Hungary: Budapest makes a name as a hotbed for contemporary art
Art Market Budapest turns Hungarian capital into art extravaganza
Posted: November 7, 2012
Last year's inaugural Art Market Budapest, like this year's, focuses primarily on Central and East European contemporary art, but it draws an audience of visitors from around the world.
As the fulcrum of the European art world keeps shifting eastward, different cities and countries are always being declared the new "it" art center by international art tastemakers. The Hungarian capital is emerging as a darling of the European contemporary art market, so it is fitting that an art fair has sprung up to support artists and galleries from Hungary and from other Central and East European countries, but also farther afield.
The second edition of Art Market Budapest will bring art lovers from Europe and around the world to the city of Budapest for a four-day art extravaganza. After a preview and opening for invited guests on Wednesday, Nov. 7, the fair is open to the public from Nov. 8-11. The main exhibition is being held in the Millenáris, a cultural complex surrounded by park land in a former industrial quarter of the city. The exhibits on display inside the complex will be supplemented with an outdoor installation of sculptures among the complex's buildings.
While the fair does focus primarily on Central and East European contemporary art, much like the recent Viennafair held in the Austrian capital, it also strives to present it both in an international context - there are several exhibitors from Turkey and Israel, for example - and also in an expanded local context.
A series of related workshops and cultural events will take place throughout Budapest during the fair. There is a program oriented more toward art professionals, with a series of roundtable discussions, interviews with artists and book launches. A VIP package offers free entry to many of the fair's special events and also has its own offer of events, such as guided tours of off-site exhibitions, artist studio visits and outings aimed at placing the art within its wider cultural and historical context, such as a one-day excursion to the city of Debrecen and walking tour of Budapest's former Jewish quarter.
This ties in with one of the fair's projects, called "Contemporary Art Reflections on Jewish Identity and Culture" and linked to the commemoration of the centennial of the birth of the Swedish diplomat and humanitarian Raoul Wallenberg, who saved many thousands of lives in Nazi-occupied Hungary during the Holocaust.
This year, a spotlight is being thrown on Hungary's neighbor to the east, Romania, which right after Hungary has the most participating galleries. The thematic exhibition "Crossing Cluj" focuses on the art phenomenon in this town in the historical region of Transylvania, especially the dynamic art scene centered around the Paintbrush Factory. Many of the Romanian artists will be on hand to mix among visitors to the fair. Among the galleries from Cluj is Galeria Plan B - which has been making the rounds at recent international art fairs, such as Art Basel and the first edition of Frieze to be held in New York.
Art Market Budapest has even attracted some participants from as far away as North America, with galleries coming from Montreal and New York City.
One of the aims of the art festival is to promote Budapest as a destination for cultural tourism, which in turn could further galvanize future editions of the art fair and the Hungarian art scene.
Mimi Fronczak Rogers can be reached at