Britta Wirtz, Managing Director of Messe Karlsruhe, in an interview about art KARLSRUHE
Question: The 19th art KARLSRUHE also wants to be seen as a signal of departure. After pandemic times, it continues again on all levels. How do you assess the situation for the art business, what contribution can Messe Karlsruhe make?
Britta Wirtz: It was indeed a hard-deprivation phase that we all had to cope with. The hunger for re-encounter is pronounced everywhere. Of course, many museums, galleries and also we as a trade fair company have maintained contact thanks to digital possibilities. Nevertheless, nothing can replace the real encounter of people and the direct, also sensual experience with regard to works of art. I am glad that we can now again make a contribution to perceiving art as a unique experience via art KARLSRUHE.
Britta Wirtz, Managing Director of Messe Karlsruhe. © Jürgen Rösner/Messe Karlsruhe
Question: What innovations have been introduced, how will art KARLSRUHE 2022 look like, what did curator Ewald Karl Schrade and your team format differently this time?
Britta Wirtz: The most striking correction is undoubtedly the date. If we previously opened the international art fair year, art KARLSRUHE will now take place in July – and for 2023 and 2024 we plan to switch to May. A consequence of our efforts to pay attention to the wishes of the industry. On top of that, the summer dates promise a better light and a generally more joyful atmosphere.
Question: What else will change? How will the 215 galleries from at least twelve countries, i.e. almost a quarter from abroad, be placed, how is the tour of 120 years of art history from classical modernism to recent currents planned?
Britta Wirtz: Of course, we do not want to give up our unique selling points, such as showing gallery stands alternating with sculpture places or taking into account an enormous number of one-artist shows. Trade fair visitors will therefore find a lot of familiar things, but a new hall structure attracts new attention. For example, the established contemporary art and the pictures of the great masters from the first half of the last century will be on display in Hall 1 and in the dm Arena. And Hall 3 was designed under the motto “Art and Communication” in such a way that it invites you to stay longer and offers “space for new habits”, as an employee put it.
Question: Plain text, please. What does that mean, what is offered there?
Britta Wirtz: There was the idea of placing together in one of the four exhibition halls, supplemented by the courtyard predestined for sculptures, the special exhibitions and museum presentations as well as the award ceremonies and the traditional ARTIMA art meeting – as a special place of exchange. There is also a generously dimensioned restaurant area available. Hall 3 should also serve the communication we have all longed for over the past two and a half years.
Question: The advancing generation of collectors, not automatically already able to pay higher prices for art, must belong to the target group in the audience. How do you manage to keep art KARLSRUHE attractive to young art lovers?
Britta Wirtz: We ask ourselves this question again and again – and rely on the power of the original work of art. As you know, this also includes editions, such as graphics and edition objects, as presented by our exhibitors, especially in Hall 2. We support these efforts of the galleries to offer top-class art at affordable prices with a special show in Hall 3 dedicated to printmaking. The exhibited sheets can still be purchased during the fair through the gallery owners.
Question: What do you want yourself, what should the balance sheet of this year’s art KARLSRUHE look like?
Britta Wirtz: As so often and elsewhere – it’s not just the numbers that count. Of course, gallery owners have to do good business, do collectors want to buy the right thing at a reasonable price, but it is important to me personally that art KARLSRUHE is experienced as a festival of art, as the summer festival par excellence, as entertaining as it is stimulating.