Art Word – Debating the Art Market as a Judge of Quality
A debate on the art market as the best judge of quality is scheduled for the Hong Kong Convention Center/Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty
On May 24 at China’s Hong Kong Convention Center an outfit called Intelligence Squared will host a formal debate during the debut of the newest spinoff of the Art Basel franchise of international art fairs. The motion under consideration will be: “The Market Is the Best Judge of Art’s Quality.”
Honest. That’s the topic for debate. I figure the program harbors two, maybe three minutes of chat — tops.
The panel is a retread of a 2011 program held at London’s Saatchi Gallery. (You can watch that one on YouTube.)
But the short retort to the market-based judgment is: Nope. The longer answer is: Bernard Buffet.
Art Word – Leo’s Wildlife Charity Raises $38.5 Million
Leonardo DiCaprio in Walton Ford’s studio/Photo courtesy: Martin Schoeller
NEW YORK — Sold to benefit conservation projects for endangered species, the 33 donated art works in the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s “The 11th Hour Auction” at Christie’s realized a whopping $38.5 million Monday evening. It was an excellent portent for both endangered species and the art market, as 13 artist records were set in an almost raucous salesroom, giddy with celebrity life, good will, and a shaved-down buyer’s premium of just five percent. (The event was organized by Christie’s international specialist Loic Gouzer.)
The tally crushed pre-sale expectations of $13-18 million, with a spree of wild spending on choice works, ranging from the cover lot, Robert Longo close-up of a tiger’s head, “Untitled (Leo),” which sold to pharmaceutical magnate and philanthropist Stewart Rahr for a record $1,575,000 (est. $250-350,000), to Mark Grotjahn’s richly layered “Untitled (Standard Lotus No. II, Bird of Paradise, Tiger Mouth Face” (2012), which went to Larry Gagosian for a staggering — and record-setting — $6,510,000 ($1.5-2.5 million). All 33 lots sold for a total of $33.3 million, with an unidentified donor kicking in $5 million and other contributors accounting for an additional $500,000.
Art Word – Eight Tips for Would-Be Art Investors
‘Ausschnitt (Kreutz)’ by Gerhard Richter on display at Christie’s in New York January 24, 2011/Photo courtesy: AFP/Getty Images via @daylife
A wide range of art dealers, advisors, collectors and academics spoke at Art Market Monitor’s Artelligence conference in New York yesterday, which was all about understanding art as an asset.
Here is some of the top advice they had for those thinking about buying art as an investment:
1. Although the market for contemporary art is huge today, the actual number of contemporary artists that sell for high prices at auction all over the world is pretty small.“People look at artists like Jeff Koons and Damien Hirst and the impression is that the international contemporary art market is very wide and very deep,” said Michael Findlay, director of New York‘s Acquavella Galleries and author of The Value of Art,published earlier this year. “I think that impression is largely created by marketing.”
Art Word – What Goes Up Also Comes Down
Leo Bontecou – Untitled (1960) A new generation of collectors discovered her work after a retrospective in 2003/Photo courtesy: Cea
Artinfo has just published an interesting piece by Rozalia Jovanovic about whether rediscovered artists are the new darlings of the art market.
As other collectors flock to either bright, young emerging stars or established artists with big reputations, Jovanovic looks at the merits of buying the work of older artists such as Judith Bernstein or Llyn Foulkesthat already have an impressive body of work behind them and that are belatedly receiving attention later in their careers from galleries or museums.
The article also looks at whether those works could be potentially a better buy than those by relatively untested young artists, who after the first wave of buying and speculation, could see prices for their works slump.
Art Word – Why “Rediscovered Artists” are the New Darlings
Llyn Foulkes/Photo courtesy: Kevin Scanlon
On July 16, 2012, a painting by a little-known artist sold at Christie’s for $74,500, nearly ten times its high estimate of $8,000. The work that yielded this unexpected result — an acrylic teal-hued painting of a rocky coast called “Nob Hill” — was not the work of a 20-something artist finishing up his MFA. It was a painting created in 1965, and the artist, Llyn Foulkes, is 77 years old and has been working in relative obscurity in Los Angeles for the past 50 years. In March, the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles mounted a retrospective of his work, which will travel to the New Museum in June, marking the first time Foulkes will have had a retrospective at a New York museum.
What’s surprising about this turn of events is not just that it happened but that it’s part of a new pattern, one that defies what everyone thinks they know about today’s art collectors: that they like their artists either very established or — increasingly — young and ultra-trendy. “You have these young hot artists and you have the blue chip work,” said Mitchell Algus of Algus Greenspon, summing things up. “Why would someone buy a Jacob Kassay painting and not a Donald Judd drawing — assuming they’re of equal value? The Judd drawing is great, but it doesn’t carry the social clout that the Kassay painting would carry.”
Art Word – What Will the Art World’s Future Look Like?
I don’t know about you, but I have this gnawing feeling that the time is ripe to make something new and exciting happen in the art world. I’m not exactly sure what that is, but I’m convinced that fairs, galleries, auction houses, even museums are changing the way they do business and that the art world we know now will be almost unrecognizable in 20 years’ time. So what will this new art world look like?
Twenty years ago Chelsea was home chiefly to taxi garages. Now it claims one of the highest concentrations of blue-chip galleries in the world, with many boasting overseas branches. That gives you an idea of just how fast things change and how linked the world has become. The same thing will happen with the current gallery status quo: Dealers in vogue today will be gone tomorrow, and others will rise up and take their place. I am less interested in that cycle than in those individuals making new things happen.
Art Word – Charles Muench and the Sound of Silence
Charles Muench’s “Sierra Classic” graces the cover of Southwest Art magazine. Oil on linen, 40″ x 40″.
Charles Muench loves the lonely places. It is in the West, under a vast open sky, that the artist finds inspiration for his landscape paintings. “To truly understand the subject of your art,” he declares, “you must immerse yourself in it fully.” And so he does—his home ground is outside the small town of Gardner-ville, NV, with its high desert bordered by the Pine Nut Mountains to the east and the massive Sierras to the west. From here he journeys to favorite spots he revisits regularly throughout the West.
“It’s getting out and observing the things that are happening around you that matters—the smell of pine, the crunch of snow beneath your feet, the cloud that appears seemingly out of nowhere—this is how nature speaks to me,” Muench says. He prefers returning to places again and again, in every season and at different times of day, coming to know them intimately, as you might come to know a lifelong friend. For him, a deeper relationship with his subject matter entails a conversation, one in which he listens to the silence, absorbs its wisdom, and carries it home to his studio to portray on canvas.
Art Word – Dorothy Goldeen’s Art Advisory
Richard Jackson at the Orange County Museum of Art
Contemporary art enthusiasts who eschew art history and the work from other cultures in favor of solely focusing on the present miss a critical link in understanding current art. Artists continually mine the past. Recognizing the use of and nuance from antecedents is part of the appreciation and pleasure of contemporary work.
This approach is in clear evidence in the wonderful Richard Jackson Retrospective currently on view at the Orange County Museum of Art through May 5. Although I had not previously been a fan of the work, this show won me over. Imagination and an unconventional spirit infuse the pieces. The exhibition is filled with innovation, bold execution, and plenty of artistic connection to both antecedents and contemporaries. Take pleasure in the nod to Jacques-Louis David, Duchamp, Pollock, Keinholz, Richter, Nauman, and others.