It may be the golden jubilee of Art Brussels
, the annual art fair in Belgium’s capital, but don’t make the mistake of pointing out its age.
“50 years young is what we say,” said the director, Anne Vierstraete, standing beside the red brick facade of the expo’s space at Tour & Taxis.
Indeed, the fair, which opened to VIPs Thursday, still holds on to its youthful spirit. Dealers and collectors on the ground all agreed that it’s a place where newly ascendant artists can stand out among a more relaxed fair landscape and smaller galleries can connect with the intelligent, curious, mostly Belgian collectors who loyally return each year. Of the 147 galleries from 32 countries, almost 25 percent were showing for the first time at Art Brussels.
It’s a fair less reliant on the reliable name-brand artists who have become somewhat predictable fixtures on the walls at booths in Miami Beach and London.
“We have a very loyal base of collectors, because they know what to find in a fair like this,” Vierstraete said. “There is a very thoughtful collector base, they have much knowledge about art history and they really come up for the artwork itself—not because it’s trendy to collect this or that. ‘Spec-collectors’ as we call them—we don’t have those collectors here.”