Wednesday, September 30, 2009

LA Beats NYC

It's something we've been calling for here for, oh, almost a year now: some developer unable to fill new commercial spaces renting them very cheaply (or free) to young art dealers who will bring in the sort of clientele those developers are already trying to attract. With the commercial vacancy rate in New York hitting a 13-year high, one would think the symbiotic sense of such arrangements would strike some developer in Manhattan like a bolt of lightening, but, alas, to date the best the culture capital of the US has managed (and I don't mean to diminish this fantastic effort, but it's not quite the same idea) is the public park project LentSpace.

In Los Angeles, though, this exact model has already been put in place. explains:
The Pacific Design Center, a design emporium featuring 130 showrooms, will launch its Design Loves Art initiative tomorrow, allowing art galleries to take over vacant commercial spaces in its sprawling building — sometimes referred to as the "Blue Whale" — for the next six months rent-free.

Some of the galleries participating in the project have permanent locations elsewhere in Los Angeles, while others are using the space as an opportunity to reopen their doors after being forced to close. The only cost to gallery owners is a 10 percent cut of any sale to the Pacific Design Center.

A 10-percent cut of sales is a good deal in exchange for no rent (especially in the current sales climate). Of course what happens when the six months end (and that's about how long it takes to achieve awareness of one's new location, so) is a good question. Can the galleries remain there and start paying rent? Will they be chucked out?

As tough as it is for commercial galleries at the moment (ahem), even a temporary break in rent can make a huge difference in what they're able to do for their artists.

I had a conversation with a young dealer in Berlin, where there are upwards of 600 galleries, despite there being next to no collector base in the city. She told me that the "crisis" (as they ubiquitously refer to what we here in the US call the "downturn" or the "recession") has had very little Darwinist effect on the scene there. They've seen nothing like the number of closings New York has, for example. It costs a gallery next to nothing to stay open there. The main reason, of course, is the vast number of huge (and not so huge) available spaces, meaning supply outstrips demand and rents reflect that.

With a 13-year high vacancy rate in New York, one would expect landlords to reflect that reality here too, but anecdotal evidence from gallery friends suggests most Chelsea landlords are sticking to their current rates. And rents in the Lower East Side aren't any better from what I hear.

They predict the economy in the US is going to pick up at a much slower rate than it will elsewhere in the world, especially Asia. This probably means it's going to be a long time before New York galleries see a normalization in the art market here. I can't tell you how much respect I have for the kind of guts and determination it takes young dealers to sweat things out at the moment. The personal sacrifices some of them are making are huge, and inspiring. I do wish, though, that some developer would look to the West and realize the opportunity they're missing.

Image above:
Joy Garnett, "Closings (Chelsea) 79," 2009. Used with permission. See the whole series here.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Compound Editions: Now with 40-second Trailer link !

We've had a number of people request to see some of the video for this new Compound Edition. Your wish is our command!

New and improved, the presser for A COUNTRY ROAD. A TREE. EVENING.

Compound Editions is very pleased to announce the release of our fifth multiple:
A COUNTRY ROAD. A TREE. EVENING.[wow.episode.01] by Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation
music by Lumendog [Geoff Gersh, Adam Kendall, Christof Knoche, Bradford Reed]
(image above is a selection of stills from the video)
View a 40-second trailer of the work here.
A first installment of a series of pieces that make up the experimental film noir White on White, A COUNTRY ROAD. A TREE. EVENING. is a 6-minute video that comes installed on the state-of-the-art ARCHOS 5 media tablet.
Set in 2016 in A-City, a future metropolis that bears a striking resemblance to Soviet 1970s, A COUNTRY ROAD. A TREE. EVENING. is a visual tone poem presented as a list of clues to be elucidated in future episodes of White on White (hence the subtitle [wow.episode.01]).

White on White
is a study of extremes, couched in a vernacular of nouvelle vague noir and futuristic fantasies. Through the language of cinema verité , experimental filmmaking, and the thriller genre, this fictional series examines the limits of personal and political utopias and desire.

After extensive research, Sussman selected the ARCHOS 5 player for this Compound Edition for its high-fidelity audio and video and internet capability. This last fact will allow collectors of this Compound Edition to continue along the White on White journey in the near future. As episodes of White on White become available fans of the work can collect them and have them streamed to their Archos player - thereby owning a limited edition film-in-progress and simultaneously becoming a co-producer of the final film noir.
Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation
Original music by Lumendog

Geoff Gersh - guitar and electronics

Adam Kendall – keyboards & electronics
Christof Knoche - bass clarinet & electronics
Bradford Reed - pencilina
6-minute video installed on ARCHOS 5 media tablet
5" x 0.5" x 3.1"
Edition of 100, plus 10 APs
$450.00 for numbers 1-50;

$600 for numbers 51-100.


