The Art Newspaper follows up its publication of Harald Falckenberg’s essay on the art world “Every Era Gets the Art World it Deserves” with an interview. Here are a few of the interesting comments Falckenberg made. None are earth-shattering but all are well and succinctly made:
The role of private museums should not be overstated, however. They are a reaction to the trend of traditional museums putting more and more emphasis on temporary exhibitions over their own collections. Nearly 80% of their visitors are attracted by the temporary exhibitions. Tate Modern, with its five million visitors, is the world leader in this respect, with MoMA not far behind. And the competition continues. Tate Modern and MoMA are planning new exhibition spaces to increase the number of visitors by at least one million in the next few years.
Today’s international art world is based on success and high prices. The world’s rich put their money in recognised art as an investment. There is talk of money laundering and a general flight to material assets in times of low interest rates, but art is first and foremost a luxury accessory and a status symbol. Again and again, the media report on new record prices for art. Of similar or maybe even greater importance is the sponsorship of art by multi-national companies. Volkswagen and BMW, just two examples, have long-term contracts with MoMA and Tate Modern to increase the value of their products. Along with showbiz celebrities and star athletes, art has become a third avenue for their promotional activities. It’s a logical choice, as images can be understood everywhere and represent desires, longings and individuality, independent of language. So today’s art is consolidated in the international world of business, glamour, events and supported by the print and online media. The set-up is perfect and would not work without stars and top prices. That’s why the oft-cited art bubble won’t burst, provided, naturally, that the whole system will not collapse.
[T]he speculators who drove the market in the past ten years have more or less disappeared since 2008. Today’s rich collectors see highly rated art as a long-term investment and that’s still speculation in my understanding. In contrast to a few years ago, the market for medium- and low-priced art works is stagnating or even recessive, naturally with exceptions, for instance Banksy and others. Speculation will always be a part of art collecting.
Traditional galleries are having a hard time. They generally don’t have enough funds and staff to present their artists internationally. Once their artists become successful, they leave and join internationally established galleries, or others, such as Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst or Olafur Eliasson, build their own companies with up to 100 or more employees as in historical times of the Renaissance art schools. Commercial galleries have not yet found a suitable solution, but more and more of them will likely commit a substantial part of their activities to the “secondary market” as art dealers.
Feudalism returns to the art world (The Art Newspaper)