Could China’s Crash Be Like When Japan Took Down the Impressionist Market?

Gursky, Chicago Mercantile Exchange
Gursky, Chicago Mercantile Exchange

Artsy’s Alexander Forbes worries out loud that China’s stock market collapse could bring down the global art market. Here he’s thinking of Japan’s role in the art market crash of 1990 when Japanese buyers at the top end exited the Impressionist market bringing down much of the rest of the dramatically smaller art market of the time. Forbes is right to raise the question but the comparison is probably spurious.

For one thing, Forbes notices that Chinese domestic art buying has swooned by 30% (or, at least, whatever the Chinese auction houses are reporting as art sales has fallen) but Chinese buyers have increased their activity at Christie’s by 47%.

There may be a simple explanation for the differential that also helps put the Japanese experience in perspective.Continue Reading

Paul Allen Inserts Art Exhibition Program Into New Brain Science Research Center

Paul Allen

By the standards of today’s private art collections, Paul Allen’s 300 works is not that big. But his ambitions for promoting art in Seattle are. He’s the driving force behind the Seattle Art Fair, opening tomorrow, and has recently hired a curator to do something interesting in his new Brain Science research center:

Pivot Art + Culture will be a 4,000 square foot, two room gallery located in the Allen Institute for Brain Science, a research facility that the venture capitalist and philanthropist is developing on the edge of downtown Seattle in the South Lake Union neighborhood. Scheduled to open in December, it is intended to be a cultural magnet in an area known as a tech and bio-medical hub.

“It’s a marvelous job and I’m extremely excited about it,” Heywood said, adding. “Allen is a great guy with extremely deep pockets and I think we can do some very exciting things here.”

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Met Reaches 6.3m Attendance Record, Admission Fee Shrinks to ‘$10 and Change’

Metropolitan Museum of Art

Ten dollars. That what you should be paying to visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. There were 6.3m other visitors there last year and that’s what they paid on average. That’s also a record level of attendance for the Met which is the United States’s top museum:

The Met, which announced the figures late Monday, said it was the fourth year in a row that the museum had drawn more than 6 million visitors, keeping it in a rarefied group that includes the National Gallery and the British Museum in London, which both attracted slightly larger numbers, and the Louvre, the world’s biggest draw with more than 9 million in each of the last three years. The Met’s total, which includes visitors to both the main building on Fifth Avenue and the Cloisters in Washington Heights, was pushed up in part by the highly popular “China: Through the Looking Glass,” an exploration of China’s influence on Western fashion; it has drawn more than 350,000 visitors, many of whom are reflected in attendance numbers for the fiscal year that ended June 30.

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Dallas Capital of the Private Art Museum Movement?

Peter Doroshenko ran Victor Pinchuk’s private museum in Kyiv before moving to Dallas to run Dallas Contemporary, the city’s kunsthalle. He also put together a book about private art museums which features Dallas’s many examples:

The idea of a private museum is not new. Some of the most treasured American art institutions today—the Frick Collection, the Barnes Foundation, and Dallas’ Nasher Sculpture Center—began as private collections. What is new and interesting about the latest private art spaces is their novel design, function, and programming.

In his book Private Spaces for Contemporary Art, Dallas Contemporary executive director Peter Doroshenko writes about how the freedoms enjoyed by private owners—no need to show traveling exhibitions, financial independence—allow for spaces that can skew institutional models. “[Art collections] are exhibited in unique and spectacular spaces,” he writes, “many of them designed and erected for the sole purpose of highlighting their one-of-a-kind collections, creating an extraordinary and ideal environment for the artworks.”

Doroshenko’s book highlights private spaces throughout the world, but Dallas is something of a trend leader when it comes to private art museums. From Howard Rachofsky and Vernon Faulconer’s gargantuan The Warehouse to the monastic-like retreat of Marguerite Hoffman’s Garden Pavilion, Dallas’ private art spaces don’t just showcase specific collections. They create new possibilities for the exhibition of contemporary art.

