How Artsy finally convinced galleries to sell fine art online

The move online has been one of the critical forces shaping the industry over the last decade, a disruption that happened slowly, and then suddenly. “It’s a huge change in what galleries have done. It’s been the biggest trend in the art market, next to art fairs, over the last ten years,” says Clare McAndrew, a leading art market economist. “The biggest driver is the wider acceptance of e-commerce. This is how collectors buy everything else, so why not art?” After closing their physical space, Weiss and Martinsen focused on crafting an online business, Gates of the West, and cultivating their brand through social media.

This new paradigm is powering the success of Artsy, a New York City-based startup that this morning announced it had raised $50 million in fresh venture capital. The company’s offering is far more open and approachable than the traditional art world. Every piece is available through a search engine that can filter by style, time period, or price. The service uses algorithms to understand what kind of art appeals to users and then recommends other works they might enjoy, or buy. Instead of the rarefied, sterile walls of a Chelsea gallery, users swipe to browse. Artsy makes shopping for art as unassuming, and as pedestrian, as using Tinder.

Geoffrey Farmer @ the Venice Biennale 2017

How a violent collision forged Geoffrey Farmer’s fountain for the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale

In 1990 Geoffrey Farmer started writing notes to strangers on public buses. In those days, in Vancouver, buses issued paper ‘transfers’, a time-limit punched into its thin newsprint, which enabled passengers to change buses and continue their journey. Farmer rode the bus with an old typewriter on his lap, rolled the transfers into its creaky frame and tried to write a tiny note-poem for a stranger before he or she alighted. One of them read, ‘I can see the dog you / are hiding in your bag. / I wish we were in Paris. / Thank You, / A Stranger’. The slumber of the daily commute was ruptured by a random act of empathetic weirdness.

Notes for Strangers, created while the artist was a student at Emily Carr College of Art & Design, heralded a set of ideas that Farmer has been working on for almost 30 years: ephemerality, chance encounters, connections across space and time, a desire to communicate. Yet, less than a year later, his worldview was changed completely: between 1990 and 1991 Farmer attended the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). The models he’d encountered at art school in Vancouver, where detached intellection was prized above all else, were exposed as a particular, limited way to be an artist, rather than the only way. When I talked to Farmer about his plans for the Canadian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale, it was not the pavilion or even the work that first came to his mind, but a series of vivid recollections of that transformative year.

IMAGE: Geoffrey Farmer, Notes for Strangers (detail),1989/1990, small typewriter, six typewritten notes on paper, transfer ticket, shelf with Plexiglas top, notes, 15 × 9 cm (each). Collection of Laing & Kathleen Brown,Vancouver


The innovative, iconoclastic curator Walter Hopps (1932-2005) was one of the most influential figures in mid-to-late-twentieth-century American art. He founded his first gallery in L.A. at the age of twenty-one and, at twenty-four, opened the Ferus Gallery with the artist Ed Kienholz, where they turned the spotlight on a new generation of West Coast artists.  Later, in the sixties, at the Pasadena Art Museum, Hopps mounted the first American museum retrospectives of Marcel Duchamp and Joseph Cornell. For “The Dream Colony: A Life in Art,” out on June 6th from Bloomsbury, the New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman, who worked with Hopps in the nineteen-nineties on the art and literary magazine Grand Street, edited and adapted his interviews with the artist and editor Anne Doran. In this excerpt, Hopps describes meeting two little-known artists who would become leading figures in the field.

Toward the end of the fifties, the art world had begun to divide.  Abstract Expressionism was still alive and well, but some of the new artists were starting to look for different ways to proceed.  Robert Rauschenberg emerged, inspiring two of his contemporaries, Jasper Johns and Cy Twombly.  And then we began to encounter the next wave: a new form of image-based art that would eventually be called Pop, and a new era of abstraction.  While looking for artists to show at the Ferus Gallery, Irving Blum and I had met an art dealer named David Herbert, who had worked for the Poindexter Gallery and Betty Parsons and Sidney Janis, and was setting up his own gallery in New York.

