Art Dubai 2011 proves a success

Organisers say this was "best ever" Art Dubai event

The stainless-steel sculpture Lancelot's Helmet, which is described by organisers as a metaphor for life, and which was created by the San Francisco sculptor Alexis Laurent, was on display by the New York-based LTMH Gallery during the Jumeirah Patrons' Preview at Art Dubai last week. Amy Leang / The National
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DUBAI // The streams of visitors continuing to flow through the halls of Dubai's Madinat Jumeirah on the final day of the city's art fair yesterday confirmed to organisers that it was their most successful even yet.
Antonia Carver, Art Dubai's new director, said she had seen the fair "mature significantly", pointing to the mix of more than 80 established and emerging galleries from more than 30 countries in the Middle East, Asia, Europe and the Americas that had booths at this year's fair.
"The wealth of interest and attendance we have seen at Art Dubai 2011 from seasoned collectors and curators to first-time audiences is illustrative of the increasing confidence in the long-term prospects for the Middle East's contemporary arts landscape," she said.
Ms Carver also noted it was the first year that four GCC cities had collaborated on the fair. Art Dubai joined forces with Abu Dhabi Authority for Culture and Heritage (Adach), Mathaf: Arab Museum of Modern Art in Doha and the Ministry of Culture in Manama, Bahrain to present the Global Art Forum, a part of the fair where issues and strategies to improve the art industry in the region are discussed.
"This year has seen stronger regional collaboration than ever before that has been invaluable in taking the fair to a new level," she said.
During the fair, the works from the five winners of this year's Abraaj Capital Art Prize were unveiled. As the world's largest art award purse at US$120,000 (Dh440,000) - which is shared among five winners - these pieces captured the eyes of the world.
Nadia Kaabi-Linke's Flying Carpets, an aluminium structure mimicking the dimensions of the Bridge of Sighs in Venice, hung above the entrance hall, while Timo Nasseri's Gon, a gleaming lattice of steel rods, sat on the terrace.
Alongside the award-winning artists was an exhibition of jewellery from Van Cleef & Arpels and a collection from Sacha Jafri, a British artist whose works can fetch upwards of $500,000 and who donated 10 pieces to the Dubai-based charity Start, which helps poor children in the Arab world.
Ms Carver said she was confident that there were a substantial number of transactions.
The amateur artist Danielle O'Reilly, a 27-year-old Canadian, said the fair was a fantastic experience. "It was so inspirational to see so many artists and creative people in Dubai. I loved the fact there were not just paintings, but 3D objects and installations."