Guy Trebay does his best to epater la haute bourgoisie in his New York Times piece on Frieze NY 2013 with the obligatory darkly threatening reminder that all of this fascination with art and the money that drives it will surely end soon…and in tears. Nonetheless, Trebay is a very talented depicter of scenes:
It is well established that over the last decade the seasonally migrating creatures at the top of the economic food chain have turned the pursuit of contemporary art into a defining marker of wealth and social status. They move across continents and oceans — Frieze this week, Venice later in the month for the Biennale, Switzerland in June for the august Basel Art Fair, granddaddy of them all — in a pack, showing all the signs of what the collector Don Rubell on Thursday termed “a herd mentality.” They browse and they forage. They consume voraciously.
“I bought already a Piotr Uklanski and a Jeppe Hein,” Joanna Przetakiewicz, a collector based in London and St. Moritz, said early Thursday afternoon, tapping open her smartphone to check the details of an hourlong shopping spree during which she had spent close to a million dollars on just two works.
“I am going to buy as well an Anish Kapoor,” Ms. Przetakiewicz added, referring to a wall-mounted stainless steel disc with an asking price she said was 650,000 British pounds. “But I want it in pink.”
This is surely what Jed Perl had in mind when he wrote:
Art collectors used to be inclined to be secretive. Now they’re pretty much all publicity hounds.[…] The bleached-chic style can make ignorance and mendacity look pretty. At a time when the people with the heaps of money are terrified of anything that isn’t “curated,” whether it’s their Louboutins or their Warhols, Frieze is so finely curated that it becomes its own conceptual art work, annihilating whatever art happens to be on display. […] Henry James would have savored the drop-dead elegance and seen straight through to the corruption, although you might want a little help from Marx or Keynes (take your pick) to explain exactly how it all works.
At Frieze, The Elite Browse and Forage (NY Times)
Frieze New York, a VIP Art Fair for Our Gilded Age (The New Republic)
Georgina Adam remarks in her Financial Times column on the recent discovery of Egyptian antiquities that may have been illegally removed from the country recently:
In London, six lots of Egyptian material had to be withdrawn shortly before Christie’s May 2 London sale because they were believed to have been stolen from a recently discovered and excavated tomb in Thebes. According to the Metropolitan Police’s art and antiques unit, an unnamed man in his early 60s from northeast London was arrested the day after the sale “on suspicion of handling stolen goods, tax and fraud offences”. The suspect was released on bail until August.
Christie’s said the works “came with a convincing provenance”. The seller apparently said he had inherited the pieces (which included a red granite relief of a Nubian prisoner, dated 1550-1069 BC, and another limestone relief, both from the Theban tomb) from an uncle who had served in Egypt during the second world war.
After the catalogue was printed, the saleroom checked with the Egyptology Department of the British Museum and discovered that there was doubt about the works. “[Christie’s] is working with the police to ensure their speedy return to Egypt,” it said in a statement.
The Art Market: Apples—Only $41.6m a Bowl (Financial Times)
The Vernissage TV folks take you to Art Beijing:
In this video we look back at Art Beijing 艺术北京 2013, the 8th edition of the art fair in Beijing, China. Around 150 art galleries and institutions, mostly from Beijing, participated in Art Beijing 2013. The fair features both a contemporary and classic art section. Among the participating galleries this year were Chinese and international galleries such as ShanghART, Tang Contemporary, Continua, Beijing Commune, Chambers Fine Art, Halcyon Gallery, and Asia Art Center. According to the organizers, more than a third of the galleries have attended Art Beijing for the first time.
Randy Kennedy tries to get to the bottom of Paul McCarthy’s success and appeal in a New York Times Magazine profile. What McCarthy wants is to puncture the acceptance of the entertainment-as-reality culture that dominates the US:
To anyone who thinks of contemporary art as a confrontational, profane, puerile, nihilistic, body-obsessed in-joke, McCarthy provides a near-perfect example of all that has gone wrong since the ’60s. His work can — and does — provoke physical revulsion. But it is not mere provocation; it’s intended as an all-out assault, a “program of resistance,” as he calls it. And the older he gets, the more explicit he has become that his target is the American entertainment-consumer economy. “I can see much more clearly now that we are living in the middle of this kind of insanity,” he told me, “and it runs itself. And the really scary thing is that we’re not conscious of it anymore. It’s a kind of fascism. The end goal of this kind of capitalism is to erase difference, to eradicate cultures, to turn us all into a form of cyborg, people who all want the same thing.”