‘People Are Too Stupid for Great Art’: Painter Markus Lüpertz on Why the Avant-Garde Will Always Fail

You’re often viewed as controversial—especially in Germany—because of your willingness to address difficult subjects, both in the content of your work and the press. How do you deal with that perception?

I can’t really comment on my reputation because the reputation is in no way justified. I’m a peaceful, happy, cheerful, elderly gentleman, except for the fact that I like to be argumentative.

When I present public artworks there’s always someone who’s against it. I heard that my sculpture was tarred and feathered in Salzburg, for example. What should I say about that? If I was there I’d have punched him in the head, but seeing as I wasn’t, there’s nothing I can do. Nobody touches my work in my presence or else I’ll beat him to death. That’s just my nature. I don’t care if it’s the emperor of China or if its Arnold Schwarzenegger, I’ll come from behind with an iron rod. I’ll get him down.

But that’s not the problem. My concern isn’t to provoke people, my concern is to deliver quality, that’s all I can do. Sometimes it makes me feel ill, or unloved. I put all my passion and commitment into it, at the very least you should respect my work, even if you don’t like it. But people are too stupid for art, for great art. You can write that in bold letters: The people are too stupid for great painting.

Laing Brown on Collecting Contemporary Art

Sunday  May 28  2:00 – 3:30 – New Media Gallery Talk

Laing Brown Talk: Collecting Contemporary Art

New Media Gallery is delighted to welcome Laing Brown who will share his extensive experience, personal insights and passion for art in an enjoyable and accessible talk: Collecting Contemporary Art.  Laing lays out the 10 RULES for collecting  contemporary art, and will speak to why collecting contemporary art is so worthwhile.
A noted art collector, Laing and his wife Kathleen have more than thirty years experience in collecting contemporary art, travelling worldwide to work with leading gallerists, dealers, auction houses, corporate and private collections, public museums and other art professionals. Their devoted support of the visual arts is longstanding. Laing is currently a Board member and Chair of the Acquisitions Committee for the Audain Art Museum and a trustee of the Jack & Doris Shadbolt Foundation. Previous posts held by Laing include eight years as an external, expert advisor for contemporary, international art to the National Gallery of Canada Acquisitions Committee, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Vancouver Art Gallery and President of the Contemporary Art Society of Vancouver (CASV).  Laing is currently CEO of BrownArtConsulting, Inc.

The art buyer’s dilemma: How to pass on your collection

Art collectors face a dilemma as they update their estate plans: What to do with a collection that is potentially worth hundreds of thousands or even millions of dollars?

Whether they’ve bought the pieces as an investment or to fuel a passion, collectors heading into their retirement years are trying to figure out whether to sell the works they’ve accumulated for a potential profit, pass them down to the next generation or donate them to charity.

It’s a financial decision as well as an emotional one, says Gary Brent, chairman and co-founder of Toronto-based HighView Financial Group, which works with high-net-worth (HNW) investors, some with art as part of their asset mix.

How to see Marcel Duchamp – with MoMA curator Ann Temkin

Published on 20 Apr 2017

One hundred years ago this month, Marcel Duchamp changed the art world forever by unveiling Fountain—a urinal presented as a “readymade” work of art. MoMA Chief Curator Ann Temkin explains how Duchamp forced us to rethink the role of art and the artist.

Watch the video!

Ellsworth Kelly, Abstract to the End

On the eve of his 90th birthday in 2013, Ellsworth Kelly told me that working in his studio in Columbia County was “as exciting for me as ever.”

“I have had some physical challenges related to aging, though I accept it,” the painter said. “But it has given me an added surge for continuing to create new work.”

Kelly developed his rigorous approach to abstraction as a young artist in 1948, pivoting away from the psychologically charged paintings of the Abstract Expressionists who dominated the New York scene. He went to Paris for six years and began isolating interesting shapes he found in plants, buildings, shadows and reflections — which he then blew up in scale and painted in flat, monochromatic hues.

While artists, including Monet and Picasso, have often had a dramatic shift in their late work, Ann Temkin, the chief curator of painting and sculpture at the Museum of Modern Art, was struck by how “remarkably true” Kelly remained to the vocabulary he had established seven decades earlier.

