structural developments to enable an expansion of this focus to incorporate the ‘emerging markets’.
Involvement of domestic and international gallery communities as a secret of the show’s success
No art fair can develop without close cooperation with the exhibitors. Since the move from the museum to Reed Exhibitions Messe Wien’s exhibition halls was initiated by the Vienna galleries, it was logical that the advisory committee was also behind this important decision. Right from the start reliance was placed on the opinions of experts, such as international gallery art connoisseurs, first on the admissions committee, then, due to the increasingly international nature of the event, on the fair’s advisory committee. The members of the trade fair advisory committee from 2005 to 2011 were Guido W. Baudach, Anne Blümel, Miryam Charim (Mag.), Kerstin Engholm, Karin Handlbauer (Mag.), Prof. Ernst Hilger, Michal Kaczynski, Dr. Ursula Krinzinger, Manfred M. Lang, Mario Mauroner, Dr. Christian Meyer, Mihai Pop, Simon Rees, Michel Rein, Rosemarie Schwarzwälder, Gabriele Senn (Mag.), Philippe Valentin, Anthony Wilkinson, Thomas Wüstenhagen (Mag.) and Asia Zak.
Great sponsors for a great fair
Commenting on the wide range of cooperation agreements that have made the VIENNAFAIR such a success, Matthias Limbeck remarked, ‘Without the active involvement of sponsors it’s impossible for an art fair to achieve long term growth. I am, therefore, particularly grateful to the many businesses and institutions that have helped to transform our visions into reality’. Since 2007 ERSTE BANK has sponsored the participation of galleries from eastern and south-eastern Europe with considerable financial support and has been a guarantee for the unique status the VIENNAFAIR has acquired within the international trade fair sector. The backing of the OMV meant that in 2011 the show was able to spotlight the work of Turkish galleries. The side events and organised discussions designed to focus on important aspects of the art market and art collecting was also put together with the support of important partners. The enthusiasm invested by T-Mobile Austria, and in particular ‘departure’ – the City of Vienna’s own creative agency – has also helped to provide the public with a fascinating programme of accompanying events. The list of long-serving sponsors and helpers also includes the Ministry of Education, Art and Culture; the City of Vienna Department of Culture, Kulturkontakt Austria, Bank Austria, Austrian Airlines and the Vienna Chambers of Commerce.
Securing development – implementing visions
In the last few years the ‘international’ trade fair industry has become truly ‘globalised’. Newly founded businesses and takeovers have provided further encouragement for this international boom and today there is hardly a major city that doesn’t stage its own art fair. In regard of the opportunities opened up by the new partnership organised with the VIENNAFAIR, Matthias Limbeck (Dipl.Ing.) is convinced, ‘In this situation it is almost impossible for businesses and institutions serving niches to implement long-term commercial planning or to finance new developments; so we are very pleased to have found a partner in VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH that is determined to continue down the path we have taken’.
Expanding on excellent potential with long-term planning:
From this moment on VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH is the licensee responsible for the operative management of the VIENNAFAIR
Commenting on the involvement of Next Edition Partners GmbH in the VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH, Sergey Skaterschikov, founder of Next Edition Partners GmbH, explained: ‘Next Edition Partners GmbH made a decision to invest in VIENNAFAIR in the larger context of our confidence in two developing aspects of today’s times: the explosive growth of the global art industry and to search for new ideas and intellectual leadership in an increasingly diverse world. Vienna as the city, and VIENNAFAIR as the product, should benefit tremendously from enabling those two trends to meet at the VIENNAFAIR, an event creating continuous business opportunities and intellectual challenges for investors, collectors, cultural institutions, galleries, artists and the general public.