Bambino's SEE and BE SEEN (oder, SEHEN und GESEHEN WERDEN) Berlin Version, Part I

Berlin reminded me so much of my home city. Huge pedestrian alleys and small cars in the road (so you can easily drive both directions without traffic, because all cars are small, not like the States' huge SUV’s) a really green city; trees are everywhere, small parks at almost every U-bahn station. And it was the prefect season to visit Berlin. Thankfully there was no rain during our entire trip, and it wasn’t cold, but chilly in the mornings and evenings. After being bombed during WW2 a lot of the new buildings built had some Soviet signatures to them. Here is an image from our balcony of a circular billboard, which is so Soviet. Personally it was a completely different art scene in Berlin, not like in NYC, probably because we know more people in NYC than in Berlin. We did know one artist having a show, though. Joyce Pensato at Capitain Petzel. Here she is with Ed and our friends from London, Jo and Gary, at her opening, and some images of Joyce's installation in the basement and the show:

But still, the art we saw in Berlin was very impressive. Here's me in the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, which we thought was very powerful.
Here's another shot.
As Ed already mentioned yesterday we visited art fairs, museums, and private collection and art galleries. Here are some images from Artforum Berlin, a very professionally run art fair that had mostly European galleries exhibiting. We went there during the opening night on Wednesday and Saturday afternoon, and it was well attended, crowded. I don’t know how much business the galleries made during the art fair, but everyone seemed to have a lot of interest and people in their booths.
At the opening we met up with our friend Andrea Hinteregger from Zurich's Artrepco gallery, which is changing to Christinger De Mayo gallery in October.
For me the most impressive private collection was Sammlung Boros. Amazing building, and impressive art amazingly installed. You can see each piece also from above on higher floors. Here is an image of the outside of Sammlung Boros. You have to set up an appointment to see the collection in advance.
I highly recommend to everyone who visits Berlin, and has limited time, to take a boat ride. You can choose from 1-hour to 3-hours boat trips. Here are some images from our trip on a boat. Beer at noon (so German).

Preview Berlin had an amazing building, a former airport. But unfortunately they decided to not have walls at the last minute, and for me that seemed a little bit distracting. Almost every piece was competing with the other.
Although one of my favorite piece was white box including all necessary utilities pieces for the apartment (chairs, fridge, washer, dryer, iron board).

We also had a great time at the zoo, where the new star was the Polar Bear Knute's new girlfriend Giovanna (but we couldn't get a good photo of her because the professional TV cameramen kept pushing us out of the way). Here are some other animals, though:

I can’t write all at once about our trip, so I might come back sometimes later and share some other photos with you. But it was one of our favorite trips this year, and I can easily add Berlin to my favorite cities.

These bears are all over the city in Berlin...we decided to molest this one. :-)

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Monday, September 28, 2009

A Quick Berlin Assessment

Bambino (in the photo to the right, waiting for the U-Bahn) is assembling an upcoming SEE and BE SEEN (or, if you will, SEHEN und GESEHEN WERDEN) with ample photos of our trip to Berlin, but I wanted to record a few of my initial impressions of the city and its art scene before the mountain of things on my to-do list makes me forget.

We were in Berlin for 6 days (two of which we were rather jet lagged), and I still feel as if we barely even scratched the surface in discovering the place. We sped through probably hundreds of U-bahn stations in total as we criss-crossed the city, rented bikes for one virtually perfect day of sight-seeing, took a boat ride up the rather crowded Spree, rode in dozens of taxis and buses, and walked untold miles upon miles, and yet never really felt we were rushing around. The pace of Berlin struck me as extremely pleasant and relaxed.

Our art viewing was kind of "Noah and the Ark" influenced: we visited two (2) of the art fairs in the city (Artforum Berlin, the main attraction, twice and Preview Berlin, seemingly the second place attraction [although it depended on who you asked] once); two of the main contemporary art museums (Deutsche Guggenheim and the Hamburger Bahnhof); two perhaps more edgy art exhibitions (Temporäre Kunsthalle Berlin and Zweckgemeinschafft); two fantastic private collections (Sammlung Boros and Sammlung Hoffman); and, ok, so more than two galleries, but I could force them into categories of two if that long and growing to-do list wasn't stalking me.

For now I'll just offer a series of quick impressions to be fleshed out in more detail later:
  • The exhibition that left the biggest impression on me was the solo show by Ulrich Gebert at Klemm's in Brunnenstrasse.
  • The Berlin gallery program I was most impressed with was the very smart blending of historically important artists who really deserve another look with up and coming stars (and think this is something being also being done extremely well in New York by galleries such as Alexander Gray and Elizabeth Dee) at the very young (and off the beaten path) Exile.
  • The physical space I wish I had in New York (with a smart and exciting program to boot) is the former deli-type building that now houses Feinkost gallery.
  • Best booth at Artforum Berlin is a toughie. We really enjoyed the spirit of the installation at Spencer Brownstone's (and we're not playing New York was the sort of risky statement I expected to see more of there, quite frankly, although the elegance of the installation at Neugerriemschneider's booth was breathtaking), and I can't get enough of the program or aesthetic at Mexico City's EDS gallery (and their Berlin booth was another knockout [full disclosure...we share an artist]).
  • Best installation at Preview Berlin is also a toss-up. Bambino really liked Michael Johansson's installation at Galerie Hartwich Rügen's space, while I was mesmerized by Stephanie Backes' nearly microscopic structures at loop – raum für aktuelle kunst.
OK, so the clock is ticking away and that list isn't doing itself. I'll write more on some of these issues in the days to come. In general, though, we really loved Berlin, we didn't get to see quite a few of the events we had been invited to, and so are already working on how and when we can go back.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

A Treat Before Boarding

Just hours from our flight, I had the following lovely response to the Guggenheim's Kandinsky exhibition brought to my attention.

