Banksy may get almost as much publicity as Damien Hirst but his work isn’t inciting the buyers in the same way. A London auction of street art was a dissappointment yesterday as Scott Reyburn describes in his Bloomberg piece. To be fair, Banksy’s work was weak because it wasn’t authenticated. The artist’s authentication committee refuses to sign off on works that have been uprooted from the street. The rest of the sale, however, suggested the dour mood of the financial markets is casting a pall over the art market:
“Things are difficult at the moment,” said Annabel Thomas, an executive director at the London-based dealers The Fine Art Society, who attended the auction. “There’s a definite retreat to the blue-chip material.”
The 74 lots sold went for 300,000 pounds ($553,400) with fees [ . . . ] The presale estimate was at least 1 million pounds. The auction included many items priced in the 1,000-pound to 5,000-pound range.
“Everything was well priced and interesting,” said Ben Hanly, the auction company’s modern and contemporary-art specialist. “But the timing of the sale was difficult. There’s a simple lack of cash at the moment. The market’s not good.”
Chelsea Watches and Waits
Katya Kazakina reports on Bloomberg from New York’s Chelsea gallery district that business is cautious. Though the story has some very interesting tidbits, it should be pointed out that the buzz from the gallery world–whether in Chelsea or at the Art Fairs–has been steady tone of caution and restraint. The locked-down credit markets surely increase that tendency.
“My clients are sitting tight and they want to see what happens in the next six to eight months,” says Cristina Delgado, a New York-based art adviser. “The prices for young and emerging artists have to come down to adjust to a new economic reality.”
Lisa Spellman, the owner of 303 Gallery, has new videos and light boxes by Doug Aitken on view at two exhibition spaces in Chelsea. Many of her Wall Street and real-estate clients have been noticeably absent recently. “New York money managers and Wall Street collectors are definitely not making sales,” she says. “They are working 80 hours a week. Art is the last thing they are thinking about right now.”
There’s plenty of activity outside of New York, Spellman says. Buyers, including a museum trustee, have snapped up the edition of four Aitken’s light boxes shaped as a word “STAR.” The seductive black work glows with starlight and is priced at $200,000. [ . . .]
While sales may be slower, the economy is yet to affect public interest in contemporary art. On a recent Saturday, hundreds of people quietly watched Aitken’s enigmatic videos in a darkened 303 Gallery. A few blocks north, the opening of Cecily Brown’s show at Gagosian was packed with New York fashionistas and Russian models.
At Times Like These, It’s Good to Work for a Not-for-Profit
Bloomberg reveals that MoMA’s Glenn Lowry makes the top arts salary–though 20% of the eye-popping $1.7 million is rent on his apartment in the Museum Tower. Of course, in the conflicted world of the arts and charities, there is a tension between wanting a world-class institution but believing it should be run by persons who are above the pecuniary pressures of modern life:
“Some people believe that nonprofit managers need to be compensated well because they’re managing complex institutions, and others think this is too excessive,” said Stacy Palmer, editor of the Washington-based Chronicle. “When people see these salaries, they don’t always think that this is appropriate for a nonprofit institution.”
And What About Pamela?
How perfectly Princian? Colin Gleadell unearths this catalogue gem from the upcoming photography sales in which it is revealed that Pamela Anderson is selling a Richard Prince photograph. From the story it would appear Anderson is selling in distress but Gleadell is more curious how Anderson came to be a collector in the first place:
How Anderson came to acquire the photograph is not known. “Pamela is a girl friend,” Prince tells me. In 1998, he made a series of works in which he appropriated 8in x 10in publicity photographs of celebrities, Anderson among them, on which he wrote dedications and signed their names.
Why she is selling is also unknown. Her manager [ . . . ] describes her as “a small-scale art collector” and says that she is selling for “complicated reasons”. “I am having to sell this photo and it kills me,” she says.
Pamela Anderson: Art Collector (Daily Telegraph)
Advice to the Young Artist
I’d advise people who are serious about their careers to come to London, and to meet people. Go to lots of openings if you can, and meet people and hone your personal skills. You can have all the technique and all the originality in the world, but if you’re not much fun to be around then nobody’s going to want to work with you. [ . . . ]
Don’t overprice your work – a lot of students get very cocky, they think they’re the next Damien Hirst. If you put a massive price tag on it nothing happens and there’s only one way for the prices to go. I think it’s better to sell the work and get it out there – you don’t have to store it, it’s doing it’s work on someone’s wall, it’s an ambassador for you, the person who bought it will be an ambassador of yours – especially if you sell to a journalist, I sold several to one very early one. [ . . .]
Most of being an artist is making art, and the nice fuzzy idea you have in the bath, the hard work and horrible compromises of getting work realised, happen afterwards. Stick at it – even if it blows up in the kiln! Ceramics never turn out exactly like I imagine, and you have to learn to adjust your view of the finished thing, that you’re not comparing it to your fantasy, you have to look at it with a cold eye and think ‘is it any good?’ You have to learn to trust your eye, and having a good idea is not making a good artwork – I can’t emphasise that enough.
Grayson Perry’s advice for aspiring artists (Times Online)
Opportunity in the East?
Here’s a strange story from the Daily Telegraph. It suggests that the market mayhem of 1987 and 1997 helped launch the Asian art markets–though no one explains how. It then goes on to tell some hair-raising stories about the behavior of Asian artists and collectors–not to mention bubble worries. With that set-up, here’s how the story brings it home:
But given China’s vast wealth, there is a consensus that Chinese art is here to stay and Singapore is desperate to get a slice of the action.
“The contribution of the arts to GDP is currently one-point-something per cent,” said Low Kee Hong of the National Arts Council. “Within five to eight years we want to raise that to 3.5 per cent, not including tourism.” Insurance companies, expert handlers and arts management companies will all benefit.
Singapore is offering tax breaks and building a new £43million “FreePort” where dealers and collectors can anonymously store, view and sell art in secure, climate-controlled conditions. That, said Mr Low, will “encourage high net worth individuals to park their assets in Singapore”.
Asian Cities Compete for a Slice of the Art Boom (Daily Telegraph)