Friday, June 15, 2007

Two Juicy Bits

First Steps: Beginning and Developing Your Collection

Lisa Hunter, author of the very informative book The Intrepid Art Collector, is moderating a panel tomorrow at 2:00 pm on how to start a new art collection. Hosted by the School of Visual Art and the Affordable Art Fair, the panel includes, Bloomberg art reporter Lindsay Pollock, art fair impresario Tom Delavan, and yours truly. Please come out and join in! Lisa has all the details on her blog
here, but here are the essentials:

Admission to each program is free with AAF admission. Both programs take place at The Affordable Art Fair at the Metropolitan Pavilion and adjoining Altman Building, 125 West 18th Street (between 6th and 7th Avenues), New York City.

AAF hours are: Thursday, June 14, 12noon - 5pm; Friday and Saturday, June 15 - 16, 12noon - 8pm; Sunday, June 17, 12noon - 5pm. General admission is $15/day, $10/day for students and seniors. Children under 12 admitted free.

For the Love of God

OK, so two people I've spoken to who've actually seen it say Damien Hirst's $100-million diamond-encrusted skull is a wonder to behold. I won't offer too much in the way of critique of a piece I haven't seen, but on a thread the other day, Cooky Blaha requested that we open up a thread to discuss the interview between Hirst and Joe La Placa on Here's a juicy snippet to get things started:

JLP: For The Love of God has a huge sale price of $100 million. . .

DH: It’s too cheap! People really want it.

JLP: £50 million is too cheap?

DH: Definitely! If the Crown Jewels were on the market, they’d sell for a hell of a lot more than that. It’s just one of those objects.

JLP: Yes, but in relation to what other contemporary art has sold for, this is over the top, particularly for a living artist.

DH: Not really. What do you mean, living artist? That’s a bit of a fucking red herring really, isn’t it, a living artist? I mean, art lasts for thousands of years; it’s been going on for thousands of years and a human’s lifetime is less than a hundred years. There are only a few artists alive, relatively speaking. And the art market is, what, 2000 years old and beyond, of artistic activity? You need to forget about the living artist and just talk about art.

When I got into the art world, I consciously wanted to change it. I found it really annoying because it seemed like a kind of club where people would sell cheaply to investors and they’d make the money. Collectors would take the art off the artists and, because they came in early and they gave the artist a little bit of money, later, when the artwork got resold, it would be the collector who made the big money in the secondary market. And I always thought that was fucking wrong. I’m the artist, the primary market. And I want the money to be in the primary market.

I’ve always said it’s like going into Prada and buying a coat for two quid and then selling it next door a charity shop for 200 quid. It’s totally fucking wrong! Why are they doing it that way round? Art should be expensive the first time around. There shouldn’t be all these old boys making loads of money on the secondary market.

JLP: So you’re saying it’s the artists who should make the lion’s share of the money, not the dealers or collectors?

DH: Right. We should have learned from what happened to Van Gogh. Art has a kind of value now! People fall for that old fucking vintage trick, don’t they? "Oh, it’s a vintage antique, so it must be expensive." But that’s another priority. When you go in someone’s house and see a painting on the wall, a new painting should be much more exciting than an old painting. . . and that should be where the money is spent.

I've often cited Hirst as an example of an artist who took matters into his own hand and changed them. That, in my opinion, is the very best model (as opposed to just bellyaching about how things work). And while I agree in principle with Hirst about contemporary prices, I want to just note that he's now talking from the point of view of an artist with a market already (like Prada), not as a totally unknown newcomer. A totally unknown artist demanding $100 million for that same piece would take it home at the end of the show. I'd bet the farm on it. With that caveat, however, have at it....

Labels: art market


Anonymous bnon said...

Dear Edward,

I'd like to start my collection by buying this Hirst piece I've heard so much about. Does Lisa have any advice on that? Just a sec--I've mixed up your two threads, haven't I?

