'Seeing your gallerist at work is like hearing your parents having sex’, John Baldessari once commented on the awkwardness of visiting art fairs. Maaike Lauwaert visits Art Basel and Liste and connects her observations to three striking quotes.
Now that the market is in charge, there seems little left of the critical awareness of Dutch designers. No one still talks about the modernist ideals of affordable, good products or the postmodern investigation of the limits of design. Designers are diving en masse into producing one-of-a-kinds and small editions that find eager buyers among wealthy collectors.
Art fairs are more popular than ever. If in the 1990s every city wanted a biennial, today they all want an art fair with international allure. It seems just a question of time before the art fair pushes the biennial out of everybody’s mind.
Art historian and advisor Renée Steenbergen has long argued for more attention to cultural patronage in the Netherlands, although not without critical comment. Her book, De nieuwe mecenas. Cultuur en de terugkeer van het particuliere geld, has recently been released.