For those in the know, however, Madrid annually becomes the destination for those seeking bold, original, even groundbreaking art. From Feb. 10-14, the city is home to the International Contemporary Art Fair, or ARCO, with new works from 290 galleries in 35 countries. "What makes this fair different from others is it is not dominated by the Anglo-Saxon world," says Javier López, the owner of the Javier López gallery, a premier Madrid space that specializes in photography and new media.
"ARCO is the most important week of the year for Spanish art," says Maria Porto, director of the Madrid branch of Marlborough, a London-based gallery. The fair was launched in 1982 by a small group of artists and curators eager to make the international connections that were denied them under the previous 40 years of authoritarian rule. Since then, ARCO has also emerged as an intellectual forum. This year, visitors can sit in on discussion panels featuring 200 artists, collectors, academics, curators and gallery owners. So wear comfortable shoes—there's a whole world of art to see. Daily admission fees range from $39-65; tel: (34-91) 722 50 00; www.arcospain.org