Kandinky's Heirs, by Peter Plagen.
"Painters today take many of these meanings for granted, but it was Kandinsky who first demonstrated that colors, shapes, and lines could convey powerful emotions all by themselves."

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Bis Später [or Apparently Everyone Wants to Be a Jelly Donut]

Blogging will most likely be light, if at all, next week (kinda depends on the Internet cafe situation), but I'm encouraging Bambino to consider posting a special SEHEN und GESEHEN WERDEN report upon our return from Berlin.

We're not the only ones with the German capital on the brain at the moment, though. According to Lindsay Pollock's blog (which has perhaps set the world record for most quickly joining the most essential reads among New York-based art blogs), The Armory Show also has Berlinlust at the moment:
New York’s Armory Show will introduce a geographic theme for the March 2010 edition. The first city to be spotlighted will be Berlin.

The fair has targeted key Berlin galleries, and offered them subsidized shipping rates and other inducements, confirmed fair spokesman Giovanni Garcia-Fenech.

Dealers say the initiative was created to beef up a weak pool of Berlin dealers who had initially applied to the fair.

Art fair organizers face an uphill battle in convincing European exhibitors to take part in American fairs. There is skepticism that the expenses are worthwhile at a time when galleries are conserving cash, and American collectors’ appetites for contemporary art has waned.
According to Artinfo:
[F]air spokesman Giovanni Garcia-Fenech said that while the fair's organizers are "indeed working on a special Berlin theme for next year's fair, the project is still barely in its planning stages," and the details have yet to be worked out. He added that the idea had more to do with the fair retaining its edge than with getting Europeans to the event.
We're looking forward to finding both edge and gemütlichkeit in Berlin. Many thanks for all the great tips on where to eat and what to see. We'll see you in a week. Bis später.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

New Compound Editions Multiple

Compound Editions is very pleased to announce the release of our fifth multiple:

A COUNTRY ROAD. A TREE. EVENING.[wow.episode.01]
by Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation
music by Lumendog [Geoff Gersh, Adam Kendall, Christof Knoche, Bradford Reed]
(image above is a selection of stills from the video)

A first installment of a series of pieces that make up the experimental film noir
White on White, A COUNTRY ROAD. A TREE. EVENING. is a 6-minute video that comes installed on the state-of-the-art ARCHOS 5 media tablet.
Set in 2016 in A-City, a future metropolis that bears a striking resemblance to Soviet 1970s, A COUNTRY ROAD. A TREE. EVENING. is a visual tone poem presented as a list of clues to be elucidated in future episodes of White on White (hence the subtitle [wow.episode.01]).
White on White
is a study of extremes, couched in a vernacular of nouvelle vague noir and futuristic fantasies. Through the language of cinema verité , experimental filmmaking, and the thriller genre, this fictional series examines the limits of personal and political utopias and desire.

After extensive research, Sussman selected the ARCHOS 5 player for this Compound Edition for its high-fidelity audio and video and internet capability. This last fact will allow collectors of this Compound Edition to continue along the White on White journey in the near future. As episodes of White on White become available fans of the work can collect them and have them streamed to their Archos player - thereby owning a limited edition film-in-progress and simultaneously becoming a co-producer of the final film noir.
Eve Sussman & Rufus Corporation
Original music by Lumendog
Geoff Gersh - guitar and electronics
Adam Kendall – keyboards & electronics
Christof Knoche - bass clarinet & electronics
Bradford Reed - pencilina
6-minute video installed on ARCHOS 5 media tablet
5" x 0.5" x 3.1"
Edition of 100, plus 10 APs
$450.00 for numbers 1-50;
$600 for numbers 51-100.

UPDATE: In my excitement over this piece, I almost forgot. For more information, visit the Compound Editions blog.


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is It Just Me?

