Art Dubai 2011

500 artists, 81 galleries, 34 countries and thousands of visitors

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When Doha’s Mathaf Museum of Modern Arabic Art opened last November, we watched enviously from the sidelines: while Dubai knocks Doha out of the park when it comes to its quality and range of individual galleries, the chance to see 500-plus artists in one visit is something we lack our city. Apart from, of course, during one week every year: the now-renowned Art Dubai. Next week, on March 15-19, the Madinat Jumeirah will become a vast museum of art, with more than 500 artists representing 81 galleries from 34 countries. That’s almost too much art to take in on one visit, which is why we recommend you make a weekend of it.

Last year, more than 18,000 visitors walked through the halls, and this year even more are expected to attend. Why? Because there’s more going on, particularly because the former head of Bidoun Projects (basically the most fun part of the fair) is now director of the whole shebang. Antonia Carver’s fresh, innovative outlook, love of special projects and renewed enthusiasm promises to stream throughout the entire festival.

Art Dubai is primarily a commercial enterprise, but it can also be extremely educational: we recommend spending time in each gallery, speaking to the gallerists and learning more about the art on show, rather than just ‘skim-viewing’ it. You’ll walk out informed, engaged and – because a few days’ access a year isn’t enough – craving a contemporary art museum in Dubai.

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