BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

Boris Ondreička, Chief Curator of Vienna Contemporary. Photo: Kristina Kulakova
Boris Ondreička, Chief Curator of Vienna Contemporary. Photo: Kristina Kulakova

Tell us a little bit about the history of viennacontemporary.

— viennacontemporary expanded from being a local affair to being internationally renowned for its focus on art from CEE. The team managed to pull it off again last year, making vc one of the few offline events which took place in 2020. As the whole world is going through this huge transformation, we are also looking towards the future, because it will never go back to what it was.

Boris adds, written by Artnet: In 2015, VIENNAFAIR rebranded itself viennacontemporary and, at the same time, fixed a new September date and moved locations to Vienna’s Marx Halle, a former cattle market. Meanwhile, management changed hands, and the company VF Betriebsgesellschaft mbH took it over from FIAC and Paris Photo’s owners, Reed Exhibitors. The change of hands shifted its long-held focus on central and eastern European art in favor of internationalization—but, not atypical of Austria, it was all buoyed by Russian investment, in this case, from arts patron Dmitry Aksenov.

How do you, as artistic director, ensure that the event stays contemporary and current in the fast-paced world that is the art market, now with our substantial pandemic context?

I am the artistic leader of the fantastic team which embraces both permanent monitoring of the cutting-edge dynamics of the arts, especially focused on our spontaneous territory, as well as those great personalities with knowledge about our past and the best routines of institutional practice. My personal ambition is to analyse and exhaust all of the possibilities of what an art-fair is and can be. We do not “run” this institution – we “drive” a very good and strong vehicle.

Is there something in this year’s program that you are particularly looking forward to?

Actually, what fascinates me is the overall principle of this year which is based on integration of a variety of private and public bodies to the overall structure – touring the city as an artistic environment. Over the course of 5 days, we will introduce up to 200 local and international art positions all around Vienna.

Polonca Lovsin, We Can't See. Courtesy P74 Gallery, Ljubljana
Polonca Lovsin, We Can't See. Courtesy P74 Gallery, Ljubljana

What do the artworks being presented at viennacontemporary this year reveal about the current trends and market?

Basically, art is more and more connected to urgent topics of our era: climate change, social and gender inequality. Art is straightforward, critical, and socially and environmentally engaged. All aspects of the arts, including markets, talk about the significance of art, and culture in terms of broader societal action, as well as physical artifacts (including digital commodities) remain a great investment.

What advice do you have for collectors that will be attending the fair?

My recommendation is to come relaxed and rested, because the amount of fabulous art they will have the chance to experience is enormous. In this regard, they can just rely on our hospitality and expertise.

What is your biggest hope for a post-pandemic Art World?

I still hope that because pandemics provide us with a possibly meditative and self-critical gap in time and space, institutions and individuals will reconfigure a variety of values and behaviours in terms of stronger social and ecological awareness. I believe that all “players” in regards to the arts (including collectors) will rise up to this challenge like strong phoenixes; full of resoluteness of change, especially in the current era of fear and pain.

In addition to viennacontemporary, what exhibition or event is on your “must-see” list?

Definitely Lois Weinberger "Basics" at Belvedere 21 – one of the greatest artists of the last 60 years – whom we unfortunately lost just a year ago.

viennacontemporary. Photo:
viennacontemporary. Photo:
viennacontemporary. Photo: Nicko Havranek
viennacontemporary. Photo: Nicko Havranek

More Information on viennacontemporary

Insiders (68)


Exhibition venue with the theme ‚Living with Art‘

Wilhelmina Jewell Strong - Sparks

Founder of BiTHOUSE Projects - BAAR Art Journey


Collector behind the ARNDT Collection

Sandra Guimarães

Director of Museum of Contemporary Art Helga de Alvear

Grazyna Kulczyk

Founder of Muzeum Susch


Interview with Georgie Pope and Eleonora Sutter, Co-founders

Kamiar Maleki

Director at VOLTA

Gallery Weekend Berlin 2022

Tokini Peterside

Founder and Director, ART X Lagos


Founding Director of the Athens Biennale

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

David Gryn

Founder and Director of Daata

Fondation Beyeler Audiovisual Broadcast

Fondation Beyeler and Nordstern Basel present Dixon x Transmoderna

Gary Yeh

Founder of ArtDrunk and Young Collector

WATCH: The Best of the BMW Art Guide

Where will you travel next to explore art?

Maike Cruse

2020 Gallery Weekend Berlin

Touria El Glaoui

Founding Director of 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair

Johann König

Messe in St. Agnes

PArt - Producers Art Platform

A crisis initiative to help artists directly affected by the pandemic

Barbara Moore

CEO of Biennale of Sydney

Unique Collector’s Item

by Independent Collectors

Alix Dana

Fair Director at Independent

When Collectors are Able to Commission

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Juliet Kothe and Julia Rust

Initiators of Collection Night, Berlin

Marie-Anne McQuay

Curator of Wales in Venice, 58th Venice Biennale 2019

Dorothy and Herb Vogel

Two extraordinary art collectors

Heather Hubbs

Director at NADA

Every Art Collection Needs Space

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Collecting Art with François Pinault

Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Caroline Vos

Director at Amsterdam Art Weekend

Hidden Collections

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Nicole Berry

Executive Director of The Armory Show

Daniel Hug

Fair Director at Art Cologne

The Role of the Art Fair

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Peter Bläuer

Director at LISTE

A Brush Against Nature

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Ilaria Bonacossa

Director of Artissima

Excessiveness, the Latent Danger of Collecting Art

by Independent Collectors

Jo Stella-Sawicka

Artistic Director at Frieze

Florence Bourgeois

Director at Paris Photo

Where Artists Can Work More Playfully

by Christiane Meixner

Specifically Commissioned

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

Manuela Mozo

Executive Director of UNTITLED, ART Miami and San Francisco

Important Museums and Private Collections

by Christiane Meixner

Susanna Corchia

Director of the Barcelona Gallery Weekend

Emilia van Lynden

Artistic Director at Unseen, Amsterdam

Carlos Urroz

Director at ARCOmadrid

Shoe Smudges Streaked Across the White Walls

by Christiane Meixner

Amanda Coulson

Director at VOLTA Basel

Douwe Cramer

Director at Singapore Contemporary

Art and Architecture – Attractive Allies

by Nicole Büsing and Heiko Klaas

Jo Baring

Curator of Sculpture Series, Masterpiece London

Bidders and Buyers

by Christiane Meixner

Anne Vierstraete

Managing Director at Art Brussels

Nanna Hjortenberg

Director at CHART

The Crucial Role of the New

by Independent Collectors

Makers and Believers

On Art History’s Most Famous Patrons

The Past is Back

And collectors are buying it up

Are Artists the Better Curators?

On the diminishing boundary between professions in the art world

The Digital Museum

On the importance of the museum’s web presence

The Man in the Middle

On the curator’s private and public engagements

A Private Matter?

On the importance of physical space for the value of art

Off the Wall

How museums contribute to the worth of artworks

Where to Go Next?

The fragmentation of Manhattan’s gallery scene

To Buy or Not to Buy

Collectors on their experiences of letting an artwork slip away

How to Pass On a Passion

On long-term challenges for new private museums