Friday, April 13, 2007

London: Art Marketing Capital of the World

The story of US art patrons being wined and dined by foreign museums (all toward donations, that they claim as US tax deductions, don't you know) has more than enough sidebar issues to fill 6 posts, but I'll highlight one that deals with an issue we discussed here a while back. Before I get to that, though, the other issues are being discussed at The Art Newspaper, CultureGrrl, and Modern Art Notes, where Tyler Green offers an eloquent, even patriotic, defense of the practice, and offers us this gem:
Surely the writers who argue that Americans should not receive tax deductions for giving to a charity in The Hague (say, the Mauritshuis) must believe that Americans should not receive tax deductions for gifts given to victimes after the 2004 tsunami?
I agree with Tyler on that issue (I see no reason tax deductions to charities should be limited to where those funds/items eventually end up...that would make contributions to Doctors Without Borders nondeductible, for example, and that would be a very bad thing, IMO).

But there's another part of this story that relates to
the discussion we had a while back about whether London is witnessing the dawning of a new era in contemporary art. In the comments, I noted that I don't see a difference in the art being made there, but rather:

I see an investment to simply market the art better. Perhaps half the battle is simply getting folks in to see the art and perhaps London's doing that better than other cities.
And one part of this story seems to support that. From the Art Newspaper:

Tate’s US fund-raising organisation is offering its members the opportunity to attend a reception hosted by Tony and Cherie Blair at 10 Downing Street.

Supporters of Tate who spend at least $25,000 booking tables at a gala dinner in New York on 8 May are being invited to have drinks with the British Prime Minister and his wife in London on 16 June. This presupposes that Mr Blair will not have left office by then. [...] As well as private drinks with the British Prime Minister, Tate patrons who spend $25,000+ booking places at the May dinner are also being offered a group portrait by Annie Leibovitz, the Vanity Fair magazine photographer.
Why this is alarming US museums was spelled out by Guggenheim Director Lisa Dennison at a recent panel discussion organized by the ADAA (where Tate director, Sir Nicholas Serota, just happened to attend):

Speaking at the panel she said: “There’s a new phenomenon ... which is the American Friends of…Tate, the Centre Pompidou, the Hermitage Museum. Now if you join the American Friends of the Tate you get to go to drinks at Tony Blair’s house. You get to have your picture taken by Annie Liebovitz. And you get to keep it. These are compelling, compelling incentives that speak not of true philanthropy, but of “give us some money, give us some art” and we are going to give you something back that’s really really enticing. I know this because my board members come to me in deep conflict, ‘I want to be part of this group, I want to be a friend to the Tate, to the Centre Pompidou, to the Hermitage, to the Pushkin.’ I’m sure it will be any number of other museums next. What’s a poor American museum director to do.”

Tate director, Sir Nicholas Serota, responded: “Lisa, I’m flattered you feel so threatened by an institution that has a fraction of your resources.”
Making this all the more simple for me is this fact:

The American Patrons of Tate was set up in New York in 1999. To date it has raised some $45.6m for the London gallery. According to Mr [Richard] Hamilton [director of the American Patrons of Tate], around $10m of this has been used for the purchase of contemporary art by US artists. [...] “Most of the art we buy is from American dealers so we’re giving back to the community and that’s really important to us,” says Mr Hamilton. [emphasis mine]
OK, so this perhaps explains why among those attending the $50,000 a table benefit are art dealers Larry Gagosian and Arne Glimcher, but in general, any organization that's spending almost one-quarter of its funds to bring American art to Europe is GOOD for American art.

But back to the marketing. Think about what the Tate has done. By using its connections and creativity (and not all that much money relatively speaking), it has enticed Guggenheim board members to consider joining its US patrons organization. That, my friends, is some miraculous marketing. And the saddest part of this is that the Guggenheim has more resources than the Tate and should be easily able to offer enticements that dwarf the Tate's. Of course, there is one small problem, currently at least, as Dennison pointed out:
“What could we tell our supporters in comparison? You’re going to go to the White House and have lunch with Laura Bush?”
This too shall pass.

