Wednesday, June 24, 2009


The problem, of course, was how to bring it up without seeming self-serving. I mean, I've had a few highly discussed spats with the fellow (although I've always qualified those by noting that I'll be forever thankful that he attended the first exhibition I ever organized), and here I'd be praising him when what he says just happens to align with my personal interests. Was there a way to acknowledge the self-serving aspect of bringing it up and yet still bring it up anyway?

No, I concluded. There simply wasn't a way. Bringing it up would be tacky, unprofessional, and otherwise unseemly. No, you can't do it, can't mention the article Charlie Finch wrote on titled "Will Collectors Step Forward?" And you certainly can't link to it.

And even if you did somehow manage to mention it and link to it, you'd be breaking all manner of protocol to actually quote the article. I mean, to republish a sentiment like ...
Just as American collectors, with their art consultants and mall-like buying habits, drove the now busted ten-year-long art boom, so now these same collectors, dentists, trophy spouses, trust fundees and hedge funders, must act as the stimulus to bring the contemporary art scene back from the brink.
...who would stand for it? It's simply beyond the pale. Of course, to be a bit less melodramatic about it, that first part is really nothing compared with:
[T]hese collectors, many of whom have accumulated hundreds of pieces by young and mid-career artists, are operating out of fear: fear that they will sell at a loss, fear of losing face among their art world friends, fear of being openly honest with the dealers whose business has completely dried up.
And to note that this part of Mr. Finch's article is illustrated with a photo of Bellwether Gallery (a truly seminal space with a vision that I already miss), with a "Retail Rental" sign in its window, would be paramount to taking a large club and bludgeoning the point mercilessly.

No, clearly that simply wouldn't go over well. Best to let sleeping dogs lie, not stir up a hornet's nest, not show red to the bull, or dredge up any other wildlife cliches and simply not discuss the article at all. Its merits (the rest of which you'll have to decide after reading it yourself) are fodder for hushed conversations in backrooms and non-Chelsea drinking holes. Besides, if someone opened a forum about it, we might all get to hear the collectors' side of the story. And we couldn't have that now, could we?

Labels: art market


Anonymous Gam said...

sorry to open with a small digressions here:

even giving a resale percentage to the artists who created the work, would be an excellent start.

What if a gallery offered to sell works on a similar “royalty” basis. Instead of 100% ownership, for 50 % of the asking price, the next 5 sales of that work – (restricted resale through the gallery) will each have a 10% royalty fee charged. Hence the original 50 % taken off is recuperated through future sales, and the gallery gets to control the sales price of the 5 following sales to ensure the base price continues to “rise”. It might mean 50% less profit now, but the future guarantees to recoup that value and install a repeat business mentality with buyers and gives the opportunity of the work increasing in price.

Hence the value of the gallery has tangible assets in “futures’ of their own artists, and immediate “discounts” for this economy are available now without actual loss. More importantly, the “art futures” would become a transferable commodity, hence further creating interest in the art markets as an alternative for financial portfolios .

just musings ...

6/24/2009 09:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

Can we semi-retire use of the word "seminal" to mean influential? I suggest equal time for "ovule."
[insert smiley face and smiley X chromosomes here]

6/24/2009 09:57:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Can we semi-retire use of the word "seminal" to mean influential?

Picky, picky... ;-)

6/24/2009 09:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Etymologically speaking, seminal comes from the latin for seed (not semen, although it is the same word) so it doesn't really imply masculinity. Although it very much sounds like it.

I think art is overpriced. Way overpriced. It should be less than half of that. You say yes, but a gallery has a lot of expenses. Same as other shops. Yes, but a light bulb at an art fair costs $250. That's way overpriced too. Artfairs should cost a third of what they cost now. An upcoming artist drawing shouldn't cost more than $ 200. An ad on Artforum should cost $ 1000. Then we'll have change.


6/24/2009 10:03:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


That would create a cash flow nightmare. Under that model, the volume of sales would have to rise substantially, the exhibition space would have to be massive, and the number of works in storage, and in transit would raise operating costs.

6/24/2009 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

at the risk of hijacking my own thread (and turning this into an etymological blog) I did actually look up "seminal" before using it here and, satisfied that it meant what I wanted to convey (as its fourth definition was "highly original and influencing the development of future events" [and I feel Bellwether was indeed all that]), decided to run with it.

Instead of 100% ownership, for 50 % of the asking price, the next 5 sales of that work – (restricted resale through the gallery) will each have a 10% royalty fee charged.

