Rome's Affordable Art Fair brings splash of neon to Eternal City

Fri Oct 26, 2012 2:54pm EDT
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By Naomi O'Leary

ROME (Reuters) - Italy's capital, heaving with marble and masterpieces, may not want for art. But Rome's first "Affordable Art Fair" tapped into a hunger for fresh, contemporary works as it opened with a splash of neon on Friday.

Crowds packed the event on its opening night to browse works from over 50 galleries, all of them by living artists and for sale at prices between €100 and €5,000 ($130-$6,500).

"The organizers thought that this being Rome, the people would arrive a bit late. Instead, half an hour before opening time there was already a queue around the block," said Milanese photographer Ruggero Rosfer, 43, who was selling works priced at between €2,600 and €4,000. "That's how huge the interest is."

Held in an abandoned 19th century abattoir on October 26-28 in the trendy Testaccio district, the event saw chic Romans browsing sculpture and neon pop art amid antique meat hooks and exposed brick walls.

Most of the art on display was by Italian artists, but there were also pieces by well-known overseas figures such as U.S. street artist Shepard Fairey, aka Obey, who made the iconic "Hope" poster of Barack Obama during his 2008 presidential election campaign.

Artist Sergio Vanni, who makes mixed-media pictures that contain art-themed jokes and play on the names of famous painters, said he had already sold two of his works for €550 each.

"This is a casual fair, less staged than the usual exhibitions," Vanni said. "Usually they are terribly self-serious. This is more youthful, full of cute ideas."

TOUGH TIMES   Continued...