McCarthy emerged from a group of California artists like Christopher Bureden who relied on performances. Yet to have an effective voice, both discovered the need to make objects:
Like Burden, who gave up pure performance and started creating sculpture and installations, McCarthy decided that to have a lasting influence in the art world, he had to begin making objects. […] His work was never meant to be easy for the commercial art world to digest, which for a long time, it didn’t. “A lot of stuff got thrown out,” he says. “There were times when we needed space, and we would just take a load out to the dump.”
That approach to art making still leaves a mark on McCarthy’s view of the market:
“I never really think about the money,” McCarthy told me over sandwiches one afternoon at the house. “I just think about the next piece and about how we’ll do it and how much it will be. And sometimes I think, Wow, that’s a lot. And sometimes we have it, and sometimes we don’t.”
The Demented Engineer (NY Times)
The most interesting booth for me at PULSE NY this year was DUBNER MODERNE of Switzerland. A solo presentation of Li Jin was on show at the booth. The expressions on the faces of the characters in his work, often containing the portrait of the artist himself, are captivating. Its rare that a work can make the viewer smile.
According to the gallery: Replete with humor and his unmistakable “joie de vivre” Li Jin translates the usually mundane quotidian of life into a colorful and eloquent narrative of the moment using the tools of tradition. As an artist his perception of beauty and detail blossom from his appreciation as an active observer and partaker in life. Whether it be a table abounding with epicurean delights, a moment of quiet contemplation, or the enticing passions of love his graceful and masterly brushstrokes tell stories that are common to all, for they are the simple pleasures of life.
What makes this gallery special is their knowledge and genuine passion for their artists. Gallery founder and director Vernon Dubner’s enthusiasm for the artist, sharing personal stories about the artist and going through catalogues of his previous work, is contagious. Spend some time talking to this gallery about the work on show, and other artists that can be found here on their website. This young gallery is undoubtedly one I will be following in the future.
For those of you who wish to join me, here’s a link to their site: http://www.dubnermoderne.ch/Histoire.html
ADAMSON GALLERY presented a nice array of work. Adam Fuss and Robert Longo caught my attention at this booth. I could live happily with both of the artists work in my home. Though I’ve seen Longo’s work at quite a few fairs recently, I still fall in love with his beautiful execution and artistic understanding of light and shade.
I first came in contact with Fuss at ADAA’s The Art Show in 2012 and have been an avid follower of his photograms since. British born, Fuss has lived and worked in New York for over 30 years. His large, evocative photograms are both visually and conceptually stimulating. In the process of Snake 2012 Fuss places a snake onto a sensitized surface and uses a strobe light to capture the movements. The intensity of the piece must be seen in real life as the size and vivid colour of the work engage the viewer.
According to Adamson gallery “His work is distinctive for its contemporary re-interpretation of photography’s earliest techniques, particularly the daguerreotype and the camera-less photogram. Fuss states that in order for any photographic technique to work, it should be personalized and transfigured into a greater metaphor, engaging processes that take place in the natural world.”
ADAMSON EDITIONS plays an important role as a printmaker, collaborating with many of the worlds interesting artists today. David Adamson’s joy in collaborating with these artists was clear within seconds of speaking with him.
You can find out more info on the gallery and printmakers here: http://www.adamsongallery.com/gallery/
Check out Alicia Ross at BLACK & WHITE GALLERY/PROJECT SPACE.
Her stunning cross-stitching and attention to detail are what interests me here. The finished artworks, with a beautiful polished yet hand-crafted feel to the work, could hold the viewers attention for days. Her appropriated images, found from a variety of sources, explore female identity and the view of society on the varying facets of female identity.
