The catalogue for Sotheby’s Evening sale of Contemporary art appeared this season in App form for the iPad. Sotheby’s has taken a big step forward here. If you have an iPad, the app is well worth exploring not only for its ease of navigation and integration of video with the catalogue content but also for the features that are not available in the online version. Take, for example, this interview with Marcel Brient (conducted by Correntin Hamel,) who has two works in the sale, the introduces for the first time the act of selling as a significant moment in collecting:
You recently made a number of major sales at auction, some of which achieved records for artists who were not yet established on the market.
I thought it would be interesting to introduce artists who are not unknown, but who are not the usual artists one sees at auction. The selected works reveal that they are great artists, and show their potential and talent. I attempted, like a simple collector, to create surprise.
I find it captivating for a collector to try to bring a new artist into another dimension of desire, a desire which fuels the highest level of the art market. When a work of art is put on the market, it is sold and ends up in the hands of a collector, and of course, if it is an important piece of work, it will inevitably end up in a museum. But there is this extraordinary period of desire, which has a history as long as collecting itself.
You seem to see auctions as a point in time of the history of art.
I am an art lover, but I have studied the market in depth, and I believe it is a product of both desire and sociology. Auction houses can sometimes seem repetitive. The audience is mostly comprised of the same people, and each party is aware of the other’s taste. To me, for example, it appears that we have not seen important works by Cady Noland sold at auction. I want to introduce artists who have important works that deserve to be acknowledged. Offering these types of works is risky, as it depends on the market recognizing for the first time what we consider a great work. Recently, with Sotheby’s help, this undertaking has been successful, and there has been a strong demand for originality and creative power. One sees that buyers do not have such definite expectations-they are ready to get excited.
Aren’t selling and collecting incompatible?
Personally, it is about getting rid of something, or more specifically transferring it. It is extremely important to me to not be a collector “attached” to his possessions. I also like a type of bohemianism, which is why I admire Charles Saatchi, but the possibility of letting something go is also part of me. Of course, it can be difficult, and I sold pieces that were important to me, but I am very happy to convince myself to do it. In this way, auction houses support the fact that any possession or collection is transitory, and it will not be me, but someone else who will someday sit in front of these works.