There are lots of great months to visit Madrid and February is not one that springs to mind. But if you like contemporary art, you should starting packing your warm jacket, sunglasses and comfortable shoes because ARCO is coming to town.
What is ARCO Madrid?
ARCO is the Madrid-based contemporary art fair where 164 galleries from 30 countries come together, making its Spain’s biggest art event. It is the best place to enjoy (and buy) paintings, sculpture, photography, drawings, prints, mixed media, video and installations and meet some of the world’s top gallery owners, curators and collectors in Spain. It’s ranked in the top 5 art fairs in the world. 25,000 people attended the first Madrid’s ARCO in 1982 that featured the work of 90 galleries. Last year 150,000 people went to see the 201 galleries; of which 133 came from outside Spain.
What’s unique about ARCO Madrid?
In addition to the general invitations the ARCO organising committee sends to galleries around the world to be part of the art fair, ARCO also selects a guest country.
The organisers of the event like to promote ARCO as a venue for discovering new talent in terms of galleries and artists. The committee is always keen to stretch out a hand to new galleries and every year sets aside exhibition spaces for galleries that have opened in the past seven years. And the organisers encourage all galleries to showcase the work of just one or two artists. This year, 60 galleries will be doing that – under the heading Solo/Duo. Another strength of ARCO is its connections with the Latin-American art community. This year, four international curators have been given 21 booths to present some of that continent’s most exciting work.
The event is keen to reach out to little artists and art enthusiasts in the making, ARCOkids is a space for children’s workshops that introducing kids to contemporary art. And if you have children or are a kid at heart, you might like the ARCOgames App that is free to download. It uses puzzles and quizzes to connect with this year’s works of art and is an amusing way for young and old to become familiar with some of the pieces before going in person.
Who Can Go to Madrid’s ARCO & When?
The Wednesday and Thursday are just for art professionals (and special interest groups for example the Harvard Club of Spain attends each year on the professional days). It’s open to the general public on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 12 noon to 8pm.
Where is ARCO Madrid held?
Halls 7 & 9, IFEMA (Feria de Madrid) is 10 minutes from the airport by taxi. It’s just one stop from Terminal 1, 2 & 3 to Campo de las Naciones – which is the name of the stop for the IFEMA convention centre. You can also travel by car – car parking is available at the IFEMA. And three separate bus lines run to the Feria de Madrid.
Why is it worth a trip?
It’s a perfect place to find historical avant-garde work as well as the cutting edge contemporary art. And with the international art community in town, the Prado, Reina Sofia, Thyssen and other museums pull out all the stops. There is a palpable buzz in the city as you can tell in this blogpost. If that isn’t enough to lure you, the VAT reductions on artwork in Spain from 21 to 10 percent make it even better value when buying art from a Spanish gallery.
Planning a trip to ARCO?
If you’re coming to ARCO – let us put together a customised package to get the most from your cultural break in Madrid. We work with a huge range of hotels in Madrid and can recommend something perfect for you. If time is tight, perhaps you’d appreciate a private driver to meet you at the airport, take you to your hotel and on to ARCO? If you are staying for a few days, you might like a private guided tour of the city. Or a specialist to take you around the Prado, Reina Sofia or Thyssen in English? Or maybe you’d like to visit one of the more niche museums? Of course, we can also recommend and book some excellent restaurants and tapas bars to wow the senses even more.