If you find yourself in the Albany area in the coming month, be sure and check out the 10-year survey of work by Jennifer Dalton at the Hudson Valley Community College Teaching Gallery. Opening tomorrow (with an artist talk...which Jen claims she isn't comfortable doing, but I've seen her and she's great!) and organized by the very charming Tara Fracalossi, the exhibition is the first time a number of Jen's larger installations have been seen in the same space. Details are:
Jennifer Dalton: “Is It Just Me?”
Exhibition: Sept. 17 – Oct. 24
Artist Lecture: 3 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17
Bulmer Telecommunications Center Auditorium
Reception: 4-6 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 17
Teaching Gallery, Administration Building

“Is It Just Me?” surveys the last 10 years of Jennifer Dalton’s sculptures and installations based on exhaustive “excavations” of herself and her surroundings. She is an archaeologist of the presentday, collecting and examining personal and cultural information, organizing and evaluating the information according to her own unique criteria, and displaying the findings in sculptural installations consisting of assembled or handmade objects. The artist received a BFA degree from UCLA and a MFA degree from the Pratt Institute in New York, and has exhibited her work throughout the United States and Europe.

For more information, see here.


Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Becoming a Jelly Donut

Bambino and I are very excited to be heading over to Berlin this coming Sunday. It will be, I'm somewhat embarrassed to admit, my first trip. I've been all through the Western side of Deutschland, but never to its largest city.

While there, we will of course be visiting
Artforum Berlin and trying to see as many museums and kindred galleries as we can (we've already recieved kind invites from Feinkost and Exile). We are also attending the opening of the ever-delightful Joyce Pensato at Capitain Petzel on Monday.

We'd love to hear from anyone in Berlin, or those who know the place, on which places not to miss or which new galleries to be sure to check out. Unfortunately, our time for studio visits will most likely be extremely limited (we're traveling with some dear friends from London who will not appreciate my abandoning them for too long). Still, any info on good Artforum or related parties (which I'm sure they'll enjoy) will be most welcome.


Monday, September 14, 2009

Another History Topic Suggestion for Glenn Beck

Fox News commentator Glenn Beck opened his most recent rant against the art world with an admission: "I may be a self-educated man, but I am man who has spent a lot of time trying to do my homework." He goes on to say how he's put himself through American history classes and found some very disturbing things lurking beneath the "progressives" agenda, in particular as they are found in the arts. He thens draws parallels between the Nazis and American artists and the NEA. No, he's not doing stand up:

Beck notes how this discovery of his "should scare the living daylights out of you."

If Beck thinks that artists who accepted an invitation, fully aware that the point of the invitation was to learn how they might help spread the importance of volunteerism, is scary...I'd recommend he extend his self-study in American history to include this episode:

He should be able to see some truly scary parallels between his self-appointed task of protecting America from its homegrown artists and the actions of the Senator from Wisconsin.

UPDATE: Christopher Knight schools Beck on why he might want to start investigating himself, being the lead supporter behind a graphic with strong Communist ties. [via Tyler]


Friday, September 11, 2009

Fourth Plinth Becomes Platform in Execution Debate

Antony Gormley's Fourth Plinth exhibition One & Other has certainly had its entertaining moments, including one participant's decision to commemorate his 50th birthday by taking his 60 minute turn as a live public sculpture in his birthday suit. Yesterday, however, the platform took on a far more serious tone as The Guardian explains:

A British woman who is on death row in Texas will today appeal to the government to help her avoid execution via Trafalgar Square's fourth plinth.

Linda Carty, a 50-year-old former primary school teacher, was sentenced to death in 2002 after being convicted of taking part in the murder of 25-year-old Joana Rodriguez.

Her family and campaigners claim she was not properly represented at her original trial and that she is innocent of the crime for which she was convicted.

Carty will "appear" on the London monument as part of the artist Antony Gormley's One & Other Exhibition, using the platform to call on the British public and the government to intervene to help save her from lethal injection.

A life-sized cardboard cutout of her will stand on the platform from 10am until 11am, and a recorded message from her will also be played.

In the message, she says: "Time is now running out, and I appeal to every one of you and to the British government to please help me.

"I'm sorry if I sound like a desperate woman. I am desperate, because the British people may be my last hope. If they ask for my life to be spared, maybe Texas will listen."

Regardless of your opinion on the death penalty (and mine, if you care, is that it's a worse crime than murder because it's a brutal act of revenge posing as justice), there are circumstances in Carty's case that smack of the "rush to kill 'em" style jurisprudence we've come to expect from Texas.

Earlier this year, the Foreign Office intervened in the legal process, filing an amicus brief to the US appeals court which complained of lack of notification of Carty's original arrest in 2001 and "ineffective counsel".

Carty was born on the Caribbean island of St Kitts to parents from the British overseas territory of Anguilla. She holds a UK dependent territory passport.

As such, her arrest should have been notified to the British embassy under a long-standing agreement.

However, her state-appointed lawyer did not inform her of her right to seek assistance from the British consulate – one of a catalogue of errors, supporters claim.

In fact, the more you know about the case, the more it seems the prosecution was authoring a farce:

The crime took place on 16 May 2001, when three men broke into the apartment of [25-year-old Joana] Rodriguez and her partner Raymundo Cabrera, demanding drugs and cash. They abducted Rodriguez and her four-day-old son, Ray, who was later found unharmed in a car, while Rodriguez had suffocated.