The stellar international reputation of Austria’s galleries and cultural institutions, reinforced by the spirit of the city of Vienna, lends further endorsement energy in terms of art and modernity to the VIENNAFAIR. This energy is a great asset and it can be used well to introduce new names and ideas to the contemporary art world in the best tradition of Wiener Secession, create significant value for collectors and art investors buying at the fair, and incubate new collectors and art institutions in new, growing markets – including Central and Eastern Europe and beyond. It can also be used to innovate within the world of the art industry in a disruptive and ambitious way. Increasing the flow of capital into art through investment funds, providing international cultural institutions with access to capital through art securitization and helping galleries to generate more sales by moving online are just a few ideas worth considering. Our core aim is to steadily and significantly increase the volume of art traded at the VIENNAFAIR. A culturally visionary choice of art for purchase is rewarded with strong returns on art investment. The VIENNAFAIR should be able to offer this vision – we are looking forward to working with the galleries, corporate sponsors and various capital providers to establish the VIENNAFAIR as the global marketplace for art and capital’.
Prof. Dr. Edelbert Köb, a founding member of VF Beteiligungs KG, explained the decision to manage the VIENNAFAIR as licensee with VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH: ‘In the last twenty years Vienna, as a city of music and theatres and as a home for fine and visual arts, has made a tangible jump forward in an international context. The talk is of the Viennese museum miracle. Austrian artists are to be found at the top of artist rating lists. There is a disproportionately large representation of Austrian galleries at the most important art fairs – and also a positive trend on the secondary market, above all due to the work of the Dorotheum. The picture is completed with the ambitious activities of businesses involving themselves in the art world; bodies such as the Erste Foundation, the Generali Foundation, the EVN Collection, the Verbund Collection, the Henckel Prize for art from CEE countries, the STRABAG Collection, the Art Award International, the Lenikus Collection to name but a few. Another reflection of this growth in activity is the increasing involvement of private individuals such as the Essl and Liaunig collections, and Andra Spallart’s ‘Fotoraum’. This scenario and Vienna’s favourable geo-political situation, as a gateway to central, southern and Eastern Europe, opens up opportunities for the VIENNAFAIR that so far haven’t been fully exploited. The entry of large international investors has produced a whole new perspective. As well as ensuring the professionalism and quality of the trade fair are maintained and enhanced, the Austrian shareholders are also interested in contributing to sharpening the profile of the show and providing it with its own special Viennese identity’.
Hedwig Saxenhuber and Georg Schöllhammer: Enhancing the market with a new constellation
Art collecting has become a globalised activity. New art, collecting and gallery communities are increasingly on the lookout for information and alternatives not available at blue chip art fairs with conventional portfolios. This opens up a vast range of opportunities for Vienna as a trade fair venue. In 2011 it became clear that Vienna was capable of taking on a central role in a redefining the art fair format. ‘The market is seeking new formats and collectors are looking for venues at which they can gain a concentrated and intensive supply of information on the new geography of the art world. The international response to the VIENNAFAIR 2011 showed us the true potential of the fair here. The new constellation is an opportunity for us to position the VIENNAFAIR as a successful marketplace offering formats and portfolios beyond the same old offerings of the blue chip shows’, explained Dr. Georg Schöllhammer, the artistic director of the VIENNAFAIR.
An innovative architectural concept is being implemented at the VIENNAFAIR to do justice to the methods used in the production of contemporary art. It provides collectors and the public with more direct and close contact to the important names in the global art market. Internationally, the unique focus on the vibrant art communities and activities in central and Eastern Europe is also experiencing unique qualitative growth, encompassing the booming collectors’ markets stretching from Moscow and St. Petersburg to the megacity of Istanbul and into the Arab states. The VIENNAFAIR also distinguishes itself by introducing artists from new, mostly undiscovered markets; artists who do not have access to local and international exhibition infrastructure. This makes the event an ideal source of information for art dealers and gallery owners, collectors and curators who come together at the meeting point between various artistic regions and mentalities.