According to the gallery, her works
“highlight the artist’s ongoing exploration of ideas surrounding conflicting views of feminine identity in the contemporary society and the ubiquitous virtuous/voracious societal impulses towards the female form. Ross appropriates images from online media sources and digitally translates them into cross-stitched constructions, using the sewing machine as a drawing tool. The finished pieces reflect a fusion between hand-made traditions and digital aesthetics.”
Find out more about the gallery here:
Take the time to read Miki Taira’s stories at BEJING TOKYO ART PROJECTS. Trained in Japanese script initially, Miki Taira moved toward contemporary art in order to express herself without conservative constraints. Her stories, verbal tales told from different districts in Japan, have been passed down through generations. They never represent an exact figure, mentioning “a husband” or “old lady” or “a monks apprentice”, and this translates to her small sculptures, devoid of a face. The entire story is written in Japanese script on the sculpture, and accompanied by a page of writing in English. The stories teach a lesson in a witty and charming manner. You won’t regret spending time reading each one, and you may yourself learn something in the process. You may also be lucky enough to catch the artist at the booth.
For more info on the gallery:
Also worth mentioning is:
Sohei Nishino’s diorama maps at MICHAEL HOPPEN CONTEMPORARY. Created from memory, these maps are layered icons of each city. According to the artist’s website, the works involved a great deal of preparation. “The creation of a Diorama Map takes the following method; Walking around the chosen city on foot; shooting from various location with film; pasting and arranging with enormous mound of pieces.” A viewer could spend hours looking at each intricate work.
Christine Flynn at FITZROY/KNOX in ImPulse. “Home is not a place, rather a memory of my life with others”, according to the artist. She looks towards the everyday, capturing memories. “My intention is not to recreate existence of objects that I shoot, rather to encourage the images to be seen beyond our own obliviousness.”
Rob and Nick Carter “Transforming Vanitas Painting” at THE FINE ART SOCIETY, London. Talk to the gallerists here about the work, and read the catalogue describing how the work was brought to life.
Damian Stamer at FREIGHT + VOLUME is worth spending some time looking at, with his Richteresque brush strokes exploring concepts of home and homeland.
The Economist does a nice job profiling the Federal Reserve Bank’s art program which exists to enrich the working lives of those at the Fed, support the arts and generally promote culture among the money-centric.
The Fine Arts Program does not use government money to buy art. Instead artworks are amassed through donations, or bought with monies donated for the explicit purpose of buying art. This sets it apart from other governmental art programs (such as the state department’s Art in Embassies program) which rely on appropriated or budgeted funds. Aside from this parsimonious quirk, Stephen Bennett Phillips, the program’s director, suggests it is best to “think of it as a museum.” Indeed, its advisory panel includes the sort of society doyennes, art dealers, lawyers and industrialists that any major museum would be proud of. But who would donate to the Fed when they could donate to, say, the National Gallery of Art down the road? “If you donate to a large museum, probably 99% of the time your work is going to be in storage,” says Mr Phillips. “What we can provide is the opportunity for the works to be seen and appreciated on a daily basis.” It is an opportunity that seems to be increasingly popular.
Since 2007, the year of Mr Phillips’ arrival, the collection has more than doubled in size. This reflects the high-wheeling connections the director brought with him from his former job as a curator at the nearby Phillips Collection, a well-funded private museum. But it also seems, in part, to be a side-effect of the burgeoning art market of the last decade. Since capital-gains tax on the sale of art and collectibles is taxed at a higher rate than that of stocks and bonds, the benefits of donating art and claiming a tax deduction, have never been more attractive. (The Fed does not accept gifts from individuals or organisations that it regulates). […]
Since Mr Phillips’ arrival the Fed’s collection of photography has grown and now includes works by Weegee, Alfred Stieglitz, Robert Frank and William Eggleston.
The main venue for temporary exhibitions is grander. In the two-storey marble atrium, with dual staircases and Art Moderne details, hangs two enormous gems from the collection: Helen Frankenthaler’s colourful abstract, “Three Color Space” (1966), which was donated by Nelson Rockefeller and may be the most valuable artwork in the collection; and Robert Kushner’s “American Tapestry” (2008, pictured above right), which is a diptych of native grass and flowers embellished with gold leaf and mica that emits a restrained but knowing opulence.
