Art or Market? Contemporary Lynx talks to organisers and speakers of an interesting art market conference.

Contemporary Lynx talks to organisers and speakers of an interesting art market conference.

19 April at the Old Brewery in Poznan the first national student “Market Art Festival” took place. The festival centered around an open call art competition. Artists from all over Poland could submit their work in any technique. The subject of the competition was an artistic interpretation of a question asked by organisers: Market and Art?

Urszula Kluz-Knopek „Untitled”, video, Student at Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan.First-prize winner.

Urszula Kluz-Knopek „Untitled”, video art, Student at Academy of Fine Arts in Poznan. First-prize winner. Photo courtesy of organisers.

The festival was organised by the Student Union from Fine Arts Academy in Poznan under the supervision of Dr. Marta Smolińska. The full day conference accompanied the event. Many interesting personalities from the “art world” have been invited: curators, art historians, collectors and artists. Speakers included Michał Suchora, Stach Szabłowski, Fabio Cavalucci, Dawid Radziszewski, Michał Borowik, Anna Rogozińska and many others.The purpose of the panel discussion was to introduce students of art schools and young artists  to the issues related to the art market. The conference consisted of two thematic blocks; the first one was devoted to the artist-gallery relationship, and the other one focused on the variety of arts promotion strategies.

Dr. Marta Smolińska, supervisor of the event, commented: “The students of art schools in Poland face the pressure to promote themselves as artists, to practice PR of own achievements, facing competition, getting into an effective gallery to enter the market and achieve so called success. A burning question remains whether a university of arts should also educate towards self-promotion and arts marketing, teaching effectiveness, writing attractive biographies, persuasive letters, etc.? How to reconcile artistic investigations with management? Is it even possible?”

These and other questions were tackled by invited guests. Fabio Cavalucci – Director of the Centre for Contemporary Art (CSW) in Warsaw, spoke about issues of sponsorship and artistic patronage based on collaboration between Center for Contemporary Art and  Bank Pekao SA. Why does an artist need a gallery? asked – Michał Suchora – art historian and curator affiliated with BWA Gallery in Warsaw. Michal Borowik – a young collector of contemporary art talked about the criteria of selecting artists for a collection, artwork purchases and the concept of ​​a collection. Marta Kabsch  the manager of  Grażyna Kulczyk Collection spoke about a project entitled Art Stations Foundation by Grazyna Kulczyk

Karolina Pietrzyk ,„Art or market?” Student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. III prize

Karolina Pietrzyk ,„Art or market?” Student at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. III prize. Photo courtesy of organisers.

Directly after the conference, Contemporary Lynx asked the organisers about their reflections and observations. Spokesperson for the festival Joanna Stefaniak: “The festival has exceeded our expectations – from an idea for a small students’ event, a big event that somehow shook the culture emerged. We hope that it will be permanent features of the art calendar. The quality lies with both the speakers and the submitted work, the level of which is very promising”.

Lynx also managed to talk to one of the speakers- Michał Borowik. According to him, the general impression of the conference was very positive “great that they were able to gather so many important speakers”. We asked him whether contemporary artists are interested in the art market at all? Borowik: Maybe the artists will never be able to connect to the market and commercial aspects will always be misinterpreted? On the other hand, I believe that, artists did not want to hear the naked truth about themselves. Their natural habitat are art openings, as evidenced by seemingly more artists attending the opening of festival’s exhibition rather than the conference aimed at artists.  

Poster advertising the MarketArtFestival in Poznan

Poster advertising the Market Art Festival in Poznan.

I think the discussion centred  around the  topic self-promotion and marketing showed that the subject is quite new to young artists in Poland. It shows that Polish artists have world-class skills but they might be still behind their international colleagues in terms of self-promotion and marketing. 

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About The Author


Founder of Contemporary Lynx (2013). Editor-in-chief of the Contemporary Lynx in print and online. The art historian with a Master of Arts degree in Arts Policy & Management (the University of London, Birkbeck College) and Master of Arts in History of Art (Jagiellonian University in Cracow).

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