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Director of ART3F

Serge Beninca launched the first edition of ART3F art fair in the city of Mulhouse (East of France), in December 2012. After a first very positive public reception, he decided to tour the concept in other provincial towns of France, before finally reaching Paris this year. Artsper wanted to ask the director of this awaited art event the keys of its success. {Artsper}: What is ART3F and how is it an original concept? {Serge Beninca}: ART3F is about mixing things up, which is why we welcome galleries as well as artists in the same exhibition space. There is a selection committee composed of two gallery owners, two artists and two collectors. For our Parisian edition, there will be a space dedicated to galleries only, and another space where both galleries and artists will cohabitate. Our ambition with ART3F is to propose an entertaining event: there are children areas where they can play around, and a restaurant with a terrace and a wine bar with a jazzy atmosphere open during the entire fair. Additionally, the opening night is generally very animated with life music, performances etc. ART3F is also a place of encounters and discussions. We want our fair to be welcoming, animated and laid back. {Artsper}: ART3F is another concept of art fair, what did you want to do differently than the other? {Serge Beninca}: We wanted to avoid bad quality art fairs accepting anybody without any selection committee. We also wanted to avoid being impersonal, which is why we limited the number of exhibitors. Visitors and potential buyers should feel at ease, know that they have access to quality artworks exhibited in pristine exhibition spaces, but at the same time in a welcoming and friendly environment. For one of our latest edition, a visitor told us that she would never dare enter in galleries, but that she felt comfortable coming to ART3F. It is exactly what we are looking for. {Artsper}: According to you, what role art fairs have to play on the art market today, and where is ART3F standing this context? {Serge Beninca}: They play a major part today since a recent survey revealed that 41% of artworks are purchased during art fairs in France. Many clients are already used to buying in galleries and during fairs, but there are also a lot of people who are not and who need to be encouraged. This is why fairs are important too! Out of the 20,000 visitors we receive, there are many future buyers and new collectors, even among the youngest! Today I do not think that fairs are competing with galleries; on the contrary, I think they widen their client base. With our edition in Nantes, Nice or Bordeaux, we reach out to a new audience and it will necessarily benefit local galleries. {Artsper}: What audience do you target? How is this audience different from other fairs? {Serge Beninca}: We have two target audiences. We obviously target collectors and buyers, but also future collectors and buyers. Our exhibitors are professionals, they want to sell, but not only. We keep in mind the fact that every visitor can become a buyer! We want them to discover art first. We propose affordable art, with an average price between 2,000 and 10,000 €. Contrary to some art fairs, we do not speculate on art, which explains why we do not sell very expensive pieces and star artists. {Artsper}: Did you have some good surprises with ART3F, and what are your plans for the near future? {Serge Beninca}: To start with, we have received a very positive response from the audience, and made some beautiful human encounters on the way. The good surprise was to enter a universe we thought was more complicated and close-minded than it actually is! As for our future plans, we have pretty much been in all the cities we wanted in France. Our main objective is to cement our position and improve our concept. In a matter of a couple of years, ART3F has grown and developed everywhere in France, and our plan is to maintain the quality of our event. {Artsper}: Do you collect yourself? What are your favorite artistic genres/media/periods? {Serge Beninca}: Yes, I have been collecting for about 10 years! I am mostly interested in street art and pop art paintings and sculptures. But I am not limited, I buy when I have a crush on something! {Artsper}: What is your view on online platforms like Artsper? {Serge Beninca}: I think that initiatives like Artsper complement art fairs and are a way to increase artist visibility. It is easier to follow emerging artists’ work without going from galleries to galleries across France. To me, we work hand in hand: somebody discovers an artist he likes during an art fair, then he can follow him and buy him on Artsper for example.
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