Home Magazine MeetMe#38 | Art Market Budapest 2020

Art Market Budapest represents a good reality for the art market regarding Central and Eastern Europe with a certain attention towards contemporary art: a fresh ground for creativity and not only for the market. We had a conversation with Attila Ledényi, Founding Director of Art Market Budapest, and he answered a few questions after completing his leading role at the fair 2020 edition.

Related articles: Art Market Budapest on its 2020 edition - A glance to the Art Fairs Future - How will art fairs change after this pandemic?

How would you summarize the results of Art Market Budapest 2020?

Budapest joined a very short list of European cities hosting major international art fairs in 2020 when Art Market Budapest, one of Europe’s popular shows successfully completed its 10th edition welcoming exhibitors and visitors in its exhibition halls between October 21 and 25. Our aim was to create an opportunity and a safe environment for art lovers to express their support and sympathy to artists and their galleries with their interest and their purchases. With exhibitors coming from nearly 20 countries and the fair location as packed with visitors as possible under pandemic regulations, the event was not just a celebration of the fair’s 10th jubilee edition but one of the very few large-scale encounters between art and its audience in 2020. The enthusiasm of visitors, collectors and participating galleries made this year's Art Market Budapest an unforgettable experience, and a very successful event regarding participation and sales as well.


Art Market Budapest 2020.


What were the main challenges you had to face this year? 

Organizing the fair this year was almost like fighting a war, we had to face so many logistical, physical and even psychological challenges. Overcoming the fear of our exhibitors and visitors was not just the question of creating a COVID-safe environment but it also took almost endless communication efforts. But finally it all worked out very well, we lost only about 10 % of our usual viewership. Regulations regarding health protection, border-crossing, quarantine have been changing on a weekly, sometimes daily basis, we had to build on so many possible scenarios until the last minute. And finally the end result that we presented to our audience on the Preview Day of the fair had to be as satisfactory and pleasant as always, inconvenience or disappointment was not an option.

You celebrated the 10th edition of Art Market Budapest. What is your brief summary of how the fair developed in its first decade?

The past decade has been an amazing journey. Prior to establishing Art Market Budapest in 2011, we had been organizing campaigns and projects with focus on making contemporary art more accessible to the public and on reestablishing the tradition of art collecting in Eastern Europe. We assumed that the most efficient way to achieve our goals is establishing an art fair with an open atmosphere and a very rich selection of artworks. The first year in the depth of the global economic crisis was quite an adventure, but already in the second year we had more foreign than local exhibitors, and pretty soon we were the biggest, best attended and most complex art fair in Eastern Europe. It is a great achievement that we have been further growing and managed to keep our leading position ever since.


Art Market Budapest 2020.


You create special programs each year to efficiently reach out to new audiences. What did you do this year to involve the public?

One of my favorite public campaigns this year was when JCDecaux and Art Market Budapest joined forces to create BE.MORE.CONTEMPORARY, an initiative taking place through the whole month in October 2020. The program included the appearance of large size photographs of contemporary artworks on spectacular advertising surfaces provided by the world’s leading outdoor advertising company JCDecaux in central areas and busy transport hubs of Budapest. The resulting public exhibition built a connection between contemporary art and an audience of hundreds of thousands with extraordinary intensity and efficiency. The open-air exhibition, spanning approximately 10 kilometers through the city center, depicted artworks that could also be viewed and purchased in their original form at Art Market Budapest. We are really proud of what we achieved in raising awareness to the values of contemporary art.


Art Market Budapest 2020.


In addition to your physical fair, you were also active in the virtual space. What did you do online?

Art Market Budapest has hosted hundreds of international exhibitors from nearly 50 countries spanning 5 continents over the past decade. In response to the challenges in 2020, in order to keep this amazing community together and stay in close contact with all those who could not be in Budapest, Art Market Budapest added a freshly launched digital platform to its physical presentation. The newly established online viewing room named ART MARKET BUDAPEST VIRTUAL limitlessly connected participating galleries with the fair’s global network of collectors and art enthusiasts. The online platform presented over 80 exhibitors, many of them new to our audience, and we hope they will join us in-person in the coming years.

INSIDE ART, the art industry conference founded by Art Market Budapest, and held every year during the fair, was also going virtual. A true sign of optimism is that art professionals participating in this year’s conference have indicated their intention to attend the fair in person in 2021. Speakers of Inside Art in 2020 included heads of major international corporate collections such as UBS, ING and Deutsche Telekom, directors of continentally leading international art fairs such as Art Joburg in Africa and ZONAMACO in Latin America, as well heavyweights in the art world, such as Georgina Adam, Financial Times contributor and editor-at-large at The Art Newspaper, and Simon de Pury, a living legend in the international art auction market.

But altogether, even what we have achieved online, we look forward and are getting prepared to 2021, when it will all be brought back to physical reality, and Art Market Budapest is ready to take a leading role again. 


See more about Art Market Budapest 2020 on Kooness.


Art Market Budapest 2020.


Cover image: Attila Ledényi, Director of Art Market Budapest 2020.

Written by Rossella Farinotti

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