An emerging and dynamic market, between Europe and Asia
Situated between Europe and Asia, Turkey is a meeting point of civilisations and cultures. The country has acquired increasing importance on the art scene and has experienced a boom in the past decade with new art galleries opening, spaces boosted by artists, public and private museums, art fairs, auction houses and institutions dedicated to visual arts. The designation of Istanbul as European Capital of Culture in 2010 also contributed to Turkey's emergence, thanks to which cultural and artistic infrastructures were strengthened. Likewise, Istanbul was chosen by ARCOmadrid as first destination on the international circuit of presentations of the last edition of the Fair.
Cultural centres like the multidisciplinary centre SALT, which was set up by the Ottoman Bank, Akbank Sanat, an institution dedicated to promoting the arts since 1993, private centres like the Sakip Sabanci Museum, founded in 2002, and the Istanbul Museum of Modern Art, founded in 2004 by the Eczacıbası family of entrepreneurs and collectors, are some examples of these new institutions. Likewise, the Istanbul biennial, which in 2011 held its twelfth edition, is now established as one the most prestigious biennials in the world and the Contemporary Istanbul fair (CI), the sixth edition of which took place last year in the city, attracted nearly one hundred exhibitors, half of which were international galleries.
Since 2000, when the Turkish art market had global turnover of under 10 million euros, the Eurasian country has developed a solid infrastructure which has allowed it to position itself as one of the most dynamic markets in the world. By 2008 the figure had risen to over 30 million euros, according to figures published by the consultancy ArtTactic in its latest report on the country.
Specifically, in the contemporary art sector, this growth has been more prominent and Turkey is currently in eleventh place in profit volume from auctions, very close to countries like Sweden or Germany. In 2010-2011, the French consultancy ArtPrice pointed out that the profits made in contemporary art auctions held in Turkey had risen to nearly five and a half million euros.
Moreover, international auction houses are showing growing interest in the work of Turkish artists and have included various Turkish art sessions in its programmes. In the case of Sotheby’s, in the session dedicated to Turkish contemporary art on 15 April in London closed with a total take of 1,958,600 pounds, over two million euros. In fact, a large part of Turkish works of art is obtained by collectors in UK and Dubai markets.
As a result of this interest from international collectors, various Turkish artists are also undergoing a revaluation of their works and many of them have been placed in the account published by ArtPrice of the 500 contemporary authors who have generated high profits at auction. The consultancy has also recently highlighted emerging artists with more affordable prices and that are starting to appear in the international market.
Vasif Kortun, curator of Focus Turkey at ARCOmadrid
The person in charge of making the selection of Turkish galleries that will participate in the Focus Turkey programme at ARCOmadrid 2013 will be the curator Vasif Kortun (Turkey, 1958).
With a track record in curating which commenced in 1994, Kortun was director and founder of Platform Garanti Contemporary Art Center (Istanbul), which was set up in 2001. He also held the position of director of Proje4L/Elgiz Museum of Contemporary Art (2001–2003) and was in charge of managing the third edition of the International Biennial of Istanbul in 1992. He was co-director with Charles Esche of the ninth edition of this Biennial in 2005.
Kortun was also one of the curators of the Tirana Biennial and of the second edition of the ceramics Biennial in Albisola, 2003, as well as deputy curator of the Taipei Biennial with Man Ray Hsu, in 2008. He was curator of Turkey's hall in the São Paulo Biennial in 1994 and 1998 and in the Venice Biennial in 2007, as well as being curator of the United Arab Emirates hall at the Venice Biennial in 2011.
He is currently director of research and programmes of the SALT institution in Istanbul and is a member of the Administrative Council of the Foundation for Arts Initiatives and the International Committee of ICOM for Museums and Collections of Modern Art (CIMAM).