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Art Weekly

Kobel's Art Weekly

Annotated press review on the art market by Stefan Kobel, published weekly. Subscribe for free

Jeff Koons under Mond
Jeff Koons under Mond
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 8 2024

The Investec Cape Town Art Fair is expanding its position, observes Osman Can Yerebakan for Artnews: "The vernissage saw a crowd of around 5,000 attendees which included largely local collectors taking an early look at 400 works mainly by African artists and artists its diasporas. [...] Laura Vincenti, the fair's director, described the last decade as 'a learning curve' to ARTnews. In that time, she has focused on bringing 'galleries with content that communicates with the local scene,' she said. 'I have learnt that not all galleries are prepared to show in Cape Town." Leonie March takes the fair in Cape Town as an opportunity for an interview with Ugandan gallery owner Daudi Karungi at RiffReporter (paywall): "We want to show the best exhibitions we can here. The virtual space is there to share, distribute, sell and so on. The people from Uganda who come to our exhibitions often can't afford this art. But they like it, they enjoy looking at it and spending time with it. The people who then buy the works have usually not seen them in the gallery. They may own the art, but they don't have the privilege of experiencing it in an exhibition. This is different from cities like New York, where the visitors to exhibitions are also the buyers. It remains important in the future that African artists create even more spaces so that art can also be exhibited on the continent."

Location! Location! Location! The New York Print Fair has taken the maxim of the real estate industry to heart with its return to the Armory, reports John Vincler in the New York Times: "In conversations with gallerists and dealers, I was told on more than one occasion that some local deep-pocketed collectors were more likely to visit a gallery's booth in Paris or London than to head to the Javits centre in their own city. With the move back to the Armory, gallerists hope business will be better, especially among New York's top-tier collectors."

Carlie Porterfield reports the purchase of the Untitled Art Fair in Miami by the same regional lifestyle/event group, which has already taken over Art Miami, in The Art Newspaper.

With the massive reduction in premiums and discounts, Sotheby's is making a risky bet, explains Daniel Cassady at Artnews: "The Sotheby's strategy appears to be about making buyers happy. Happy buyers are motivated buyers and that, in turn, means happy sellers. But will that strategy pan out as expected? It's debatable. Finding consignors is arguably the most difficult part of the auction business. Many in the trade told ARTnews that the new fee structure, which standardises the seller's commission rate at 10 percent of the first $500,000 per lot, may off scare some prospective clients." If the calculation works out, Sotheby's is likely to experience a massive boost in sales at least this year - until Christie's and Phillips follow suit. Whether there will be more profit at the end of the day could decide the fate of the company's management.

Several galleries from German-speaking countries have opened a branch in Paris in recent years. Aurélie Tanaqui interviewed them for her first article for the Handelsblatt: "Galleries that have recently opened branches in Paris all benefit from a curious and informed public - from all over the world. 'Many international collectors regularly visit Paris, which cannot be said of any other European city to the same extent,' remarks Peter Kilchmann from the gallery of the same name in Zurich and, more recently, Paris. [...] The French capital is increasingly becoming the centre of gravity of the art market on the European mainland. A role that Paris held until the Second World War. The reduction in VAT from 20 to 5.5 per cent of the total sales price of art may not be the trigger for foreign galleries to set up shop here. But it contributes to France's competitiveness and encourages the import of artworks to Europe." Bettinna Wohlfarth also took a look around the Parisian gallery scene for the FAZ on 17 February: "There are estimated to be up to 600 galleries in the French capital; around 300 belong to the Comité Professionnel des Galeries d'Art. New arrivals and departures ensure constant change. Last year, for example, the Swiss mega-gallery Hauser&Wirth and Thomas Zander from Cologne opened branches on the Seine, while traditional businesses such as Galerie Denise René, founded in 1944, or Galerie gb agency closed. many small to medium-sized art dealers have been fighting for their existence since the pandemic. However, it is often precisely these galleries that pave new paths with young or committed artists." When a family business closes after almost 80 years, it is nothing unusual and can certainly be seen as a sign of the constant generational change. However, the fact that gb agency, a so-called mid-tier gallery, is giving up shortly after its participation in Paris + is not a good sign and once again proves that an Art Basel subscription is no longer a guarantee of economic success.

Art and culture in Hong Kong appear to be under financial pressure, according to a report by Karen K. Ho at Artnews: "The West Kowloon Cultural District Authority (WKCDA), an arts hub in Hong Kong which operates the M+ museum and the Hong Kong Palace Museum, will run out of funding next March and may need to acquire additional loans if a new finance plan is not approved by the city's government. That was the warning from WKCDA CEO Betty Fung on February 14 in regard to the status of the hub's HK$21.6 billion (approximately USD$2.75 billion) funding, endowed by the city's legislature in 2008."

Selfies represent an increasing risk for art insurance, says Artnet newcomer Jamie Valentino, picking up the thread of a report by Hiscox: "As comical as the unintentional threat of selfies might sound, the financial losses-and damage to priceless work-are no laughing matter. Half of Hiscock's art underwriting business is attributed to accidental damage, a surprisingly large percentage caused by selfie-takers. Pandering to modern society means art curators must adapt to new technologies, but they're simultaneously tasked with ensuring it safely reaches the next generation."

Ursula Scheer talks to Agnes Thum from the Munich auction house Ketterer about the practice and conditions of provenance research in auction houses for the FAZ on 17 February: "You don't get the feeling that the trade is perceived by the Zentrum Kulturgutverluste as a partner. Although it has been possible for some years to apply for funding for individual case research as a private individual, the corresponding work may only be sold in the following ten years if it serves a just and fair solution. in this way, no open-ended research is promoted. If it turns out that a work of art was not confiscated as a result of persecution, the owner must keep it or pay back the funding if they want to sell it."

The ZEIT reports another state-run bottomless pit: "The renovation of the Pergamon Museum in Berlin will cost at least 121.4 million euros more than previously known. This was announced by the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning when asked by Der Spiegel. The last known cost estimate from the authority was 1.5 billion euros. However, this sum only refers to the basic refurbishment and extension of the museum."

According to research by Olga Kronsteiner for the Standard, the Vienna Dorotheum does not cut a particularly good figure in dealing with a suspected forgery: "Why is the Dorotheum not prepared to accept a complaint and why has the purchase not yet been cancelled? Upon enquiry, we were told that they were 'in the process of processing' and that 'the investigation has not yet been completed'. The STANDARD is already further along: the 'further painting' mentioned by Königseder is probably the one labelled 'Fantastic Landscape with Bird Friend', which was auctioned in September 2023 for 15,600 euros (incl. buyer's premium). Not only does the same provenance appear in the catalogue ('acquired directly from the artist in the 1980s'), but in this case a triptych by Karl Hodina, which was also once published in the aforementioned book, served as the model."

Daniel Völzke castigates Jeff Koons' latest business idea for littering the moon in Monopol: "After all, isn't this 'Moon Phases' project based on the same gesture that has recently been used by the super-rich to launch themselves into space? When earthly circumstances no longer set limits for a man who can buy anything, he goes into space. Or into the metaverse. Each of Koons' mini-sculptures is accompanied by an NFT for sale - which the gallery is touting as 'Jeff Koons' eagerly awaited entry into the metaverse'. Much has been written about the longing of people like Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson and Elon Musk for space and virtual worlds: It is the longing to leave an earth that is heading for ruin thanks to the economics that made these men rich."

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