BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors

A Common Ground

by Silvia Anna Barrilà

The Shorties have returned! As well as the third edition of The BMW Art Guide by Independent Collectors featuring even more collections, we also bring you completely updated bunch of Shorties. These little snippets of art world wisdom cover topics ranging from art fairs, auctions, to the relationship between artist and collector, written by leading journalists from around the world.

First up, we take a look at the commerciality of art fairs and biennale's and just how they have changed over the years.

How commercial may a biennial be? And how culturally engaged may an art fair be? Contemporary art fairs have become events that go far beyond their commercial function. Sections arranged by well-known curators, panel discussions, artists talks, and performances are all based on a model initiated by ArCo Madrid in the 1980s, and which MiArt´s artistic director Vincenzo de Bellis has recently defined as "a process of biennializing the art fair."

Biennials, on the other hand, have always claimed to be purely cultural events. Even mentioning “the art market” can cause waves of outrage. Yet, it goes without saying that biennials have a significant effect on the career and market-value of the artists they exhibit. Though some people still idealize biennials as events free of business and commerce, it is worth remembering that until 1968 the Venice Biennale had a sales office, and it is no secret that, even today, gallerists make deals during opening days.

What art fairs and biennials do have in common is the roles they play in proliferation at the global level; almost every single week, an art fair takes place somewhere in the world. Participation in these fairs is fundamental for a gallery's business and reputation, even though it requires significant financial expenditure. Accordingly, biennials are sprouting in the most remote places: from Dakar to Kochi, from Montevideo to Sapporo. Some critics have complained about this proliferation, questioning the need for yet another biennial. Undoubtedly both developments must be considered a side effect of globalization and the concomitant growth of interest in contemporary art. "The structure of the art world today is similar to a profiterole: it started out small and is expanding to fill demand”, says curator Francesco Bonami. “To put a limit on the number of art events that should exist is like putting a limit on the size of a profiterole."

The freelance journalist Silvia Anna Barrilà is specialized in the art market. Since 2008 she has been writing for the Italian financial newspaper Il Sole 24 Ore and for international media covering art, including Damn, Auction Central News, Artinvestor, and Monopol.

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

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

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