everything must go: but deep pockets not enough

The intricate relationship between art and commerce.This past Wednesday, Christies auction house in New York sold an astounding $300 million of art……Does it really matter if its good or worth it? Is it art or a commodity?…. The sales figures seems unreal and completely abstract to many. Is there a coherence behind the chaos? Sometimes reality is stranger than artistic fiction. Also, the entire art business, does seem a symptom of the destructive forces in the modern zeitgeist; where art has been totally integrated as part of the entertainment complex with most modern work have little lasting value beyond a journalistic documentation of a period.

Despite this blunt assessment,the show must go on in the parlance of the big tent. The living artists must be aware that what gives their work such value in the wild, unregulated art market is precisely what can be least regulated about them: themselves.And this brings out the speculative feeding frenzy. Collecting the work of living artists excites, and frustrates collectors, because it is so unpredictable. Will an artist’s output dry up? Will their style change? Will a painting soon be worth four times what was paid for it?

Richard Diebenkorn. Ocean Park 121. $7.7 million. Chrisities. ---In their quest to acquire work by artists who are deemed fashionable, collectors will do all sorts of curious things. “I’ve seen tough business people grovel in a way they would never do in their business lives,” says Amy Cappellazzo, a former art adviser who is now head of Christie’s contemporary department--- Read More:http://www.collectorcircle.com/html/shecantbebought.html

And although many artists attempt to sway their own markets, dining with collectors and even like Rembrandt, bidding up their own works at auction, some are  a bit more removed from the fray. Granted, the art world can certainly feel like a kind of inside joke on its own for sure, but the funniest part about this is that viewers have somehow been tricked into putting artwork on a pedestal where it simply cannot, nay, will not make you openly laugh, or even cringe whether a particular piece has an air of intended silliness or not. Yet, as Marcel Duchamp exemplified, poking holes into this perception of art as unquestionably authoritative is a favorite pastime of artists throughout history.

---Thus, while Cage is able to recognize the limited edition aspect of the ready-mades, he is unable to deal with Schwarz's reissuing them as a "second edition." Whereas Cage is willing to assume Duchamp's initial signature as the signature of the artist, he is uncertain whether the second signature is not merely that of the businessman. The effort to extricate art from economics proves to be extremely difficult, since Duchamp's oeuvre stages significant questions regarding the effects that the ready-mades, as reproducible objects, will have on the relation between art and economics, as well as the definition of the artist as author and guarantor of artifacts. Cage's and Cabanne's difficulty in reconciling art and business reflects a fundamental prejudice in the Western conception of the artist, which supposes art to be entirely removed from the economic sphere. There is, however, something fundamental shared by art and economics: the notion of value. It can be argued that value in art is an abstraction, since masterpieces are so valuable that they are often priceless. Yet the same is true of the value generated by commercial transactions, insofar as worth is relative to the system of exchange that generates it. What fascinates Duchamp is the process by which a work acquires artistic and commercial value. The production of value entails, for him, a social and speculative dimension. Read More:http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft3w1005ft&doc.view=content&chunk.id=d0e4875&toc.depth=1&anchor.id=0&brand=eschol

…The 16-minute-long contest — what veterans of such bidding battles would call an old-fashioned pissing contest between two rich guys — drove the price up beyond reason. The two bidders played a cagey cat-and-mouse game, jumping bids at various levels, from $100,000 to $500,000, making it an arduous task for auctioneer Christopher Burge to keep control of the contest, like an experienced headmaster trying to get a handle on two bratty school boys. The winning bidder was on the phone with Christie’s postwar and contemporary department co-head Brett Gorvy, who raised his clenched fist in victory when the time came to declare it. ….

