Indirect subventions given to the private sector
As already mentioned, a shared characteristic of all these institutions, an aspect that isolates them completely from the usual market configuration, is the fact that the vast majority of them receive subsidies from the public sector. The effect of this can be seen in the numerous solo and group exhibitions produced by the institutions I have mentioned, in the large amount of varied publications, and in a number of activities carried out by a group of recently graduated professionals. I must also mention the large amount of exhibitions, programs and collective projects, such as S?o Paulo Biennial, Mercosul Biennial, City Art Project, Rumos Visuais Project, Pampulha Project, etc.
Another novelty was the influence of this policy in cultural diffusion and in the incentive it gave to artistic production. From the mid-nineties onward, consecrated artists such as Tunga, Cildo Meireles, Waltercio Caldas, Nuno Ramos, Nelson Felix and José Resende, as well as younger artists such as Marepe, José Bechara, Rubens Mano, started to receive subsidies from the government for some of their most daring projects, such as works designed for public places, or developed especially for large exhibitions - works on a much larger scale than the artist or the gallery could afford.
In fact, the financial issue deserves special attention. Although the increasing importance of the galleries in disseminating the work of Brazilian artists is a fact, the truth is that in most cases the artists themselves still have to play this role. The previous generation of artists, like Helio Oiticica, Lygia Cark, Antonio Dias, Cildo Meireles, Tunga and Waltercio Caldas, became known internationally through their own efforts. The work of the galleries was strengthened at the beginning of the nineties, thanks to the art dealer Marcant?nio VillaÁa, who along with other pioneers, including Luisa Strina and Thomas Cohn, launched artists such as Bia Milhazes, Ernesto Neto and Adriana Varej?o in the international circuit. But before that, and even now, a large number of artists have made great financial losses trying to make their works known.
This is why the situation established by the laws of incentive represented something totally new. At this point it is worth mentioning that what seems obvious for European viewers is an extraordinary advance for the Brazilian cultural production. And even a brief analysis of the market will be useful in demonstrating that, despite its growth and importance, there is still a lot to be done in the direction of its effective professionalization. Proof of this are the polemics involved in the public subsidy of art, which usually end up in the hands of the art dealers at zero cost.
The informality of the Brazilian art market
The Brazilian market dedicated to contemporary art prospers visibly, although not in a linear way. In S?o Paulo, the economical centre of Brazil, there were five galleries at the turn of the eighties to the nineties: Raquel Arnaud, Luisa Strina, Subdstrito, S?o Paulo, Camargo & VillaÁa. Now there are thirteen: Raquel Arnaud, Luisa Strina, Fortes & VillaÁa, Brito & Cimino, Millan & Antonio, Nara Roesler, Bar? & Sena, Marilia Razuk, Tri?ngulo, Thomas Cohn, Vermelho, Dan, Leme. Another indirect indicator refers to the number of participants in the most important international art fairs. At the beginning of the last decade, there was only one representative of Brazil at the Basel Fair, Luisa Strina. Now two more have been added to the team. The number of Brazilian galleries which took part in the most recent edition of the ARCO Fair in Madrid has increased to seven.