Friday, November 30, 2007

Marathon Madness

"Endurance is patience concentrated.” Thomas Carlyle

Harking back to a favorite whipping boy around here, Stanley Brouwn's suggestion that all the shoe shops in Amsterdam comprised an exhibition of his work, I'm beginning to think some artist somewhere is bound to take credit for orchestrating the nearly insane schedule being demanded of art viewers this week and next. From the 30+ art openings in Chelsea last night, to the 30 non-stop hours of the New Museum's grand re-opening bash (see Ouroussoff's review of the new building
here and Smith's review of the opening exhibition here), to the next three-to-four days of non-stop flights to Miami from the art lovers capitals of the world, to the week-long marathon of art and all things related awaiting them, it's simply too mad not to have been intentional.

As with any marathon, you'll want to ensure you have a good pair of comfortable footwear, plenty of water, an emergency stash of carbs (preferably chocolate flavored), a sense of where you're going (here's the
New Museum info, and see this round-up of Miami resources on Paddy's site), and throngs of people cheering you on (let's hear it for Lisa Phillips and the New Museum crew!!!).

Bambino and I head out at some ungodly early hour on Sunday, and I'm not sure when the blogging will resume (hopefully I'll get a post or two written in between Mojitos...er, I mean business meetings). Hope to see you, here or there!

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Thursday, November 29, 2007

Art Sans Us : Open Thread

There's an interesting, if melancholy, article in today's New York Times about how the Corcoran and his Chelsea gallery, Kinz, Tillou & Feigen, have gone about selecting the work for Jeremy Blake's posthumous exhibitions:
Jonathan P. Binstock, the curator of the Corcoran exhibition, and Lance Kinz, a director of Kinz, Tillou & Feigen, decided to incorporate [the work-in-progress] “Glitterbest” into their exhibitions in its incomplete state out of deference to Mr. Blake, who had approved inclusion of some of the images in the Corcoran exhibition catalog and advance announcements for the New York show. They hoped the unfinished work would give viewers insight into his creative process and provide a glimmer of what the video might have become.

“It was a way to remain true to the vision of the exhibition, and it furthers our efforts in exploring his theme of portraiture,” Mr. Binstock said of “Wild Choir,” the Corcoran show. Reflecting Mr. Blake’s most recent career focus, the exhibition presents lushly cinematic, deeply probing digital-video studies of three artists he admired.
The article details the care and consideration shown throughout the process, and I feel that the exhibitions are an appropriate testament to the legacy of Mr. Blake, but there is something somewhat unsettling about any effort to interpret the intentions of an artist no longer with us.

Mind you, I've thought about this issue before, but the Blake article comes on the heels of my having just read portions of the Alan Weisman book, The World Without Us, a fascinating and sobering assessment of what will (might) remain and happen should all the humans on the earth disappear in an instant. Here's a thought-provoking
interactive chart outlining the various events one might expect at 10, 1000, 1,000,000 (etc.) years after the world goes humanless (roll over the years to see the author's guesses).

One chapter in the book is titled "Art Beyond Us." In it the author discusses X-treme archival issues with two top conservators, and I learned that water is paradoxically both the fastest way to destroy most art and one of the most effective ways of preserving it (so long as the art work is entirely submerged and then carefully removed [not always possible]). What was even more surprising though was the speculation that at 10,200,000 years after all humans had disappeared, long after microbes had evolved that would dissolve all the world's plastics or any stone walls in New York City had fallen to glaciers, bronze sculptures would still be recognizable.

The end of the "Art Beyond Us" chapter, though, is dedicated to the one form of human creativity that will last forever, fragmented, but essentially infinite: radio and television broadcasts. Billions of years from now, they will still be at the relative beginning of their journey outward through the universe, carrying reruns of the Brady Bunch, or what have you, to any being that might cross their paths. In as much as it saddens me to think we won't ever know what Jeremy Blake would have done exactly with the images and sounds found on his computer, the notion that we have a context (his other work, our contemporary sense of what he was saying about it, and our sense of ourselves) in which to view his posthumous exhibitions strikes me as a huge advantage over the alien lifeforms left to piece together some meaning from the snippets of broadcasts of Bay Watch or The Three Stooges or even the Evening News. Will they assume it must be art? Will they assume we must have been mad? Without the context provided/clarified by its creator's time and place or a work's intended audience, does art make any sense at all? OK, I need some coffee...consider this another open thread.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Opening Tomorrow: Ivin Ballen @ Winkleman Gallery

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present "50/50," our first solo exhibition by New York artist Ivin Ballen. Featuring a brilliant new series of paintings, and a triptych incorporating an operating stereo system, Ballen offers an insightful and humorous exploration of our relationships to everyday materials.

Composing maquettes from cardboard, duct tape, plastic bottles, garbage bags, and other recyclable commonplace items, Ballen casts fiberglass and aqua resin sculptures of their negative space that he then paints with acrylic and watercolor paints, often with trompe l'oeil passages that reference the original found objects. Although the illusion is temporarily quite convincing, closer inspection of the paintings reveals subtle differences in textures and colors that expose the process, reinforcing Ballen’s central investigation of the act of looking and perceiving.

Corresponding with his first New York solo exhibition is Ballen's first solo exhibition at Hilberry Gallery in Detroit, MI, November 9 -January 5, 2008.

For more information, please contact Edward Winkleman at info@winkleman.com or 212.642.3152.

Ivin Ballen
50/50
November 29 - January 5, 2008
Opening reception: Thursday, November 29, 2007, 6-8 pm

Winkleman Gallery
637 West 27th Street
New York, NY 10001
t: 212.643.3152
f: 212.643.2040

info@winkleman.com
www.winkleman.com

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Tuesday, November 27, 2007

View at Your Own Risk: Open Thread

Twice in our gallery's history we've exhibited work that, if the viewer were unfortunate or not careful, they might have hurt themselves on. Once the situation was easy enough to handle (a warning on the door), but the other time, the work was interactive and no matter how explicit our warnings, folks still seemed to find a way to interact in a dangerous manner. It became a running joke...the increasingly alarming notices...leading us to ponder whether "Do Not Under Any Circumstances Even Consider Moving or Breathing While Interacting With This Art" would do the trick.

I came away from that experience realizing that some work is simply too dangerous to let the public interact with without strict supervision. With this lesson under my belt, then, I was a bit surprised to see the openness with which visitors were able to roam the Turbine Hall at the Tate Modern where Doris Salcedo's breathtaking, but clearly dangerous installation, Shibboleth (seen above, with Bambino, somewhat blurry, I'll admit), is on exhibition through April 6, 2008. I mean, I get it conceptually, just not liability-wise.

