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Kobel's Art Weekly

Art Brussels 2024; photo Stefan Kobel
Art Brussels 2024; photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 18 2024

Christian Herchenröder feels overwhelmed by the abundance of Gallery Weekend Berlin in the Handelsblatt: ‘The programme of the 55 participating galleries and other dealers ranges from German abstraction at Wolfgang Werner Kunsthandel to new artistic positions, as embodied by the landscapes of American Haley Mellin at Dittrich & Schlechtriem. There will also be a comeback by the Mülheimer Freiheit group of painters at Haas and strong performances by old masters such as Sean Scully at Hetzler. In addition, numerous pop-up exhibitions of varying quality invite you to visit. If you want to get halfway through the overflowing art programme, you'll need more than three days.’

Georg Imdahl reports on the departure of a long-established gallery from the GWB as part of his tour for the FAZ: ‘One of the founding members of Gallery Weekend was Galerie Klosterfelde, which was founded 35 years ago and is bidding farewell to the capital with an accrochage and returning to Hamburg.’

Gesine Borcherdt recalls the history and epochal significance of the event, and not just for Berlin, in the WeLT: ‘What would Berlin be without Gallery Weekend? Most likely this: an art city without an art event, a maze of diffusely located galleries kilometres apart from each other that no one would have an overview of, and a joyless place in whose museums battles are fought with calls for boycotts, anti-Semitism and identity politics instead of art. With Gallery Weekend, Berlin is that: a metropolis that has invented a great art festival where curators and collectors travelling from all over the world, tourists and locals, together with the local art scene, celebrate something that makes Berlin special, exhibitions of outstanding international artists in galleries that are like the hidden diamonds of this city.’

Kabir Jhala explains the changes in the city using the Berlin newcomer Pace in The Art Newspaper: ‘So, is Pace considering opening a permanent Berlin space down the line? “It's certainly a possibility,” [Pace director Laura] Attanasio says. 'We want to take things slowly and work on a project-based scale for now. The mega gallery's encroachment into the once market-averse Berlin comes as the city's cultural landscape continues to shift due to rapidly rising rents. 'Berlin's art scene has been through some rocky times lately,' Attanasio says. 'Money came into the city and so many artists left, but not enough money has flowed into Berlin for it to reach a critical mass of big commercial galleries like we are seeing in Paris. That shifting balance is being felt over in the Kreuzberg district, where two neighbouring mid-sized galleries, Klemm's and Soy Capitán, are leaving their current locations after being evicted. Their landlord is selling the building to private real estate developers.’

Ursula Scheer characterises Art Brussels in the FAZ: ‘Whether optimistic-abstract as by Haddasah Emmerich at Sofie Van de Velde (Antwerp) or ambiguous-naturalistic as by Rinus Van de Velde at the Tim Van Laere Gallery (Antwerp, Rome): Painting dominates, certainly with less convincing examples than these. Art Brussels gives space to experimentation. This makes them appear young, but fray at the edges. Museum works such as an installation by the sculptor Bernd Lohaus (Sofie Van de Velde), who died in 2010, provide substance. And the future is on the horizon’. Alexandra Wach at Monopol is also only mildly critical: ‘But it's definitely worth keeping your eyes open, especially beyond the uniform white cubes of the 'Prime' sector. Then the pleasingly decorative colourfulness of the higher-priced works disappears and abysses open up’. I was in Brussels for Handelsblatt and Artmagazine.

The ‘Fräulein Lieser’ by Gustav Klimt was a little disappointing with a record hammer price of ‘only’ 30 million euros at the lower estimate at the Kinsky auction house in Vienna. Managing director Ernst Ploil blames the media in a ‘stop the thief’ feint, reports the Standard: ‘In an APA interview, he pointed out that four certain interested parties had only withdrawn very shortly before the auction - and attributed this to media reports that had suggested further research into the provenance, for example. Most recently, a man from Munich had also registered inheritance claims via the 'Süddeutsche Zeitung'. 'In general, the picture has not been improved by these stories. All of this can make the difference in such a sensitive market. Even a very rich buyer doesn't want to get into trouble.’ Not doing your own homework, but pointing the finger at others, that's something we're familiar with from politics. The clumsily handled story comes to a telling conclusion in an anecdote told by Nicole Scheyerer in the FAZ: ‘Ironically, the identity of the successful hall bidder also caused confusion. Several newspapers mistook the Asian woman for the Hong Kong art consultant Rosaline Wong. In fact, it was Patti Wong, formerly head of Sotheby's Hong Kong and an independent art advisor since 2023. Both Wongs have recently been involved with Klimt's top works: Rosaline Wong's company HomeArt lent Klimt's 'Water Snakes II' to the Belvedere in Vienna last year and holds the portrait 'Adele Bloch-Bauer II'. Patti Wong auctioned Klimt's 'Lady with Fan' at Sotheby's in London in 2023 for a record price of over 99 million euros - for whom, however, remained a mystery. Kinsky co-owner Ernst Ploil made the confusion perfect when he confirmed Rosaline Wong as the new owner to the daily newspaper 'Die Presse', only to row back the next day - an embarrassing faux pas.’

How does the market deal with foundations and private museums that are favoured when buying coveted artworks, only to sell them again at a profit after a while? Katya Kazakina addresses the question for Artnet (paywall): ‘Galleries have long given preference to collectors with private foundations or museums when selling new work by hot artists, on the belief that the art would not be flipped for profit, potentially disrupting the artist's market. Such buyers receive hefty discounts and often don't have to abide by stringent non-resale agreements. And yet private foundations regularly send their art to the auction block. [...] Chinese entities have been especially active in selling. Last year, the Long Museum in Shanghai, which artists and dealers spoke of with hushed reverence for about a decade, sold many of its top holdings at Sotheby's.’

In an interview with Felix von Boehm for Monopol and real-estate vulture Nicolas Berggruen declares art to be the ‘ultimate soft power’, with which he now wants to make Venice happy: ‘I would even say that art is the ultimate “soft power”! Because what is that actually? It's something that lies beyond the facts, beyond black or white. It's something in between. 'Soft power' is something that is actually worth striving for, that allows for dreams, that allows for hope, that allows for change. And in this sense, art is perhaps the best embodiment. The reason why we chose Venice as the third location for the Berggruen Institute, alongside the USA and China, is that Venice has a long history and art is the most important outward representation. Venice is, if you like, a manifestation of 'soft power'.’ Timeo Danaos et dona ferentes.

Last Monday, the Berlin gallerist Daniel Marzona died of a stroke. ‘He was one of those people with whom you could stand for hours in front of a sculpture made of two wooden beams touching each other tenderly,’ writes Gesine Borcherdt in the WeLT. ‘When Daniel Marzona took a drag on his cigarette, smiled mischievously and gave you the feeling that he was listening carefully, it was as if time stood still - as if this over-excited art market, which he never liked, didn't exist.’ Christiane Meixner remembers him in the Tagesspiegel: ‘Marzona always took the time to put his enthusiasm for the often minimalist art into words. In doing so, he remained quiet, reserved, but still conveyed the works enthusiastically by his standards.’

Monopol turns 20 - congratulations!

semi-automatically translated

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