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Random Thoughts on the Aftermath of ABMB by Giappo

Posted by on 6:04 am in Writing | 0 comments

Random Thoughts on the Aftermath of ABMB by Giappo

Well it’s all over folks! Today marked the final day of ABMB 2013. They came, they saw, they partied. They looked at lots of Art, and some of them even bought it too. The overall reports this week were that the fairs were on fire with many collectors eager to make purchases in this currently “booming” Contemporary Art Market. Brisk sales were reported from out of the gate with rumors of some galleries even selling out their entire booth in the first hour (weren’t they lucky!). Many big-ticket items exchanged hands over the week such as Jeff Koons’ Baroque Egg with Bow (Turquoise/Magenta) 1994-2008 reportedly sold for $8m by Gagosian. A number of works were sold in the 25k-500k range by artists including popular names such as Ai Wei Wei, Tracy Emin, Jose Davila and many, many more. “It was a big day,” David Zwirner said, “As big as I can remember,” in a Bloomberg article referring to Basel’s opening day. The unfortunate reality, which I am certain of, is that too many smaller galleries are walking away from this week barely breaking even, if not taking a huge loss, from the enormous expenses they incur to participate in these types of international art fairs. Just the booth alone can begin around $20k for a few hundred square feet, and those are just for the satellite fairs. The vicious cycle of gallery life continues! The art market is strangely a direct parallel to the current American economy. The perception of wealth distribution is much more skewed then we might imagine. The rich (mega galleries) get richer as the smaller galleries struggle along for maybe another year before being chewed up and spit out by the cutthroat market. The top 1% represents both the buyers and the galleries selling them the work. Dealers like Gagosian and Zwirner are representatives of the biggest and best in the world, however they are simply two among thousands. Amidst the sea of white cubicles at the fairs how can a smaller gallery even make their visual mark? One interesting approach this year by a gallery, which instead of exhibiting their artist’s work, simply painted their contact information on the booth’s walls. As I’m certain this saved them lots of money transporting art, I wonder how well this marketing ploy panned out? I’d be interested to know how many sales they actually made, and if so, to how many new collectors? I mean after all, that’s one of the main points of the art fairs, isn’t it, to attract new collectors. It’s not only about catering to the top 1% that fly in on their private jets, valet their foreign cars out front of the convention center, and commence on their brand name art shopping sprees and VIP parties? There are still some unique collectors out their like Steve Wilson and his wife Laura Lee Brown of Kentucky, which the NY Times did a special feature on, following them around the fairs as they quickly purchased $250k in one afternoon of “lesser” known artists. “Mr. Wilson relies on his eye and his gut, snapping up gallery-sized installations for four and five figures in less time than it takes most people to buy a pair of shoes.” Though this regrettably still does not help the little people. Another article in The...

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Giappo’s Thoughts on the Upcoming Miami Art Week and the Contemporary Art Market

Posted by on 6:07 am in Writing | 0 comments

Giappo’s Thoughts on the Upcoming Miami Art Week and the Contemporary Art Market

In just a few days the entire International Contemporary Art World will swarm on warm, sunny Miami Beach with the star attractions ABMB (Art Basel Miami Beach) and Art Miami as well as countless auxiliary fairs such as Pulse, Scope, Nada, and Fountain, just to name a few. Graffiti and street artists from around the globe will decorate the walls of the Wynwood Arts District with new murals. The local galleries will all be open to the public hosting Art parties and receptions every single night of this important week. The streets will be filled with Art tourists and the chatter of French, Italian, Russian and Chinese will sound oddly familiar in Miami for conceivably the most culturally diverse week of the year. Hoards of Art enthusiasts flock like sheep to this yearly mecca of fairs, parties, VIP receptions, gallery openings, after-parties, performances, discussions, etc. If you’re one of the lucky ones, you know who you are, you’ll get a sneak peek at many of the top fairs private VIP preview evenings. You’ll be courted around and served champagne mostly with the intention of getting first pick on buying the “best” work, whatever that may be. Equally, the artists gravitate to Miami with the hopes of selling work, networking with new collectors, and gaining art world exposure. The city of Miami will reap enormous benefits from tourism. This upcoming week in Miami defines the ultimate union of art and commerce! Recently a younger fair “Untitled” by mistake sent out an email blast to their entire mailing list inviting them to it’s VIP preview evening only to retract the invitation with a second email explaining that, “The UNTITLED team is extremely grateful for your interest in our 2013 fair. It appears there was an unfortunate malfunction with our email provider, which sent a VIP email, meant for our previously determined VIP list, to our entire mail list. While we cannot extend VIP access to you this year, we would like to encourage you to apply for VIP status for next year’s UNTITLED fair, which will have even more exciting VIP events planned.” (From an article by Michael H. Miller for Galleristny.com) Is the true nature of the Art World to be elitist? Art and wealth have been synonymous throughout modern civilization. However, can it go a bit too far? An artist that I know recently made a comment online about how he had done very well showing at the fairs earlier on in his career. It helped him to make sales and develop a collector base through his gallery representation. However, now he feels like the fairs have become too obsessed with the VIP status and need to return to the ideals of nurturing the personal relationships between all dealers, artists and collectors. After the recent record breaking fall auction week in NYC at Sotheby’s and Christies with Bacon’s “Three Studies of Lucian Freud” selling for $148m, Warhol’s “Silver Car Crash” for $105m, and Koons’ “Orange Balloon Dog” for $58.4m, which all set world records for the artists’ work and for the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction (Bacon), the art world reached a new level of ludicrousness! When the dust settled the insane week of art splurging ended with a total of several billion dollars of art in combined sales. The Art...

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