As could have been expected, folks are hurting themselves on it. From artinfo.com:
Fifteen people were injured in the first four weeks after the installation of Doris Salcedo's Shibboleth at Britain's Tate Modern on October 8, the Times reports.

A crack that widens as it runs the length of the museum's 548-feet-long Turbine Hall, Salcedo's work is intended to symbolize racial hatred and division.

The Tate has positioned staff to monitor visitors around the hall, posted warning signs in the gallery, and distributed leaflets warning of potential injury, but four of the 15 accidents, some of which resulted in minor injuries, have nevertheless been reported to government authorities.

In an internal email, Dennis Ahern, the museum’s head of safety and security, wrote that higher levels of control of entry, barrier or demarcation lines, and laying a sturdy transparent material over certain sections should be considered if it appeared that the existing measures were not enough.

A Tate spokesperson said that there are no plans to employ these protective measures, which, Ahern wrote, have been avoided to preserve the integrity of the work.
I feel for both Ahern and Salcedo in this. The piece does depend on the viewer's ability to sense the danger of it, IMHO, but short of the integrity-compromising steps outlined, how do you ensure no one breaks their leg? In the highly more litigious U.S., I can't imagine a museum taking such a risk.

There is a part of me that feels that Darwinism should be permitted to run its course here. Still, I wouldn't want to be the director/owner of the institution that exhibited such work sitting before the judge and jury deciding the lawsuit brought by the 80-year-old woman who took her grand-daughter to her first museum only to trip on the art and break her nose in the fall.

Then again, I wonder, is the institution solely responsible? Does the artist share some of the liability here? No institution that wants to attract other notable artists would dare not indemnify the artist, but if the integrity of the work truly depends on the risk that viewers will hurt themselves, where do you sensibly draw the line? Consider this an open thread on dangerous art.

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Sunday, November 25, 2007

Introducing igie

As I noted in a post after we returned from London, one of the most rewarding aspects of participating in art fairs, making friends with other dealers, and getting to exchange war stories with them is the realization that most of the problems I deal with in running the gallery are not uncommon, and there are indeed often solutions to them.

There are some really excellent efforts to provide this type of inter-peer communication among galleries in a professional context, including the ADAA, NADA and others, who offer seminars and other very valuable learning opportunities for their members. But it occurred to me in London, over cocktails, that a clearinghouse of the sorts of information shared at such events ... an ongoing record of questions and answers ... might be of interest to other/all gallerists as well.


It was with that goal in mind that I've set up igie (the International Gallery Information Exchange).


What is
igie?

It's an online portal of information about the day-to-day business of running a commercial gallery. It's slogan---"It's nothing personal. It's just business."---conveys the fact that
igie isn't about gossip or politics or even tough love. It's a professional site. Membership is open to any owner or director of a commercial art gallery (although I suspect contemporary galleries will benefit most from the site's focus). It's not open to anyone else I'm afraid (sorry about that, but it's important that member dealers feel free to share their experiences/questions openly).

What is igie not?

It's not a money-making scheme. Membership is entirely free. To request access, all you need to do is email a request for the user name and password to
igiecalendar@gmail.com. (Please email your request from an email address that is verifiable as that of the owner or director of a gallery...we will check. Also, note it may take up to 48 hours to receive a reply.) igie is also not an association to which membership conveys status. It's open to all owners and directors of any commercial art gallery.

What information will dealers find on igie?

Here are examples of the ongoing discussions and information-sharing efforts:

  • Application deadlines (and links) for upcoming international art fairs.
  • Links and membership information for national and international art dealer associations.
  • "Good Vendor | Bad Vendor" (raves or rants about shippers, printers, etc.).
  • Current gallery job listings (culled via a third-party widget, but admittedly mostly New York centric, not that that's surprising).
  • Blog discusssions that center on running a gallery and the art market in general.
  • A thread for requesting information, equipment loans, and other advice.
  • A section in which to suggest other categories of discussion you'd like to see.
Again, sorry for advertising a site here that has limited membership. Please understand: It's nothing personal. It's just business.

As both an experiment and a work in progress,
igie will no doubt get off to a slow start. I hope to announce soon a collaboration with a powerhouse of a database to offer even more up-to-the-minute information (stay tuned). To help learn what would be most useful in the site, however, I'm opening it up now and encourage other dealers to email for access and have a look around and suggest what it might become.

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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

24: Miami

I'm not sure what's overcome me. Excuse this silliness ... inhaling bubble wrap fumes too much, I guess. Still, inspired by a synaptic connection between the insanity of the 24 separate art fairs in Miami this year and the pro-torture crowd's favorite fantasy program, I give you the interactive (meaning feel free to jump in here) parody 24: Miami.

Episode 1:

After a few gratuitous murders and sex scenes, Jack Bauer learns that a sculpture in one of the 24 fairs in Miami is actually a cleverly disguised nuclear bomb about to go off. He has only 24 hours to prevent the worst case of sun burn the South Beach set has ever seen.

But with 24 fairs and only 24 hours, how can he search each location?

After some painful self-reflection, some required family drama, and a few bad career decisions, Jack commandeers an ABMB shuttle bus. First he tries torturing all the gallery directors and staff with Middle Eastern sounding names but gets nowhere.

So he decides the only solution is to buy up all the sculptures in every fair and shoot them into outer space out of Cape Canaveral. Only the haggling with the dealers takes longer than he expected (he insists on 20% off, having heard that's what Alice Walton gets, and the dealers just laugh at him), so he deputizes Marty Margulies and has him call each gallery in all the fairs, promising to buy every sculpture in their booth, if they'll bring them immediately to a warehouse. A traffic jam ensues in the Winwood district, with Dietl's chief contact tossing his cell phone into the bay in desperation and heading off to Deuces.


tick...tock...tick...tock...what will agent Bauer do???

A Bridge Too Far

There's been a rational resolution to the Women's Bridge Players controversy, but the issue should not be dropped just because the authorities came to their senses. Whether it was true offense or an overdeveloped sense of propriety or merely authoritarian arrogance that led The United States Bridge Federation to feel it was appropriate to punish their members severely for exercising their right to free speech, they should not be let off as easily as all that.