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24 Comments:

Anonymous karl zipser said...

Ed,

What about the idea of getting patrons to support the art blogs?

4/13/2007 12:24:00 PM  
Blogger Cassandra said...

In the United States it would be something more like "You're going to Hollywood to have dinner with Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes."

4/13/2007 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous bambino said...

Computer saysss NOT

4/13/2007 03:51:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

What about the idea of getting patrons to support the art blogs?

Why would they? When fools like you and me are willing to do it for free? :-)

4/13/2007 04:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The money is following the art buzz, period. It has nothing to do with Bush, Blair or another 2nd class art fair among the many.

We can't helped, we will keep buying everything they do. We made their culture even greater by building huge museums for it here, some is going back but still we will replenish our art temples soon enough.

But think about this:

The average gallery in Chelsea has a contract for ten years. Those that own already have done soil studies for their property.

The north side of 24St. is surveyed completely.

Gogosian could make a profit of a 100 million dollars selling the land. The others close to 10 to 20 million dollars. Nice retirement fund!

What's the average age of most dealers in Chelsea? 40? 45?

In 10 years you either are ready to renew at 3 times today's rent or move to a new area. In other words, better make it big while you can or move to....? Start all over again?

It could be Berlin, London, or Asia... . Nobody nows for sure.

mls

4/13/2007 06:47:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

“What could we tell our supporters in comparison? You’re going to go to the White House and have lunch with Laura Bush?”

That would motivate me. "Support our museum, or you’re going to go to the White House and have lunch with Laura Bush?” Where's my checkbook...

4/14/2007 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

So, let's see: The art patrons are moving their money to London. The art dealers will probably be priced out of Chelsea when their leases run out. The artists have already been priced out to the far reaches of Brooklyn (FarBro), to New Jersey (WaWeChe, aka, Way West Chelsea), Philly (SoSoChe, South South of Chelsea) and up the river to Kingston, Hudson, Newburgh (NoNoChe), and even Albany and New England (NuncaChe). Maybe we should all start buying property in Ohio while it's still affordable (OhNo).

4/14/2007 01:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

JM:

"Maybe we should all start buying property in Ohio while it's still affordable (OhNo)."

You got it. The first to do.

Do we have a choice? Unless we ask all these art commentators to think more with the artists in mind, we don’t. Instead of sounding so political (light amateur) and quotable (for other blogs) they should try to see what’s in front of them. Comparing real charity to tax loopholes is pathetic. Comparing saving lives to art exhibitions? Please…

I am happy for Gogosian. Smart people should succeed but let’s be smart ourselves too.

Why do artists have to move every time a Real Estate office opens in the corner?

What about housing for artists? Every major USA city had it. Think FDR. What happened?

Why instead of sending your art money somewhere you invest it in multipurpose affordable housing for artists here in the USA. Half of it?

Why don’t you make it your thing to discuss and push this old idea instead of proselytizing so much? Bush? Blair? Who is going to remember them in 10 years? You have power, you and all your blog friends are changing the discourse. Why don’t you used well?

mls

4/14/2007 09:51:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

While I’m all for artists being supported by institutions, grants, affordable housing and the like, the reality is that big corporations are really not interested in small artists. Very few of us ever get much. For example, you notice how the big prizes always go to the big names? So without sounding bitter—because I’m not, most of the time, just realistic—I would suggest that artists do what we’ve always done: take care of ourselves.

. We have to learn how to promote ourselves. Ed offered some good advice in his post of April 6. Undergraduates and MFA candidates are getting this information in school now, so if you’re a mid career artist waiting for “it to happen”—as they used to say in art school—you’re going to keep waiting. NYFA, CAA, local and regional non-profit groups, even art colleges are offering this information now. (I know; I teach at a couple—disclaimer).