Inside Dallas’ Private Art Museums  (D Magazine)

Why Do Critics Think the Market Taints a Curator?

Christopher Knight ran a strange piece a few weeks ago complaining that commercial interests had crossed the line in American museums. One of his tendentious points of evidence was to complain that distinguished curator and scholar John Elderfield had been hired by the Princeton University Art Museum. What was Elderfield’s disqualification? Apparently creating well-regarded shows for a major commercial gallery negated the man’s 33-year tenure at the Museum of Modern Art.

Now here’s Rachel Donadio giving a very good overview of the Fondation Cartier show of 350 works of African artitsts called Beauté Congo:

Others questioned the possible commercial implications of the show, since Mr. Magnin acquired work by some of the artists featured here in building up the holdings of Jean Pigozzi, a businessman, with what Mr. Magnin said was the largest collection of African contemporary art in the world, with 12,000 works.

Hervé Chandès, the director of the Cartier Foundation, said he wasn’t concerned. “If André hadn’t been there, I couldn’t have done the exhibition,” he said. “I needed someone with the knowledge of the artistic life of Congo.”

Exploring a Century of Art From Congo  (

ArtList’s 5 Art World Updates: Just the things you should know this week

Weekly post from ArtList, the online marketplace for private sales.

1. Art Market Report Released

This week, artnet released a report on the state of the international art market. While international sales are down from the same period last year, sales within the US have grown sizably.

Les Femmes d’Alger (Version “O”), the Picasso painting that set a world record earlier this year after being purchased for $179.4 million at auction(Observer)

In the first six months of 2015, international art sales reached $8.1 billion, while they rose to $8.6 billion during a comparable period in 2014. Meanwhile, US art sales reached $3.4 billion in the first six months of the year, compared to $2.9 billion at the same time in 2014. Despite an international decline, the report also found that the price-per-lot sold internationally rose 20% in 2015, reaching an average of $69,000, with 766 lots selling for more than $1 million each in the second quarter alone.

2. Gerhard Richter Disowns Almost Decade of Work

Gerhard Richter has definitely been making news lately. After facing off against the German government’s cultural minister last week, the renown postwar painter made headlines again this week for renouncing the representational works he created between 1962 and 1968, removing the works from his catalogue raisonné.

A 1962 painting that Richter no longer recognizes as part of his oeuvre (Bassenge via Tagesspiegel)

The 6 year phase represents Richter’s early West German period, which includes some of the most realistic, figurative works he ever created. The now primarily abstract painter has been known to maintain a strong hand in the curation of his catalogue (removing single works previously). However, the removal of so many works left many shocked and questioning the line between artistic control and historical denial.

3. New Trends in Collecting

ARTnews has compiled a study of the 200 top collectors list over the past 25 years. While most collectors still hail from the US or Europe, the amount of American and European collectors has fallen in the last 10 years, making room for an increasing number of collectors from (unsurprisingly) Asia and, to a lesser extent, Russian and the Ukraine.


Contemporary art remains the most collected genre of art, with a steady increase in acquisitions over the past 10 years. While the purchase of work from Old Masters has declined slightly and the collection of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist art has remained rather stable, there has been a marked increase in the collection of Asian art in the last 5 years. The increased interest in Asian art perhaps promises to be the most lasting trend of recent years.

4. Ai Weiwei Has Passport Returned

After four years of being unable to leave his home country of China, Ai Weiwei has finally gotten his passport back from the Chinese government. Government officials confiscated Weiwei’s passport at a Beijing airport in 2011, after which he was detained for 81 days without the filing of official charges.

A photo of Ai Weiwei with his returned passport that the artist posted to his personal Instagram account (@aiww)

This comes after months of easing tensions between the dissident artist and the Chinese government, who last month allowed the opening of Weiwei’s first solo show in China. Weiwei told CNN: “My heart is at peace. I feel quite relieved…Every human or citizen needs — if they travel — they need a passport. And mine [was] taken away with no clear reason. And now it’s back.”