Here's the nuts and bolts of the debate:
In the genteel world of bridge, disputes are usually handled quietly and rarely involve issues of national policy. But in a fight reminiscent of the brouhaha over an anti-Bush statement by Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks in 2003, a team of women who represented the United States at the world bridge championships in Shanghai last month is facing sanctions, including a yearlong ban from competition, for a spur-of-the-moment protest.

At issue is a crudely lettered sign, scribbled on the back of a menu, that was held up at an awards dinner and read, “We did not vote for Bush.”

By e-mail, angry bridge players have accused the women of “treason” and “sedition.”

“This isn’t a free-speech issue,” said Jan Martel, president of the United States Bridge Federation, the nonprofit group that selects teams for international tournaments. “There isn’t any question that private organizations can control the speech of people who represent them.”

Not so, said Danny Kleinman, a professional bridge player, teacher and columnist. “If the U.S.B.F. wants to impose conditions of membership that involve curtailment of free speech, then it cannot claim to represent our country in international competition,” he said by e-mail.

Ms. Martel said the action by the team, which had won the Venice Cup, the women’s title, at the Shanghai event, could cost the federation corporate sponsors.

The players have been stunned by the reaction to what they saw as a spontaneous gesture, “a moment of levity,” said Gail Greenberg, the team’s nonplaying captain and winner of 11 world championships.

There are two very chilling components to this story. First were the conditions that led the bridge players to feel they had to say something:
Ms. Greenberg said she decided to put up the sign in response to questions from players from other countries about American interrogation techniques, the war in Iraq and other foreign policy issues.

“There was a lot of anti-Bush feeling, questioning of our Iraq policy and about torture,” Ms. Greenberg said. “I can’t tell you it was an overwhelming amount, but there were several specific comments, and there wasn’t the same warmth you usually feel at these events.”

Ms. Rosenberg said the team members intended the sign as a personal statement that demonstrated American values and noted that it was held up at the same time some team members were singing along to “The Star-Spangled Banner” and waving small American flags.

“Freedom to express dissent against our leaders has traditionally been a core American value,” she wrote by e-mail. “Unfortunately, the Bush brand of patriotism, where criticizing Bush means you are a traitor, seems to have penetrated a significant minority of U.S. bridge players.”
America means absolutely nothing at all as an ideal or reality if its citizens don't feel free to respond to people from other nations with our true feelings about their opinions of us. Surely, truly free people can do that. I can understand the sense among certain Americans that it reflects badly on all of us for any of us to offer anti-government sentiments to non-Americans, especially in contexts where sportsmanship and a spirit of international competition are the order of the day. I just feel those certain Americans who assume that that position entitles them to infringe upon the rights of others might feel more comfortable living in a state like North Korea.

The second, and most chilling, aspect of the original response by the Federation was the mind-bogglingly fascist effort to bully the women into accepting the original draconian "punishment" for their actions:
[The punishment] calls for a one-year suspension from federation events, including the World Bridge Olympiad next year in Beijing; a one-year probation after that suspension; 200 hours of community service “that furthers the interests of organized bridge”; and an apology drafted by the federation’s lawyer.

It would also require them to write a statement telling “who broached the idea of displaying the sign, when the idea was adopted, etc.”

Alan Falk, a lawyer for the federation, wrote the four team members on Nov. 6, “I am instructed to press for greater sanction against anyone who rejects this compromise offer.”
Even Federation members who were initially offended by the anti-Bush sign came out in force against the organization's plan. Today the New York Times reports:
The United States Bridge Federation has dropped its effort to punish six members of the women’s championship bridge team for holding up a sign that said “We did not vote for Bush” during an awards ceremony last month in Shanghai.

In exchange, the women have agreed to a statement recognizing the federation’s right to request that bridge teams representing the country refrain from using awards ceremonies for anything other than accepting medals. “I feel vindicated,” said Jill Levin, one of the players.
I'm not exaggerating by noting I was initially horrified by the Federation's punishment plans. "What the hell is happening in this country?," I thought. The fierceness of such government loyalty can't have anything to do with the incompetent boob in the White House. It must represent a shift in collective thinking among certain Americans. I suspect it's mostly cowards willing to sacrifice their civil liberties (and faculty for rational thought) to anyone who'll promise to kill the terrorists hiding under their beds, but I honestly don't know for sure. Perhaps they honestly do love Bush, but know he's so fragile that any crudely drawn sign of dissent allowed to stand might bring him down. It's a hideous reflection of our time and place no matter how you look at it. Thank goodness it played itself out the way it did in the end. Still, I feel the Federation owes the country an explanation for its original actions. They scared the hell out of me.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Miami: Two Weeks and Counting

It's a busy, busy time of year. Not only do the holidays launch in earnest in two days, one week after that we open a solo show of truly fabulous new work by Ivin Ballen, and exactly two weeks from today is the preview party for PULSE Miami (and a seemingly infinite number of other fairs whose names I can't recall at the moment...just kidding, here's the most comprehensive list I've seen thus far).

We have been very fortunate of late with regards to the fairs we've been invited to attend in that we're good friends or very friendly with the organizers of most of them. More than that, one of our dearest friends, the incredible Janet Phelps, who was the director or co-director of no fewer than 4 pioneering art fairs (The Meat Market art fair, Fast Fwd, Art Point, and the first NADA fair) has
on a few occasions shared the challenges of running one with us
over cocktails. All of which has given me an immense amount of respect for how much work is involved in the planning and execution of these events. Above is a photo of the SoHo Building in the Winwood district of Miami, the location for Pulse Miami this year. Here's the interior as it sits normally.
It takes an army of carpenters, electricians, painters, art handlers, and fair and gallery staff to transform that into the likes of this:

(this photo is actually from Pulse Miami last year, which was in a different location, but you get the idea)

By the time the public arrives, the fair organizers have been literally living in Miami for weeks. Helen Allen, the director of Pulse, and my number one example in any context of "grace under pressure," personifies the unique set of talents it requires to keep 80 anxious, very demanding dealers happy. Helen has this amazing knack for focusing her energy on you, even in the height of the insanity, and in very reassuring tones convincing you that any issue (and it doesn't matter what it is) is already on its way toward resolution. It helps, I'm sure, that her entire team are total pros and a pleasure to work with.

Between now and the time Bambino and I arrive in Miami, our artists will have each pulled off their own small miracles of logistics and collaboration in helping us organize the work for shipping
(God bless them all!), our very patient Associate Director Max will have put in so many extra hours and essentially saved us (again!!!), and there will be countless co-ordinations/appointments with shippers, printers, travel agents, fair organizers, barbers (yes, we're vain), insurance agents, other dealers...oh, and the collectors we're hoping to see there too. Indeed, we have lists of the lists we need to make.