Canvas-Backed Securities (Economist)
Peter Brant has been a central figure in the development and expansion of the Warhol market as well as a pivotal figure in the trading that undergirds it. Now, Carol Vogel reminds us, his collection will go on view for the first time this Sunday (just when every one is in town for Frieze and next week’s sales) and market will have a better sense of at least a portion of his holdings. Given how the Warhol market has cooled, this event may turn out to be an important inflection point:
Although he has lent scores of his Warhols to museum exhibitions, his holdings have never been shown as a collection. But from Sunday through September, about 200 of the works will be presented together for the first time at the Brant Foundation Art Study Center, his by-appointment-only exhibition space in Greenwich, Conn.
On view will be examples of Warhol’s most-loved images, including “Blue Shot Marilyn,” from 1964, “192 One Dollar Bills,” from 1962, and several examples of the artist’s Campbell’s soup cans. In 1977 Mr. Brant gave the Met Warhol’s nearly 15-foot-high painting of Mao from 1973, and the museum is lending it to him.
Warhol Galore (Inside Art/NY Times)
Carl Swanson does a great job putting up with the interviewers in this HuffPo Live segment on his New York Magazine cover story on Jeff Koons. (Click on the image to see the video.)
Gallerist New York spotted a big buyer at last night’s sale and Dan Duray spoke to Christie’s Brooke Lampley who says the sale is evidence of a strong middle market:
In the room Steven Platzman, an art advisor from California, picked up a hotly contested Claude Monet, Chemin (1885), for $5.1 million, an Alfred Sisley from 1873, Pommiers en fleurs—Louveciennes, for $2.4 million and Dans la salle à manger by Berthe Morisot (1880) for $483,000. He bought on behalf of clients.
“These are classic Impressionist pictures,” he said, of what drew him to the pieces. “All of them new to market out of private collections.”
Judd Tully got a little more color on the story:
“I work as an art advisor for people out West,” said Platzman as he headed out of the salesroom, tailed by a number of dealers desperate to give him their business cards, “and I help them make decisions about what they buy.” He said each of his purchases were for different clients.
Katya Kazakina has some dealer comments:
“This was generally a sale that didn’t have any stars,” said Phyllis Hattis, a private art dealer in Manhattan. “There wasn’t any excitement to the art.”
And some other market participants:
“It’s very hard to get the most stellar Monet or Matisse these days, so buyers are looking for the best within what’s available,” said Suzanne Gyorgy, global head of art advising and finance at Citi Private Bank. “There are a lot of new buyers from emerging economies in the Impressionist market, which is historically the entry point into collecting once they look beyond the regional artists or reach a level of wealth when they can afford a $1 million picture.”
Kelly Crow points out that many of the night’s best sales went to Asian buyers or unknowns:
A man and a woman who turned up, unfamiliar even to some of the auction specialists, won an $11.3 million Egon Schiele, “Self-Portrait with Model (Fragment).” The Schiele was expected to sell for up to $7 million.
Carol Vogel too points out the international support underneath the Impressionist and Moderns market:
“We had strong bidding from Europe and America,” Steven P. Murphy, Christie’s chief executive, said. “But the addition of buyers from India, Russia and China carried the night.”
The experienced auction watcher also caught a pair of sales that were both profitable and made a loss:
“Femme Assise en Costume Rouge Sur Fond Bleu,” a 1953 portrait of one of the artist’s lovers, Françoise Gilot, regally seated in a chair, went to a telephone bidder for $7.5 million or $8.5 million with fees. It had been estimated to fetch $7 million to $10 million. The price may not have seemed very high on Wednesday night, but it seemed like a hefty sum to those who remember its last sale price — at Sotheby’s in 1995 where it brought $662,500. […]
Monet’s “Argenteuil, fin d’après-midi,” an 1872 landscape in a golden sun, which had an estimate of $5 million to $7 million, brought $5.3 million or $6 million including Christie’s fees. Surprisingly, the price was less than the $5.4 million the seller had paid for it in 2011 at Sotheby’s in London.