Resales are not so common that most artists would see any money from this though, so I'm not entirely sure how this works for most artists...can you perhaps phrase another way?

But let's get back on topic, OK?

6/24/2009 10:11:00 AM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Lately I've been buying art. Not a lot, and not hugely expensive, but buying nonetheless. I've purchased from several New York galleries, a Boston gallery, an independent print project, and directly from an unrepresented artist.

Not only do I love the work, I feel its my duty to help support galleries and artists--and thus, in a small way, the art world. This is the world in which I earn my living, and I want it to continue (and selfishly, I want it to continue to support me).

If every artist who can afford to would buy a few works, and if every collector who is on the fence about acquiring would acquire a few works, the tide might turn.

God help me, I'm agreeing with Charlie Finch.

P.S. I HEART Oriane. Equal time for ovular!

6/24/2009 10:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not sure I understand gam's resale idea. Are you talking about resale of the same individual work? What if the collector wants to hold onto it? I don't like the idea of predicating pricing on the collector selling the work. If a collector truly loves an artwork, they would want to keep it.

Also, why does a light bulb at an art fair cost $250?

6/24/2009 10:16:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

why does a light bulb at an art fair cost $250?

God bless 'em: Unions.

6/24/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I've purchased from several New York galleries,

...and we love you for it!!!

6/24/2009 10:19:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's great that you're linking to this, especially because you've disagreed with him in the past. You play a role in elevating the art world above the easy, consensus-based, clique mentality that's still active (in some areas). Your recognition of the critic that those from the in-crowd love to hate is a model for tolerance in the little sphere of the art world. You shouldn't need to agonize in your post (amusing though it is) about how this makes you (and shadowy others having hushed conversations in back rooms) appear. It's high time those in the art world stopped operating from the standpoint of the fear of losing status, in whatever form that takes.

As often as I disagree with Charlie's sentiments, I'm grateful for the occasional insight he provides. So I read him, and admit it. So what.

6/24/2009 10:21:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

cash flow nightmare

but as the "royalty" is a tranferrable "art futures" then you could sell the futures for the face value. That the sold "art futures" is actually exercised in 10 years or a 100 becomes irrelevant. The "art futures" itself becomes the commodity and not the artwork. The selling of the "art futures" would give you your cash flow now and the "futures" investor has an investment that might pay 50 % on a work worth much more in the future then the original price. (As seen in many auction houses)
We also now have an art collector and an art futures buyer - distributing the art investment over a wider field,

yes yes this is all magic dust , I know nothing of the financial markets, it just seems in a discount prevelant economy, having an "art futures" would allow one to redistribute the financial investment.

6/24/2009 10:42:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

how is all this regulated?

6/24/2009 10:44:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

as a financial vehicle it would likely be through Wall street and Bond street and Dubai's money street - it would need to be a legitimate financial market -
the concept is to off load a percentag (50 -30 -10 whatever) of the cost of a work of art to an "art futures" market.

Likely only the really succesful artists and the "unknown" high risk artists would be able to profit from this refinancing. But an art gallery with a record of succesful resales from their "art futures" would in of itself become a resale value in such a futures market.

I am really musing here ...

6/24/2009 10:55:00 AM  
Anonymous nemastoma said...

What is a seed in botanical terms? A mature ovule. What is a fruit? A mature ovary.

What is a seed in zoological terms? Sperm.

So whether you tend to see the world more in terms of plants or more in terms of animals, the term "seminal" applies to both genders. As with everything else, it's all about context.

6/24/2009 11:07:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

No amount of cheerleading is going to change much. While the fundamental causes for booms and busts vary from era to era, the one thing which remains the same is human nature, market psychology does not change.

Bubbles happen because of a confluence of certain circumstances, once initiated they are hard to reverse. While today the art world may feel the need to flagellate itself over imagined misdeeds, none of this will prevent the next bubble from occurring.

In the same vein, the market collapse, once initiated must run its course. No amount of cheerleading, chicanery or collusion can have more than a temporary affect.

In either case, the psychology of the art world is linked to the world economies, which ultimately provide the "disposable income," which generates the cash-flow, which in turn fuels the art business. Economic reversals are rarely "V" shaped and tend to end in a more prolonged and gradual way.

In my opinion, there is not going to be a depression but there is still a considerable amount of uncertainty over the amount of time required for an economic recovery. While it appears that we are on the ascending side of a recovery, the economy is still in negative territory and this has a very direct affect on market psychology. Collectors and dealers are still cautious.

