Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Two Quick Lists (Open Thread)

Pressed for time today, unfortunately, but wanted to share two quick lists. The first was published by artprice.com, who tabulated the top 10 selling artists (how else would you rank them, eh?) of 2005. Only one of them is not dead. Only one of them is not white. And so shamefully we need a new word for "shameful," not even one of them is a woman. I'll excerpt their commentary to leave what I found the most interesting...you can read the rest at the link above.

List I:

The Top 10 artists grossed USD 576 million in 2005, compared to USD 393 million in 2003, a figure that represents 13.6% of the total art auction market. Unusually, a contemporary artist, Jean-Michel Basquiat, and an old master, Canaletto, were among the top sellers. The top three names however are unchanged...

1- Pablo PICASSO (1881-1973): USD 153,174,166

2- Andy WARHOL (1928-1987): USD 86,681,869
Warhol continues his inexorable rise. His work gained another 21% in value over the year.

3- Claude MONET (1840-1926): USD 61,541,732
As we said last year, the market for Claude Monet’s work is progressively drying up. Only 22 Monets changed hands in 2005, compared to 26 in 2004, and while his prices may be rising again, the historical scarcity of work led to a 24% fall in his total sales, and cost him a place in the rankings.

4- Antonio Canal CANALETTO (1697-1768): USD 55,473,710
This was the year’s big surprise. Seeded 239 in 2004, the Venetian master leapt up the rankings to number 4 with a string of million-plus sales in two frenetic days at auction in London on July 6 and 7.

Mark ROTHKO (1903-1970): USD 41,556,341

Marc CHAGALL (1887-1985): USD 36,592,410
Chagall makes it back into the Top 10 on the back of a 25% increase in sales volume over 2005 compared with the previous year. His rank owes much to his prolific output.

7- Willem KOONING de (1904-1997): USD 36,581,311

Fernand LÉGER (1881-1955): USD 35,701,947

Jean-Michel BASQUIAT (1960-1988): USD 35,630,019
Jean-Michel Basquiat is the world’s biggest-selling contemporary artist at auction, and retains his place in the Top 10 after twelve sales for over a million dollars in twelve months.

10- Lucian FREUD (1922): USD 33,725,319

The other list was inspired by Michael Kimmelman's article on the Danish cartoons in the Times. Kimmelman is the man I've recently begun to think of as the "boy in the bubble" critic (see this report on Tyler's site of his inexplicable dis against the Carnegie International...I attended that ceremony, and he was otherwise a charming MC, but that elistist New York-centric swipe made my jaw drop to my lap...the Carnegie International is consistently among the very best of American surveys, bar none).

Today, though, he pissed me off with an observation that suggests he doesn't read the blogs (which is insulting enough) or that he doesn't consider them part of the "art world" proper (which, if the case, seems remarkably short-sighted, but...). In an otherwise thoughtful, if oddly late, opinion on the art-related issues surrounding the protests over the cartoons, Mr. Kimmelman today offers the following:

As is so often the case in the culture wars, choosing sides can be exasperating. Modern artists and their promoters forever pander to a like-minded audience by goading obvious targets, hoping to incite reactions that pass for political point-scoring. The twist in the Danish case is only that a conservative paper provoked Muslims. One may be excused for wondering whether the silence of the art world has something to do with the discomfort of staking a position where neither party offers the sanctuary of political correctness.


List II:

  • Piss Christ vs. Cartoon Jihad
  • Prophet Muhammad's (pbuh) Cartoons in a Russian Gallery!
  • Depictions of Sacred Figures
  • Desperately Seeking Empathy with the Muslim World
  • The Right of Artists To Create Provocative, Offensive and Blasphemous Work That Challenges Islam
  • Cartoons and the murder of Theo van Gogh
  • Piss Christ v. Toon Jihad
  • Do I dare make ASCII art of Mohammed?
  • New York Times treatment of anti-religious artwork -- then and now
  • We Are All Danes Today
  • Cartoons and their Context
  • The Danish Cartoons
Again, I'm very pressed for time today, but this quick list was assembled in mere moments. Far from being silent on the issue, in some quarters at least, the art world is positively roaring about the cartoons and what they mean for freedom of speech and freedom of religion. The fact that it took the chief art critic at the city's largest daily paper this long to weigh in suggests other traditional media are also simply editing their opinions. Either way, it was an odd charge to make. Consider this an open thread (although if you wish to take up the issue of the cartoons again, might I suggest this pre-existing thread).

UPDATE: Now that I've had some coffee, I see I may have misread Mr. Kimmelman's article. It seems he may be criticizing the art world for not provoking Muslims before the Danish paper did, or at least for not discussing the broader issue of the clash of cultures. If that was his intent, it wasn't made very clearly, but it would make my critique a bit off the mark.


Blogger James W. Bailey said...

Dear Edward,

Thank you for the link to my essay concerning Mr. Kennicott of the Washington Post. You were one of the first to host a dialogue on this matter. You are truly to be commended for allowing dramatically opposing points of view to be exressed on your blog.

Regarding list #1: I would like to see a top 10 list of artists whose work declined most dramaticlly in value at auction during 2005. Are you aware of such a list?