A. R. Penck, Neo-Expressionist Painter Whose Work Reflected on the Postwar German Condition, Dies at 77

In 1985, A. R. Penck told curator Klaus Ottmann that he didn’t miss East Germany, where he had been born in 1939 and from which he was exiled in 1961. East Germany, Penck said, “disappeared in a black hole”—it was totally behind him. But, of course, his homeland and everything he lost when he left it stuck with him for the remainder of his life, which ended Tuesday when the Neo-Expressionist artist died at 77 of “a lengthy illness.”

For the past five decades, Penck explored how signs, numbers, and symbols could become abstraction. Like his Neo-Expressionist colleagues Georg Baselitz, Jörg Immendorff, and Markus Lüpertz, Penck relied on a style that appeared childlike, even at times resembling cave paintings and outsider art. His paintings, drawings, prints, and sculptures attempted to find a universal language—one that could address the trauma, sadness, and loss that followed World War II but that would also affect viewers beyond Germany.

Louise Lawler’s Beguiling Institutional Critique

I remember when photographs by Louise Lawler, currently the subject of a retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art, first hurt my feelings, some thirty years ago. They pictured paintings by Miró, Pollock, Johns, and Warhol as they appeared in museums, galleries, auction houses, storage spaces, and collectors’ homes. A Miró co-starred with its own reflection in the glossy surface of a museum bench. The floral pattern on a Limoges soup tureen vied with a Pollock drip painting on a wall above it. Johns’s “White Flag” harmonized with a monogrammed bedspread. An auction label next to a round gold Warhol “Marilyn” estimated the work’s value at between three hundred thousand and four hundred thousand dollars. (That was in 1988. Today, you might not be permitted a bid south of eight figures.)

Art often serves us by exposing conflicts among our values, not to propose solutions but to tap energies of truth, however partial, and beauty, however fugitive; and the service is greatest when our worlds feel most in crisis. Charles Baudelaire, the Moses of modernity, wrote, “I have cultivated my hysteria with terror and delight.” Lawler does that, too, with disciplined wit and hopeless integrity. 

Jordan Wolfson review – shock jock with a baseball bat

A giant marionette dangles on a chain, rats smoke, a boy dances in urine and the artist beats a man to death … a controversial new show explodes in a frenzy of cartoon sex and violence.

A virtual reality headset over my eyes, headphones over my ears, a gallery assistant helps me grab the metal bar screwed to the plinth. “Hold on tight,” she says. Waiting in line, I watched a woman shudder, nearly overturning the plinth. Another ahead of me shook her head, trying to look somewhere else, but there was nowhere else to look. Someone else tore off the headset and walked away.

Real violence caused a bit of controversy when it opened in March at New York’s Whitney Biennial. People queue to see it, some going especially to watch the animatronic model get whacked.

The Museum of Modern Art explores the provocative, shapeshifting career of Louise Lawler

NEW YORK, NY.- With Louise Lawler: WHY PICTURES NOW, The Museum of Modern Art presents the first major survey in New York of Louise Lawler (American, b. 1947), spanning the 40-year creative output of one of the most influential artists working in the fields of image production and institutional critique.

Lawler came of age as part of the Pictures Generation, a loosely knit, highly independent group of artists named for an influential exhibition, Pictures, organized in 1977 by art historian Douglas Crimp at Artists Space in New York. These artists used photography and appropriationdriven strategies to examine the functions and codes of representation. Lawler’s signature style was established in the late 1970s and early 1980s, when she began taking pictures of other artists’ works displayed in collectors’ homes, museums, storage spaces, and auction houses to question the value, meaning, and use of art. Underscoring the collaborative quality of Lawler’s practice, what one sees first in her pictures, both then and now, is works by other artists.

An Artist’s Mythic Rebellion for the Venice Biennale

Mark Bradford’s concern: How can he represent the United States when he no longer feels represented by his government?

Sitting on a crate, his long legs extended, Mr. Bradford, 55, was confronting a pressing concern beyond exhibition plans: How can he represent the United States abroad at a time when — as a black, gay man and a self-proclaimed “liberal and progressive thinker” — he no longer feels represented by his own government.

