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With Rio de Janeiro hosting the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and Summer Olympic Games in 2016, the beachside Brazilian city is on travellers’ minds now more than ever before.

But they’re not the only ones rushing to the city. The contemporary art fair ArtRio 2012, now in its second year, draws art collectors from all over and has established Rio as a Latin American cultural hub. One hundred and twenty galleries are slated to present this year between 13 to 16 September -- half international and half Brazilian -- and more than 60,000 visitors are expected to pass through its doors.

International highlights include the eminent Gagosian Gallery, which is making its debut in South America. The gallery will display $130 million in art, including works by Pablo Picasso, Andy Warhol, Alberto Giacommeti and Takashi Murakami, with Brazilian designer Claudia Moreira Salles arranging the gallery’s two spaces. Famed art auctioneers Christie’s and Sotheby’s, both of which operate offices around the world, will be hosting events with the New York-based Museum of Modern Art’s International Program, holding talks as part of ArtRio’s series of curatorial discussions. New York- and London-based art gallery David Zwirner will be presenting for the first time in South America, featuring works from artists including American painter Alice Neel and minimalist artist Dan Flavin, famous for sculptures and installations that use fluorescent lights. Preeminent international contemporary art gallery White Cube will be showing US abstract artist Mark Bradford and Mexican conceptual artist Gabriel Orozco, among others.

Home grown talent will also be prominently showcased at ArtRio, including installation mastermind Ernesto Neto; the vivid, geometric paintings of Beatriz Milhazes, which are inspired by Brazilian culture; and Adriana Varejao, a multidisciplinary artist whose work often draws from her country’s history.

Rio, one of the most visited cities in South America, counts a number of artistic destinations among its must-sees, including the vibrant, mosaic-tiled stairway Escaderia Selarón that bridges the artsy neighbourhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa, and the massive sacred Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer) that tops the Corcovado peak overlooking the city. Even the sidewalk running along Avenida Atlántica, the city’s main thoroughfare, displays an undulating white and black pattern, an iconic symbol of Rio, eternalised in images and memorabilia.

ArtRio will cover more than 80,000 sqft in four waterside warehouses along the Guanabara Bay at Pier Maua in the northeast of the city. Tickets are available for purchase on the official site and cost 30 real, or 15 real for concessions.

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