P.S. My Southern Baptist preacher Grandfather in Mississippi told me as a little boy to always beware of a man who starts a sentence with a negative: for example, something like, "Not that I want to hurt your feelings, but...", Not that's it's any business of mine, but...", or "Not that I ever read art blogs, but..."

I strongly suspect Kimmelman reads you everyday. :)

2/08/2006 10:33:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, in many ways the contemporary art world has been more interested in integrating and understanding the muslim world view. For all its cliqueyness the art world is very catholic in its concerns and very serious about maintaining its cathlolicness (of course I'm not using this in the religious sense).

2/08/2006 12:53:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Since most of the artists on the list are dead, they're not getting much benefit from the current income generated by their work. I agree it's a shame that there are no women on the list and only one non-white artist. But I think it's also a shame that there aren't more living artists on the list.

Maybe as more living artists die, women and non-whites will be better represented on the big money list. Not that they will get to enjoy the money any more than the dead guys on the 2005 list.

2/08/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Blogger Art Soldier said...

E_: Thanks for the link, and for providing a thoughtful forum for civilized debate. This site continues to be the shining example for what other art blogs can hope to become.

I've since posted on the cartoon topic twice more, with the latest here.

Aside from the obvious implications of international politics, I believe that the Danish cartoons raise an especially relevant issue for the art community. That issue is the citizen's right to disagree with a specific use of free speech without disagreeing with its legal right to exist. These are not one in the same.

When governments try to control the speech that a newspaper or art museum endorses, then free speech is threatened. When citizens express non-violent moral condemnation of speech that a newspaper or art museum endorses, then citizens are honorably doing their jobs as members of society.

Those who agree with the anti-Islamic message of the cartoons would have us believe that we must endorse the cartoons in order to support free speech. This is a false test. While we hold sacred their right to exist, we must be allowed to disagree with their broad disrespect for Muslims.

I don't blame the Danish newspaper for inciting the violence. Rather, I believe it is the fault of violent extremists who have little respect for humanity, and are looking to exploit the conflict for their own crazed agenda. But these cartoons have done very little to promote understanding between East and West, or open anything resembling an intelligent dialogue about the subject. They have only served to further hostility, misunderstanding, and prejudice between two sides that find themselves increasingly farther apart.

2/08/2006 01:16:00 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

I'd hope a top-10 list of living artists would be more diverse.

2/08/2006 01:19:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

thanks for the kind words AS...been following your thought-provoking posts as well.

I do want to request that the other thread be the one for the cartoons discussion, though...something so controversial will overtake this thread eventually, and I wouldn't mind not having to worry folks are getting too heated in multiple threads (too hard to keep track of). I was really hoping Betta would comment again, and I'm afraid we might have scared her (him?) off, when that was the total opposite of what I wished would happen there.

2/08/2006 01:23:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I'd hope a top-10 list of living artists would be more diverse.

Likewise...anyone know how to find out?

2/08/2006 01:24:00 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

I just turned this up at the BBC website:

1 Jasper Johns - £92.8m
2 Gerhard Richter - £80.9m
3 Cy Twombly - £54.5m
4 Robert Rauschenberg - £36.5m
5 Fernando Botero - £35.7m
Source: Artreview magazine

2/08/2006 01:51:00 PM  
Anonymous Ethan said...

Oops, I just noticed, those are career sales... not sales in a previous year.

2/08/2006 01:56:00 PM  
Anonymous JM Colberg said...

Freedom of speech only makes sense if it is being exercised by adults, that is by people who are able (and willing) to reflect on what they want to say. It doesn't seem to me that those Danish newspaper people had any adults around. But they surely did know how to deflect from their amazing lack of any kind of sensitivity: They just beat themselves on their chests, claiming to defend "freedom of speech". And sure enough, there are many people who'd do anything to defend it (even if in their own backyard there is no such thing - just ask the creator of Boondocks how many of his cartoons were censored in US newspapers...).

I mean is it a very good idea to publish a set of cartoons given the current political situation? I don't think so, and it's kind of obvious to any adult why - but then it seems to me that currently, the world is being run by a bunch of adolescents (think: frat boys) who clearly have no understanding that doing all the things that you can do doesn't necessarily mean that you then should do them. I mean it's a little bit like this: If you're strong enough to beat up an old lady there are still lots of reasons why you don't do it.

Or as The Guardian wrote, there are lots of reasons why we do not publish everything, for example in the case of child pornography. When a newspaper discusses child pornography, they do not reprint the photos, and I don't think our free-speech people would say "Oh, hell, that's censorship, we want to see those!"

Also given that there already are already enough misunderstandings between what we call "Islam" (how many people actually really know what Islam means?) and "the West" (meaning: the Christian West), it's not a very good idea to fan the flames of bigotry (on both sides) by pouring gasoline into the flames. What we really want is an understanding of what the other side is all about; making fun of them clearly doesn't help.

So would the adults please take over again?

2/08/2006 02:07:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I just turned this up at the BBC website:

No wonder Jasper and Bob broke up.

So would the adults please take over again?

