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Kobel's Art Weekly

Deceptive Spring; Jovita Jovishova
Make love, not war, free via
Deceptive Spring; Jovita Jovishova Make love, not war, free via
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 15 2023

Every year Clare McAndrew produces a market report (PDF) for Art Basel and UBS. Eileen Kinsella has boiled down the summary at the beginning of the report for Artnet. In the Standard Olga Kronsteiner has formulated a coherent text on the most important points.

For the FAZ of 8 April, Ursula Scheer spoke with economist McAndrew about her findings: "If you only look at the press releases and auction results, it looks very, very positive. But if you talk to people in galleries and auction houses who are not in the top segment of the market, it becomes clear that some companies have really struggled. So it's a very mixed picture with very good sales at the top end and weaker sales at other levels. [...] In 2020 everything contracted because of the pandemic, in 2021 everything recovered very well, and now the curve is flattening because of this unevenly distributed performance: The top has pulled away but hasn't lifted everything else with it."

My thoughts on the report can be read in the Handelsblatt and Monopol.

Within an unsurprisingly news-poor conversation with Art Basel boss Noah Horowitz for the Handelsblatt, Stephanie Dieckvoss hides an interesting figure: "Furthermore, it [MCH Group AG) ended the 2022 financial year with a loss of ten million Swiss francs. This loss also includes just under one million Swiss francs that the former head of trade fairs, Marc Spiegler, who will continue to be employed by MCH until the end of October 2023, was entitled to as remuneration last year. No wonder nothing has been heard from him yet."

As to why the mega-galleries are constantly adding new artist names to their portfolios lately, Alex Greenberger, Daniel Cassady and Angelica Villa try to find out for Artnews: "New York-based art adviser Lisa Schiff told ARTnews that a lot of this talent acquisition has come after the police killing of George Floyd in May 2020 and the subsequent racial reckoning across the art world, among other industries. Every level of gallery, not just the megas, ramped up their artist rosters significantly during the pandemic. And most of it (but not all) was done in a frenzy to accommodate a more inclusive art world whose history needs to be and is being rewritten,' Schiff said. 'A lot of the additions were done in haste and yet haste was imperative considering how late to the game we are.'"

Damien Hirst continues to turn his marketing machine by appropriating the current buzzword. After NFTs, he now uses AI to recycle his idea of spin paintings. Ursula Scheer comments in the FAZ: "Easy and catchy as Easter egg painting, it's a money-making machine for Hirst. 'No matter how you feel, if you look at a 'Spin Painting' you can forget all the crap in your life, even if it's only for a few seconds', Hirst says. That's debatable, maybe these paintings symbolise some crap too. But to exhibit turntable painting as the archetype of AI art, which instead of paint merely puts image data through the wringer, that's pretty ingenious." "Ingenious" is perhaps a bit of a strong word in this context - "enterprising" is actually enough.

The auction trade in non-European art is booming, Matthias Busse learned during his research for the WeLT of 9 April. What sounds paradoxical in view of the tightened trade restrictions and controls, however, has reasons: "The strong growth of the auction houses could also be due to a shift in turnover. The classical antiques trade and specialised galleries have lost ground in recent years. A smaller number of players also makes it easier for customs to control the tightened export restrictions under the Cultural Property Protection Act of 2016. In order to handle overseas shipments, some auction houses have even had to hire staff to handle the complicated formalities of export and import regulations. The professionalisation of the trade, however, may contribute to new confidence among young collectors. Sotheby's is seeing a new generation of buyers, says a spokeswoman for the auction house: 'We see a growing interest from those who combine tribal art with modern and contemporary art'. In five years, she says, the number of bidders aged under 40 has risen from 18 per cent to 31 per cent, with bidders over 40 up by a third and those over 50 up by 40 per cent."

Barbara Kutscher reports on a successful New York Asia Week in the Handelsblatt: "Almost every one of the participating dealers, who hawked art from Japan, Korea and India all the way up to the present, was satisfied. After nine days, the announced sales of five auction houses and 22 of 26 dealers added up to more than 131 million dollars, the best result since 2019, when 'Asia Week' had posted 150 million dollars. The previous most successful Asia Week, with revenue of $424 million, was held in 2017. At that time, however, 51 international traders participated.

The auction of the interior of the legendary Hotel Bauer promises a touch of the exclusive Biennale world of Venice for the home, Marcus Woeller reports in the WeLT of 9 April: "Now renovations are to be made - and everything has to go. The auction house Artcurial has been commissioned to auction off the 10,000 pieces of furnishings. Furniture, lamps, textiles and table decorations will go under the hammer from 24 April. The offering tells of the unique creative power of Venetian artisans."

While everyone is talking about Pablo Picasso's treatment of women on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of his death, Sebastian C. Sprenger draws a price picture of the artist's cheaper works in the Tagesspiegel: "In the beginning, simple plates and bowls were created, later more complex forms such as jugs and vases were added, the handles of which are occasionally shaped into facial features or anatomical parts if the vessels depicted animals. Popular pieces include Picasso's owl jugs (between 20,000 and 40,000 euros) and objects with bullfighting motifs. Here the price depends on the edition size: Low editions of 50 pieces, such as the relief-like "Corrida" plate designed in 1953, cost around 30,000 euros; for unique pieces, it can be a few hundred thousand euros. Nevertheless, there is also the chance to acquire smaller plaques, bowls or plates, the price of which starts at around 1000 euros."

On the occasion of the 40th anniversary of Galerie Eigen + Art, Sarah Alberti spoke for Monopol not with the ubiquitous Judy Lybke, but with the two partners Kerstin Wahala and Elke Hannemann, who talk about the past and present of the company and its business: 'We started in 1990 with a loan from Arend Oetker. That was 50,000 DM. Judy had opened an account in Cologne. I got the first bank statement and thought: That's enough for a lifetime! Then came the transport bill for the outward transport of Uecker's works. 5,000 DM. And I thought: A tenth of that is already gone! Then they said we needed insurance. So we said: 'No! We'll save that money!' Instead, we had a sleeping plan. We slept in the gallery for six weeks.'"

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