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Deutsche Bank Art at the 2004 Art Frankfurt

This year's Art Frankfurt, a fair for a younger generation of artists and galleries, once again presented a comprehensive overview of the art market's current tendencies. The focus was no longer on the local scene: among the 167 galleries that took part this year, 39 came from other countries such as France, Spain, the USA, Brazil, and Turkey. Deutsche Bank Art also participated with a press stand that featured the slogan "Art at Work / Art: Laboratory of the Future." Maria Morais on her encounters with the public, unusual projects, and the fair's highlights.

Art Frankfurt 2004, Halle 1.2, Photo: Jens Liebchen

The mood was relaxed as visitors to Art Frankfurt strolled through the fair, now and again stopping in surprise to take a closer look. The spectrum of works shown in the halls located beneath the Messeturm was vast, ranging from the Bern-based Galerie Henze & Ketterer's museum-quality presentations of works by the object artist Daniel Spoerri, through Sylvie Fleury's silk curtain, spectacular in its simplicity as it fluttered gently in a fan-generated breeze at Frankfurt's Michael Neff Gallery, to the unnerving little playmobil figures on Jorge Villaba-Strohecker's interpretation of Rembrandt's Night Watch at Erfurt's Galerie Rothamel.

Art Frankfurt 2004, Henze & Ketterer Gallery, works by Daniel Spoerri, Photo: Jens Liebchen

The list can easily be read as a miniature version of the fair itself: along with the increased presence of young galleries and renowned names such as the Galerie Henze & Ketterer that were represented at the fair for the first time, Art Frankfurt's program was also dedicated to projects as ambitious as Leipzig's "Store for Nothing/ Laden für Nichts." The space, which has been creating exhibitions and generating artistic energy for over six years on a non-profit basis, is going on the road while the building in Leipzig is being renovated. After expanding its profile to include experiments from the young scene, Frankfurt's fair has agreed to provide the initial station for the artistic project, having had to assert itself among the giants of the branch such as Art Basel and Art Cologne.

Art Frankfurt 2004, Laden für Nichts,Photo: Jens Liebchen

The fair's expansion into thematic areas located beyond commercial interest also reflects the changed concept of this year's Curator's Choice. In contrast to previous years, this year's exhibition series was not selected by a single curator, but by the association "Camouflage" founded to introduce contemporary art from its members' African home countries. The works they showed were hardly distinguishable from so-called Western art, although the conditions under which art is made in these countries are far worse. The lack of infrastructure or support of any kind poses existential problems for African artists which the association seeks to call attention to by putting on exhibitions across Africa and Europe. Their goal is to improve the connections between the contemporary African art scene and the international art scene.

Art Frankfurt 2004, Curator's Choice, Photo: Jens Liebchen

The significance of private art sponsorship and corporate commitment to art was also manifested at Art Frankfurt in another way: for the first time, Deutsche Bank Art was present at the fair with its own stand, introducing the many facets of its art program to an interested public: exhibitions from the largest corporate collection worldwide and the Deutsche Guggenheim, catalogues, editions, newspapers, as well as its online art magazine. Last year marked the beginning of Deutsche Bank Art's direct participation in international art fairs, with presentations at Art Forum Berlin, Art Cologne, and the TEFAF in Maastricht. Fans have already begun collecting (more on the poster editions here) the specially made press kits, which contained one of three poster editions with works of artists represented in the company collection: Franz Ackermann, Marc Brandenburg, and Miwa Yanagi.

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