Julie Alf Talks about the Beginning and Future of Enter Art Fair

by Rubén Palma
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Enter Art Fair is a fast growing young and ambitious international art fair in Copenhagen, which takes place annually in the Tunnel Factory in Nordhavn, Copenhagen.

Behind the art fair is Julie Leopold Alf, who has made lifestyle fairs for over 20 years, focusing on art fairs for the last 10. In addition to Enter Art fair, she created i.a. the Code Art Fair in 2016 under the auspices of Bellacenter. In 2019 she founded Enter Art Fair with a handful of art-loving investors, i.a. Lars Seier Christensen. In its third year, the fair is already a renowned event in Copenhagen, of high quality, as well as an internationally recognized event in the art industry. 

Julie has an MSc in Business Administration and Commercial Law from Copenhagen Business School, she is 49 years old, a mother of 3 children; 17, 15 and 11 years and married to renowned gallery owner Hans Alf.

Julie Alf

Any -or which- particular situation/event that made you envision Enter Art Fair (EAF)? 

I saw a clear and to me obvious lack of an international and commercial art event in Scandinavia that was relevant to both Danish and international galleries. Even before the Corona crises pushed everybody towards focusing on digital solutions, we wanted to explore how the experience of art in the digital world could be combined with the indispensable physical experience in an interesting and meaningful way.

Enter Art Fair

Any other similar art fairs that were an inspiration? 

I LOVE ART FAIRS and I have visited many art fairs over the years and one that has always been an inspiration to me is Art Basel, which is also the most prominent art fair in the world. Art Basel is obviously based in Basel, Switzerland, but the fair has successful satellites in both Miami and Hong Kong and is overall a very serious and interesting commercial platform for the galleries. Also, the art fair Liste in Basel has been an inspiration to me. This urban and cutting-edge art fair exhibits a younger generation of galleries who represents some of the latest developments and trends on the contemporary art scene.

At Enter Art Fair we have a Young Gallery section for galleries of 4 years or younger, where visitors can discover new and emerging artists.

Were there any difficult challenges during the startup process?

Yes, of course there were a lot of challenges and thank god I didn’t know this before I started. Otherwise, I might never have started ; )

We managed to put the first edition of Enter Art Fair together in just 6 months with 30 high level Scandinavian and International galleries in a tent at Refshaleøen. 

What were your feelings/impressions when the doors opened to the first EAF? Did it match your original vision? 

Yes. It was just as I imagined! I was very, very proud and happy, but I also remember being exhausted and relieved. 

Enter Art Fair

Any special factor that makes Copenhagen the right – or just a good – place for such a major, Nordic art event? 

Copenhagen is known for being a progressive and cool city. We have world-class museums i.a. Glyptoteket, National Gallery (SMK), Copenhagen Contemporary, Thorvaldsens Museum and of course Louisiana and Arken, which although not located in the center, must be visited by anyone interested in contemporary art.

In addition, Copenhagen is also known for its urban and innovative architecture, design, fashion and gastronomy which attracts people from all over the world to visit the city.

Geographically, Copenhagen is the entrance to the rest of the Nordic region, which makes the city interesting in relation to the international art scene. 

What is your role in the curating process?

We have an international selection committee that handpick galleries to be presented at the fair and I am a part of this committee. A gallery sends in an application with a curated concept of the artists they want to present at the fair and the committee looks through this to determine whether the level of art is high enough to be accepted. 

We aim for a wide selection of different galleries to achieve an interesting and challenging composition throughout the fair, as well as aiming for a variety in mediums such as sculptures, paintings, photography, video works and performance art. 

Enter Art Fair

How is EAF a powerful motivation to specifically Danish and Nordic Art in general? 

We focus on the succes of the exhibitors by giving strong attention to creating business and sales to galleries and their artists. We do this by hosting informative events for collectors and partners through the year, through our virtual fair and by involving art adivisors and other art world influencers.

We believe in achiving our goals by exciting and involving all galleries, partners, suppliers and team members. “We are not doing this for the fun of it – but we need to have fun while doing it.” We choose not to work with partners that does not share this attitude. This is expressed through us being ‘The Happiest Art Fair in the world’.

We dare to be innovative, both through our art curations, our free and public program and our way to include sponsors and partners.

Since the first EAF in August 2019… What are your expectations for the third – now in August 2021? 

We expect to attract more international visitors than last year and continue to mark ourselves as an important player in the international art market. We will continue focusing on keeping a high level of galleries and relevant partners.

Where do you see Enter Art Fair in 3-5 years? 

It’s our mission to mark Copenhagen as a new art hub on the global map. We will make Copenhagen an important destination for art and a yearly ‘must go to’ for the art crowd. Beside the annually fair and the innovative virtual art fair, we will be present by hosting sponsor- and collector events all year around in Denmark and internationally. 

The dream is to travel with Enter Art Fair to other cities, maybe to start with the Nordic countries…

And final question. You are in the world of contemporary art, but let’s say that you had the opportunity to have a Rembrandt or a Warhol, same size same price… Which would you choose?

Warhol. I am a big fan of pop art. Choosing freely from the masters, I would pick Picasso’s Guernica, which is my all-time favorite art piece – It simply takes my breath away.

The next Enter Art Fair will be held on August 26 (VIP-Preview day), and from August 27-29 for the normal fair.

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