It is unfortunate that some galleries will shutter their doors, but not unexpected. This happens every time at this point in the boom-bust cycle. In case no one remembers, a couple of years back there was public commentary by a number of influential gallerists over what they would-could-should do in case of a downturn.

Clearly a number of participants didn't pay attention because in a bubble the only direction is "up." Of course, in a crash, the only direction is "down."

Once you move the focus away from the changing price, you start to identify the collectors market which we now are in. Gone are the johnny come lately flippers and price manipulators, their margins have gone negative and the storage bills are mounting.

The true collectors should again have access to the better works. Every market reversal occurs because eventually someone is willing to step up to the plate and make the purchase which stems the tide. The problem is that generally they don't ever really know they are doing that, they are just acting psychologically thinking that "enough is enough" and that they "really want it at this price."

6/24/2009 11:10:00 AM  
Blogger George said...


The art "futures" idea is fraught with problems and open to collusion and fraud without extensive regulation.

It is another way to generate the speculation which distorts market pricing and leads to market bubbles.

Today's great collectors started off making small purchases of what later turned out to be important art not looking for a fast buck.

6/24/2009 11:15:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, all this futures talk will certainly discourage anyone who doesn't have a degree in economics from participating. If I walked into a gallery and expressed interest in buying work, my eyes would glaze over if I started hearing this stuff.

6/24/2009 11:26:00 AM  
Anonymous Luis Coig Reyes said...

Anonymous, a drawing shouldn't cost more than $200?

Alright, let's say it's not too small a drawing, say 19" x 24". Let's say it's rather involved, not just a scribble. Let's say the artist spent, say 20 hours on the drawing. Now, paying $200 means the artist is getting paid $10/hr. Is that what you're proposing? Or is the artist getting only $100 because the gallery gets 50%? That sounds to you like a fair price for a handmade, one-of-a-kind object with cultural value and possibly enlightening properties?

Why don't you go ahead and do whatever you do for a living for $10/hr? Get out of here Anonymous, get out of here.

6/24/2009 11:31:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Re: "art futures"

The fundamental problem is that even artworks by the same artist are not fungible. Equities are fungible one share of IBM is the same as another share of IBM, if two people swap shares they don't notice any difference.

Suppose we use William Gibson's method and sell 'futures' in a single painting or group of paintings, say $500 million bucks worth of Pollocks. Then all we would be doing is gambling. If you want to gamble - play around in the equity or commodity markets - it's all set up, there are lots of brokers, and it's regulated.

Sorry but it's a really bad idea.

6/24/2009 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

coupla observations...

first...contemporary art is the froth at the top of a cup of fancy coffee...always has been. when money gets tight, it's the first to go. this is an immutable law.

second...both galleries mentioned in the article, Bellwether and Roebling Hall, while they were groundbreaking galleries in their time, were notorious for their horrendous - bordering on criminal - business practices. so maybe they're not the best examples to use in this case.

6/24/2009 11:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Gam said...

You may be right George,

But that such an art futures would of law be required to be in the financial sector and its inherent regulations means it is one removed from the art world. The price of an artwork remains determined as now. That you decide to offload a given percentage of that price is the only direct involvement in the art futures environment. If the art world wants to regulate the percentage of an art sale that may be offloaded in such a manner, that is a valid art world decision. But the speculation of the art futures is contained within the financial market, not the art galleries pricing structure.

The art futures doesn’t bring the speculator into the gallery to buy the artwork, they are focused on the futures potential value, not the art. They needn’t care about art. They can still love their Ronald McDonald’s collectables. The collectors of art would remain as now, the only difference being part of the artwork cost is redistributed to a financial vehicle outside of the artworld. This isn’t changing who buys art, it changes how it is paid for.

(i'll stop trying to make the horse drink ;) )

6/24/2009 11:50:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

Before we get too far into talking about contemporary art being "froth" and gloating over the demise of certain art galleries I think we need to remember that art which was once "contemporary" to an era has now entered into the collective history of mankind.

From Rembrandt to Van Gogh, artists have struggled for the chance to express their vision. All artists are not blessed with the same gifts, but to suggest that somehow they contribute to the froth in the market suggests that the anonymous writer somehow has a personal vision which is privy to some absolute truth.


6/24/2009 12:02:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"were notorious for their horrendous - bordering on criminal - business practices."

Really? Examples, please.

