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Kobel's Art Weekly

Lesia Kaplan, Prymachenko (turned over in her grave); free via
Lesia Kaplan, Prymachenko (turned over in her grave); free via
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 19 2022

Here, too, help can be provided: UKRAINIAN ARCHIVES RESCUE - the Polish Pilecki Institute Berlin and the Belarusian diaspora association RAZAM in cooperation with the Alliance of Ukrainian Organizations, the Ukrainian Orthodox Church Community e.V. and with the kind support of the Federal Archives call for donations for the rescue of Ukrainian archives and museum goods.

The Lithuanian artist Emilija Škarnulytė does not want to accept the art prize of the Berlin gas supplier Gasag in order to point out Germany's dependence on Russia, reports dpa: "The Gasag Art Prize, which is awarded for artistic works at the interface with science and technology, comes with a presentation in the Berlinische Galerie, a catalog for it and 10,000 euros. The prize donor respects the artist's decision and makes the prize money available to the Berlinische Galerie to support young artists, it said."

New York will soon be in the Wild West, at least the auction industry, which is being massively deregulated by the city government, as Graham Bowley and Robin Pogrebin report in the New York Times: "The regulations had been enacted over decades to increase oversight of an art industry long viewed as opaque - with buyers and sellers often shielded from public view - and chiefly required that certain information was disclosed, such as whether an auction house had a financial stake in a work up for sale. [...] As set by the new law, auctioneers will no longer need to be licensed as of June 15. The industry-specific regulations, installed in response to several scandals and the explosive growth of the art industry, have already been sunsetted. City officials defended the elimination of the rules as useful streamlining that will work to improve New York's business climate. But some art market experts said they were concerned that the city had gone too far."

The conquest of New York by Tefaf will soon turn out to be somewhat more modest, Barbara Kutscher knows in the Handelsblatt: "The small offshoot of the Maastricht Lace Fair, which was only launched in the fall of 2016, is the first choice for dealers due to the quality of the offer and the knowledgeable audience. And artists also find representation at this fair important. [...] But Tefaf New York has also seen some changes since the pandemic began. It reduced its presence from two events - 'Tefaf Spring' for modern and contemporary and 'Tefaf Fall' for historical works since antiquity - to one spring edition. Chairman Hidde van Seggelen declined to comment on the reasons." The queen of art fairs accepts the risk of self-cannibalization. After all, this year the mother fair in Maastricht will take place six weeks later - then again regularly six weeks earlier. It will be interesting to see how many US galleries will still want to travel to the Netherlands.

London is threatened by a downward spiral, fear Anny Shaw and Gareth Harris in The Art Newspaper: "[Lawyer Pierre] Valentin describes it as 'a snowball effect'. He says: 'As the main auction houses reduce the number of sales in London, they lay off staff. The large galleries follow. The art specialists relocate to cities where they can find employment like New York, Hong Kong, Paris and Zurich.' Some warn that what happened to Paris in the 1960s, when the introduction of a complicated system of taxes and royalties on art sales contributed to the market's shift to the US and UK, could happen to Britain."

A brief history of Chinese art auctions is provided by Mark Siemons in the FAZ of May 7: "What will happen next is completely uncertain. The number of auction houses in China continues to grow; at the moment it is probably around 550. And while the Chinese art market as a whole now accounts for less than half the volume of the American one, the auction market continues to hold its own at the top of the world. But because of the high percentage of uncompleted sales, it won't be possible to know how real these numbers are for years."

Christiane Fricke followed Sotheby's first live auction in Cologne for Handelsblatt: "In the end, there will have been more than 1500 bidders of all ages from around 60 countries. On average, one third of the customers are always new to Sotheby's. Such labor-intensive and costly auctions of objects in the lower price range are just always also a marketing tool, where the prominent name Lagerfeld provides for customer acquisition."

The "Marilyn" by Andy Warhol offered for auction at Christie's today, Monday, with an estimate of 200 million US dollars, captivates above all through the chutzpah with which it is marketed, writes Till Briegleb in the Süddeutsche Zeitung: For even the most endeavored marketing bells and whistles "do not justify claiming the absolutely singular character of one motif, labeling it as 'one of the greatest paintings of all time' and auctioning it off as a 'once-in-a-lifetime opportunity' at a price that has already been paid privately for the orange Marilyn. And that, even though it's not even a 'painting'. But that won't interest anyone who takes part in the bidding. Arguments have also not been able to keep Mohammed bin Salman from buying a 'Leonardo', which even then was rather estimated as a workshop work, which in the meantime has been confirmed in an official downgrading of the world swift to the category 'supervised by Leonardo'. The main thing is that the price is high enough to reflect one's ego." Actually, all you have to do is swap out a few names and titles and it could be an article about NFTs.