Julie Mehretu.---Haye attempted to placate him by selling him a small Mehretu, Excerpt Regiment, for $17,500. In court Lehmann explained that because of its size he didn’t really want the painting. “But he bought it, and he’s stuck with it,” the judge joked. “I thought it was pretty good myself.” Lehmann testified that he was furious when he received a catalogue of paintings from a one-woman show by Mehretu at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. “I was flabbergasted,” he said in court, “because I’d asked for a year and a half for a work by Julie Mehretu. And I saw that the Greenberg Rohatyns owned five, and people I’d never heard of owned them.” “There were obvious reasons to think that we’ve been very badly treated,” he said later.--- Read More:http://www.collectorcircle.com/html/shecantbebought.html image:http://art-documents.tumblr.com/post/598433316/julie-mehretu

…This season, the battle between the big rival auction houses was definitely a tale of two cities, as Sotheby’s came across as too aggressive with overreaching estimates on property that simply wasn’t good enough, while Christie’s flirted and enticed potential buyers with more conservative estimates and better kit.

---Leading the pack was the night's top lot — not to mention the most expensive picture to sell so far this season in any category — "Self-Portrait," a medley of variously hued blues in four parts, dating from 1963-64. These so-called photo-booth self-portraits, made in seedy Times Square way before that area was cleaned up, and scaled at 40 by 32 inches, came from the family of the late Detroit art collector and tastemaker Florence Barron. It sold to a telephone bidder for $38,442,500 (est. $20-30 million). --- Read More:http://antiquesandartireland.com/

Two Andy Warhol “Self-Portraits,” a previously unrecorded Mark Rothko, and a petite Francis Bacon self-portrait study triptych made up the quartet of $20 million lots. That group also soared past the highest prices achieved for Claude Monet, Maurice Vlaminck, and Pablo Picasso at the Impressionist-Modern evening sales last week. Read More:http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/37667/art-market-shakes-off-the-blues-with-christies-sizzling-3016-million-contemporary-sale/

---Five artist records were set. Of these, Cindy Sherman's exquisite "Untitled #153," a color coupler print from 1981 featuring the artist as a cashmere-clad ingénue, seductively reclining with a crumpled personal ad in one hand, sold to New York dealer Philippe Segalot for $3,890,500 (est. $1.5-2 million). The underbidder was New York dealer Per Skarstedt. The sellers had acquired the print, from an edition of ten, in 1981, when Sherman's market was in its infancy. Another later version from 1985 sold at Phillips de Pury last November for $2,770,500, the previous high. Remarkably, Sherman's feminist work now also represents the most expensive photograph ever to sell at auction, topping über-star Andreas Gursky's "99 Cent II" (2001), which sold for $3,346,456 at Sothe

39;s London in February 2007. Christie's had guaranteed a secret amount to the sellers, so the house profited handsomely from their risk-taking. (In fact, they either guaranteed or found anonymous third-party backers for 13 lots in the evening.) --- Read More:http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/37667/art-market-shakes-off-the-blues-with-christies-sizzling-3016-million-contemporary-sale/ image:http://www.spreadartculture.com/2010/11/02/simon-says-its-open-house/3-3/

Christopher Mason:What that means is that an ordinary rich person can get left in the lurch. The system is openly discriminatory, but not without its logic. In gallery parlance, a work of art is not so much sold as “placed” in a museum or collection that is likely to enhance the career of the artist. For dealers, it’s a way of controlling what happens to art after they’ve parted with it—hence, of manipulating its value. Dealers often rejoice, and collectors despair, that the art world is the last big unregulated business in America. Prices can be altered by steering works to the right people in the right places. And what dealers really don’t want to see is a work get flipped at auction.