6/24/2009 12:08:00 PM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

Really? Examples, please.

Please don't. There are other forums for trading in rumors and innuendos about dealers. I'd rather this not be one of them. Thanks.

6/24/2009 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

I agree with the tone of Luis Reyes comment. While I don't quite subscribe to a labor theory of value he clearly values his own efforts which is a sign of belief and commitment to his practice.

Frankly, I expect that artists will do whatever is required to keep the dogs at bay, however the best art is the art that survives. Low priced objects, including artworks, end up on the trash heap and lost forever. No? what about that $200 (your electronic device here) you just threw out because you got a new, better one? Do a trash walk on the upper east side, and see what gets thrown out or 'donated' to the thrift shops.

Here's a little question to consider. How much cash do you take out of the cash machine to get by for a week. When I was a student it was about $20, which wouldn't even pay for groceries today, but you could sell an artwork and get 10X that. What about today?

6/24/2009 12:51:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

All this talk about money gets boring. In spite of the recent economic downturn the longer term cycle suggests that we at a point that future collectors will remember this period as the "good old days."

Every once in awhile there is a point where new collectors with a passionate interest and inquisitiveness can start a world class collection with an imaginable amount of money.

These individuals are not the "rich collectors" I heard about at the recent art world financial symposiums, they might not even be considered "rich," a term I find used in a peculiar way within the art world.

No, these collectors are probably the young movers and shakers for the next half century who will have started their "great collections" during these dark days at the end of this century's first decade.

These great collections will be started ignoring the vast amount of art being marketed to appeal to mass tastes, as high end decoration, with or without a pedigree.

These new collectors will make mistakes, buy the 'wrong thing,' whatever, it doesn't really matter because I believe that great collectors are as rare as great gallerists or as great artists. It takes a certain panache, intellect, vision and taste to assemble a great collection.

Other artists, gallerists and collectors just follow along.

6/24/2009 01:25:00 PM  
Blogger Craig McCormick said...

Edward, as usual, your post is brilliantly written. Gam's comment, however, feels like fodder for another bubble and another crisis - speculation by brilliant yet unemployed investment bankers creating art securities-backed financial products, etc. etc. No vehicles or products, please, made from my art. What a nightmare.

6/24/2009 01:37:00 PM  
Blogger marc said...

Agree with George all this talk about money gets boring,I've been an unrepresented artist for the past nine years and my main "fear"was that my art will have to change to appeal to mass tastes or will have to be transform on a decorative object to accommodate the "gallery program".it's time for reflection; was the "good years" really good for the Arts?

6/24/2009 03:47:00 PM  
Anonymous Cedric C said...

What about artists and non-commercial galleries who don't care what collectors think?
Some produce art as great as what produce the artists that Charlie Finch is so worried will disappear.

There is an economical crash in the art market, but not an artistic crash. The whiner who won't draw unless he gest 2000$ a piece doesn't mean there is no artist who does a great job on the streets and puts it on Flickr (ref. recent iranian post).

So the part I find delicate here is linking the art market crash to a general crash of the arts.

I mean, how much do you measure someone's passion for art? What dealer would continue following art shows and artists if their establishment crash? There is money, and there is the passion.
If no money can be made out of the passion, well, you just separate the two. You make the money elsewhere and you pursue the passion in another form.

The true passionate dealer will start a non-profit art centre
when they crash, that's what I believe, not that I wish any bad experience to anyone.

I'm just trying to split the monetary question out of the passion.


Cedric C

6/24/2009 05:10:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Well, I think the bubble years were good for art. Sure it was overdone and left a price to pay but a lot of young artists got a better start than todays graduates might reasonably expect.

Cedric should be cautious in not caring about what collectors think. This is like saying you don't care about the viewer. Art without an audience goes nowhere.

Also Cedric, I don't think that the crash in the art market has been, or should be, connected with a decline in the arts. There is no evidence for this at all. Art, like any aspect of the culture has its ups and downs of interest and excitement.

Art is just like popular music, or hit television programs or fashion. There is a clear cycle that builds from the initial exposure, to popularity, to over-exposure and replacement by something new.

6/24/2009 06:30:00 PM  
Blogger marc said...

George said .."A lot of young artists got a better start than todays graduates might reasonably expect." what is your view on that Edward?;Can we really be honest and look at the whole picture of the market and why we are in this position now.

6/24/2009 09:10:00 PM  
Blogger C. L. DeMedeiros said...


Should I laugh?
should I cry?
or should I wait
and die?
I'll die anyway
but will be fun to imagine
those who bought for 250
having the last laugh.

250 for a light bulb...


don't stop to nail,
no matter what!

6/24/2009 10:10:00 PM  
Blogger Joanne Mattera said...

Rantlet: Cedric complains about "The whiner who won't draw unless he gest 2000$" Actually, the figure the artist quoted was $200, and as he (the artist)noted, that's $100 each for artist and dealer. Now factor in the discount, and it's quite a few hours for quite a little money. Would your plumber work 10 minutes for that for that? Something to think about if you ever need a plumber.

Artists should be talking about money. We think about it. We have to pay bills. We all deal with it. Just as a dealer may decide not to take on an artist if s/he thinks that artist won't find a collector base in the gallery, artists need to make decisions about how to proceed with their careers. If it means not drawing for a while, so be it.

How many other groups of people are typically paying two rents, paying for their own health insurance, art supplies and more on an irregular income?

One of the difference between art as a "calling" and art as a profession, is that money issues are out in the open. Good. I'd rather be professional who deals with it than a starving artist who doesn't.

6/25/2009 09:09:00 AM  
Blogger zipthwung said...

A lot of art that sold in the last 10 years is junk, is the implication of "fear" - a word that derives from "frere" - or "brother's keeper."

No, no one can hear you scream in the art world, unless you have a show and send out cards about your scream performance. You might put it on the web (dot com bubble style) and hope the traditionalists will believe in your brand of screaming interactivity, amplified like a William Gibson version of the troglodytic shell dwellers.

Commodify your dissent! Turn your passion into a program! MS DOS! UNIX! Actionscript! Javascript! XHTML! Perl! Cobol! Fortran! Lisp!

Programmers can get 35-50 dollars an hour, well above art pay, apparently. And you could show your programming in an art gallery - maybe even stuff you already sold, like clip art.

Selling programs! I heard iphone apps made some people rich! RICH!

And I never heard of Apple not paying, or being months and months late with a payment, or selling an app without informing the artist. Or renegging on a deal. Or rescinding an offer. Or declining payment.

Fear is the miind killer!

6/25/2009 09:14:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

George said .."A lot of young artists got a better start than todays graduates might reasonably expect." what is your view on that Edward?;Can we really be honest and look at the whole picture of the market and why we are in this position now.

Hmmm...well, first off I'd say we're "in this position" because some time ago our lawmakers began accepting far too much in campaign contributions from the banking and insurance industries to be seen as true representatives of our interests over theirs, and they let the industry run rampant over logic or fiscal responsibility, offering NINJA loans and creating financial instruments so freaking complicated that only computers understand them (if even they do). This was not sustainable (as any sensible custodian would have known...but we unfortunately had that arrogant Preppie dimwit with father issues to work out running things), and so it eventually began to crack, and in falling apart took with it the disposal income that wealthy Americans with three houses, four cars, and everything else they ever imagined wanting had begun to spend on contemporary art in record numbers, creating the boom.

When these new collectors saw their live savings depleting over a series of week in Fall 2008, they did the sensible thing and stopped en masse (all at freaking once) purchasing the luxury items they knew they could live without.

There is nothing in the number of artists or the practice of poaching of artists from grad school or any of those other complaints, in my opinion, at which you can lay blame for "this position."

6/25/2009 09:34:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

er..."disposal income" should be "disposable income."

and, of course, "live savings" should be "life savings"

oy vey

6/25/2009 09:40:00 AM  
Blogger George said...

The reasons for how the economy got into this position run the gamut and while I don't totally agree with Ed's position I don't think it's productive debating it further here.

I will add a bit more to explain: "A lot of young artists got a better start than todays graduates might reasonably expect."

Younger artists who graduated with a MFA, sometime over the last dozen years, might tend to view the art world over the last decade as 'normal,' what they might expect going forward into the next decade.

This is not the case. For a number of reasons, both financial and demopgraphic, the art world rapidly expanded over the last decade. This expansion is unique in the history of American art and is unlikely to happen again in the next few decades.

Expanding markets require sufficient product and as a result the demand for new artworks (by young artists) rapidly expanded for a few years just after the turn of the century. This demand occurred because artworks by the baby-boomer generation of artists caused their prices to rise to a higher plateau, creating a void, hence opportunity, for the work of younger artists priced in the lower range.

Rather than being the norm this event was an exception and by 2006-2007 the art market was starting to normalize itself and becoming more selective about younger artists.

I expect the art market to maintain its increased size somewhat near what it is now. This means that there will be more opportunities for recent art school graduates, but also that the number of new artists has also increased.

The current economic problems have stopped the rapid expansion in the art world. The supply pipelines are full with product and artists. It is reasonable to expect that the available opportunities will be more competitive.

So what I am suggesting is that we are seeing a return to normalcy. The market is not going to go away but the days of cradle robbing MFA students is over. The opportunities will continue to be there but they will go to the artists with the most compelling art.

Zip said: A lot of art that sold in the last 10 years is junk

This statement is always true, it is the status quo. It's true there was 'more junk' sold in the last 10 years but only because there was more art sold overall.

6/25/2009 11:01:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane Stender said...

Ed, I'm willing to blame a lot of problems on the preppie dimwit with father issues, the financial industry and the politicians who took money from the financial industry, but I'm still rankled by that first question that shoppers at the art fairs asked you:
how old is the artist?

I admit that I'm not exactly sure how that relates to the issue at hand (this may be more of an emotional than a fact-based reaction) but I feel that the youth fetish has to be mentioned somewhere in the discussion of How We Got To the Present Circumstances.

-your faithful (prematurely crochety) correspondent from the frontlines of ageism, sexism and other destructive isms

ps Joanne, it's so nice to be hearted!

pss my word verification thingie was ovuen!! Very close to ovular! That kind of creeps me out - is the computer reading my thoughts?

6/25/2009 11:43:00 AM  
Blogger Edward_ said...

I simply reject the notion that you can isolate anything that happened within the art world itself as the source of "how we got to the present circumstances."

The demand for art was there.

Forgive me if I'm misreading all this, but the suggestion seems to be that rather than sell work by young artists or grad students, all would be well (or better) in the art market since the global downturn (which took car industries, banks, major retailers, nearly all of real estate, etc. etc. with to look at the art market as if it were possible to isolate some source within it alone seems unrealistic) if dealers / curators / collectors had made different choices.

I don't believe for a moment if dealers had made a conscious effort to eschew younger artists and represent more mature artists that the market would be in a better place today. I see no evidence of that at all.

6/25/2009 11:50:00 AM  
Anonymous Oriane said...

No, I'm not suggesting that all would be well or better if, etc. I'm just saying that I think the youth fetish is somehow related to the notion and practice, in the broader culture, of some things being grossly overvalued while others are grossly undervalued. I'm speaking more on a philosophical level than on the level of cause and effect. Collectors deciding whether to buy work based on the age of the artist (meaning they prefer to buy work by people with less experience in their field) is part of the whole devaluation of time (which represents experience, labor, thought, etc.) put in to something and the overvaluation of novelty, newness, freshness. It's just a trend that is another way of making the decision process easier, another way for collectors not to have to trust their own instincts. "I don't have to figure out what work really speaks to me. This is new, so it must be better." (Also, presumably, it's cheaper, so that's a plus.) For some people, that's easier.

6/25/2009 12:09:00 PM  
Blogger George said...

Most older artists are stuck in the ruts of their own cart. It bumps along a path well known and travelled.

6/25/2009 12:25:00 PM  
Anonymous Oriane said...

Yes, "most" of everything is crappy, George. Isn't that what you meant by the following?

Zip said: A lot of art that sold in the last 10 years is junk

This statement is always true, it is the status quo. It's true there was 'more junk' sold in the last 10 years but only because there was more art sold overall.

6/25/2009 12:43:00 PM  
Blogger George said...


It's really hard to make great art, hard even to make good art and it has been the case over the years. I wish I could find the quote but I think it was Pisarro who lamented on how much bad art was bought by the public. So, I wasn't disagreeing with Zip, just recontextualizing his observation

6/25/2009 01:04:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jumping in here late and going back to the article by Charlie Finch. First he insults collectors and their "mall buying habits" then begs them to bail us out. Of course they have fear.
The art world makes shadow banking look regulated. We all know this. When we sell collectors art with the idea that it is an "investment" and they get burnt we ruin their trust. Expecting them to jump back in quickly is a little unrealistic.
But I think George is right new collectors will come back in. Goldman Sachs is poised to give huge bonuses this year and others will follow. These easy money making men and women will take chances on the next best thing because they getting high on betting. The art world will continue to woo them and distain them at the same time.
The cycle continues.

6/25/2009 01:52:00 PM  

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