But don't feel sorry for us...we thrive on this stuff. All you have to do is show up ready to see some great art. We'll do the rest.

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Monday, November 19, 2007

The Alarm and the Arrogance: Galleries Vs. Auction Houses, Round II

As I've noted a few times here and perhaps enough times in the gallery to inspire parody, the difference, as I see it, between the central purpose of a gallery and an auction house is that a gallery is focused on getting the public to agree that their art is important (and, because of that, worth purchasing) whereas an auction house is focused on merely making their art expensive (after the work is seen as important already).

In response to
last week's post on the dangers of rushing work to auction for living artists, Jonathan T.D. Neil, writer*, art historian and partner in Boyd Level, forwarded me a much more in-depth distinction, as outlined in a letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal by ADAA President, Roland Augustine. The letter is behind a subscription firewall on the WSJ's website, but it was written in response to this free article by Lauren Schuker on how the rivalry between galleries and auctions houses is heating up. First Mr. Augustine's distinction:
Galleries and auction houses have different purposes. Galleries protect the emotional and economic connection between artist and collector while creating an appreciation in value. Auction houses provide liquidity and, in our current market, help owners quickly maximize profits. Sometimes this creates friction.
That friction seems to have two highly opinionated voices personifying it. On the side of the galleries, as befits his position as ADAA president, is Mr. Augustine, who has said,
"We all need to be more careful about our affiliations with the auction houses," he said, his voice rising. "You can't just let them fund a dinner or event. There is more to it than just money, or sponsorship. Our reputations -- and our clients, our artists -- are on the line."
On the auction side of the issue, the voice that seems to be the most controversial belongs to Amy Cappellazzo, international co-head of Christie's postwar and contemporary department, who has said:
It's a changing world and you have to be really nimble as a business to survive -- the art world is moving much faster these days.... And a market is a market -- it doesn't consider feelings of artists or dealers in the process.
In case you're missing the subtext here, the auction houses are muscling their way in on what has traditionally been the galleries' territory and there seems to be no stopping them, hence the alarm on Mr. Augustine's part and the arrogance on Ms. Cappellazzo's part.

Serving (in the WSJ article at least) as the voice of moderation in all this is gallerist Jeffrey Deitch, whose gallery was co-owned by Sotheby's between 1997 and 2000. Mr. Deitch takes the position that:
The auction houses need the galleries and the galleries need the auction houses -- as dealers, we too can really benefit.
I tend to think he's right. As a character said in the film No Country for Old Men**, (I'm paraphrasing here) you can spend so much time trying to get back what you lost (or protect what you think you're losing) that you don't realize you're losing lots of other things in the process and sometimes you're better off just tying a tourniquet around the whole darn thing. Indeed, every time I catch myself expending energy trying to protect my little piece of the pie, I remember that I could just as easily spend that energy working to increase the size of the pie. Which isn't to say the galleries should let the auction houses walk all over us. But the market cares just as little for the feelings of auctioneers*** as it does the feelings of dealers or artists. And the wise gallerist perhaps works to find how that can be exploited in return.
___________
*Don't miss Jonathan's wonderful interview with the legend John Baldessari in January's issue of Art Review. (It was temporarily posted on
his blog here, but you'll have to wait for it now. Believe me it's worth it.)

**Loved it! Scary, bloody, wonderful.

***Seriously Amy, you don't think, in your more generous moments, that the market could/should have built-in considerations for the feelings of artists? Brrrrrr.

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Saturday, November 17, 2007

It's not the Conservatism...It's the Hypocrisy

Via Sullivan

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Friday, November 16, 2007

What Makes for Good (or Bad) Public Art?

The Guardian's Jonathan Jones offers a lively rant against mediocre public art, sparked by the new sculpture at London's St. Pancras train station (The Meeting Place by Paul Day). I won't offer a critique I expect to be taken seriously on work I haven't seen in person (and indeed the photo Jones uses of the piece on his blog is much less interesting than the photo the BBC uses on their site), so I'll allow that this work might have more to offer than Jones seems to think it does, but still, I empathize with his question: "Why do we accept the mixed bag of public commissions that have sprung up all around us?"

Jones steers off onto a figurative vs. non-figurative tangent, but I consider some of the "worst" public art in New York the works (figurative or abstract) that one can't ever see from a vantage point that makes them sensible, so I'll leave him to fight that particular battle.

Still, his post made we wonder what are the criteria that make for "good" or "bad" public art? I don't have strong feelings about figurative vs. abstract. In fact, most of my personal criteria are conceptual in nature. For me, public art must account for, duh, the public. As suggested above, high on my list of pet peeves is work that might look good from the penthouse office window of the CEO who approved it, but is impossible to see in whole from the ground. I mean, who ever had a clear view of Di Suvero’s
Joie de Vivre when it sat in the Holland Tunnel exit rotary? Someone must have, but it certainly wasn't the public, per se.

What criteria do you use?

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Thursday, November 15, 2007

O Gravity, Gravity...Wherefore art Thou?

From Today's New York Times:
Led by a record-breaking Jeff Koons sculpture and a $46 million Francis Bacon canvas, Sotheby's roared back from a dismal Impressionist sale to score the highest total in its history at a contemporary and postwar art auction on Wednesday.

Bacon's "Second Version of Study for Bullfight No. 1" far exceeded its $35 million-plus pre-sale estimate, while Koons' stainless steel "Hanging Heart (Magenta/Gold) soared to $23,561,000, including commission, obliterating the artist's $11.8 million record set one day earlier by his "Diamond (Blue)" sculpture.

Both works by Koons were bought by the Gagosian Gallery, one of Manhattan's premier contemporary art dealers.
Methinks the art universe rotates around Mr. Larry. In fact, Men's Vogue's Art Loves Money credited Mr. Gagosian's no-show at Sotheby's recent Impressionist and Modern sale for that evening's awful results:
It was a bad sign when Larry Gagosian didn't show up for Sotheby's November 7 sale of Impressionist and modern art and things only got worse from there.
Indeed, if his new digs in Moscow and Rome are any indication of how confident he is about the market, gravity isn't being seen as having much effect on contemporary art prices anytime soon. Which, of course, seems ludicrous. As MAO noted in a comment in response to my suggestion that the conventional wisdom says the art market takes about 1.5 years to feel the impact of a major recession:
I think the Fincancial correction has been going on for 6 to 9 months already.. And, Wall Street started taking the big losses in May and June..several hedge funds were already 100% wiped out.