Yet it’s precisely those auctions that have caused such a spike in the value of contemporary art. The frenzy’s being fueled by the discrepancy between the primary market price for works of art sold in galleries and the dizzying prices they’re likely to reach in the secondary market, particularly at auction.Read More:http://www.collectorcircle.com/html/shecantbebought.html


---The evening also rehabilitated certain artists whose markets caught bad viruses in 2008, including Richard Prince, whose "Nurse on Horseback" — a fetching 78-by-58-inch work dating from his acclaimed and much-speculated-upon 2004 series — sold to New York's L&M Arts for $4,786,500 (est. $3.5-4.5 million). Still, a later Prince, "Untitled (de Kooning)," a huge 86-by-118 inch acrylic-and-inkjet-on-canvas from 2007, featuring de Kooning-esque women collaged with appropriated soft-porn elements, failed to sell at $1.4 million against a $1.5-2 million estimate. --- Read More:http://www.christies.com/LotFinder/lot_details.aspx?intObjectID=5437822


---That same bidder went on an art shopping spree, nabbing the Bacon as well as Urs Fischer's much-hyped and giant outdoor sculpture "Untitled (Lamp/Bear)," in cast bronze from 2005-2006, for a record $6,802,500 (est. on request), as well as Alighiero Boetti's signature "Mappa del Mondo," an embroidered tapestry of the world from 1988, which fetched $2,332,500 (est. $1.2-1.8 million). --- Read More:http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/37667/art-market-shakes-off-the-blues-with-christies-sizzling-3016-million-contemporary-sale/?page=2


---Francis Bacon, another market giant who had lately been bruised after a great buildup in price points paid by various oligarchs and hedgies, found some favor last night with the guaranteed "Untitled (Crouching Nude on Rail)" (1952), which sold for a somewhat modest $9,602,500 (est. $10-15 million). Christie's also had success with the more appealing and angsty "Three Studies for Self-Portrait" triptych in oil on canvas from 1974, which sold for $25,282,500 (unpublished estimate on request). Both these Bacons went to telephone bidders, including the triptych, for which Christie's chairman Edward Dolman handled proxy bids with paddle number 103. --- Read More:http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/37667/art-market-shakes-off-the-blues-with-christies-sizzling-3016-million-contemporary-sale/?page=2 image:http://www.artknowledgenews.com/Christies_Sells_Francis_Bacons_Triptych_for-345-M.html

Duchamp’s account of his first business venture sounds more like a performance art piece than a genuine commercial endeavor. By staging a fictitious auction of Picabia’s works in order to recover the proceeds for Picabia, Duchamp uncovers the relationship of artistic and commercial value in the intervals between the signature, the work, and its circulation. As he points out, it would have been absurd to have a “Sale of Picabias by Picabia,” since there would be no buyers. The artist’s signature authorizes the work, but cannot confer value on it, since value is not inherent to the object but defined through social exchange. The price of a work in an auction is determined by the prospective buyers bidding against each other. Thus, value is created through exchange, through the display, circulation, and consumption of the work, in a game where worth has no meaning in and of itself. Read More:http://publishing.cdlib.org/ucpressebooks/view?docId=ft3w1005ft&doc.view=content&chunk.id=d0e4875&toc.depth=1&anchor.id=0&brand=eschol

---A stunning and rare Cy Twombly chalkboard painting, "Untitled," in house paint and wax crayon on canvas from 1967 and packed with his loopy arabesques, sold to a bidder in the room for a record $15,202,500 (est. $10-15 million). New York dealer Christophe van de Weghe was the underbidder. Christie's and an anonymous third party guaranteed the lot. ---Read More:http://www.artinfo.com/news/story/37667/art-market-shakes-off-the-blues-with-christies-sizzling-3016-million-contemporary-sale/?page=2 image:http://artobserved.com/2011/05/ao-onsite-auction-results-new-york-christies-post-war-warhol-rothko-are-top-lots/



The courtroom battle has become an object of fascination in the art world. That may be because it reflects an increasingly common collector’s predicament—at its heart, it’s about someone’s being denied the opportunity to obtain what he can patently afford. The contemporary-art market hasn’t been this overheated since Soho circa 1989. Nowadays, hedge-fund billionaires who stroll into Chelsea galleries seeking work by Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, or Cecily Brown quickly discover that money alone won’t help them get it. There is, more than ever, a waiting list, and more to the point, a pecking order within the list, which vaults some collectors above others….

