“BRAFA”

Christo, the intimate and the monumental

Whilst the urban projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude are on display at the ING Art Center in Brussels, BRAFA is displaying a piece from the mid-1960s, Three Store Fronts. We look back on the history of this installation and look forward to the birth of the Mastaba project coming soon to Abu Dhabi which will become the largest sculpture in the world.   Born in 1935 in Bulgaria, Christo Vladimiroff Javacheff, known as Christo, worked with his wife and collaborator Jeanne-Claude Guillebon Denat, from the end of the 1950s until her death in 2009. Together, they have created many large-scale, on-site installations such as the packaging of the Pont-Neuf in Paris and the Reichstag in Berlin, or more recently the installation of over 7,000 panels of saffron-coloured cloth in Central Park, New York and a floating bridge on Italy’s Lake Iseo. Supporting themselves financially through the sale of preparatory drawings, over the years their achievements led to obtaining permission to execute projects in various cities or regions, with an engineering team making them possible. Within a few years, Abu Dhabi is expected to host the largest sculpture ever orchestrated in the world. In the meantime, this year, BRAFA exhibits a historic piece from Christo, never seen before in Belgium.   At BRAFA you are exhibiting a piece of your work from the 1960s called Three Store Fronts from the series Show Windows and Show Cases. Why did you choose this piece for the fair? To look at its broader historical context, it’s a piece of work from the work I did in Paris. From 1962, I worked on the Show Windows and Show Cases series, which were display cases or old medicine cabinets- and then designed Three Store Fronts for my first personal exhibition, which took place in 1966...

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Respecting the Balance

Like most collectors flocking to BRAFA, Harold t’Kint de Roodenbeke likes the month of January. President of the fair for the sixth consecutive year, he reveals to AMA the key points of the strategy for the Brussels-based fair. Verbatim.   With nearly 25,000 artifacts and works of art, presented by 135 exhibitors, BRAFA is an event not to be missed. Considered one of the top five global art fairs, it takes place in January and is also the fair which sets the pace for the art market. Following the Paris biennale in September, Frieze Masters in October in London and shortly before the Maastricht TEFAF in March, BRAFA is a key date in the diary for all lovers of fine art. A major European event held at the stylish brick and wrought iron Tour & Taxis site, BRAFA signals the return to trading for the year. It is important to keep in mind that on this international stage whilst 30% of traders are Belgian, the bulk of those in attendance come from the other 15 countries represented, from Canada to Japan. The key characteristic of BRAFA is its atmosphere; it has the ambiance of a general, rather classic fair, which has managed to combine a certain old-fashioned spirit with a moment of timely relaxation. With more than 60,000 visitors expected, the fair covers four millennia of art history, spanning 20 different segments, from pre-Hispanic art and design, Golden Age furniture and comic strips, not to mention a trendy tribal art segment, driven by serious experts in the field. Here is the best kind of eclecticism, combined with a median position and consolidated by the amplitude of the price range. The heavily carpeted aisles are lined with the (mainly European) collectors which constitute the fair’s regular clientele, all with smiles...

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BRAFA, The Great Belgian Fair

Rigour, eclecticism and a dash of of madness for good measure… From Saturday 27January to Sunday 4 February, BRAFA opens in Brussels, kicking off the new season of international art fairs. It’s the event that sets the New Year in motion for the antiques, paintings and collectibles market and at the heart of Europe, it’s an unmissable happening for all art lovers!   “Those were the days where Brussels used to dream…”, sang the great Jacques Brel, in 1962. More than half a century later, as a new year begins, the people of Brussels are still dreaming and going about their quirky ways in the Belgian capital… Couture dresses, though less glittery than those worn on Saint Sylvestre, remain popular and fashionable businessmen are now opting for sharply cut Italian suits rather than the tuxedos trotted out over the festive season… But who or what exactly are we talking about? A umpteenth private reception private for the upper echelons of society, determined not forget a sense of celebration in these troubled times? No; we are talking about an artsy preview night, saturated with the finest champagne, precious materials and beautiful objects. Where the whole of Brussels,  or maybe even the whole of Europe, can come to take in the splendour and wet their appetite for fine art. This January, you can spend nine days strolling around the Brussels Art Fair, whose rather ungainly acronym, BRAFA, tells one nothing of the finesse and elegance to be found in this show of pieces, paintings and furniture – that one will have the opportunity to see – and perhaps even own. Whilst BRAFA is indeed an annual fair of beauty, happily, we’re talking about affordable beauty. Nestled into the treasure chest that is the Tour & Taxis site, whose stylish industrial facade...