So.. I'd say..if you're right about your 1.5 years... we only have another 8 or 9 months of party left... Yikes!

Well... let's all enjoy Maimi.. while we still can.. cause next year might be VERY different!

Or perhaps, as I suggested back in May, the conventional wisdom is outdated. The new, more global nature of the art market might mean that the tumbling housing market in the US won't have as direct an impact as it might have had two decades ago. Other ecomonies (ones doing very well by all accounts) like those in Europe and Asia now have to be taken into account. It's worth noting, however, that two nights ago,

Even with the weak dollar, Americans led the charge, scooping up 50.8 percent of the lots, followed by Europeans at 26.2 percent, Asians at 6.6 percent, and “other” at 17.3 percent.

The question, of course, is how that compares with who was buying in New York a year ago or five years ago.

Of course, the Contemporary sales are only Part I of the deathwatch test. Miami will be Part II. So far, so good. Fingers crossed.


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Wednesday, November 14, 2007

The Dangers of the Secondary Market for Living Artists

Ahhh... the ease of art blogging...How often do I get to start two very different columns with the same quote?

Art bubbles are great.

Art bubbles suck money into the art world.

Who gets hurt in an art bubble? Greedy artists; stupid collectors.

Who else? Nobody with their wits about them gets hurt in an art bubble.

---Dave Hickey, "Schoolyard art: playing fair without the referee," a keynote speech delivered at the Frieze art fair this year (as edited on The Art Newspaper).

This was the first thought that popped into my head when I read Sean Capone's question on yesterday's thread on contracts:

Can anyone explain to me why the gallerist should get first pick to buy back an artist's work before it goes to the secondary market?
I'd like to address the essence of that question, but to do so think it behooves us to re-frame it ever so slightly to read "Can anyone explain to me why someone who has the artist's best interests at heart should get first pick to buy back an artist's work before it goes to the secondary market?" (Instances where it's questionable whether a gallerist truly does have the artist's best interest at heart are another matter altogether in my mind so I'll leave that for another thread.)

In other words, what does a gallerist try to do by having input into how their artists' works enter the secondary market (in addition to making money, that is)? Three main things:
  1. This doesn't apply to all gallerists, but more and more of us are sharing the profits of resales that we handle with our artists as standard practice.
  2. Any good dealer will be trying to ensure their artist's prices remain healthy (i.e., don't skyrocket prematurely or go on public record as having tanked).
  3. Do damage control if the work performs poorly on the secondary market.
1. I attended a panel discussion a while back with three high-powered Chelsea dealers who were sharing their experiences with a group of us younger galleries. One of the established dealers surprised me by announcing she shares a percentage of every resale that goes through her space with her artists. There are many reasons that makes good business sense to me, none the least of which it helps you retain said artists, but also because by giving the artist an interest in how sold work appreciates, the gallery, the collector, and the artist will all be invested in seeing that work appreciate. Consider the case of Richard Prince, who famously renounced his earlier artwork. He might not have done so as quickly were there additional profits for him to be made from their resale (which is an argument for resale rights in general, I realize, but also for resale through a gallery that does this now).

2. The biggest dangers to an artist's prices in the secondary market undoubtedly lie in the auction system. A good gallerist will keep work out of the auction system (by reselling it privately) if it's not the right time to test those waters. If a work's price at auction jumps too quickly, it can skew that artist's market in several significant ways. First, it can turn off good collectors who recognize when works are overpriced, leaving only what Hickey calls the "stupid collectors" buying up the work. Getting one's work into the important collections is critical, and this can wreak havoc on those efforts. Secondly, it will wreak havoc on the artist's primary market. A primary gallery can be working for months to place the work with a museum or important collection, just to see prices jump out of their range and spoil a deal because someone flipped a piece at auction. Third, this can lead to a collective awareness that the work is overpriced, and that can stall an artist's career momentum. Finally, and perhaps the biggest reason galleries don't like to see work rushed to auction is the piece can tank. I've see work at auction that didn't perform well essentially end otherwise promising careers. There is a significant ripple effect to work doing poorly at auction.

3. If an artist's work doesn't have a strong secondary market yet, the gallery is the best place to keep that secret. It may not mean a strong secondary market isn't going to come in time, but a public announcement of a failure, at auction or through the secondary market grape vines, is much harder to control. Potential collectors might lose interest. Current collectors might lose faith. By bringing the work to the primary gallery, the collector ensures that the person reselling the work is going to keep it under their hat if what the market will bear is somewhat less than public perception. Perhaps hanging onto the piece just another two years or so, when said artist's first major museum show is being planned to take place (something the dealer has worked behind the scenes to secure but isn't at liberty to issue a press release on just yet) will make all the difference.

Of course, the above are less of a concern (except for the latent dangers at auction) if it's widely understood that there's a strong secondary market for the work. But that understanding isn't chiseled anywhere in stone. Dealers who tried to have collectors sign contracts ensuring they'd bring work back to the gallery first are shying away from that practice in general for many reasons, none the least of which may be that those contracts are unenforceable. So the fears that galleries are potentially harming an artist by requiring first pick are someone overblown. In my honest opinion, artists should want their gallery to have first pick, even if the work is ready to go to auction, so that someone on their side is involved in the planning and potentially bad fallout of such sales.

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Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Gallery Representation Contracts

Bambino and I were interviewed recently by a charming and very smart young writing duo who are working on a how-to book for artists that's being published by a major publishing house soon-ish. We'll give you plenty of info when it's closer to the time that you can get a copy for yourself. It does sound as if it will be very helpful.

One of the questions that came up during the interview, though, dealt with representation contracts, and I made some statements about them that I only later realized were perhaps only my opinion and not representative of how artists and other galleries feel. So I thought I'd solicit other folks' feelings about the use of such documents.

We don't use representation contracts in our gallery. We have an open and ongoing discussion about what representation means, and we do use consignment forms in most circumstances, but the notion that an artist is legally bound to remain with the gallery if that's not their desire strikes me as counterproductive to what we're trying to do.

Mind you, I've talked with lawyers and even attended panel discussions where all kinds of horror stories were told warning of the dire consequences of not having contracts, but I've concluded that most of those situations were only horror stories because of the amount of money involved, and, well, our gallery is still young enough that we're not seeing the sorts of prices that necessitate such contracts yet (I can hear the lawyers gasping from here).

