BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

Maribel Lopez

Director of ARCO

Maribel Lopez. Courtesy ARCOMadrid
Maribel Lopez. Courtesy ARCOMadrid

Tell us a little bit about the history of ARCO.

ARCOmadrid celebrates its 40th anniversary from July 7th to July 11th 2021, dates which have been altered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Over the past four decades the Feria Internacional de Arte Contemporáneo has become one of the art market’s principal platforms, and an essential part of the international circuit promoting and spreading emerging art. ARCOmadrid, which each year opens the international art calendar, is one of the most important references for the artistic avant-garde for galleries, artists, collectors, critics, curators, custodians, museum directors and academics all over the world, and is an excellent forum for discovering new artists. This is confirmed by the numbers the Feria registers, with around 100.000 visitors each year; 3.000 accredited journalists and approximately 5.000 articles in the Spanish and the international media annually, making it one of the fairs with greatest impact.

It has reached this position after a successful journey over forty years. ARCOmadrid was started in 1982, the initiative of IFEMA, Institución Ferial de Madrid, promoted by a sector – at that time very small – of Spanish galleries specialising in contemporary art. Since that first event, which brought together 90 galleries from 16 countries, it has evolved greatly until in 2020 it included 209 galleries from 30 countries. 25.000 people visited ARCO’82, increasing to nearly 100.000 attending ARCOmadrid 2020, and from the 182 accredited journalists at the first fair, there are now over 2.800.

ARCOMadrid 2020
ARCOMadrid 2020

How do you, as fair 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?

ARCO is a fair comprising galleries which are selected by the Comité Organizador through analysis of their proposals, trajectory and exhibitions. This encourages and ensures the Quality of the artistic proposals presented at each fair. Accordingly, the 105 galleries chosen by the Comité for the General Program in 2021 will maintain the Quality the fair has offered for decades.

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

The most important thing for me, this year and every year is being able to offer the possibility of putting together artworks and art lovers. That experience that always is so relevant this year is massively exceptional!

ARCOMadrid 2020
ARCOMadrid 2020
ARCOMadrid 2020
ARCOMadrid 2020

What advice do you have for the collectors that will be attending the fair this year? What are you expecting in terms of an international attendance?

My advice to collectors is to be free and ask for any piece that capture their eye. Also talk to as many people as they can, in the conversation and the exchange there is a lot of learning.

The response from the international audience has been really positive. More than 250 international collectors confirmed and the local collectors are also very excited to meet again at aRCO!

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

That art takes the place as the key cultural agent it is. That the interest in what art has to express grows helping us being better citizens.

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

This week I’m focusing on ARCO and on all the proposals presented by the galleries, in the General Program as well as in Opening, with its young galleries, and the new Remitente. Latin American Art, with an important presence of galleries from that continent.

For those visiting us we offer an extensive program of activities and exhibitions in Madrid which are really worth seeing. From the Prelibros exhibition, in Casa de América, to the displays in the Museo Reina Sofía and the Museo Thyssen, which, exceptionally, will open in the evenings during the fair.

ARCOMadrid 2020
ARCOMadrid 2020

More Information on ARCO

Insiders (67)

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

Boris Ondreička

Artistic Director of viennacontemporary

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