Viennacontemporary Artfair: The Enchanting City of Vienna tempts visitors to stay awhile. Globetrotter Series by Rachel Vancelette

The global art fair circuit now has literally hundreds of fairs to choose from, so how does one know to pick and choose in the world of Instagram, Facebook and more?  I made the decision to venture to Vienna to explore the art fair everyone had been buzzing about!  With mega international art collectors such as the Don and Mera Rubell, Beth DeWoody and Amir Shariat and many more arriving for the fair’s VIP vernissage, I thought to myself why not see what the noise and excitement was all about for myself!  

Collectors, Art Lovers, and travelers descend on this fair like bees to honey for an opening night filled with halls of contemporary art.  I was thrilled they had graciously offered me a beautiful room in a top hotel and the lovely morning breakfast overlooking the entire city quickly captured my heart with echoes of the rich history, amazing art museums and the remarkable art fair named Viennacontemporary. With more than 100 participating galleries from 25 countries and around 30,000 visitors every year, Viennacontemporary offers a unique insight into the vibrant contemporary art scene of Central and Eastern Europe.


I had the honor to sit down with two of the people who make the fair happen every year and get an insider’s view of the magic that makes it all happen. VIP Director Mia Legenstein and Katharina Abpurg owner of TAKE A WALTZ, two dynamic art professionals, who have taken the city by storm peaking everyone’s curiosity worldwide to take a chance and visit Vienna. The two have been involved with the fair since its inception working with VIPS while ushering all types of visitors toward the art fair. They tackled my rapid-fire interview with enthusiasm and care and gave us some rare insider tips one could never find in the tour books! Who can resist the tips of the best place to be seen In Vienna which is at the 400-year-old bar of Schwarzes Kameel where already Beethoven was hanging out!


— You play an instrumental role in welcoming international collectors and audiences to Viennacontemporary every year, can you speak to your role and the growth of the art fair over the last years? What makes an art fair in Vienna a must-see event each year?  

Viennacontemporary has a very special selection of galleries, split in three thirds: the first is focused on very strong and internationally acting Austrian galleries, the second on Eastern European galleries and the third is international galleries looking to a Central European audience. This makes it a special place to discover galleries and artists one wouldn’t find at other art fairs. Also, the fair showcases a very popular curated section called ZONE1 with solo booths of Austrian or Austrian-related artists under 40. 

Additionally, each year we have a focus country with a big curated booth which is very well taken by established collectors. VC is especially known for its amazing VIP Program and VIP service. In only five days we organize around 300 events, many of them are very private and exclusive.

— How do you view the importance of the art fairs in today's current art market? 

Art fairs provide a quick and comprised overview of the art market, and will as such remain a very important tool for presentation and networking with partners and peers. Nevertheless, the market is changing and there is a need for new, complimentary services around the art market. Other forms of networks connecting local expertise with an international audience will become more important than ever.

— Where do you predict the art market will be in 10 years?  

I wish I had a crystal ball to predict the future… the art market is an especially difficult one to predict. We can already see the online art market is growing and probably we’ll be deep into blockchain and different cryptocurrencies. However, I believe that offline interaction will still be the most important and personal relationships will not come out of fashion.

— How has your personal taste changed over the years?  

My knowledge has definitely developed over the years and I have a better understanding of what I like and why. I have developed an appreciation for artworks that in the past I would have disapproved because I simply didn’t understand them. Art made me definitely more open-minded. In general, I am up for learning, understanding and supporting artists my age, my contemporaries.

— Who or what has been your greatest inspiration?  

While working in the arts I have met many inspiring people I admire. There are strong women who have been mentoring me and to who I look up to. Surrounding yourself with artist friends is a constant inspiration, too!

— What artist discoveries can you share with our audience?  

 I prefer getting to know artists offline and try to visit galleries as often as I can. My latest discoveries are Zsófia Keresztes at Gianni Manhattan gallery, Sophie Thun at Sophie Tappeiner gallery, Birgit Megerle at Emanuel Layr, Rui Miguel Leitão Ferreira at Krinzinger gallery and Sérgio Fernandes at kubikgallery in Porto.

Weblinks and Tips:

— What is your new venture TAKE THIS WALTZ offering?

TAKE THIS WALTZ offers exclusive planning services for cultural, tailor-made experiences. We are focusing on Vienna’s cultural wealth and grant unparalleled behind the scenes access to the city’s best museums, galleries, private collections, artist and design studios, classical music, restaurants, and much more. Whether a sophisticated city trip, traveling as a group of cultural-minded friends we custom design perfect itineraries off the beaten track. By opening doors that are usually sealed off, we introduce our guests to the local sounds of Vienna and create memories that last for a lifetime.



 — Could you tell us some of your favorite tips in visiting Vienna?  (coffee spots, restaurants, galleries, special spots)   In 2018 Vienna has been elected the most liveable city in the world for the ninth time in a row. The city is definitely the best place to slow down and lose track of time. Whether you walk down the street and find yourself among century-old palazzos or sitting in historic coffee houses surrounded by a creative elite. You can sit for hours, ordering one single coffee and get lost in reading the newspaper or a favorite book.  

I love to shop at purveyors that already catered to the royal court. Lobmeyr, or traditional manufacturers like Muehlbauer are a must. My favorite place to have coffee is Cafe Prueckl right across the Museum of Applied Arts, it’s a beautiful salon where to meet interesting people. A stroll through the city center, visiting galleries such as Nächst St. Stephan, Krinzinger and Layr, Crone, Meyer Kainer, and Martin Janda.

The best place to be seen is at the 400-year-old bar of Schwarzes Kameel where already Beethoven was hanging out. Vienna nightlife is traditional, dark and long hours. The most original spot is Eden Bar where they’ll make you borrow a white dinner jacket and dance to an Asian Fusion disco band playing in the second generation already. 




Published in Metropolitan Magazine: August 2019 Issue