The long and short of my own aversion to such contracts has been the sense that they're kind of like pre-nuptial agreements. Good perhaps if you're talking small private fortunes, but perhaps a pointless symbol of mistrust if you're not. Also, knowing that no amount of discussing what representation means before one signs a contract can anticipate all the possible reasons one might want a change down the road, and, well, I have enough aggravation in running a small business without adding resentment like that to the mix.

Still, I realized that even though I feel this strongly about representation contracts and have discussed them here before, I've never actually sat down to draft one. What should/do they contain? I found a list of what they might contain on the New York Foundation for the Arts
website. They recommend:

Formal contracts should be signed prior to the start of your representation. Here are all of the possible points that need to be covered. Not all areas may be relevant to your situation. Customize a contract that suits your individual needs.

  • Parties Involved in the Contract – (the gallery and you).
  • Duration of the Contract – (fixed term, contingent on sales, options to extend the term of duration).
  • Scope of the Contract – (media covered, past and future work, gallery’s right to visit the studio, commissions, exclusivity, territory, studio sales, exchanges, charitable gifts).
  • Shipping – (who pays to/from the gallery, carriers, crating).
  • Storage – (location, access by artist).
  • Insurance – (what is protected, in-transit, on-site).
  • Framing – (who pays for framing).
  • Photographs – (who pays, amount required [color and b+w], ownership of negatives and transparencies, controls of films).
  • Artistic Control – (permission for book/magazine reproduction, inclusion in gallery group exhibits, inclusion in other exhibits, artist’s veto power over purchasers).
  • Gallery Exhibitions – (dates, work to be shown, control over installation, advertising, catalog, opening, announcements/mailings).
  • Reproduction Rights – (control prior to sale of work, retention on transfer or sale of work, copyrights).
  • Damage or Deterioration – (choice of restorer, expense/compensation to artist, treatment for partial/total loss).
  • Protection on the Market – (right of gallery to sell at auctions, protection of works sold at auction).
  • Selling Prices – (should address who bought your work, the selling price, initial scale, periodic review, permission discounts, negotiation of commissioned works, right to rent vs. sell).
  • Billing and Terms of Sale – (extended payment, credit risk, allocation of monies as received, division of interest changes, qualified installment sale for tax purposes, exchanges/trading up, returns).
  • Compensation of the Gallery – (right to purchase for its own account).
  • Income from other Sales – (rentals, lectures, prizes/awards, reproduction rights).
  • Accounting/Payment – (how often, right to inspect financial records, currency to be used).
  • Advances/Guarantees – (time of payment, amounts and intervals, applications to sales).
  • Miscellaneous – (confidentiality of artist’s personal mailing list, resale agreements with purchasers, rights of gallery to use artist’s name and image for promotional purposes).
  • General Provisions – (representations and warranties, applicable laws, arbitration).
Although I fully agree with all but one of those areas being discussed in full before the gallery and artist agree to representation, I have never had a situation where I thought a contract would have led to a better outcome for either the gallery or the artist when an issue came up. I can see the day when that might change though. The item on the list that makes me uncomfortable is the second one: Duration of the Contract.

OK, so that's my take on them. What's yours? Do you want a written contract with your artists/gallery? Do you have any anecdotes that would change my mind about them? What does it say to artists if a gallery insists on a 5-year contract, for example. Is that attractive (because it demonstrates their commitment to your career) or off-putting (because it suggests you might be locked into a bad situation)?

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Monday, November 12, 2007

New Music Break Monday

Still catching up after being under the weather most of last week, so I'll keep this short. Did get a chance to listen to some music that I hadn't really known before, and really enjoyed this review of a Canadian band I had never heard of but would have been the first in line to see in my youth.

Bambino received the Amy Winehouse CD for his b-day, from Ondine, so of course we both spent the weekend sporadically breaking out into refrains of "No, no, no...."

What new music are you listening to/loving? Christmas is coming and I could use the help catching up.

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Friday, November 09, 2007

Après-garde Art: Almost an Epiphany

In a somewhat meandering piece on the value of "après-garde" art work, Financial Times writer Peter Aspden almost convinces me he's got a point, but....
Much contemporary art of recent years has set out to shock, despite the disingenuous disclaimers of its practitioners, in the hope that public outrage will be identified as a symptom of the artist’s avant-garde brilliance. But it is not necessarily so. There is a difference between genuine outrage and knee-jerk Daily Mail polemicising. Now there is a sense of near-ennui when confronted by the frantic efforts of certain artists to make headlines.

The truth is, their argument has been won. The rich and varied strains of contemporary art are now accepted by a public that is thirsty to see their results. That is because their art speaks of its time, and is all the more satisfying for it. The reason we live in a contemporary art boom at present is not entirely down to hedge fund speculators and restless Russian oligarchs. We have a genuine confluence of public feeling and the artistic imagination.

This is nowhere more vividly illustrated than at London’s Tate Modern, where the latest Turbine Hall installation, Doris Salcedo’s “Shibboleth”, aka the giant crack in the ground, is attracting extraordinary numbers of spectators. Last Saturday, more than 34,000 people came to see the work. To put it in some perspective, only three football matches in England attracted a bigger crowd than that.

It is a profound work, nothing less than a literal defacing of a temple of culture to protest against the fissures that still divide mankind. It is art of the here and now, and we are privileged to have it.
I wish, just once, someone who insists much of contemporary art "set out to shock" would name names. I understand it's considered widely understood to be the case, but like much conventional wisdom, when one gets down to specifics it often turns out not to be that defendable a position.

I got confused by what seems a contradiction in Peter's argument. He notes early in the piece that "[A]rt that is behind its time arguably serves an even more important function....[it] expresses something that is already in the air but has not yet been creatively articulated." But then suggests that "contemporary art...speaks of its time, and is all the more satisfying for it."

Again, I think I know what he's getting at, but as with the assumption that many artists set out to shock, I'm not sure it stands up to close inspection.

Note: Shaky image above is not an earthquake photo, but rather Bambino (who's celebrating his birthday today!!!) contemplating Salcedo's "Shibboleth" at the Tate.

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Thursday, November 08, 2007

A Chill

As if the chill in the air weren't enough to encourage my cold to linger (I really do feel like a large, warm ball of mucous is sitting where my head should be), I wake this morning to hear that Sotheby's stock plunged something like 28% because of a lackluster sale of Impressionist and Modern art. (I wish I had the luxury of feeling that a $270 million haul was a failure.) It's all relative, I know.