The broad social changes in America — from the police violence that ignited the Black Lives Matter movement to the messages of hate that he feels were unleashed by the November election — fueled a personal sense of crisis that permeates much of his forthcoming show in Venice, “Tomorrow Is Another Day.”

“I had to ask myself when I got this pavilion, what do I want to do with this?” he said. “I knew I did not want to stand on the mountaintop as Mark Bradford but find a way to help build different relationships.”

He is hoping they will last long after his large paintings have left the United States pavilion and the summer crowds empty out of the leafy Giardini.

Vito Acconci, Transgressive Progenitor of Performance Art, Dies at 77

The Bronx-born artist came to fame in the 1970s with an array of unsettling work.

Vito Acconci, a towering figure with influences on both performance art and experimental architecture, has died at the age of 77. A cause of death has not been confirmed by the estate.

Born in the Bronx in 1940, Acconci worked as an experimental poet throughout the ’60s. However, he came to fame in the 1970s, and remains best known for his unsettling work of that time period. As Randy Kennedy wrote last year in the New York Times on the occasion of a tribute to the artist’s early work at MoMA Ps1, “The genetic impact of his performances, photographs, and video works from just an eight-year period—1968 to 1976—is so pervasive that it is difficult to trace.”

Art Goes Political, but Will That Fly on the London Market?

This will be remembered as a year when art got seriously political. The Whitney Biennial in New York and the inaugural Athens edition of Documenta are just two of the high-profile exhibitions trying to convey and confront the tumult of our times.

Dana Schutz’s painting “Open Casket,” showing the mutilated corpse of Emmett Till, the African-American teenager lynched in Mississippi in 1955, drew protests at the Whitney and online last month. And viewers were hardly less disturbed in Athens when they watched Artur Zmijewski’s 20-minute film “Glimpse,” chronicling the misery of the refugee camp, now demolished, in Calais, France, known as the Jungle.

“Artists aren’t making political work for the market, it’s for people watching the world,” said Mr. Schimmel, who was once chief curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. “Goya made the greatest political art, but the market wasn’t kind to him, either.”

Maybe the market will be kinder to the would-be Goyas of our day.


Vito Acconci, Performance Artist and Uncommon Architect, Dies at 77

Vito Acconci, a father of performance and video art and a shamanistic, poetic, deeply influential force on the New York art scene for decades, died on Thursday in Manhattan. He was 77.

Some performances might have gotten him arrested, though Mr. Acconci also seemed to possess the instincts of a cat burglar. In one of his most famous early works, “Following Piece,” from 1969, he spent each day for almost a month following a person picked at random on the streets of Manhattan, sometimes taking a friend along to photograph the action. The rules were only that Mr. Acconci had to keep following the person until he or she entered a private place where he couldn’t go in.

Even when thinking about the end of his life, he seemed to conceive of it as consonant with his work, a performance. In a letter to an unknown recipient in 1971, he spoke of his fears of dying on a plane trip to Canada and stated that before the flight he would deposit an envelope with a key to his apartment at the registrar’s desk at the School of Visual Arts.  “In the event of my death,” the letter, a kind of will, concluded, “the envelope can be picked up by the first person who calls for it; he will be free to use my apartment, and its contents, any way he wishes.”


Q & A with Jeff Koons on his new Gagosian show, his MOCA award and what’s behind those Louis Vuitton bags

Jeff Koons is having a moment — again. The artist’s solo show of new and recent works, his first here in five years, opens at Gagosian gallery in Beverly Hills on Thursday. He’s also being honored at the annual Museum of Contemporary Art gala on Saturday.

When I went to art school, I was very involved in subjective art, what I would have dreamed the night before, very personal iconography, this kind of inward investigation. And I reached a point where I learned how to trust in myself. I was living in Chicago. This would have been in the mid-’70s. My mentor, Ed Paschke, told me, ‘Everything is already here, you just have to open yourself up to it.’ And he showed me where he got his source material. We went to tattoo parlors, clubs with reflective curtains and mysterious lighting. And I started this journey of the ready-made and seeing the world around me and incorporating it.