. And I’d suggest this revolutionary concept: Stop paying rent. Buy. I know most artists don’t have a lot of money, but if you can pony up the rent every month, you can pay a mortgage. Yes, the down payment is a hurdle. But once you own your space—especially if it’s a live/work space—you have equity, better deductions than when you rent, and security. The landlord isn't going to raise the rent or sell the building out from under you. You can even sublet!

. One other thing: Save a piece or two from each body of work you do. And trade with other artists. When you or they get famous, you can sell the work at market price and keep the profit. Call it the artists’ 401K.

Now I’m going to get ready for the Nor’easter that’s supposed to blow through town.....

4/15/2007 05:08:00 PM  
Anonymous markcreegan said...

Extending Joanne's excellent advice. The podcast Bad at Sports recently interviewed Mary Leigh Cherry who is involved with the Artists Pension Trust. She goes into good detail about the trust here

4/15/2007 11:17:00 PM  
Blogger highlowbetween said...

if you get a lunch with Laura Bush do you think she will share her meds with a glass of wine?

4/16/2007 11:20:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

if you get a lunch with Laura Bush do you think she will share her meds with a glass of wine?

No way. The White House has a strict BYOM policy.

4/16/2007 11:48:00 AM  
Blogger Lisa Hunter said...

Interesting. The Guggenheim complaint sounds like the complaints Brits usually make about Americans.

4/16/2007 07:17:00 PM  
Anonymous ml said...

The rent I pay is about half to a third what a mortgage payment would be unless I move to some place where no one wants to live.

Unless everyone who reads this moves to OHIO to the same small town, I guess I'd rather gamble on late success than leave LA.

4/17/2007 07:31:00 PM  
Blogger T said...

Not sure if the Bush comment is a little ill-thought out. In my experience, even arch opponents of a particular politician will fall over themselves to be invited to a formal function at [insert grand establishment building]. Perhaps if the art world had not been so virulently and immaturely anti-Bush things might have been different? Most of the investment bankers and businessmen who actually keep the art market afloat by buying its products (and in effect pay the art world luvvies' rent for them) would have no problem being invited to the White House.

A case of biting the hand that feeds it I think.

4/17/2007 07:34:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI
Culturegrrl is posting more stuff about this, others decided to drop it. Why?

4/17/2007 08:53:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Perhaps if the art world had not been so virulently and immaturely anti-Bush things might have been different?

And perhaps if segments of the business world and religious right wouldn't have been so immaturely and selfishly pro-Bush, we wouldn't be the mere shadow of the country we were when that man first entered the White House....but we don't have to go through all that again, do we?

4/17/2007 09:40:00 PM  
Blogger T said...

The business world pays for the art world, remember!

4/18/2007 03:19:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The question is why, T. Why does the business world pay for the workings of the art world? Why would arguably the most right-wing segment of society pay for the privelege of housing the products of arguably the most left-wing segmetn of society?

I'll give you a clue: it ain't charity.

4/18/2007 07:45:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Most of the investment bankers and businessmen who actually keep the art market afloat by buying its products (and in effect pay the art world luvvies' rent for them) would have no problem being invited to the White House.

I'd be delighted to be invited to the White House, but I don't have time to go there until at least 2009. Maybe longer, depending on how things turn out.

4/18/2007 10:45:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

Why does the business world pay for the workings of the art world?

Because they have all the money?

4/18/2007 10:46:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

The answer lies not in what it is they have, but rather what they don't.

4/18/2007 10:48:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

I would support that last comment with a (paraphrased)repeat of the Oscar Wilde comment:
"When bankers get together they talk about art. When artists get together, they talk about money."

4/18/2007 06:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Gogosian could make a profit of a 100 million dollars selling the land. The others close to 10 to 20 million dollars. Nice retirement fund!

What's the average age of most dealers in Chelsea? 40? 45?

In 10 years you either are ready to renew at 3 times today's rent or move to a new area. In other words, better make it big while you can or move to....? Start all over again?"

Lets cut as much meat as we can off the pig while it's still fat and move on.

4/20/2007 07:08:00 AM  

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