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The search for the Belgian collector

They’re said to be demanding, eclectic, international… and above all, very numerous. Who are the Belgian collectors? A foretaste and a scan before meeting them face to face in the alleys of the BRAFA. As a small bilingual country at the heart of Europe, Belgium is often presented as “the country with the highest number of collectors per square metre”. In the absence of any global study on the matter, it’s impossible to confirm this, but what is certain is that Belgium is well and truly a “land of collectors,” declares Axel Gryspeerdt, president of Collectiana, a foundation aimed at studying and developing art and culture collections. But things get trickier when it’s a matter of defining “the” Belgian collector. “There’s no typical profile for the Belgian collector, and if ever Belgians present specific features, they result from a blend of factors such as internationalisation, networking, the multitude of exhibitions being held,” adds Axel Gryspeerdt. No identikit emerges, therefore, but we can single out the characteristics of these key players in the art world. Collectors that weren’t born yesterday “The collecting tradition dates back to Flanders in the 15th century when many orders of portraits and triptychs were placed,” comments Tanguy Eeckhout, curator at the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Laethem-Saint-Martin. “The 16th and 17th centuries carried on this enthusiasm with the creation of curiosity cabinets, before a slowdown in the economy – and collections – until the end of the 19th century. Following World War II, there emerged a new generation of collectors who turned towards American art and conceptual art,” he adds. When the Sixties and Seventies shook things up, collectors showed support for Daniel Buren, Marcel Broodthaers, Niele Toroni and many others, years before these artists gained institutional recognition. This no doubt sparked the reputation of boldness among...

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Julio Le Parc, a tireless creator

The Brussels fair is paying homage to a founding member of the Groupe de Recherche d’Art Visuel (GRAV) by welcoming four of Julio Le Parc’s monumental works. An opportunity to look over the career of this indomitable artist.   Julio Le Parc had to wait a long time before institutions began to recognise him in the way that he deserves. Today, the Argentinian artist is finally being given his dues, now acknowledged as “a living legend” in the art world, as the Galerie Perrotin hastens to describe him. Having decided to represent him since November 2016, this gallery has kicked off its collaboration with the artist with a solo exhibition in its space in New York – a city where Julio Le Parc has not been shown since 1973. “It was time to rectify this error,” notes the Parisian gallery. Offering an interesting bridge towards the retrospective prepared by Pérez Art Museum in Miami (visible until 19 March 2017), the Perrotin exhibition presented both recent works and iconic pieces, already seen in major monographic shows such as the one at the Palais de Tokyo in 2013. It was the latter event that truly marked Julio Le Parc’s return to favour. The institution, having undergone a makeover, reopened with this retrospective organised by Jean de Loisy: 2,000 m2 devoted to the artist and gathering historic works including Continuel Mobile from 1963, today visible at BRAFA. Drawing 180,000 visitors, the Palais de Tokyo show met with success amongst critics and the general public alike. It followed up “Le Parc Lumière”, organised by the Daros Latinamerica Collection in Zurich in 2005, and the Centre Pompidou Metz exhibition in 2011-2012 titled “Erre”, a collective show which devoted an entire room to Julio Le Parc’s works… after 20 years in purgatory. Julio Le Parc...

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