The more Michael Moynihan explains the NFT world in his Youtube video for Vice, the more disturbing the picture he presents becomes. Just under half an hour of entertainment, including Artnet editor Ben Davis, art market Hans Dampf Kenny Schachter, ex-star artist Lucien Smith, Beeple buyer Metakovan and ... Pepe the Frog (mascot of QAnon and the Trumpists).

The Art+Tech Report from Berlin examines the market for art NFTs and clarifies the differences to the NFT bonanza of crypto bros. Christiane Fricke read the report for Handelsblatt: "The speculative element plays a surprisingly secondary role for art NFT collectors. Only a scarce third is the possible profit in a resale important. In first place, with 90 percent, is the gain in knowledge. 60 percent think it's good to belong to a "community". After all, 21 percent say they have already invested in fractionalized NFTs, i.e., shares of highly paid-for artworks. The overall relatively weak to moderate profit expectation makes the crucial difference to the crypto-savvy NFT buyer, who prefers collectibles with value propositions, such as CryptoPunks, CryptoKitties or bored monkeys."

Vienna's Leopold Museum is now taking the digital museum store a step further, reports Michael Huber in the May 6 Kurier: "The Leopold Museum is now launching a 'Schiele Collection' where interested parties can purchase certified copies in various editions via the platform 'LaCollection' with the technical support of the Austrian Post: As 'Ultra Rare' the works 'Tote Mutter I' (1910), the 'Selbstporträt mit Lampionfrüchten' (1912) and the 'Bildnis Wally' (1912) are put up for 100,000 euros. Here only one NFT comes on the market, a second remains in museum possession. The other gradations are called 'Super Rare' (edition 10 pieces, 10,000 euros) and 'Rare' (100 pieces, 499 euros)." Fridge magnets after all.

Daniel Völzke for Monopol (paywall) doesn't like Jeff Koons' plan to shoot a whole slew of his sculptures onto the moon: "After all, isn't the same gesture behind this 'Moon Phases' project that the super-rich have recently been using to shoot 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. For every mini-sculpture by Koons, an NFT is offered for sale-what the gallery touts as Jeff Koons' 'highly anticipated entry into the metaverse."

The NFT of a fake Kandinsky is being used by Russian scammers to support the armed forces, Ursula Scheer found out for the FAZ: "Lies upon lies pile up the texts of the net presence of an ominous organization called Terricon, in which reality is turned into the opposite and Ukraine is reinterpreted as the aggressor led by radicals. To counter this with all force, under the heading "Art for Victory", people should acquire the work from a private collection, with cryptocurrency, bypassing all sanctions: as Non-Fungible Tokens. It is obvious that the pro-Russian side is trying what the Ukrainian one has already strengthened with numerous crypto fundraisers, and is crying for regulation of blockchain trading. But NFT, virtual title deed uniques, are only worth something if the real works they link to are too." However, the author fails to provide the name of the website or a link.

Red tape is hindering the art trade especially in Germany reports Zacharias Mawicks in the WELTKUNST (free registration) is to be taken: "All indications point to the fact that the protection of species will tighten further, which is to be welcomed in principle naturally. However, it is questionable whether it is necessary to impose such strict conditions on the trade in antiques, which are often of a high artistic standard and which, incidentally, may also fall under the Cultural Property Protection Act, for more symbolic reasons. It leaves them at the mercy of a price decline that, along with increasing stigmatization of the owners, could lead to uncomplicated disposal being the more attractive solution."

The Toledo Museum of Art in Ohio is parting with paintings by French masters (Cézanne, Renoir, Matisse) via Sotheby's that are expected to fetch a combined $48 million to $62 million, in part in favor of new acquisitions. Christopher Knight of the Los Angeles Times does not like this: "The for-profit market today leads much of the nonprofit museum world around by the nose. But the core museum mission is collecting, researching and preserving great art, and a conservative strategy of privatizing irreplaceable public assets in the name of liberal progress is backward. The Toledo sale is unconscionable."

The Frankfurt Städel seems to have very idiosyncratic ideas about press relations and freedom of press, as journalist and photographer Damian Zimmermann had to learn and publicized on Facebook. His request for an artist interview was treated as if he were a Hollywood star or a corporate boss suspected of subsidy fraud.

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