The speculation this morning is more furious than the bidding was last night, obviously, but it's foolhardy to place too much importance on the outcome of one auction (especially in light of how well Christie's had done the day before). The Dow Jones Industrial Average tank yesterday, oil is so close to $100/barrel we might as well call it that, and the dollar may very well replace firewood for a heating source in certain regions this winter. All of this very likely soured the mood in the room before the first lot was revealed. Once the Van Gogh was bought in, it snowballed from there.

If I had a crystal ball, I'd tell you how this plays out. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that one bad auction doesn't a burst make, but clearly, things are getting interesting...

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Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Under the Weather

feeling kind of snuffly. Non-mediated posting will resume tomorrow.

Consider this an open thread on the implications of this auction report:
Countering speculation that foreigners would emerge as the dominant buyers, Americans took home nearly half the art at Christie’s last night in the start to the fall auction season.

The recent subprime mortgage and equity crisis had stirred fears that American collectors would hesitate to plunk down millions of dollars for prime offerings of works by Matisse, Picasso or Cézanne, opening the way for newly rich Russians, Chinese or Europeans.

But on the opening night of two relentless weeks of fall auctions, a sale devoted to Impressionist and modern art, Christie’s Rockefeller Center salesroom was jam-packed with the same collectors, dealers and curiosity-seekers who always attend twice a year, hoping for a little theater and big prices.

The evening did not disappoint. Bidding for the best was competitive, with record prices set for masters like Matisse, Signac and Pissarro.

“If you were looking for cracks in the market, it was difficult to find them,” James Roundell, a London dealer, said at the end of the evening.

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Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Art imitates life imitates art imitates life...(or maybe someone throwing something is simply a good visual)

In the beginning there was the Molotov cocktail man.

Then there was a photo of him, by
Susan Meiselas, who records history:


Then there was a painting of the photo by
Joy Garnett, who appropriates the work of those who record history:



Then there was a painting that looked so similar to Joy's in spirit, if not entirely of style or composition, that someone "not an aneemaal" Mark Barry emailed me to ask whether or not it was Joy's. It's actually by
Yishai Jusidman, who also appropriates the work of those who record history:



Then there was a photograph, in today's
New York Times, of a lawyer in Pakistan imitating the molotov cocktail man in the original (only with a tear gas canister that had first been lobbed at him):


I can't help but feel there must be some pearl of wisdom to be learned from the constant appearance of images of people in this pose in our world. Maybe it's merely what Dave Hickey noted the other day: "The problem is that even though history may be over—time keeps on going."

The water in our building is out today, so I had to get up and go to the gym to take a shower, and now I'm extra crispy grumpy, so I'll turn this into an open thread on art imitating live and vice versa rather than subject you to my less than patient grumblings....

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Monday, November 05, 2007

9/11 Changed Everything

"We're not going to harm you. We're American soldiers."

---George H.W. Bush Sr. recalling his proudest moment of his administration's war against Iraq, quoting an American greeting a surrendering Iraqi soldier.

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The Fungibility of Art Criticism

One thing that Charlie Finch noted in his rant about art blogs the other day is certainly true: "One of the nice things about art criticism is that you can read it, go to a show, and forget about it" (sorry for the lapse in nettiquette, but I still can't bring myself to link to that article).

Being a huge fan of art criticism, I hate to think that it's really all that forgettable, but an ArtNEWS quiz by editor Robin Cembalest,in conjunction with the magazine's 105th anniversary, does confirm just how fungible much of the text is surrounding any given artist's name in any given review of their work. I'll confess to having scored terribly on this (although I'll admit to having raced through it as well). For the quiz, Robin has taken a chunk of a critique, omitted the artist's name where it appeared, and provided four possible names from which to choose to complete the text. Here's the instructions and one example:
Each of the eleven passages excerpted here comes from a different decade in the magazine’s history. See if you can guess who our critics are writing about:

Number one is an indifferently modeled head of a woman. Number two is a candidate for an asylum for imbeciles with her retreating chin and goggle eyes. Number three—and we are assured it is the same lady—has the cranium of P. T. Barnum’s “Last of the Aztecs” and the expression of those carved gods from Easter Island you will find in the Museum of Natural History. . . . For sheer intentional cold-blooded ugliness, for limbs that are swollen as with scurvy or emaciated as by famine, for faces heavy with overdrinking and surfeit or blighted by idiocy, _____ has Gauguin beaten out of sight. Just as Quasimodo threw all the yokels who ever grinned through a horsecollar into the shade when he stuck his hapless face out for the crowd to see, so does Monsieur _____ win the prize for hideous sculpture from the many men in Paris who are striving for that distinction.
  • a. Picasso
  • b. Matisse
  • c. Brancusi
  • d. Giacometti
The actual quiz is nicely interactive. Let me know how you do.

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Friday, November 02, 2007

Art and Patriotism

Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all other countries because you were born in it.
---George Bernard Shaw

One of the changes of heart I had while reading Lindsay Pollock's book about Edith Halpert (The Girl with the Gallery) was how I felt about the fact that Halpert championed American art over all other art. Initially I thought it was a very clever niche to carve out for herself, undoubtedly backed by a sincere belief that the work was undervalued in the eyes of the international art world as well as here in the US, but a marketing strategy first and foremost. As I read how Halpert stubbornly clung to this position, even the to the point of getting tangentially mixed up with Nixon's famous "Kitchen Debate" with Khrushchev at the US Embassy in Moscow in 1959 (Halpert had curated an exhibition of American art that coincided with the Vice President's trip there and triumphantly told Soviet reporters how she represented the freedom Nixon talked about [in that she had directly contradicted one of President Eisenhower's quips about American art in the press and not only lived to tell of it but was still permitted to curate the show despite the highly publicized dispute]), though, I began to think Halpert was exhibiting nationalistic tendencies at odds with the humanist potential of great art. It's one thing to feel patriotic pride about the fact that Stuart Davis' work could have only emerged from America, it's another entirely to assume that anyone else born in the US would naturally make art superior to that of other nations as well. I'm not saying Halpert consciously did that, mind you, but I did begin to feel as if she was limiting the overall potential importance of her gallery's "dialog" by clinging to an American-only program and couldn't figure out why.