The idea of the ready-made — something pre-existing for usage — kind of always existed. But it’s really about celebrating a vocabulary. If you look at the letters in the alphabet, and all of the sudden there’d be restrictions on those letters, it would really eliminate the world of poetry. It’s the same with the visual world and incorporating the things around us that we’re familiar with. So it’s being able to articulate these familiarities, to be able to create a visual poetry.


One Man’s Trash Is Damien Hirst’s Treasure: In Venice, the Artist Offers His Grandest Work Yet

Damien Hirst sold a lie, and he sold it very well.

In the weeks leading up to his grand exhibition that now occupies all of the Punta Della Dogana and Palazzo Grassi in Venice, he gave out very little information: just a series of teasers on social media—Instagram footage of divers resurrecting unknown objects from the ocean—and a silly title, “Treasures of the Wreck of the Unbelievable.” On the day of the show’s preview, curator Elena Guena narrated the fairytale of Cif Amotan II, the first-century Antioch freed-slave-turned-art-collector whose ship, the Apistos (Greek for “unbelievable”), had sunk into the Indian Ocean 2,000 years ago along with his colossal wealth of art and artifacts. In 2008, the story goes, his wreckage was discovered. These were his treasures, which Hirst himself had painstakingly lifted from the bottom of the ocean to put on display here.

In the spirit of the patron god of metallurgy, Hirst has fabricated a set of gaudy wonders, as well as a fiction complete with provenance and a redemptive narrative. Myths, of course, have a way of superseding the splendors of the material world. It is certainly true in the case of Hirst. As an artist who’s already exhausted the possibilities of reality, his natural next step was to invent his own legend.

Here’s Why Damien Hirst’s Art Market Is Not as Terrible as It Looks

A deep dive into the British artist’s prices as he attempts a comeback.

After years of sluggish auction prices, is Damien Hirst poised for a comeback? In 2008, the British artist bypassed the gallery system to bring 167 newly created artworks straight to the auction block. The unprecedented sale upended every market convention and raked in $200 million. But the financial crisis hit Hirst’s market hard—in fact, Lehman Brothers collapsed the same day as the auction. And his prices have never quite recovered.

Now, Hirst’s dealers and collectors are betting that a much-hyped François Pinault-backed show in Venice—which cost an estimated £50 million to produce—can bring his market back to its former heights. The show presents Hirst’s first major new body of work in 10 years, and follows his return to powerhouse gallery Gagosian last year.

As Hirst’s market matures further, the distinction between the early 1990s work and later work will become even more pronounced, says advisor and dealer Nick Maclean. He predicts that prices for the earlier spot paintings, which were more likely to have been painted by Hirst himself, will soon eclipse the later ones, which were usually painted by Hirst’s army of assistants. “That’s the thing with conceptual work, you want to be in there early,” Maclean says. “It’s not like an artist developing his style, it’s an idea you’re buying.”

Richard Long: ‘I’m proud of being the first person to cross Dartmoor in a straight line’

He has walked the Earth, recording his traces and turning them into mysterious works of land art. Now 71, with a new show in Norfolk, art’s great hiker talks about cloud-chasing in France, sculpting on Kilimanjaro – and the paths that lie ahead.

Sixteen enormous tree stumps, their roots turned towards the sky, stand in a circle in a country park. The mist and deer gather around. This magical-looking sculpture is placed where the Norfolk hamlet of Houghton once stood, until Sir Robert Walpole, Britain’s first prime minister, moved the vista-spoiling villagers further from his lavish new Palladian mansion.

Houghton Hall is a venerable stately home these days, but White Deer Circle, as this work is called, is new – created by Richard Long for an exhibition that, unusually for this visionary land artist, is being held outdoors. His stump circle is an uncanny echo of a Seahenge, an ancient wooden circle discovered on a beach 12 miles away. Amazingly, Long, who this year marks 50 years of showing his walking-inspired work, has never heard of the bronze age relic. Perhaps Long is listening to the landscape more closely than most, though, for he is unsurprised by such serendipity.

“All these coincidences are part of the natural way of things, aren’t they?” says the artist, whose minimal, modernist landscape works first disrupted pop art in 1967, when he was still a student at St Martin’s in London. He took a train from Waterloo, found an ordinary country field and walked up and down it, then took a photograph of his traces and exhibited it under the title A Line Made by Walking.