Newsweek is caught up in the collision between art and luxury goods. Nick Foulkes wonders about Vacheron’s new line of $367,000 watches inspired by African and Oceanic masks, Ikepod’s Jeff Koons watches and Louis Vuitton’s association with just about everyone else. (Okay, just Richard Prince and Takashi Murakami.)
There was a time when artists inhabited an altogether loftier plane than the purveyors of luxury goods. There were occasional crossovers, such as Yves Saint Laurent’s Mondrian-inspired dress and Château Mouton Rothschild’s artist-designed wine labels. But rarely did the twain meet. […]
One consequence of the increasing desirability of contemporary art is that some artists have amassed fortunes that were unthinkable a decade ago. Beijing art dealer Fabien Fryns has introduced many leading European collectors to Chinese contemporary art. “What has surprised me since I first came in 2004 is that artists who lived simply have now achieved the sort of wealth that makes them like rock stars,” he says. “It is far from unknown for an artist to drive a Ferrari, Maserati, or fully loaded Range Rover. One of my closest friends is the artist Zeng Fanzhi. Until 2002 he lived very modestly; now he is fascinated by the great luxury houses of Europe, especially Hermès.”
The power of Zeng’s work has yet to be officially harnessed by one of the leading luxury-goods houses, but unofficially he has already made his first art product. “Recently my mother visited Beijing,” says Fryns, “and she had a plain canvas bag from Fendi that came with a set of crayons. I was rather touched when Zeng Fanzhi spent half an hour drawing on the outside. I hope my mother is using one of her other handbags when she goes out shopping.” Given that Zeng’s most expensive work sold for $9.7 million, this one-of-a-kind Fendi must surely be one of the most valuable handbags in history.
Where Art Meets Luxury Design (Newsweek)