I agree with your assessment about that JM...the resulting call for offensive cartoons about the Holocaust sealed my thinking on how adolescent this has become...it would be almost comical if people were not dying.

Still, I'm gonna make one more effort to direct folks to the other post for the cartoon discussion. My list was meant to highlight that Kimmelman seems to be missing the art world's very non-silent debate on the issue...which is, in and of itself, a wholly different matter.

2/08/2006 02:28:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

Ethan, the first four aren't such a big surprise. But Botero?! I never would have guessed.

2/08/2006 02:46:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

Kimmelman seems to be avoiding making any clear statement at all. It just gets cloudier and cloudier the more he goes on. He does make a lot of sweeping generalizations and dull abeyances to what he thinks are safe ideas. "Pictures, like words, can hurt." (Oh my, poor things)

It's muddy, muddy, muddy. His strategy, I believe, is to give himself a tiny shield to, figuratively, hold up when he is with his special friends. Then they can 'tsk-tsk' at all the poor unfortunates that are forced to take a position on real world issues. He would have done better to avoid it all together.

There does seem to be an underlying issue related to keeping bloggers in their place, downplaying the importance of this new means to disseminate and discuss. Proof, almost, that blogs are replacing opinion makers at traditional media outlets. He seems late to the dialogue, that must gall.

2/08/2006 03:11:00 PM  
Blogger James W. Bailey said...

Here's how you fight fire with fire:

Israel Launches SEO Contest Against Iran Holocaust Cartoons - http://www.israelnewsagency.com/iranholocaustcartoonsisraelseo48480207.html

"When I heard that a newspaper in Iran was now holding a cartoon contest on the Holocaust, I knew that SEO would be the most potent tool in combating it," said Joel Leyden, publisher of the Israel News Agency. "That 12 winners in Iran would have their Holocaust cartoons published and would receive two gold coins (worth about $140 each) as a prize, I donned my SEO Israel Defense Forces uniform, cocked and loaded my keyboard. There is no way that Iran will spit on the graves of over 6 million Jews who perished in the Holocaust."


2/08/2006 03:23:00 PM  
Anonymous Lotus Blossom said...

Regarding the top ten:

Whatever happened to "priceless"?

Or has that notion been so thoroughly coopted by Mastercard that it cannot apply to art anymore?

I do wonder why these lists are so compelling (to others and to me). If you think about movies and the judgement of the opening weekend sales, most of my favorite movies were not box office hits. Why do we care who sold for the most, sold the most? Is it capitalism, voyeurism, baseball card stats?

Any ideas out there?

2/08/2006 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger James W. Bailey said...

Dear Edward,

It's sorta off topic, but related to auction lists.

Koko the painting gorilla may have indeed forged some Pollacks. I promise to not say I told you so from a previous discussion. :)




2/08/2006 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

Here's how you fight fire with fire:

Ya know, before I pasted that link to my browser I imagined that this Israeli paper was actually going to give a prize to the Iranian with the best holocaust denier cartoon. Now that would have shown the world that free speech is not only supported, but celebrated. Sure, propoganda could have been created for the dull witted, but others would have noted just how incredibly strong Israel feels about its rights, so strong that it will help ensure that its most assured of enemies have the same rights. Talk about turning the other cheek. Alas, it was not to be. Just another pi**ing match.

2/08/2006 05:27:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...


If you're not otherwise engaged, could you replace John Bolton at the UN for us?

2/08/2006 05:42:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

Heh, you mean Noble Peace Prize Nominee John Bolton? Only if they move the place back to SF ;)

2/08/2006 08:08:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

So that's a good thing now, unlike it was when Arafat was nominated?

2/08/2006 08:50:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

Please E, I thought I was being ironical...

2/08/2006 09:19:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

sorry c...old tacitus reflex...just flows from the fingers

2/08/2006 09:52:00 PM  
Anonymous crionna said...

no sweat, I understand.

BTW, the Mrs. is shooting in NYC at the end of the month and I'm planning to join her (hard to pass up free nights at the Soho Grand or Gransvoort ya know?). I'll email you when the details are set, we'd love to see the new Plus Ultra digs!

2/08/2006 10:22:00 PM  
Blogger James W. Bailey said...

"Talk about turning the other cheek. Alas, it was not to be. Just another pi**ing match."

Christians used to be taught to sway that way back in the day with the turning the cheek thing – now days, however, fewer and fewer Christains are willing to offer up the cheek without a Beretta backup, especially in America.

I’m of the opinion at this point in the Israel/Iran game (with the U.N. collapse on the response just around the corner) that Israel will be dropping its winning cartoons in the form of leaflets from a flock of F-16A,B,C and D Fighting Falcons on their way to knockout Iran’s nuclear swimming pool. Freedom of Artistic Expression is about to be pushed to the edge in a night-flight Mach speed high altitude getaway cartoon contest. Iran had better wipe the dust off its vintage museum collection of F-14A Tomcats if they hope to outdraw Israel’s artists.


2/08/2006 11:19:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

sounds great C...email me the details and we'll arrange a tour and drinks.


2/09/2006 08:07:00 AM  

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