Patriotism and art have a very troublesome partnership in general in my opinion. There's no doubt that ascending economic powers quickly realize that art serves as a wonderful messenger for its image of benevolent superiority (or in some cases simply its superiority). The history of the rise of American art in the second half of the 20th century is dotted with dubious diplomatic decisions at critical moments that would make for a good spy novel. But we're the "good guys" spreading the good news (or at least we were until Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo), so that's OK...at least to us. Besides, with our country growing at the rate it did throughout the 1900s, and so many new communities with middle/upper class homes that needed decorating, and universities that needed collections with which to teach, and civic committees/leaders who needed (wanted) the prestige that a museum brings, we needed more art in general here at home, and why shouldn't it reflect first and foremost who were are, rather than those other older countries? Especially when we're talking contemporary art.

Recent auction results from other parts of the world, however, suggest we're not the only nation with patriotic purchasing patterns. Chinese, Russian, and even Middle Eastern collectors are demonstrating a proclivity for buying work by artists from their homeland or regions. From via artinfo.com:

Middle Eastern artists scored record sales last night at Christie's auction in Dubai's Jumeirah Emirates Towers Hotel, Bloomberg reports.

Christie's third auction in Dubai, which sold $15 million of contemporary works, produced the auction record for an Arab artwork with Ahmed Mustapha's Qu'ranic Polyptych of Nine Panels bringing in $657,000 (including commission). Mustapha held the previous record of $284,800, set at Christie's first Dubai sale in May 2006.

Lebanese and North African artists also set records last night, but contemporary Western art did not fare as well. Damien Hirst's Atorvastatina sold for $481,000, toward the lower end of the estimates, while his Untitled (from War Child) failed to meet the reserve.

I'm not sure there's much anyone can (or even should) do about this. As much as I suspect it represents motivations beyond mere admiration for the work, it's undoubtedly true that work that speaks to you is more likely to originate from where you come from (even more so if you limit your overall worldview). I do think as the art market shrinks, however, that this tendency should be taken into account when collectors consider the publicized pronouncements about whose work is selling for what. A Hirst in London may not be anywhere near as valuable as a Hirst in Dubai.

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Thursday, November 01, 2007

Art Bloggers Survey

Kriston rightly notes that the Peter Plagens' piece on arts bloggers in the current issue of Art in America really calls for a survey. He has kindly reprinted the questions on Grammar.police, but if I'm reading him correctly, he's calling on arts bloggers to answer them in a post on their own blog. I love the idea of a worldwide response to Peter's questions and second the request.

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Dave Hickey Makes the Squad

Art bubbles are great.

Art bubbles suck money into the art world.

Who gets hurt in an art bubble? Greedy artists; stupid collectors.

Who else? Nobody with their wits about them gets hurt in an art bubble.

---Dave Hickey, "Schoolyard art: playing fair without the referee," a keynote speech delivered at the Frieze art fair this year (as edited on The Art Newspaper).

Being egocentric, I would have answered the question "Who gets hurt in an art bubble?" with "Young galleries; careless collectors." Maybe that's because I don't work with any greedy artists (we're very careful about prices in our space, for this very reason: to ensure they don't get hurt).

Friends of mine who attended Hickey's lecture at Frieze came back raving about it. I only got snippets from their reports (the snarkier snippets), and immediately my guard went up. How dare this heretic? Condemning the art market at one of its most holy sanctuaries? No, no, no, my friends reported. He was funny!

And reading the lecture online, I see he was that and much more. Hickey weaves around and then dashes straight through the issues of the contemporary art market in a fashion as entertaining as it is insightful. And he spares no one in this critique of how ridiculous the system has become, not even himself:
The art market in the 20th century is first of all a finite market which means there are always more works of art than there are people to buy them.

What does that mean? It means, as Leo says, that somebody has to buy two.

Somebody has to buy four or five.

If the art does not change, nobody’s going to buy two.

To maintain itself in public vogue, art needs perpetual reinvestment, an artist needs one show after another show, one essay after another essay—all these are occasions for stylistic development.

If I happen to have written about your frog paintings last year and if you put up another show of frog paintings, I’m not coming by.

But, if Barbara [Gladstone] calls me and says: “You haven’t seen the salamander paintings, Dave,” then I’m going to rush right over.
Where he gets really interesting, however, is in his diagnosis of why we're stuck here, in this suspended stage of no stylistic development:
In 1968 Bruce Nauman invented the plywood box.

Do you remember the plywood box? I’ve been in every plywood box in the universe.

You could not make the plywood box go away.

I’ve been in plywood boxes with coal on the floor, with cotton on the floor, I’ve been in plywood boxes you climbed into with a ladder, I’ve been in plywood boxes in which there was nothing there except for, written on the wall, the tiny word “boogie”.

All of this created a steady-state market place in which there was nothing to drive style change.

The logic of an institutional market is: “We don’t care.

We’re just filling up this hole in our schedule.” It’s really more important [to institutions] if the person building the plywood box is a Zuni [Native American] warrior than if we’ve ever seen the plywood box before.

And the presumption is: We don’t have style development anymore because history is over.

I date the end of history to the assassination of Bobby Kennedy in 1968.

When they shot JFK everybody said “Oh God, it’s so terrible it’s the end of the world.” When they shot Bobby, everybody said: “Oh no, not again.” And the end of history is pretty much marked by: “Oh no, not again.” The problem is that even though history may be over—time keeps on going.

Not having history doesn’t disable ennui.

The art world works on ennui, that’s the only thing that makes it go.

I am bored with giant cibachrome photographs of three Germans standing behind a mailbox.

It doesn’t mean it’s bad, it just means I’m fucking bored with it.
Entertaining as it is, Hickey's final conclusion is merely a more sophisticated routine from a seasoned captain of the art market deathwatch cheerleaders:

One day one dealer may say to himself: “I’m going to gather power the way Leo did, I’m just going to show stuff I really believe in.” That’s going to really change things.

And the art world as we currently know it will disappear.

As exciting as this moment is now, imagine how exciting the collapse is going to be.

It’s really something to look forward to.

Boom! Thousands of Icari plummeting into the surf.

Eventually all the windows where you sell your soul are going to be closed.
This ending is disappointing. As it is with all deathwatch cheerleaders, Hickey seems to be longing for the next new thing, not because he can even assume it will be better than what we have now, but merely because it will be new, something to look forward to, and he won't be so fucking bored by it. That's not a good enough reason for me. First and foremost, whether Hickey agrees or not, I know dealers who truly believe they are only showing stuff they truly believe in. So if that's all it took, Hickey would have his change now. What I think Dave is really arguing for here is for someone else to end his ennui. The old Pet Shop Boys lyrics spring to mind: "We were never feeling bored, cause we were never being boring."

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