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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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, 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.”
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.
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.
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.”
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.
After months of speculation, rumour, and stage-managed hype, Damien Hirst’s latest extravaganza is finally opening in Venice – and, my goodness, it’s enormous.
With 190 works of art, displayed across 54,000 square feet of gallery space, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable, as the exhibition is called, is arranged across two venues: Palazzo Grassi, on the Grand Canal, and the city’s old customs house, Punta della Dogana. Both are owned by billionaire French businessman François Pinault, a long-time collector of Hirst’s work.
At the heart of the show – which purports to offer a teasing, riddling, Borgesian experience, posing profound questions about truth and illusion, historical fact and myth, scepticism and faith – is an elaborate fable about an exorbitantly wealthy figure from antiquity called Amotan, who supposedly lived during the first and early second centuries AD.
In fairness, there are flashes of wit, moments of technical virtuosity, and an imaginative vision that, on paper, seems alluring. As a populist fairground spectacle, the show is unmissable. Ultimately, though, Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable offers scale in lieu of ambition, and kitsch masquerading as high art. Perhaps, when the exhibition closes in December, Amotan’s “treasures” should be returned, discreetly, to the bottom of the sea.
LONDON — The art market is almost as old as art itself. But it’s only in the last decade or so, with increased globalization, digitization and the rise of art as a multibillion-dollar investment vehicle, that the market has been viewed as an industry. And where there is industry, conferences are sure to follow.
On Tuesday, the inaugural New York edition of the Art Business Conference was held at the Time Warner Center. Aimed at “senior art market professionals,” the event sold 240 tickets, priced at $275 to $500, to representatives of more than 140 organizations.
“It’s a pause-for-thought day about where the industry is at,” said Louise Hamlin, the British-born organizer of the conference, whose company, Art Market Minds, has been holding similar events in London since 2014. Until recently, art was one of few industries without an annual conference in the United States, she added.
“The worldwide art scene has agreed these are good artists,” said Jean Minguet, an art market analyst at the French auctions database Artprice. “These are safe investments. It’s getting kind of boring.”
But that is the nature of industry. It’s all about global brands.
Textbooks tend to organize art history chronologically. But what if we re-told art history through color instead? Artspace is publishing a series of articles excerpted from Phaidon‘s Chromaphilia: The Story of Color in Art, each one offering a close look into the history of a single color in its relation to art. Last week we examined red, and in this iteration, we look at art history against the grain of green, and the color’s conceptual, psychological and cultural significance in the works of Bruce Nauman, Brice Marden, and Olafur Eliasson.
Green seems to exert charismatic power as metaphor, yet the symbols can be contradictory, depending on cultural and personal context. Green gems depicted in mosaics from Santa Maria Maggiore, for example, could be understood through various lenses: ritual or ethics, optics or magic. Other contexts for thinking about green include the realm of commerce and industry, as explored by Boetti, or the colors of gender bias, which Dumas uncovers in the annals of medical history. Nauman‘s green not only imposes its discomfiting mood on participants but also engages viewers in a sensory experience that demonstrates how eye and brain produce uncanny perceptual effects.
It’s not hard to see why Damien Hirst’s latest project has been hailed as the British artist’s most important to date. And in fact it is so ambitious and such a departure from anything else he has done that it could just be the work that cements his status as one of the greatest artists of his generation. Ambitious, excessive, and audacious at its core, it’s not just one of Hirst’s greatest achievements, it is arguably one of the greatest achievements in contemporary art.
Titled “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable,” the new project marks the first time that both of the Pinault Foundation’s Venetian venues, the Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana, have been dedicated to a single artist. Almost ten years in the making, the exhibition takes its title from the grand narrative around which it is centered – a story that consists of elements of myth, fantasy, and factual history, mixed in the cauldron of Hirst’s overactive imagination.
In an art world era of exhibitions exploring the guilt-inducing but highly important and relevant issues of the refugee crisis, war, famine, migration, poverty, racism, and gender, “Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable” is somewhat of an antidote to all the doom and gloom. It’s a spectacular and theatrical masterpiece of creative genius that proves that something joyful, whimsical, and indulgent can also be intelligent and intellectual.