The prosecution’s rather implausible theory was that Linda was afraid of losing her common-law husband and thought that if she had another baby he would stay. Unable to get pregnant, they allege she had hired three men to kidnap Rodriguez and that she planned to steal the child - a baby of a different race to Linda.

Linda's court-appointed lawyer was Jerry Guerinot, whose incompetence has already led to twenty of his clients ending up on death row, more than any other defence lawyer in the US. His approach to her case was at best, slapdash, at worst, wilfully inept.

Guerinot's catalogue of serious failings in Linda's case includes: failure to meet Linda until immediately before the trial, failure to inform Linda or her husband of their rights; failure to spot obvious flaws and inconsistencies in the prosecution case; failure to interview witnesses; and failure to investigate key mitigating evidence.

As there's no way to undo an execution, and as 100% proof of a crime is impossible, the death penalty remains to my mind a barbaric over-reaction to violence. Wanting it is excusable from members of the family wronged, perhaps, but cynical and icily heartless by a system tasked with being objective.

Even if Carty is guilty of this crime, the death penalty is not IMO justice. It's vengance and, as such, beneath any civilized nation.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities: Or, Who Should Pay the "Droit de Suite"?

I'll go out on a limb here and support the calls from certain quarters for a ban on selling artwork by any living artist at the auction houses. There, I've said it. In fact, one such declaration I've heard recently suggested no work by an artist should appear at auction until after a number of years past their death. That seems an appropriate measure to me. I don't expect folks in other quarters to agree with me on that, though, but I had to frame the following with that announcement. Again, not that I expect many people to pay such a notion much attention.

What I think we will see more and more of a heated debate over, though, is already causing a stir in France. The Art Newspaper explains:
The dispute between Christie’s and French art market players over the thorny issue of “droit de suite” is one of the first challenges facing France’s new minister for culture, Frédéric Mitterrand. Droit de suite is a royalty payable to artists or their heirs each time a work is resold during the artist’s lifetime and for 70 years following their death. In France this tax is usually calculable by percentage rates between 0.25% and 4%—of which the maximum amount on any work of art is €12,500—payable by the seller. Christie’s has enraged other auction houses and galleries by imposing this cost on buyers.
As the article notes, the auctions houses already impose the droit de suite costs on the buyers in London. Here, for example is what the auction house Phillips de Pury lets London buyers know they should expect for work where the droit de suite law is applicable:
The purchase of lots marked with the following symbol in our catalogues will be subject to payment of the Artist’s Resale Right, which is calculated as a percentage of the hammer price as follows:

Portion of the Hammer Price (in EUR) Royalty Rate
From 1,000 to 50,000 4%
From 50,001 to 200,000 3%
From 200,001 to 350,000 1%
From 350,001 to 500,000 0.5%
Exceeding 500,000 0.25%

The Artist’s Resale Right applies where the hammer price is EUR 1,000 or more, subject to a maximum royalty per lot of EUR 12,500. Calculation of the Artist’s Resale Right will be based on the pounds sterling/euro reference exchange rate quoted on the date of the sale by the European Central Bank.
Now the philosphical rationale behind droit de suite laws is the notion that if a collector profits off the increase of value in artwork (presumably because the artist continued to work hard and grew in prestige), the artist should also see some of that. This, in and of itself, is not inconsistent with the way auction houses in London operate.

In France, though, until Christie's began imposing the cost on buyers, it was the seller who had to give part of their profits to the artist. There is an elegant egalitarianism to that approach, I must say. However, the London approach serves another important purpose:
[Patrick Bongers, president of the Art Dealers Committee] says ...“The idea is that the author of the work participates in the seller’s profit. In France, if you sell a work without making a profit, you still pay the droit de suite. This isn’t normal and needs to be harmonised with the rest of Europe.”
(If you think the work will sell without making a profit, it should be noted, you're not very likely to take it to auction either, but....) The London contemporary auctions have been doing reasonably well lately, so clearly their droit de suite approach isn't putting off too many buyers:
François Curiel, chairman of Christie’s Europe [said...] "we wish for the droit de suite to be billed to the buyer; it is actually very difficult to persuade an American or Asian seller to entrust us with a work to be sold in France if we have to deduct the droit de suite from the proceeds of the sale. This practice of billing to the buyer is in force in England, which is the biggest European centre of auctions.”
How difficult it is for Christie's to persuade an American seller to bring something by a living artist to auction in Europe is of precious little concern to me, to be totally blunt about it. I raise the point merely to note that the London approach isn't dissuading buyers apparently. It does, however, give buyers less buying power and really screws secondary market dealers:
Georges-Philippe Vallois, vice-chairman of the Art Dealers Committee, says: “Our position, shared during a meeting organised by the ministry of culture on 19 June [still under Christine Albanel at the time]—with the Trade Union of Antique Dealers, Sotheby’s, the organisation representing French auctioneers (SYMEV), and the ADAGP (the French organisation for artists’ rights)—is that the droit de suite charge to the buyer appears to be totally contrary to the spirit of the law. Making the buyer pay the droit de suite reduces his buying potential.” Patrick Bongers, president of the Art Dealers Committee, adds: “If we, the gallerists, want to sell the work of art again [after buying it at Christie’s], it means we have to pay the droit de suite twice.”
For me the essence of the debate lies in what Vallois notes: "the droit de suite charge to the buyer appears to be totally contrary to the spirit of the law." I would have to agree with that.

