The intricate relationship between art and commerce.This past Wednesday, Christies auction house in New York sold an astounding $300 million of art……Does it really matter if its good or worth it? Is it art or a commodity?…. The sales figures seems unreal and completely abstract to many. Is there a coherence behind the chaos? Sometimes reality is stranger than artistic fiction. Also, the entire art business, does seem a symptom of the destructive forces in the modern zeitgeist; where art has been totally integrated as part of the entertainment complex with most modern work have little lasting value beyond a journalistic documentation of a period.
Despite this blunt assessment,the show must go on in the parlance of the big tent. The living artists must be aware that what gives their work such value in the wild, unregulated art market is precisely what can be least regulated about them: themselves.And this brings out the speculative feeding frenzy. Collecting the work of living artists excites, and frustrates collectors, because it is so unpredictable. Will an artist’s output dry up? Will their style change? Will a painting soon be worth four times what was paid for it?
And although many artists attempt to sway their own markets, dining with collectors and even like Rembrandt, bidding up their own works at auction, some are a bit more removed from the fray. Granted, the art world can certainly feel like a kind of inside joke on its own for sure, but the funniest part about this is that viewers have somehow been tricked into putting artwork on a pedestal where it simply cannot, nay, will not make you openly laugh, or even cringe whether a particular piece has an air of intended silliness or not. Yet, as Marcel Duchamp exemplified, poking holes into this perception of art as unquestionably authoritative is a favorite pastime of artists throughout history.
…The 16-minute-long contest — what veterans of such bidding battles would call an old-fashioned pissing contest between two rich guys — drove the price up beyond reason. The two bidders played a cagey cat-and-mouse game, jumping bids at various levels, from $100,000 to $500,000, making it an arduous task for auctioneer Christopher Burge to keep control of the contest, like an experienced headmaster trying to get a handle on two bratty school boys. The winning bidder was on the phone with Christie’s postwar and contemporary department co-head Brett Gorvy, who raised his clenched fist in victory when the time came to declare it. ….
…This season, the battle between the big rival auction houses was definitely a tale of two cities, as Sotheby’s came across as too aggressive with overreaching estimates on property that simply wasn’t good enough, while Christie’s flirted and enticed potential buyers with more conservative estimates and better kit.
Two Andy Warhol “Self-Portraits,” a previously unrecorded Mark Rothko, and a petite Francis Bacon self-portrait study triptych made up the quartet of $20 million lots. That group also soared past the highest prices achieved for Claude Monet, Maurice Vlaminck, and Pablo Picasso at the Impressionist-Modern evening sales last week. Read More:http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/37667/art-market-shakes-off-the-blues-with-christies-sizzling-3016-million-contemporary-sale/
Christopher Mason:What that means is that an ordinary rich person can get left in the lurch. The system is openly discriminatory, but not without its logic. In gallery parlance, a work of art is not so much sold as “placed” in a museum or collection that is likely to enhance the career of the artist. For dealers, it’s a way of controlling what happens to art after they’ve parted with it—hence, of manipulating its value. Dealers often rejoice, and collectors despair, that the art world is the last big unregulated business in America. Prices can be altered by steering works to the right people in the right places. And what dealers really don’t want to see is a work get flipped at auction.
Yet it’s precisely those auctions that have caused such a spike in the value of contemporary art. The frenzy’s being fueled by the discrepancy between the primary market price for works of art sold in galleries and the dizzying prices they’re likely to reach in the secondary market, particularly at auction.Read More:http://www.collectorcircle.com/html/shecantbebought.html
Duchamp’s account of his first business venture sounds more like a performance art piece than a genuine commercial endeavor. By staging a fictitious auction of Picabia’s works in order to recover the proceeds for Picabia, Duchamp uncovers the relationship of artistic and commercial value in the intervals between the signature, the work, and its circulation. As he points out, it would have been absurd to have a “Sale of Picabias by Picabia,” since there would be no buyers. The artist’s signature authorizes the work, but cannot confer value on it, since value is not inherent to the object but defined through social exchange. The price of a work in an auction is determined by the prospective buyers bidding against each other. Thus, value is created through exchange, through the display, circulation, and consumption of the work, in a game where worth has no meaning in and of itself. Read More:http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft3w1005ft&doc.view=content&chunk.id=d0e4875&toc.depth=1&anchor.id=0&brand=eschol
The courtroom battle has become an object of fascination in the art world. That may be because it reflects an increasingly common collector’s predicament—at its heart, it’s about someone’s being denied the opportunity to obtain what he can patently afford. The contemporary-art market hasn’t been this overheated since Soho circa 1989. Nowadays, hedge-fund billionaires who stroll into Chelsea galleries seeking work by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, or Cecily Brown quickly discover that money alone won’t help them get it. There is, more than ever, a waiting list, and more to the point, a pecking order within the list, which vaults some collectors above others….
Jean-Pierre Lehmann, of course, is no hedge-fund upstart; a discreet private investor, he’s been collecting art for three decades, and his wife co-owns a leading Chelsea gallery, Lehmann Maupin. But in this instance, he might as well have been one. Unlike other stymied collectors, however, he decided he had grounds to sue.
“This case shows the length a collector would go to secure themselves choice material,” says Sandy Heller, an art consultant to some of New York’s top hedge-fund managers. “Julie Mehretu’s work looked amazing at MoMA. If I were told I was going to get something by her and didn’t, I’d get pretty pissed, too.”
When did collecting art become such a maddening exercise for wealthy collectors, akin to having to go before picky co-op boards only to be rejected over and over again? Even Rembrandt and Dürer had waiting lists. But “lists for younger artists are a much more recent phenomenon,” says Chelsea dealer Barbara Gladstone. “It’s a function of this excitable market.” People on Wall Street are seeking contemporary-art trophies—and waiting lists make works even more enticing to obtain. It sounds familiar, and naturally everyone wonders when this bubble will burst. Right now “feels like the last days of the Roman Empire,” says private-art curator Todd Levin. “Compared to the eighties, it’s a much broader group with much more money”—though some of the people are the same ones who bought art the last time around….
…During her brash ascendancy as the queen of Soho in the eighties, art dealer Mary Boone succeeded in manipulating market demand by setting up waiting lists for such neo-Expressionist painters as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Ross Bleckner, and Eric Fischl. (It was a far cry from the dark ages of the sixties, when dealer Irving Blum struggled to find buyers for Warhol soup cans, which now fetch millions at auction.) Operating out of a former garage on West Broadway, Boone was the first gallerist to require aspiring collectors to purchase work by artists before it was even created—a move that exposed her to criticism that she sometimes persuaded artists to part with substandard work to meet the frenzied demand she’d helped stoke. Read More:http://www.collectorcircle.com/html/shecantbebought.html
Donald Kuspit:More particularly, any art that highlights capitalist society’s dirty underside of perpetual war, emotional terror and traumatic ugliness, and the desperate pursuit of pleasure that seeks relief from them — that dares to function as a social conscience, that places blame where blame must be conspicuously placed, that dares to tell truth to power, that accepts responsibility for its crimes against humanity when power will not accept them — must be prettified into inconsequence, treated as a kind of misplaced glamorization of society. Any art that fearlessly exposes its inherent barbarism — with an uncompromising, vehement realism more than equal to its own uncompromising, toxic character — is its enemy, and must be defeated by being re-made as a silly joke, a fatuous burlesque, a media caricature of itself, an artistic folly rather than an exposure of its own folly. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp