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Uruguay for Art and Antiques

Travelling in Argentina, Chile & Uruguay for Art and Antiques


Uruguay is a beautiful nation, filled with history and culture. Like Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile, Montevideo is a cosmopolitan metropolis which received a strong influx of immigrants throughout its history. The interesting combination of indigenous population and European immigrants resulted in a rich and varied culture that shares some of the old continent's features at the time it adds new meaning to some others because of its own particular evolution.

A perfect place in which we can witness that very unique combination is at Montevideo's markets and fairs.

Tristan Narvaja Fair is Montevideo's largest and most important antique fair, featuring apart from all sorts of antiques, collectibles and memorabilia, food, cloths and all sorts of kick knacks. Every Sunday from early in the morning to mid afternoon, the tens of blocks that conform the fair begin to populate with thousands of visitors, antique dealers, collectors and curious passers-by’s.

On Saturday morning, the option in Montevideo is the open air market of the old city: Plaza Matriz. Located in front of the Cabildo building, this fair less extensive than the Tristan Narvaja one has all sorts of antiques and collectibles, from books to medals, furniture, clothing and even some interesting handcrafts.

The main focus and attraction for dealers and collectors, as we said before is Tristan Narvaja fair. Interesting and appealing for all its evident virtues, this fair has a lot to offer to the visitor who understands the order in the mess, the sounds in the noise, and the particular smells in a mix combination of odours. That's the way fairs are. Complex, chaotic, complicated, and very interesting if one dares to experience the journey to its fullness.

This fair, like the majority of the Latin American fairs does not share the order and tidiness of European or American Markets. It is not solely an antique fair, it's a fair that features all things that might be needed by someone at one point, and that were owned by someone who doesn't need them any more. Many of the antiques shown there are not understood as antiques -though many others are- and that's why the range of price is so variable. All these kind of markets were established in Latin America during economical crisis, when people began to sell its belongings to make a living, and they remained as non-standardized Markets. The best ally when hunting in this market is the trained and keen eye of the expert who manages to highlight among a pile of useless junk a valuable collectible or antique, and who has the ability of bargaining the price with the owner. Someone once said that the best antique dealer's work takes place in a mix combination of detective skills and junkman, a treasure hunter in a packed warehouse of useless items where you might find that perfect object that's not only significant in terms of aesthetics and style but also in terms of cultural value.

Don't doubt it, these fairs are filled with amazing items, objects, pieces of furniture, artworks and other interesting findings, the key here is to have the virtue of patience and the keenness of the train eye.

Bob Frassinetti, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Posted by artdealer 15:18 Archived in Uruguay Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Chile for Art and Antiques

Santiago de Chile, Chile for Art and Antiques


Santiago de Chile is the capital city of the narrow and elongated southern country limiting with Argentina to the East, crossing the imponent Andes Mountains, and Peru and Bolivia to the North… to the West, the everlasting emerald colored Pacific Ocean.

This capital, very much alike Buenos Aires and Montevideo, is a cosmopolitan metropolis of crossed influences featuring a strong modern style at the time it blends the influence of millenary indigenous cultures. Under that first impression European feel, Santiago is very much part of Latin America in its culture, social standards and way of life.

The busy area of the Plaza de Armas, downtown Santiago featuring yuppies, working men and women in expensive designers’ suits, cellular talking people rushing from one place to the other, contrasts with Santiago’s most important marketplace: Bio Bio.

While first impressions are very important, we feel that in order to truly grasp the feel of Santiango one needs to go under the skin of those first impressions to find the substance of the being Chilean.

Following the route of marchants, dealers and collectors we tend to enter a world of amusing cultural contradictions where the old becomes antique, and a dirty warehouse becomes the place you’ve been dreaming on in your way up to Chile. Bio Bio is known as the Persian market of Santiago, for it shares the main concept of those Middle Eastern markets where you can buy and sell almost everything, where bargaining the prices is a must in order to establish a good negotiation and end up with the item you want, and also, where the local culture is more vivid and lively. At the Bio Bio market traditional local food and drinks blend together with original 18th century antique furniture, collectible china memorabilia of all kinds and brilliant antique toys. The sounds of modern Chile merge together with traditional string quartets at the time a passerby salesman offers you to follow him to the best stand of the fair.

Bio Bio is not tidy, it’s not neat, it’s not gringo suited tailored to portray a strange conception of the “authentic Chilean”. Bio Bio is authentically Chilean, messy, noisy, filled with new and interesting smells, chaotic and absolutely brilliant. It’s a place where locals and visitors who want more truly get in touch with the Chilean culture, and of course it is by far the best place to hunt down one of a kind collectibles and rare antiques.

The Persian, as locals refer to it, is located in the outskirts of Santiago, in what used to be the Slaughterhouse area, out of use for over three decades. Easily accessed by using the extraordinary Metro –subway- system, this market opens Saturdays at 10 AM.

Originally set back in the early 30s when the world was undergoing a terrible economical crisis, the Market was a way thru which most locals could find some extra cash by selling some of the family’s relics… back then the Franklin neighborhood where the Persian stands today was undergoing an era of splendorous work and profits, thanks to the input of Chilean leathers and meats to the World’s Market. But tables changed only three decades later when that particular industry dropped dramatically and went practically out of use. By 1979 the former Slaughterhouse neighborhood was abandoned, and the area began to change into a Persian neighborhood where not only the Market is the place perfectly suited to find extraordinary bargains, but also the surrounding houses, shops and warehouses.

The terrible economic crisis of 1982 was the final addition in this neighborhood’s transformation.

Today the market is constantly expanding around the area and the related shops from food and beverages to music and cultural shows make of this a must do activity when trying to discover the beauties and treasures of Santiago.

Bob Frassinetti, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Posted by artdealer 15:16 Archived in Chile Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

Travelling in Argentina, Chile & Uruguay

Travelling in Argentina, Chile and Uruguay for Art and Antiques


It’s well known that Argentina’s arts and antiques of great quality have positioned our country as the moment’s hot place for dealers and collectors. This country features a unique culture with the best influxes of Latin America and Europe.

Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital city has always been a place where all the trends converge from Europe, the States and world wide locations. This country of immigrants was built upon influences, cultural and material brought by those newcomers from their motherlands back in the early days of our republic in the early 19th century.

The cultural treasures brought by the flow of Europeans from the East and the West, were early milestones for the art, antiques and collectibles markets to be.

But it was thanks to a local trend of wealth, distinction, and sophistication that outstanding old continent products and works of art, reached our southern shores. The all mighty argentine pampas field positioning our country as the World’s barn, its landlords and societal individuals linked it, would live in Argentina as if it was France, England, Germany or the Italian countryside. They bought everything back in the centres of culture, from art, and furniture to bathroom ware of all kind. In that way, the generations to come, had an early, strong and wonderful material and cultural heritage to develop upon.

Bob Frassinetti, Buenos Aires, Argentina

Posted by artdealer 14:44 Archived in Argentina Tagged business_travel Comments (0)

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