For the record, though, if you resell through an artist's gallery and that gallery (as they should, in my opinion) shares the profits with the artist, then this problem goes away. The artist's share comes out of the gallery's commission. The seller sees all their profit, the artist sees their fair share, and the gallery can continue to protect the interests of their artists...everyone wins. And with that, I'll point you back to the first paragraph of this post.

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Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Opening Tomorrow: Andy Yoder, "Man Cave" @ Winkleman Gallery

The season begins!

Winkleman Gallery is very pleased to present Man Cave, our third solo exhibition by Vermont-based sculptor Andy Yoder. In a new body of large-scale and mid-sized sculptures, Yoder continues his exploration of the subtexts of our relationships with domestic objects and the symbols of suburban living.

Concerned specifically with the conflicts that arise from human domestication, via cultural expectations of conformity and assimilation, Man Cave takes as its central focus the rooms in American homes generally viewed as “masculine”---the basement, den, or garage---in which men typically arrange as they wish the tools, sporting equipment, and collected objects designed to tame the great outdoors or simply symbolize their more violent nature. The various states of disuse of such objects serves as constant reminders not only of unrealized potential, but their neglect often mocks the very spirit that draws men to them.

In Man Cave, through a poetic matching of object and material, Yoder plays with gender stereotypes by feminizing objects that are usually considered male, underscoring the types of universal conflicts that play themselves out inside the privacy of homes…male aggression vs. female submissiveness, machismo vs. domesticity. Surplus hubcaps are cast in lead crystal, with unique additional designs cut by a master craftsman from Ireland. A life-size garage door covered in pink silk flowers, referencing perhaps both abstract painting and caskets, and a life preserver fashioned from red coyote fur, glamorizing the keepsake even as it renders it unusable and a reminder that status and wealth are meaningless on a sinking ship.

The centerpiece of the exhibition, Mister D, is a nine-foot-tall bowling pin covered in thousands of bright pink silk roses. Looming over the viewers like a parent over a child, both masculine and feminine, attractive but faintly intimidating, Mister D epitomizes the built-in contradiction Yoder is highlighting throughout the exhibition. Like a bullet, its elegant, Brancusi-like form belies the violence of its function.

Andy Yoder has exhibited widely throughout the United States and Europe. In addition to two invitations to the American Academy of Arts and Letters annual exhibitions (2003 and 2007), he has exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum, the Reykjavik Art Museum, and will be included in the upcoming exhibition of new sculpture at the Saatchi Gallery in London titled “Shape of Things to Come.” His work has been reviewed in Art in America, The Village Voice, The New York Times, TimeOut New York and others.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Art in Space : Open Thread

In a move that only seems obvious to me in hindsight, one of the central appeals of hosting a dialogue about art in cyberspace (i.e., that it is geographically, and thus historically and politically, more neutral than any dialogue in a loaded physical space)--something that I've been expecting (being admittedly too linear in most of my thinking) to push further into the ether somehow, has instead circled back round to take advantage of perhaps the last remaining "non-historical space" on this blue planet. The Art Newspaper explains:
A two-year initiative called Ex-Territory is being launched on 7 September in the extra-territorial waters outside of Tel Aviv. Using a privately donated vessel, organisers are screening a selection of Arab and Israeli videos projected onto its sails in politically neutral waters that are free from border disputes and territorial conflict.

According to Maayan Amir, one of four Israeli founders of the Ex-Territory group, “Arab artists will not exhibit art in Israel because of the political situation. We are trying to find a solution to this problem by meeting in extra-territorial waters, and offering a non-historical space for dialogue.” The group plans to travel throughout the Mediterranean to provide artists, filmmakers and writers with an independent floating platform for cultural exchange. Amir added: “We want this project to develop as an international group and we are looking for curators, art critics and artists to participate in our project.”

Obviously, the Internets are more practical for exhibiting and/or viewing art than the open seas, but I greatly appreciate how this plan seemingly frees the exhibition from the petty bickering that tends to consume we mindlessly territorial landlubbers. But it got me to wondering about moving beyond mother earth, and what art in space might mean. What if Cai Guo-Qiang could incorporate the moon into a performance, or Tara Donovan could somehow visually connect the stars? Or thinking past that...if space exploration beyond just the moon gave birth to new metaphors, new media, new meaning?

This week starts the beginning of a brand new art season, and, despite the bumpy road that last season saw, there's a renewed optimism in the air. Consider this an open thread on fresh starts and un-chartered territory.

