Outsider art has its weekend in New York; French auctioneers clear more than €1.1bn; Skarstedt readies a new New York space; Behind the first art market index in the late 1960s; Francine du Plessix Gray dies at 88.
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Outsider Art Fair Doubles in Size for 2019
Brook Mason has a preview of this year’s Outsider Art Fair in New York and the attendant auctions at Christie’s—where there’s a $250k Henry Darger and some Bill Traylor’s on offer. The number of dealers at the Outsider Art Fair has more than doubled this year to 65:
- High-profile collectors such as MoMA president emerita Agnes Gund, as well as A-list artists Maurizio Cattalan, Sophie Calle, and KAWS, regularly snap up prize examples. Then there are the top celebrity collectors: David Byrne of the Talking Heads, movie director Jim Jarmusch, and actress Rachel McAdams, among the most notable and outspoken fans of outsider art.
French Auction Houses Publish Annual Turnover
The Antiques Trade Gazette has gathered the annual sales figures for the Paris salerooms. Most of the houses recorded sales in the region of their 2017 sales except Christie’s which saw a significant drop from 2017 which had a nearly 50% spike from the year before. In other words, sales at Chrstie’s Paris returned to normal in 2018.
The total reported by the Antiques Trade Gazette is €1.121bn.
- Sotheby’s France = €251.4m
- Christie’s France = €234.5m
- Artcurial’s Paris, Lyon, Toulouse and Monaco = €195.3m
- Drouot, home to sales for over 60 French auction firms, = €376m
- Outside Paris, the Ivoire group of auctioneers, comprising 13 regional auction firms across France from Reims to Aix en Provence, = €64m.
Skarstedt to Open Second New York Space on 64th St.
FAD Magazine announces that Per Skarstedt has taken space to open another gallery space several blocks south from his current location:
- “Skarstedt has announced that it will be opening a new gallery on New York’s Upper East Side in March 2019. Skarstedt will be taking over the historic 25,000-square-foot property at 19 East 64th Street, which was purpose-built as an art gallery in 1932 and designed by renowned architect Horace Trumbauer.”
How an Art Market Index Backfired on the Auction Business
Tiernen Morgan has a long, detailed and fascinating story on Hyperallergic that centers on Geraldine Norman’s four-year effort to create the Times-Sotheby’s art market index in 1967. Norman eventually switched from helping promote the idea of art as an investment toward forcing the auction houses to offer greater clarity on their sales (which would end up doing more for the value of art than the index.)
The story is circuitous but at every turn you’ll be reminded that nearly every complaint about the art market has been voiced before, some as long as a century ago:
- The conceptualization of art as an investment commodity was not without precedent. Émile Zola’s 1886 novel, L’œuvre (“The Work” or “The Masterpiece”), characterized the increasingly speculative character of the late- nineteenth-century art market. The novel features a character named Naudet, a Parisian art dealer who only engages with the “moneyed amateur” who buys pictures “as he might buy a share at the stock exchange.” Naudet’s sales pitch is as follows:“Look here, I’ll make you a proposal; I’ll sell it you for five thousand francs, and I’ll sign an agreement to take it back in a twelvemonth at six thousand, if you no longer care for it.”
Francine du Plessix Gray Dies at 88
The New York Times has Francine du Plessix Gray’s obituary. The step-daughter of painter Alexander Liberman, who went on to become Editorial Director of Condé Nast, and wife of painter Cleve Gray, she studied at Black Mountain College in the fifties and painted in Litchfield County later that decade after marrying Gray. But she turned to writing reviews for Art in America where she became the book editor in the 1960s. She went on to write essays for The New York Review of Books and a memoir among other books.