Less facetiously, your last sentence sums up my feelings about all the market discussions--I just don't feel involved in all this at my low level. I do applaud Hirst's attitude, though. I like the piece too, it's smart and funny even if it might not be great. I think it'll get into the history books, for better or worse. I wish that it had--in addition to themes of money and death--some sex, too, a voluptuous nude body attatched to the skull and I'd pay a billion for it.


6/15/2007 10:16:00 AM  
Anonymous ml said...

This piece makes for an interesting investment - not only is it art by a brand name but it is covered in precious jewels. If the art value declines, maybe the jewels will appreciate?

It would be nice if contemporary art by unknowns sold for more. Unfortunately for most of us, raising our prices just makes us look delusional. On top of that, I don't know wealthy people, much less wealthy collectors. They aren't in my circle of friends. The galleries' connection to them is worth at least 50% of sales.

6/15/2007 10:36:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

EW, thanks for the link to the Hirst interview. How can anyone not love this guy?

6/15/2007 11:31:00 AM  
Anonymous David said...

A totally unknown artist demanding $100 million for that same piece would take it home at the end of the show.

But Edward, a totally unknown artist wouldn't be totally unknown once the piece was shown.

Plus, For The Love of God isn't really all that expensive. It's retailing for less than 7 times the cost of materials, and that's not even taking into account the very high cost of fabrication. What's the standard markup over materials for a painting by an unknown artist?

6/15/2007 11:47:00 AM  
Blogger James said...

Interesting point, ml. Would the owner at a later date take the piece apart and sell the jewels individually? Happens all the time in the gemstone market I believe.

Someone should totally do this. The piece is all about value, artistic vs financial, and the art market, and it would probably solidify the piece in the big picture of art history if it was reabsorbed into the market this way.

6/15/2007 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous mr. giggles said...

The insignia on the front of the skull really bothers me... don't you think it would be stronger without it?
And maybe this piece can finally put to rest the whole 'skull motif' that is in every painting and on every t-shirt and handbag right now.

6/15/2007 12:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Artnet's piece on the exhibition includes photos of Hirst's pathology images of various cancers. I can't help but compare them to your recent post on Felice Frankel. Frankel's work shows how uninteresting Hirst's pathology images (on the artnet site) really are (I haven't seen them in real life). Why are Hirst's images art if he also simply captured images of biological phenomena? He isn't even reinventing how we visualize science, as is attributed to Frankel. Granted, "Hundreds of surgical blades have been sprinkled onto the canvas along with broken glass and hair, all menacingly trapped in clear resin." Frankel's images are clearly much more interesting and I would guess that she has the added authenticity of understanding the science behind their creation (both biological and technological). Combined with Hirst's self-portrait as a surgeon, the work is weak. The skull, however, is brilliant!

6/15/2007 12:44:00 PM  
Blogger Tim said...

The piece is not brilliant or beautiful or even good. It is student work on a big budget, contrived and sophomoric.

I call for some uber-wealthy individual to buy it and put it in a drawer somewhere and forget about it.

6/15/2007 04:37:00 PM  
Anonymous David said...

I guess it's a bit big for a necklace. Maybe a hood ornament? Now that would be a statement!

6/15/2007 05:17:00 PM  
Anonymous Franklin said...

+1 David

6/15/2007 08:13:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A prop in a high end production of Shakespeare?

6/16/2007 10:05:00 AM  
Blogger Daniel Cooney said...

Hey Ed,

Best of luck at the panel. I did one last year, besides the guy who broke a chair and fell flat on his butt it was great. Watch out for those "Affordable" chairs!


6/16/2007 11:53:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would buy a knock off @urban outfitters home decorating department!

6/16/2007 05:46:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The End
of an
Little Whistle

Last one holding the market corrects.


6/16/2007 08:41:00 PM  
Blogger aurix said...

DH makes me think of Warhol.

6/18/2007 12:47:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

If anyone wants to know how to collect beer cans, I've got a starter kit.

But what does it mean?

I got that for you too, if the price is right.

6/18/2007 03:30:00 AM  

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home