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Friday, September 04, 2009

What Have You Done For Me Lately? Open Thread

You know those kinds of mornings when you're just so grouchy you'd kick a puppy or drop a wad of chewed gum in a blind man's cup or pick up a catalog from a decade-old Whitney Biennial and count how many of those artists no one's heard from since?

Well, it's a beautiful day, Bambino and I are heading to the beach with some very fun friends this weekend, and I'm not even remotely as grouchy as all that.
But I did think back this morning to that tendency in the art world--you know, that sphere in which the second thing someone invariably says to you at your solo show opening, right after they air kiss you and squeal "Congratulations!!," is "So, what you got coming up?"--to devour ideas and images and people like one does the free hors d'oeuvres at a charity benefit (you know who you are...standing near the entrance to the kitchen and mobbing the cater-waiters before they get three feet with their trays over to the rest of us...I'm watching you).

It can be a thoroughly thankless task to wish to bring love and light into the lives of your fellow humans through art sometimes.

But this is New York, and the thin-skinned need not apply.

Still, I was briskly woken up by a line in the article Roberta Smith penned about the art market today, titled "
The Mood of the Market, as Measured in the Galleries":
An art gallery is like a single-cell organism: it is the crudest but also the most essential life form in the art-world food chain. It is among the easiest of public forums to start up, and therefore the most efficient means of introducing new blood into the system. All it takes is one person with the single-minded determination to get the work of an artist or two seen and a reasonably clean, well-lighted space of almost any size — something that is becoming a more affordable option as rents soften and storefronts, even in some of Chelsea’s chic new condos, sit vacant.

At the same time keeping a gallery going is usually fairly hard, and can seem impossibly daunting when sales slump. As small operations, galleries are highly vulnerable to changes in the economic climate — canaries in the coal mine, as they have often been called. So it made sense, as the bottom fell out of the art market last winter, that many people predicted galleries would start closing fast and furiously.

As it turned out, it is hard to know if this summer has brought much more than the usual in the way of closings, along with relocations, expansions, contractions, splits and alliances. So far the list of galleries that have closed is barely two dozen long, and only if you include galleries that closed several months before the crash; galleries that, to be blunt, will not be missed; neophyte galleries that had yet to establish either a financial or critical foothold; and galleries that closed for reasons only partly related to the market, or not at all. [emphasis mine]
Wow, I thought at first, I can think of several galleries that closed before the crash that I do miss...and Wow, that's one impressive ability we have in this realm to forget someone in infinitely less time than it takes to establish a financial or critical foothold. But that was just my bleeding heart speaking. Afterward, I slowly realized that I do know exactly what Roberta means. With hundreds of galleries in Chelsea alone, who can muster the energy (seriously) to miss all that many of them once they're gone? Further, when you multiple the galleries times their average artist roster, you realize this "here today, who? tomorrow" effect is even worse for artists.

I have a stock answer to that for artists: focus on your studio practice, make the art you want to make, tastes and careers fluctuate, blah, blah, blah. But for dealers I tend to have nothing more in my encouragement bag of tricks than to point to those who've managed to regroup, with a new partner or new program, and reopen (always after a hiatus long enough for the art world to forget why you closed, which, as we've established, takes about 3 weeks or 3 martinis, depending on who you're asking).

I'm not sure why I'm feeling so frisky about so grim a topic...guess it's the thought of cocktails and the sound of the ocean washing away all my cares.

Consider this an open thread on ways to keep fighting the good fight and thickening one's skin.

Oh, and Happy Labor Day!

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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Glenn Beck, Art Historian

I don't watch the FoxNews pundit Glenn Beck on TV...I get most of my exposure to him from snippets that other people post or when Jon Stewart is poking fun at him, which means that I have a view that's already been filtered and, as such, isn't a fair or balanced means for judging the man. But when I got word [h/t Ondine] that he was taking a turn as an art historian, well, I had to see that for myself:

Now I'll confess to not truly knowing whether Mr. Beck's show is presented as entertainment or serious commentary. I've never watched the show (and I have a low tolerance for the chronic disingenuousness that defines the FoxNews channel in general). As entertainment, it's hysterical. As commentary, it's more or less on an intellectual par with sites like this.

Indeed, if Mr. Beck were truly interested in alerting Americans to the fascism- and communism-flavored art and architecture "hiding in plain sight" across this land, he needn't lurk around the offices of his employer's competition, he need send his cameramen no further than to see the WPA murals in just about any small town Post Office or the sculpture and architecture all around the Nation's Capital.

I do wish the right wing could decide whether the Democrats are Communists, Socialists, or Fascists. It's hard to make sense of their arguments when they insist on conflating the three.

UPDATE: Tyler is already all over it...and apparently Jerry Saltz is encouraging Beck to run with this new-found impulse to give Robert Hughes a run for his money.

