Art and Market in Bologna in the 1970s. The first steps of Arte Fiera
- contemporary art market,
- Art Basel,
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The first contemporary art fair in Italy was launched in Bologna in 1974, at the end of what can be called the first wave of fairs. This paper aims to reconstruct the history of its beginnings, filling an existing gap in scholarly publications. More specifically, the paper deals with the first years up to 1979, when Arte Fiera was temporarily suspended. The first section repositions the role of Arte Fiera in relation to the Fair infrastructure, followed by the reconstruction of its first years, which saw a rapid rise and fall of Arte Fiera. In the last part, the paper examines the specific conditions of Bologna’s art fair, which was caught in a dichotomy between trying to become international and competitive on the one hand and responding to the strong anti-commodification culture of the 1970s on the other. This led the event to invest at an early stage in creating many ancillary events and investigating alternative market possibilities in the direction of democratizing the market.