5. Murakami & Louis Vuitton Part Ways

After 13 years, Louis Vuitton has ended its partnership with Takashi Murakami. The more than decade long collaboration, which began with a series of white and rainbow monogram bags, included the popular Cherry Blossom and Character Bag purses.

Some of Murakami’s purse for Louis Vuitton (left) and Murakami himself (right) at his solo exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles (New York Times).

The bags brought the Japanese artist incredible international attention and redefined the fashion house’s image. However, the relationship has tapered since Nicholas Ghesquiere replaced Marc Jacobs as creative director. Ghesquiere hopes to move the brand forward from the Murakami bags that became iconic of early 2000s fashion.

Arnold Lehman Joins Phillips as Senior Advisor

Arnold Lehman

Phillips is adding some art world influence in the form of Arnold Lehman who will act as Senior Advisor to Edward Dolman, Chairman & CEO. 

Based in New York, Mr. Lehman, currently the Shelby White and Leon Levy Director of the Brooklyn Museum, will advise on the global expansion of the Phillips brand, oversee a program that supports exhibitions and art projects in North American museums, and serve as a member of the Phillips Advisory Board. Mr. Lehman will begin his affiliation with Phillips in mid- September.

Highly respected in the national and international art community, Mr. Lehman has been an activist museum director for over forty years.  During that time, he hasbeen an advocate and leader of public accessibility, diversity, community, innovation, and freedom of expression in American museums and other cultural institutions. In his eighteen years in Brooklyn, over 200 exhibitions — often focused on twentieth century and contemporary art —were presented under his guidance and traveled to institutions around the world.

In addition, Mr. Lehman was elected June 1 to the position of Chair of the Board of Legg Mason Funds, where he has served as a director for more than 30 years.

Getting a Guercino Its Bona Fides at Princeton

We’ve mentioned the cute story of Federico Castelluccio, the Sopranos actor who found an old master work at a German auction house, who has been working his way toward getting it recognized as a lost Guercino.

The work has been on exhibit in Italy. Now the New York Times announces that it is coming to the US and will be shown in Princeton:

Guercino experts including David Stone, a professor at the University of Delaware, and Nicholas Turner, an independent art historian, have authenticated the piece, which Mr. Castelluccio said he found five years ago at a German auction house; it was labeled an anonymous 18th-century work. It shows St. Sebastian nearly naked and gazing heavenward as blood drips from arrow wounds in his torso.

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Disgraced Dealer’s Duplicity Lives On in the Market Long After in Wyeth’s Ice Storm

Andrew Wyeth, The Ice Storm (600-800) 989k USD
Andrew Wyeth, The Ice Storm (600-800) 989k USD

A childhood friend of David Ramus, the art dealer who crashed and burned in the 90s and eventually wrote a terrible novel about it (for which he was paid $1m by the publisher,) was convinced to lend him money under the guise of an interest in Andrew Wyeth’s painting “The Ice Storm” which was just sold at Christie’s this May for nearly $1m with fees:

Plaintiff Reed Galin, a former TV news anchor from Tennessee, demands the proceeds of that sale in a lawsuit that he filed on Wednesday against the Japanese gallery that consigned the painting for auction.

The defendants, collector Kunitaki Hamada and his Gallery Hamada, denied any wrongdoing through their attorney.

Galin alleges that the gallery should have known the painting’s provenance was fishy because it once belonged to his lifelong friend David Ramus, who was convicted of defrauding dozens of art collectors in 1996.

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Miami Hedgie Can’t Get His Serra & Turrell On View

Fairholme Capital building project in Miami

Miami isn’t helping a hedgie bring two works of art by Richard Serra and James Turrell to an office project:

Bruce Berkowitz, founder of Fairholme Capital Management […] wanted to build an Arquitectonica-designed office building, but not just any building — an area-unique, anvil-shaped 10-story headquarters for his business and also his foundation on a lot on 26th Street and Biscayne Boulevard in Edgewater. The exterior of the nearly windowless building will be a new type of concrete embedded with glass fiber optics that renders it translucent. At night, the building should glow. Yes, grandiose plans, but all privately funded.

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