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Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Tips for DIY Art Exhibitions

As has been recommended here frequently, but, not as far as I know, taken off in New York as much as it seems to have in London (see this New York Times article for more on that), one advantage to the closing of so many small businesses in the current economic downturn is that landlords are more likely to be willing to let enterprising artists and curators use a vacant space for exhibitions on a temporary basis. The advantages for landlords in doing so are that having someone--anyone--using the space helps deter crime and prevents dereliction. Furthermore, the type of people who attend art exhibitions are often exactly the audience landlords want to get the word about their available space out to.

Back in 1999 when I first decided I wanted to open a gallery (yes, you can read more about that in my book, which is still for sale and actually has some helpful tips for DIY artists and curators), the economy was a fair bit more stable than it is today, and so I had difficulty finding spaces for the series of 3-day, guerrilla exhibitions I organized back then (that's the logo for the 4th venture above, which took place on Pier 40).

Originally, I tromped all around Soho and the Lower East Side for weeks, calling all the numbers on vacant buildings, but rarely getting anything even approaching a considerate response.
Determined, though, I called the landlord of my apartment building (also in Soho), which happens to have two commercial storefronts on the ground floor, and asked him for advice. I couldn't use his two spaces, but I asked him to share with me what his concerns might be if approached by an artist or curator wanting to get a space for an exhibition so that I could be ready to counter any such resistance in my next round of calls.

My landlord offered some really great advice, which (along with other things I learned back then) I'm happy to pass along to anyone wanting to give it a go today:
  1. The number one objection landlords have to such a request is liability. You can, though, for a very reasonable price get "Event" insurance. The place I got mine from was these guys: So when you approach a landlord who objects because of liability concerns, tell them you're already in contact with an Events insurer. They will likely ask for a copy of your policy, though, and ask to be designated as also insured, so you can't just say this. If they don't raise this objection, you still might want to get the insurance for your own peace of mind.
  2. Offer to do what one of the temporary tenants quoted in the London article did: "In an agreement typical of many being struck, Mr. Tarrant said he would pay for all utilities and return the property in the same or better condition than when the collective moved in." This is actually very appealing to a landlord concerned about dereliction.
  3. You will most likely be asked to pay for electricity in an empty space and may need to call the electric company to have the service turned on and the bill for the duration of your occupancy sent to you.
  4. Ask for the terms of the occupancy in writing to protect yourself and to reassure a hesitant landlord that you're responsible. Here is what was drawn up by one of the landlords I paid a fee to get a space in the Lower East Side (yes, you might have to pay for some spaces, but that's entirely negotiable and clearly you should not be paying the full rent, or why bother):
    "{Landlord} will lend the south store in the building at {address} to Ed Winkleman the three days of March 26, 27, 28 1999, for the purchase of a three day art exhibit entitled "hit and run." The fee for the three days is {$$$} and will be paid in advance.

    Landlord is not responsible for any damage whatsoever of any kind. Landord will be held harmless for any damage or claims with respect to merchandise, equipment or persons. Tenant must be fully insured as of the days key are accepted for the Premises.

    {Landlord} has the right to enter the Premises at any time for any reason."

  5. Get someone interested in events planning and promotions to help you with logistics (for free). You'll have enough to do with organizing the exhibition. Having someone else worry about press releases and potential sponsors, etc. was the smarest thing I ever did the first few times out. Eventually I learned to do those things myself (I organized 4 "hit & run"s in New York and one in London), but the first time around it was overwhelming.
  6. Try to get a sponsor for refreshments (i.e., booze). We had great luck getting vendors with new products to promote to donate cases for our events.
  7. Make sure the (other) participating artists understand that you're not Gagosian and that they're expected to help in delivery and installation costs. Do what you can, obviously, by cashing in favors, but this is not a time or place for anyone to fly their inner diva flag.
  8. Begin advertising even before you're sure what space you have...get the word out, get people excited, commit yourself to doing this. Set up a blog with images and such (it's free!). By making it public, you'll find you're less willing to back down, less willing to take "no" as an answer, and more creative in solving problems. If you're like me, few things will motivate you like not wanting to disappoint people.
  9. Cash in favors!!! From whitewashing the space, to drink tickets for the after party, to help in building your blog or website, to installation or shipping...all your friends and family can pitch in. Ask them to help. They'll probably have a blast doing so.
  10. Have fun yourself. If you do, so will others attending and that can spread interest like wildfire.

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Last Days of Summer...Last Days of Summer Sexy

As we head into the final weekend of Summer '09 (which means gearing up for the new art season!!!), I wanted to give one final shout out of thanks to the collectors, curators, advisers and artists who participated in the Summer Sexy online exhibition. Schroeder Romero and Winkleman Gallery had a blast organizing the exhibition, and we actually learned a great deal about a wide range of great charities we hadn't known before.

Summer Sexy will end this weekend, and while the sales that have happened thus far will benefit some terrific causes, there's still fantastic artwork available. So have another look and see if there's not some artwork that's perfection for your collection, and help an organization that can use it in these times as well. You can email summersexymail [@] gmail [dot] com for more information on any of the works.