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Kobel's Art Weekly

50 for Turkey I Syria; artists' charity sale by Nina Kuttler
50 for Turkey I Syria; artists' charity sale by Nina Kuttler
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 13 2023

Even though the art world's support for Ukraine and the victims of the earthquakes in Syria and Turkey has become somewhat quieter, it still exists. Postcards for Ukraine by Munich gallerist siblings Sperling is currently offering the 139th work by lot in exchange for a donation of 350 euros, and Hamburg artist Nina Kuttler is just entering the sixth round with her campaign "50 for Turkey I Syria", in which works by various artists are again being sold on a first come first serve basis (both campaigns on Instagram). The purchase price is tax-deductible as a donation.

The "healthy sales" reported in Angelica Villa's tour of Art Basel Hong Kong at Artnews mark a step or two below the usual "buoying" or "brisk": "Collectors appeared to be moving with clear intention through the fair, art advisor Ed Tang, who is based between New York and Hong Kong, told ARTnews, describing the pace of the inquiries and buying as moving at a 'slightly different rhythm' than what's typically seen at Western fairs. I didn't take it as a sign of hesitancy from collectors. There's just a lot of choice.'"

Although Asian buyers are "back in force" according to Gareth Harris in The Art Newspaper, the sword of Damocles of mainland China hovers over the location: "But against the backdrop of the parties and solid sales, the city has changed. The national security law, implemented mid-2020 by the Chinese government, criminalises any act of subversion, secession or terrorism, with key provisions designed to curtail protest and freedom of speech such as holding some trials behind closed doors. 'This is not the Hong Kong of 2018,' said a Chinese journalist who preferred to remain anonymous. Angelle Siyang-Le, the fair's new director, tells The Art Newspaper: 'The way we operate art business has not been impacted so far [by the law]. We're trying to monitor the situation constantly. The market is still developing and we're confident that we'll be able to conduct our shows as before.'"

A solid Asian self-confidence speaks from Vivienne Chow's observations for Artnet: "'We see fewer Europeans and Americans coming to the fair. It's a very cultured scene, mostly dominated by the mainland Chinese, who are able to travel for the first time since Covid, as well as South Korean collectors. There are some Japanese and Southeast Asians too,' Tian Liang, director of Asia at Timothy Taylor, told Artnet News. This is the London-headquartered dealer's first show with Art Basel Hong Kong since 2018. [...] 'There's so much energy, and there are so many young, educated, strong collectors who really know what they're looking for and are deeply engaged with art history,' she said. 'Art Basel Hong Kong is the future; I think it's going to be the most important fair in the world in five years.'"

From a connoisseur and European collector's perspective, the two drawing fairs Salon du Dessin and Drawing Now might be more interesting. Bettina Wohlfarth visited both events for the FAZ: "With two international drawing fairs accompanied by a rich supplementary programme and auctions, Paris has undoubtedly established itself as the 'Capitale du dessin'. At the beginning of spring, sheets by artists from all over the world enchant for a week. At the sophisticated Salon du Dessin and at the contemporary-fresh fair Drawing Now, the diversity of expressive possibilities on paper can be discovered from the Renaissance to the present. The Salon du Dessin remains one of the most beautiful fairs, gathering 21 French and 18 international galleries for its 31st edition at the neoclassical Palais Brongniart." In the WeLT of 25 March, Annegret Erhard explores the state of the art in this sector: "But what about the new generation of collectors? Are there young newcomers who - encouraged by the reasonable prices (from 1000 euros) - now dare to start? Hardly at all, says Louis de Bayser, president of the Salon du Dessin and one of four brothers who are the third generation to run their renowned Parisian art trade in old master drawings. They are mostly collectors in their late forties, says de Bayser, who have previously been schooled in other branches of high-end craftsmanship, developed the eye and focus, and can make art-historical connections. And who eventually succumb to the fascination of this field."

Warhol and Beeple as a bad investment in an otherwise successful auction remain as the conclusion of the follow-up report by Barbara Kutscher for the Handelsblatt zur Adam Lindemann auction in New York: "Now and then Lindemann could not realise his stake. For example, Warhol's 'Little Electric Chair', which had cost him 5.6 million dollars in 2007. Now the top lot of the week, with an estimate of 4 to 6 million dollars, grossed only 4.5 million dollars. Lindemann also made a loss on the last lot, the NFT 'Mother of Evolution', a joint work by Beeple and Madonna. Last May, on the very day of the crypto crash, it had cost him 72 Ether, at that time 146,000 dollars. In the evening auction, a young man in the audience at Christie's was able to grab it at just $100,800."

In Sabine Spindler's portrait of her in the Handelsblatt, Grisebach serves up a taboo that has never been broken publicly en passant: "It is sometimes a poker game in which even an auction house has to make concessions. 'We sometimes waive the consignor's fee, but giving a percentage of the buyer's premium depends very much on the individual work and the individual competitive situation.'" At least the buyer's premium was previously considered sacrosanct by auction houses in Germany.

AI has arrived in the art market! Shanti Escalante-De Mattei visited an exhibition at Gagosian for Artnews: "The arrival of AI text generators and chatbots like Chat GPT and Bing (or is she named Sydney?) over the last year has shattered the assumption that creativity is the sole domain of humans, and other living things. But, while image generators like DALL-E and Midjourney are the visual equivalent technologies, the same crisis has not quite registered in the art world. Perhaps, this lack of response stems from a lack of opportunity. No longer! Earlier this week, mega-gallery Gagosian opened an exhibition of works by DALL-E, which, like its AI image generator competitors, can turn a simple text prompt into an image in seconds. Might I find some crisis awaiting me there? (Yes)."

Zachary Small reports in the New York Times that a New York court's decision in a lawsuit over the ownership of the first NFT is considered a success for authors: "The dispute arose because the blockchain system that McCoy used for "Quantum" also required him to periodically renew his ownership rights. (Most web domains operate by similar rules.) But the artist neglected to renew terms of ownership, which allowed Free Holdings to purchase the registration and assert ownership over the work itself. The company subsequently accused Sotheby's and McCoy of slander and commercial disparagement. James Cott, a magistrate judge for the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York, dismissed the case and wrote that Free Holdings had failed to establish its claims of ownership and injury."

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