CRG gallery from New York was selling O Zhang's "Salute to the Patriot" (2008) for $6,000. Courtesy the artist and CRG; image via ArtInfo
News from around:
via Artforum.com International News Digest:
This week the Süddeutsche Zeitung took a world tour to test attitudes in the art market toward the global financial crisis. Alexander Menden reports from London, where the Frieze Art Fair opens on Wednesday. Rebecca Wilson, director of the newly-opened Saatchi Gallery near Sloane Square in London, doesn’t believe that the credit crunch will squeeze the private museum. “There’s no sign for that,” Wilson told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “The most important thing is that we can finally open.” After testing the waters, Menden finds a wait-and-see attitude mixed with calculated optimism, although he views the cagey attitude of most London galleries toward inquiries about the crisis as a sign of nervousness. Auction houses are more forthcoming, a case in point being Julian Roup from Bonhams, who considers sales “surprisingly good” considering the economic situation. An auction of South African art even managed to break some records. Over at Christie’s, Andreas Rumbler, a specialist in twentieth-century art, claims that the Damien Hirst auction prices reached last month at Sotheby’s would be difficult to reach again. “All those who participated—the artist and the auction house—were happy that the sale took place not a day later,” Rumbler said. But the word in London: High-end artists will continue to sell, while the market for midpriced art works and for emerging artists will suffer.
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The Süddeutsche Zeitung’s Jörg Heiser queried dealer Esther Schipper, who has the advantage of having already experienced a few art market crises. Schipper, who is also on the Art Basel selection committee, notes that the lean years after the 1990 crash served to refine artistic programs. “It would be over with frivolous buyers, who are only collecting names and not acquiring according to real interests,” Schipper said. Collector and advertising agency director Christian Boros notes the contrast between the business world, where decisions are being made with increasing caution, and the art world, which seemed to continue blossoming after Black Monday. “The art world appears to be immune, like in a parallel world,” said Boros, who cited the now-familiar litany of Hirst’s auction in London and the opening of the Garage and a Gagosian show in Moscow during the financial world’s worst week. A turndown has advantages for Boros, who looks forward to having more time to decide whether or not to purchase artworks since the crowds of buyers may soon thin out. Artist Thomas Scheibitz, who is currently preparing his exhibition in the new Berlin branch of Galerie Sprüth-Magers has no plans to cut back on his production costs. “By the way, the gallery is also remaining laid back.”
Jörg Häntzschel finds that dealers’ lips are tightly sealed in New York. While the effects of the crash can be felt in luxury boutiques on Fifth Avenue and delays in building projects, it’s impossible to get “a straightforward answer” from the city’s dealers. “It’s a bit like if one were trying to visit a North Korean atomic reactor,” writes Häntzschel, who has been run through the hierarchy of several galleries—Zwirner, Gagosian, Marian Goodman, 303, and others—only to be find that the director is not available for comment: “very busy” or “out at lunch.” Perhaps willfully out to lunch in the hopes that the crisis will blow over? “They just don’t want to talk about any crisis,” writes Häntzschel. “It makes you think about the cartoon figures who keep on running over the edge of a precipice, until they realize that there’s only air under their feet.”
via The Art Newspaper:
A crystal ball? No, a work by Petroc Sesti at Paul Kasmin (E14), but many wish it could tell the future
Can the art market defy predictions of a downturn?
Lindsay Pollock | 15.10.08 | Daily fair edition
Under the sprawling white tent in Regent’s Park, amid yellowing leaves and calamitous financial markets, expectations on the eve of opening at the sixth Frieze Art fair ranged from concerned to cautiously optimistic. “It’s not all gloom and doom,” says New York dealer David Zwirner (G14), standing in front of a moody Chris Ofili landscape, priced at $400,000.
Zwirner expects most Americans to stay at home, but says the strong euro and weak economy had already driven them away from Art Basel in June. He is counting on Europeans. “There is still plenty of business to go round,” he says.
As British house prices continue to fall and the US government injects $250bn dollars into banks, opening day predictions among the 150 exhibitors are tempered. “The first two hours of the fair may not be the ‘sell-out’ we are used to,” says Salzburg-based dealer Thaddaeus Ropac (B12). “Sales will be made, but may be slower. Waiting lists may get shorter, but they still exist.”
Other dealers are watching and wondering what the historic global stock market volatility of the past month will mean for them. Many say it is too soon to tell.
also via The Art Newspaper:
Speculation in young artists is over, and the smaller dealers will be hurt the most
Josh Baer | 15.10.08 | Issue 195
The theory: speculation in art (and young art) is over. When several guaranteed Rudolf Stingel works failed to sell at auction last winter, it signalled the end of a certain kind of buying of art. It wasn’t just the sub-prime crisis—it was a signal of something far more important. A change for what I like to call the professional collector who was buying a work one year for, say, $150,000 (from a primary dealer) and turning it around within a year to resell the same work for, say, $500,000 (either at auction or with a secondary dealer). By now the auction houses seem awake to this change and the evening sales have, and will have, fewer and fewer hot young artists, and especially few guaranteed deals in the $1m-and-under range for artists like Anselm Reyle.
LONDON—Things started off on an ominous note at the Frieze Art Fair today. As collectors on the top tier of the VIP list lined up at 11 a.m., the sound of thunder came intermittently over the fair's PA system, a special project by the Czech artist Pavel Büchler. But by the end of the day, a mood of cautious optimism reigned. Collectors took their time making decisions, rather than snapping up works in a feeding frenzy, as has been the modus operandi for the past several years of this booming market. This year, Frieze’s preview day was more about reserves than sales. And it was also about putting a happy face on things; it was sometimes hard to tell if dealers were being euphemistic or obtuse.
"It's subdued," said New York and Berlin dealer Robert Goff, who is not showing in the fair.
"It's reserved," said art adviser Sandy Heller. "But that's not so bad. It gives you the ability to contextualize things, to think about their meaning."
One question on dealers' minds was whether Americans would show up. But New York collectors Susan and Michael Hort were spotted, as were Joel and Sherry Mallin, Jason Rubell, and Adam Lindemann. Asked what implications the credit crisis might have for the art world, Lindemann said simply, "It's a different market. It has its own rules."
In general, the major players seemed to come out in force. Spotted around the preview was everyone from critic Jerry Saltz to artist Ai Weiwei to design dealer Murray Moss to Todd Levin, adviser to American collector Adam Sender. There were also the requisite celebrity sightings. Actress Gwyneth Paltrow, casually dressed and seemingly free of make-up, made an appearance, as did singer George Michael. Adam Clayton of U2 was spotted with his adviser, deliberating over a €15,000 ($20,190) abstract painting by Stefan Bruggeman at Yvon Lambert.
Lisa Dennison, a former director of the Guggenheim Museum who is now executive vice president for Sotheby’s North America, said she had been walking around with a group of contemporary collectors from Europe and America and finding that "in the first half hour of the fair, there have been strong sales of both younger and more established artists, from Robert Gober and Louise Bourgeois to Anselm Reyle and Josiah McElheny. It's encouraging." She also said she was seeing a lot of American collectors.