April 2011

It is spring in Washington, and things are blooming—the cherry blossoms, jonquils and art. There is a move afoot to create another arts district around the DC Convention Center. Several galleries have opened on 9th St. NW, and a pop-up gallery for designers and artists was open for two months to showcase a derelict building that has great potential as an art space. 

While DC collectors are slowly coming out of the recession, the art fair world has been making strong showings, outperforming galleries again. This holds true especially for the Middle East. This year, Art Dubai, running from March 16-19th had its largest and most diverse audience to date, attracting more than 20,000 guests, with a 30 percent increase in international visitors. Art Dubai 2011 was attended by curators, collectors, gallerists, artists, museum directors and more than 60 museum groups. 

The international art world turned out to Art Dubai 2011 in record numbers, including museum groups and representatives from Qatar Museums Authority, Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum and Foundation (New York), MoMA (New York), Tate Modern (London), Hong Kong Museum of Art, Museum of Contemporary Art (Sydney), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Sotheby’s Institute, Performa (New York) and Cartier Foundation (Paris). 

The Fair featured 81 galleries from 34 countries, and the Global Art Forum, with speakers including Hans Ulrich Obrist, Rashid Rana, Germano Celant, Sultan Sooud Al Qassemi and Vasif Kortun. The Forum was developed through a partnership between Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha, Qatar, Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture & Heritage (ADACH), Ministry of Culture, Kingdom of Bahrain. 

As part of its educational mandate, Art Dubai 2011 introduced MARKER, a new platform for experimental art spaces from Asia and the Middle East, curated by Nav Haq; the third Abraaj Capital Art Prize and Footnote to a Project*, a book project specially commissioned for the prize; a program of new works and interactive performances by Dubai Art Projects, and Art Park, curated by Bidoun Projects, which included film screenings, talks, performances and workshops. 

It is heartening to see the great contemporary art coming out of the Middle East. Watch this space for news of our own contemporary art shows, as we introduce two extremely thought-provoking exhibitions in May and June.