Kuspit:Regardless of his reputation among latter-day avant-gardists, Dix understood that Old Master realist art would last longer than New Master abstract art, for social reality would outlast all art -- it would always be there, while art might no longer be, having been completely assimilated by the entertainment business, which is why art had to memorialize reality to last, that is, to have a social future. Old Master art was harder to turn into entertainment than modern art, which often seemed like amateur theater, which is why Dix used Old Master art as a mold to contain the entertaining world of sex and suffering -- the world of the Berlin clubs and streets -- he knew firsthand. His art is a brilliant dialectical union of calm and collected -- sane -- Old Master art and violent and and chaotic -- insane -- modern reality. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp

Jean-Pierre Lehmann, of course, is no hedge-fund upstart; a discreet private investor, he’s been collecting art for three decades, and his wife co-owns a leading Chelsea gallery, Lehmann Maupin. But in this instance, he might as well have been one. Unlike other stymied collectors, however, he decided he had grounds to sue.

“This case shows the length a collector would go to secure themselves choice material,” says Sandy Heller, an art consultant to some of New York’s top hedge-fund managers. “Julie Mehretu’s work looked amazing at MoMA. If I were told I was going to get something by her and didn’t, I’d get pretty pissed, too.”

When did collecting art become such a maddening exercise for wealthy collectors, akin to having to go before picky co-op boards only to be rejected over and over again? Even Rembrandt and Dürer had waiting lists. But “lists for younger artists are a much more recent phenomenon,” says Chelsea dealer Barbara Gladstone. “It’s a function of this excitable market.” People on Wall Street are seeking contemporary-art trophies—and waiting lists make works even more enticing to obtain. It sounds familiar, and naturally everyone wonders when this bubble will burst. Right now “feels like the last days of the Roman Empire,” says private-art curator Todd Levin. “Compared to the eighties, it’s a much broader group with much more money”—though some of the people are the same ones who bought art the last time around….

Dix. The Art Dealer. ---Kuspit:When I visited Dix in 1959 at his home in Hemmenhofen-am-Bodensee -- far from Berlin and not far from the Swiss border, so that he could escape across it if the Nazis came for him -- he proudly told me that he had learned the techniques of the Old Masters: his pictures would last as long as theirs -- at least 500 years, he said. Along with Soutine and Jacob Epstein, among others, he turned to “museum art,” losing credibility -- a credibility he never had among the avant-gardists, and that social realism -- especially his kind of existential German social realism -- never had. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp

…During her brash ascendancy as the queen of Soho in the eighties, art dealer Mary Boone succeeded in manipulating market demand by setting up waiting lists for such neo-Expressionist painters as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Julian Schnabel, Ross Bleckner, and Eric Fischl. (It was a far cry from the dark ages of the sixties, when dealer Irving Blum struggled to find buyers for Warhol soup cans, which now fetch millions at auction.) Operating out of a former garage on West Broadway, Boone was the first gallerist to require aspiring collectors to purchase work by artists before it was even created—a move that exposed her to criticism that she sometimes persuaded artists to part with substandard work to meet the frenzied demand she’d helped stoke. Read More:http://www.collectorcircle.com/html/shecantbebought.html
Donald Kuspit:More particularly, any art that highlights capitalist society’s dirty underside of perpetual war, emotional terror and traumatic ugliness, and the desperate pursuit of pleasure that seeks relief from them — that dares to function as a social conscience, that places blame where blame must be conspicuously placed, that dares to tell truth to power, that accepts responsibility for its crimes against humanity when power will not accept them — must be prettified into inconsequence, treated as a kind of misplaced glamorization of society. Any art that fearlessly exposes its inherent barbarism — with an uncompromising, vehement realism more than equal to its own uncompromising, toxic character — is its enemy, and must be defeated by being re-made as a silly joke, a fatuous burlesque, a media caricature of itself, an artistic folly rather than an exposure of its own folly. Read More:http://www.artnet.com/magazineus/features/kuspit/otto-dix3-24-10.asp


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