Adam Lindemann has some tart comments for Gerhard Richter and Jacob Kassay in his Observer column. The issue is both artists’ recently expressed disdain for the art market. We’re all familiar with Richter’s view but Kassay is a little more interesting.
Lindemann points out that Kassay has gone out of his way to diminish the importance of the people who brought him to prominence (“It’s really simple,” Kassay told the New Yorker about collectors. “All they have is money.”)
The young artist is even ambivalent about the importance of his own work (“These are things that have been explored in painting since the fifties,” he said of his achromatic paintings. “So I didn’t think I was doing anything new.” And: “I always thought this work was much more boring than people were taking it for.” Though he manages to get prickly when it is suggested he move on from his silver paintings: “I’m not going to drop something I’m proud of and have been doing for six years.”)
With that kind of attitude, and sustained demand on the secondary market, Lindemann couldn’t stay away from his show at London’s ICA and the talk the artist gave there:
The show was worth seeing because, contrary to the critical view that he is simply copying Swiss conceptual artist Rudolfs Stingel, Mr. Kassay instead spoke, in a lecture, about his references to the under-appreciated minimalist painter Jo Baer as well as the venerable Ellsworth Kelly. The good looking and well spoken young man expressed his interest in light and reflectivity as well as perception, dimension and space. If he succeeds in forging a career, he will join a new generation of artists who are revisiting Minimalism; if not, he’ll be a glowing silver flash in the pan, but one we’ll not soon forget.
I myself haven’t made up my mind about him. I would prefer to wait to see, and give him time, but the hype and the hoopla are definitely big-time fun. I managed to throw a dart at him during his talk by asking him if he had been misquoted with respect to “collector’s money,” to which he answered that he stood by his statement because he needed to protect himself from issues of money and the market in order to focus on his practice. It’s a refrain we’ve heard before, and it sounds nice if you’re willing to pretend you’ve forgotten that the only reason everyone’s talking about you is because you’re a twenty-to-one winner on the auction block. […] And while I don’t care for Kassay’s moaning about all the auction interest the world has heaped on him, I thought his installation of silver paintings at the ICA was original and even promising.
Let’s not leave the subject without offering a brief recap of Kassay’s recent auction performance. A small work was sold in the New York mid-season sales for $37,500 but it was a diminutive 14 x 10 inches. In London, large-scale examples (48 x 36) traded at Phillips de Pury and Sotheby’s for prices (£163,250 and £145,250 respectively) that are consistent with the artist’s June prices in London. New York will test the market again with diptych of small paintings that has been estimated in the $30-40k range.
Nevermind the Griping, Here’s the Art Market (Observer.com)