LISTE has made a reputation for itself as one of the most important fairs for emerging artists and young galleries in the world – why was it important for you to start a fair at the same time as Art Basel that showcased the next generation of artists?PETER BLÄUER
The motivation for LISTE’s founding 20 years ago developed because at the beginning of the 90’s, a new, self-confident generation of gallerists and artists was coming of age, a generation that had little chance of securing a space at the established fairs. Many of those galleries were unable to exhibit internationally due to the high costs of participating in the fairs. Eva Presenhuber and Peter Kilchmann contacted me in the summer of 1995 (at that time I was a freelance curator) with the idea of establishing a new fair in Basel for new young galleries and young artists. I immediately recognized what great potential there was with respect to those exciting galleries and young artists – and so we founded LISTE. In 1996, 36 galleries from 12 countries participated in the first edition of the fair. Among those galleries were neugerriemschneider and Neu, Berlin; Maureen Paley and Stephen Friedman, London; Massimo de Carlo, Milan; Air de Paris, Paris; David Zwirner, New York; Andrehn Schiptjenk Stockholm; Evan Presenhuber Zurich – to name a few. The success and attention garnered by LISTE was overwhelming.
Whilst LISTE may be on at the same time as Art Basel, do you find the same collectors attending both fairs to pick up pieces? If so, do you think the presence of big name collectors attending LISTE ups the pressure for younger galleries to sell rather than just to showcase new artists?PETER BLÄUER
Every collector focusing on young art visits LISTE, plus the many museum people who are looking for information about new artists visit our fair. The smart, forward-thinking gallerists aren’t only interested in sales; rather, they are also focusing on introducing artistic positions that they believe in. Along with sales, LISTE is also an important venue for establishing contact with interested collectors as well as with the many museum curators attending. After the fair, I often hear about what kind of institutions all these young artists get to exhibit at and which collectors are now seeking more information about them.
Do you think it is the element of surprise and discovering new artists and new galleries that bring collectors to the fair?PETER BLÄUER
It is very important to us and is also part of our concept to introduce new galleries and new artists to our visitors every year so that it is not always the same artists being shown at LISTE, like at Art Basel. That is certainly one of the reasons for our great success and importance.
Many galleries and artists have been discovered at LISTE. The path of almost every gallery established after 1995 and considered important today has led to and through LISTE. If we look at today’s most important galleries, we see among them many of the 300 virtually unknown galleries that have taken part in LISTE over the past 20 years. For example: Air de Paris, Paris; Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm; Isabella Bortolozzi, Berlin; Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin; Massimo de Carlo, Milan; Foksal Gallery Foundation, Warsaw; Stephen Friedman, London; gb agency, Paris; Herald Street, London; Martin Janda, Vienna; Casey Kaplan, New York; Johann König, Berlin; David Kordansky, Los Angeles; kurimanzutto, Mexico City; Andrew Kreps, New York; Maccarone, New York; Jan Mot, Brussels; neugerriemschneider, Berlin; Franco Noero, Turin; Maureen Paley, London; Perrotin, Paris/New York/Hong Kong; Eva Presenhuber, Zurich; projecteSD, Barcelona; Reena Spaulings Fine Art, New York; The Modern Institute, Glasgow; Vitamin Creative Space, Guangzhou; Nicolai Wallner, Copenhagen; Jocelyn Wolff, Paris; Zero, Milan; David Zwirner, New York.
An example that comes to mind is neugerriemschneider, Berlin, which showed a different position every day at the first LISTE. The artists that took part were Sharon Lockhardt, Franz Ackermann, Jorge Pardo, Elizabeth Peyton and Michel Majerus. All of those artists were, at the time, relatively unknown – and initially, you couldn’t earn a lot of money with them. But neugerriemschneider believed in their artists, introduced them and, as history has shown, they have had a great deal of success with them.
This year LISTE celebrates its 20th birthday. What trends have you seen come and go in the art buying market and what do you think is here to stay?PETER BLÄUER
We live in a very pluralistic time, there are all kinds of positions and they come and go. There are always movements and trends and you can certainly notice differences along the lines of countries, regions, or art schools, too. There really aren’t any ‘isms’ anymore. Today, we’re in the midst of more of a jungle situation with people not just working linearly but also according to theme. Today, there are more political positions again – art that is focused on the questions and problems of our time. At the same time though, there are all the questions about what art should be and do and what art can be. What will ‘survive’ and what will be considered important for our time will be decided much later when there is enough distance from our present. What is now being hyped and sold at high prices – doesn’t mean that it will be considered ‘important’ in 50 years. Art history has proven that fact often enough.
What advice do you have for any just-starting collectors out there that there attending LISTE this year?PETER BLÄUER
Follow your instinct. Let yourself be ‘seduced’ by art that speaks to you and by art that makes you curious. Also by work that you haven’t quite completely understood, where by living with the work still leaves you something to discover and experience. Unfortunately, more and more people are buying with their ears and not their eyes, i.e., people buy what ‘everybody’ is buying, what people classify as ‘good’.
I recommend opening yourself up to what speaks to your heart or intellect. Art is, among other things, great for learning more about yourself, discovering yourself anew, and letting your “own world” become larger. Be courageous and listen to YOURSELF!