Art Rotterdam: Put on your glasses and open your wallet

If there is one place for a gallery to be seen and an artist to be showcased here in Holland, Art Rotterdam is it.

I wander around white walled stands, their owners smiling eagerly at the elderly - and probable cash spending - audience, outfitted with artful eyewear. It is the first day of the Art fair where all celebrity artists are represented, mixed together with the new and upcoming for whom the art loving crowd is on a constant look out. Most galleries are manned by attractive ladies in intelligently draped dresses, descreetly placing an orange sticker when a piece of work is sold. Their art is a safe mix of various media. Some paintings, a couple of photographs and a sculpture or installation, as if to proof the gallery’s versatility.

But how are the artworks chosen that get to this lucky spot?
Maarten Dijkstra, owner of Upstream gallery says that his choices for certain works come from a personal favouring. ‘The Dutch art market is friendly, when compared to the American one. There, work is favoured for its commercial possibilities and not per se for its quality or concept.’
Standholder of the David Risley Gallery chooses the work for ‘a certain outspoken message. Something that communicates on a heartfelt level.’
Do they worry that their work will ever become redundant, now that Dutch policy is aimed at shaping artists into entrepeneurs?
Mr Dijkstra laughs. ‘The government doesn’t understand how much time it takes to make a good piece of art. If an artist should really take care of all its own paperwork, promotion and shipping, there would be no time left to create. Of course it’s good that art students learn how their professional field looks like, but when they get succesful, they will always be in need of someone to represent them.’
I walk on, bump into a middle-aged man wearing the same glasses as me. He eyes me suspiciously. He probably thought he had bought an exclusive design. In the corner of my eye I see another sticker placed. Art Rotterdam is doing well on its first day.

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Sat, 12.02.2011 0

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23.12.2009

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Capital of Culture 2001 and City Of Architecture 2007. The Dutch port city is not only one of the most important hubs of global economy - it also reflects symptomatically the urban challenges of our time.

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