Spotlight on Madrid Art Scene

- 04/28/2023

Interview with Dr. Daniel Silvo 

Daniel is a Madrilenian art expert holding a PhD in Fine Arts from the University Complutense de Madrid. He is a professor at Villanueva University, located in Madrid, as well as a former artistic director of the JustMad and JustLX Art Fairs and the founder of Galeria Nueva. 

Muse Square – In your expert opinion on Madrid’s art scene, where are the must-visit artistic neighborhoods of Madrid?   

Dr. Silvo – As in every metropolitan city, each neighborhood is known for a specific field. By fields, I mean that in every larger city there are famous districts such as the art district, the historic district, the tourist district, and so on. In my opinion, there are 4 main regions in which the contemporary art museums, galleries, artists, curators, and collectors are gathered. These four neighborhoods are Lavapiés, Las Letras, Salesas, and lastly, Salamanca. Some are high-end neighborhoods such as Salamanca, home to famous museums and luxury galleries. Other neighborhoods, such as Las Letras, are still emerging, but nonetheless staple art districts in Madrid.  

My gallery, Galeria Nueva is located in Lavapiés, which contains the street Doctor Fourquet’s. For those who don’t know, Doctor Fourquet’s is a historically famous street with many galleries, it is wonderful to walk around this street as a buyer or window-shopper. The main reason why it is such a prime street in the art world is that it’s located right behind Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, the Contemporary Art Museum, which attracts many art collectors and foreign visitors.   

In Doctor Fourquet, there is a good mix of traditional galleries and emerging galleries. I love this street; it’s like an art show with galleries wherever you look. I believe we are about 14 galleries on this stretch of road. One well-known gallery, which I recommend to those visiting the area is the Helga de Alvear gallery, an originally Mexican gallery.   

Las Letras is a very lively area full of bars, restaurants, hotels, and trendy stores. In this area, you can find interesting and worth-visiting galleries, scattered all around the area. The district has famous international hotels such as Mandarin Palace, The Four Seasons, and The Ritz.   

My personal favorite neighborhood is located in Northeast Madrid. Salesas, is much more traditional compared to the other areas. There, you can find Alincion Art Gallery which was founded in the 80s and is very well known around the EU. In that area, the kind of art is mid-career artists, ranging in their 50s and 60s, and the prices are equivalent to their age and career, meaning they are not that expensive. You will find lots of good restaurants and stores in this area, but it is much more residential compared to the other neighborhoods I’ve mentioned. Visitors can also shop, eat, drink in that area, just like Las Letras, but it should be noted that it is much more residential.   

The last district that I want to mention is Salamanca, which is the high-end residential area of Madrid. The district is referred to as the “Golden Mine” as it has a lot of expensive restaurants and luxury clothing stores. Many galleries in this neighborhood work on the secondary market and most of the galleries are established galleries. 

Muse Square – Based on your neighborhood assessment, could you please further elaborate on the differences between Lavapiés and Las Letras neighborhoods?   

Dr. Silvo – In terms of art specialties and galleries, there’s not much of a difference between the two. Both districts work in the primary market and contemporary art. The prices of artwork sold are the same in both districts. The main difference lies in the people visiting the different galleries: Las Letras experiences more bourgeois collectors. The rent and cost of living are high in this area, and the residents of this area usually have a higher purchasing power. In contrast, Doctor Fourquet attracts the same type of clientele but for different reasons: it is a historically famous area for galleries.  

Another big difference between the two neighborhoods is that the collectors and buyers come to Doctor Fourquet with the intention to buy, whereas in Las Letras it’s usually after enjoying a nice lunch in the area, that buyers do window shopping.   

Muse Square – What about the emerging art neighborhoods of Madrid?   

Dr. Silvo Carabanchel is an area located in the Southwest of Madrid, which is very well-known because many artists have worked there and moved their studios there in the last 10 to 8 years. Historically, this area grew because of big companies that left behind their warehouse space in Carabanchel due to rising prices and being too close to town, leaving large, cheap spaces for artists to settle into. It then became an affordable meeting point for artists, creators, and curators. For the past 5 years, big galleries such as La Gran, Sabrina Amrani, and VETA gallery have started establishing themselves there. Big galleries have moved out here due to the success of the emerging neighborhood and international galleries are mainly located in this area. Big art fairs and museum exhibitions take place in this area as well.   

Muse Square Talking about art fairs, could you tell us more about the art fair schedule in Madrid?  

Dr. Silvo Our biggest art fair, ARCO Madrid, is 40 years old, in late February, and we receive a high number of tourists in Madrid during that time. Though it’s not just because of ARCOmadrid, there are 7 different art shows that go during the same period meaning that collectors and curators come together from all over the world to visit our city and Doctor Fourquet picks up like it’s an art fair in itself.    

Another high season in Madrid is the gallery weekend, referred to as “Apertura”, which occurs in early September, when Madrid residents are back from their summer vacations. We sold artworks worth 40,000 euros this weekend this year. Compared to the art fair season in February, we have a much harder time making that much of a profit because there is a lot more competition, but it feels like everyone is in Madrid in February as the art fairs season attracts many interesting people due to its cheap prices, its comfortable weather, its beautiful architecture, and the lovely people.  

Muse Square – Who are the different art collectors in Madrid?   

Dr. Silvo The majority of Madrid’s art collectors are from Latin America, but we do have an international group from different cities and countries that come to Madrid for its art scene. Most are very young, and some end up moving here to the art universities in Madrid. On the international map, Madrid is becoming more and more important.