Additional drive and increased investment reflect the international make-up of the fair. For 2012 investments are being made in a significant expansion and qualitative enhancement of the programme for collectors for the growing number of potent art collectors interested in historical lines of development, in a variety of cultural traditions and in global developments. A new internet information portal documenting developments within the market served by this fair is also an essential component.
Artistic director Dr. Hedwig Saxenhuber rounded off by saying, ‘We are investing in quality and can offer collectors great new opportunities. Vienna simply has to be involved in the event schedule for the burgeoning and immensely potent collector markets stretching from Moscow and Istanbul to Beirut and the Middle East. The stage is set and the Viennese galleries are well-equipped. The VIENNAFAIR has already become the most important market for art from central and south-eastern Europe. The successes here are seen a season later, or even in the same year, in booths in London or Basel. The task is undoubtedly intriguing.
VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH
VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH was founded by Next Edition Partners GmbH and VF Beteiligungs KG. Next Edition Partners GmbH holds a 70% share in the new company and VF Beteiligungs KG holds a 30% share.
VF Beteiligungs KG
VF Beteiligungs KG was founded by a group of Austrians interested in art and culture and holds a 30% share of the VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH. The founding members are Dr. Bernhard Hainz (lawyer and art collector), Prof. Dr. Edelbert Köb (Director of the MUMOK – Museum of Modern Art – Foundation: Ludwig Wien 2001 – 2011, curator and artist), Martin Lenikus (Mag.) (entrepreneur, art collector and art sponsor), Eduard Pomeranz (entrepreneur and art collector), Martha Schreieck (Mag. Arch. (architect)), Andra Spallart (art collector) and Univ. Prof. Dr. Franz Wojda (entrepreneur, founder of KPMG Austria, art collector, Chairman of the Board of the University for Applied Art in Vienna and chairman of the curatorial board of the MUMOK – Museum of Modern Art – Foundation Ludwig Wien).
Next Edition Partners GmbH
Next Edition Partners GmbH is an investment consultancy based in Vienna, its main focus being on alternative investments, and it specialises in private equity, real estate and art. Next Edition Partners GmbH was founded by Sergey Skaterschikov. While working on the VIENNAFAIR, Sergey is to be supported by the Russian real estate developer and art investor Dmitry Aksenov.
Next Edition Partners GmbH advises numerous international investment businesses and private investors, particularly Russian clients, investing in Western Europe and North America. The company places emphasis on investments in art from all around the world. Next Edition Partners GmbH owns Skate LLC based in New York, the world’s leading art investment research business.
Sergey Skaterschikov has 19 years of professional experience of which he dedicated first seven years to entrepreneurship. In 1992 he established Skate Press, Russia’s premier financial data provider at that time, managing it throughout the 90s, and was the creator of Russia’s first stock market benchmark, the MT Index. Following sale of Skate Press to Independent Media and red-stars.com Sergey was a private investor in small-scale media, IT and financial services businesses, and also served on the boards of a number of large Russian companies, both in executive and non-executive roles. Sergey’s core competences are strategic planning, finance, mergers and acquisitions, investment management and corporate governance. In 2001 Sergey established his own private equity and investment advisory firm, the IndexAtlas Group, and sold it in May 2011 to the family office of the Russian ultra high net worth individual.
Dmitry Yu. Aksenov is a Russian national with over 20 years of professional experience in the real estate segment in Russia. Dmitry holds degrees from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology as well as from the Institute of Business Studies (IBS Moscow) within the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. Dmitry is founder and chairman of the RDI Group (www.rdigroup.ru), one of the key players in the real estate market of the Moscow region, and co-owner of the luxury real estate brokerage franchise Moscow Sotheby’s International Realty. Since 2010 Dmitry has been investing into the art industry after acquiring minority ownership interest in Skate’s LLC, the world’s leading art investment research venture, based in New York. Dmitry is a renowned art patron. His philanthropic interests include a number of programmes in art education and support of cultural institutions in Russia. He is a Member of the Supervisory Board of the Institute of Contemporary Art Moscow.