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Fri 23 Mar 2012 10:37 AM

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Art Dubai offers $45m contemporary works for sale

Highlights include a 19ft Gothic tower which is expected to fetch more than $1m

Art Dubai offers $45m contemporary works for sale
Art fans at last years event in Dubai.

A Gothic tower by
Wim Delvoye and an oil painting of three heads from Rajasthan by
Maqbool Fida Husain are among the stars of this year’s Art Dubai fair,
with as much as $45m worth of contemporary works on sale.

The 19-foot
stainless-steel tower is priced by Galerie Perrotin at
750,000-850,000 euros ($1.1m). The Husain picture,
offered for sale at $150,000 to $200,000, is reserved on the booth of
Grosvenor Vadehra. Prices at the event range from $2,000 to $1m.

This year,
the sixth edition of the fair has more works from East Asia as it
expands its reach beyond the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia.
About 90 percent of the 81 galleries that exhibited last year applied to
re-attend, and the fair capped exhibitors at 75 to increase quality,
according to Antonia Carver, its director.

“A number of
galleries requested a bigger space,” Carver, 40, said in an interview,
“which in art market terms is a real sign of confidence, because
galleries pay per square meter, so their keenness to show large-scale
works shows they have confidence in this market.”

A third of
the galleries come from Europe, including Paris- based Galerie Perrotin
and Belgium’s Rodolphe Janssen. Another third come from South Asia and
the Middle East, and the rest from the US and East Asia.

Art Dubai
received more than 20,000 visitors and more than 40 museum groups last
year. The United Arab Emirates city is the nucleus of the region’s art
scene, according to gallerists and collectors. Dubai has more than 50
galleries of its own, with another four opening this year, including
second branches of galleries in Lebanon and Pakistan.

This year,
Art Dubai is taking 65 museum groups - including the Aspen Art Museum,
Metropolitan Museum of Art, and British Museum - to Qatar as part of a
week-long art discussion. Qatar, the world’s biggest exporter of
liquefied natural gas, is using its wealth to become a global art
player.

Last year,
Qatar bought Paul Cezanne’s painting “The Card Players” for $250m, the most paid for a work of art, Vanity Fair magazine reported.
Sheikha Mayassa bint Hamad Al Thani, daughter of Qatar’s Emir and
Chairwoman of the Qatar Museums Authority, was named the art world’s
most influential person by Art & Auction magazine in November.

The QMA is
presenting Takashi Murakami’s and Louise Bourgeois’s first solo
exhibitions in the Middle East, and has a touring show from the Los
Angeles County Museum of Art entitled “Gifts of the Sultan: The Arts of
Giving at the Islamic Courts” to coincide with Art Dubai.

“Doha is
focusing on collection building, and Abu Dhabi has large-scale museums
with a focus on bringing international collections, while Dubai is the
commercial center,” said Bashar al-Shroogi, director of Dubai-based
Cuadro Fine Art Gallery and a collector. “For lots of Western
collectors, the first time they were exposed to Middle Eastern art was
at Art Dubai. The number of museum groups is comparable to Art Basel.”

“Dubai has
an important place in the art world because of the galleries, events,
and now it’s focusing on design too,” said Isabelle de la Bruyere,
director of Christie’s Middle East, referring to the Design Days fair
that focuses on furniture and objects. “It’s a great platform because
it’s a turntable of the Middle East and North Africa region, and
including South Asia.”

The fair runs through March 24.

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