New direction at artgenève

by | Dec 11, 2023 | Articles, Interviews

Two months before the opening of artgenève 2024, Art Vista contributor Sonia Jebsen caught up with the new director of the fair, Charlotte Diwan, to ask her about the direction of the fair, the "salon d'art" concept, and new VIP offerings.

Two months before the opening of artgenève 2024, Art Vista contributor Sonia Jebsen caught up with the new director of the fair, Charlotte Diwan, to ask her about the direction of the fair, the “salon d’art” or “living room” concept, and new VIP offerings.

Sonia Jebsen: You were appointed director of artgenève following the departure of Thomas Hug. How do you approach your new position?

Charlotte Diwan: After having collaborated over the last 6 years within the artgenève organization, I am very happy to take over the reins of this show and to continue the work already started. This appointment represents an exciting challenge for me. This show enjoys undeniable success, and we must maintain its positive trajectory. From a more personal point of view, it is a project that is close to my heart and whose success and sustainability I want to help ensure.

View of artgenève Estate section featuring artwork by Barry Flanagan. Photo: Baptiste Janin.

SJ: What is the new direction of artgenève that will be implemented in the January 2024 edition? Will it offer new types of exhibitions (galleries, mediums, institutions, etc.)?

CD: Our 2024 edition, which is being held just a few months after my appointment, will be a continuation of previous editions. The quality of our exhibition program remains the priority. At the end of January we will welcome some 80 galleries to Palexpo. Renowned Swiss and international galleries will return to the fair, including Mennour and Hauser & Wirth. Artgenève’s historic partners, such as UBS, F.P.Journe, Gübelin and la Mobilière, will maintain their valuable support of the event.

We have also developed several new additions to the fair this year, particularly aimed at collectors and more broadly the Swiss public. It is important to me that artgenève remains an event that contributes to Geneva’s cultural life. Our visitors will be able to discover the first edition of artgenève/sur-mesure, specially designed to present singular, large-format works presented by galleries and selected by exhibition curator Nicolas Trembley. This project is carried out thanks to the support of Apricus Finance. Please also note that we will have the honor of hosting a unique hologram performance at the fair proposed by the Orchestre de la Suisse Romande.

We also continue to develop our institutional program, a real trademark of the show. We are fortunate in Switzerland to benefit from an unparalleled institutional landscape. We will also continue inviting foreign institutions to the fair. This year we welcome the Boros Collection from Berlin, the Thalie Foundation from Brussels, as well as two private collections.

Artgenève exhibition view, photo: Baptiste Janin

SJ: What do you think are the strengths and weaknesses of the show?

CD: With 70% foreign galleries from 13 countries, artgenève is established as a leading event for dealers and collectors. Among the strong points of artgenève, we must mention the importance of Geneva and Switzerland on the international art market, as well as its exhibition space, Palexpo. Geneva needs an art fair of international stature, and this is the opinion of everyone, whether they are Swiss and international dealers, collectors, or the Swiss institutions and museums who support us in this project. Among the special features of artgenève are: an art fair in the format of a “salon d’art” which is conducive to exchanges and scrupulously monitors the quality of its exhibition program, the diversity of the offer, and a strong institutional presence.

Regarding our objectives, we aim to improve our services dedicated to exhibiting galleries in order to strengthen their loyalty to the event. At the same time, our ambition is to increase the reputation of the show internationally by further improving our exhibition program.

SJ: What new direction will the VIP programming take this year?

CD: This year, the VIP programming is evolving to offer an even more diverse and attractive experience. We are delighted to present an expanded offering, including a variety of events and exclusive cocktails within public and private institutions.

The institutions will be in the spotlight, we are happy to include the vernissage events at the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire and the Centre d’Art Contemporain. Among other things, we will offer dinners and evenings at the contemporary art building, in collaboration with MAMCO, the Centre d’Art Contemporain and the Centre de la Photographie.

The program will also invite you to explore the treasures of Lausanne’s institutions, with visits to Plateforme 10, the Collection de l’Art Brut, as well as the studios of artists from ECAL. On the other hand, we continue to benefit from the generosity of private collectors who will open their doors to our VIP guests.

View of artgenève, photo: Baptiste Janin.

SJ: How does artgenève position itself compared to other art fairs in the world?

CD: The fair offers an alternative to major art fairs such as Art Basel and Frieze. Its human scale and “living room” atmosphere encourage exchanges, further reinforced by the diversity of its programming. The event marks the start of the art fair calendar and aligns with winter luxury tourism. In addition, the presence of institutions, foundations, private collections and art schools at the show also distinguishes artgenève from other art fairs.

SJ: How do you interact with other art-related events happening at the same time, for example the Verbier Arttalks?

CD: From a regional point of view, artgenève positions itself as a unifying event, developing fruitful collaborations with regional players. We celebrate the richness of Swiss artistic offerings. Prestigious events such as the Verbier Art Summit and Engadine Art Talks take place in parallel with artgenève and reinforce the attractiveness of Switzerland as a destination for foreigners at this time, which is very positive. We would like to develop more collaborations with these events in the future.

SJ: Can you give us some attendance figures and expectations for 2024?

CD: Last year we welcomed nearly 24,000 visitors. We hope to welcome more visitors to the show at the end of January 2024. We are increasing our efforts to attract visitors from all over Switzerland.

Artgenève takes place at Palexpo, Genève from 25 to 28 January, 2024. For more information please go to the artgenève website.

Cover image: Portrait of Charlotte Diwan, copyright: Marc Ninghetto