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Kobel's Art Weekly

precarious existence: T.L. Busby, Painter's hall ca. 1826. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain
precarious existence: T.L. Busby, Painter's hall ca. 1826. Wellcome Collection. Public Domain
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 19 2024

Even in its current edition, the small Frieze New York hardly seems to excite anyone. Interestingly, both the big galleries with their usual sales reports and the usual media, which support the fairs' PR with reports of a “brisk start” and “buyoing sales”, are conspicuously reticent. Incidentally, Tefaf New York appears across the board in reports on satellite fairs, including Rachel Sherman's overview for the New York Times of all eleven art fairs of the week. The Art Newspaper and Artnews bundle their coverage of the Frieze week in New York in dossiers. From the preliminary report, it is also possible to navigate through the various texts at Artnet. Holland Cotter seems to want to take the usual ‘best stands’ articles ad absurdum for the New York Times: He names his 23 favourite booths at the fair. That's a whopping third of all participating galleries.

In terms of content, the fair was quite a disappointment for Rhea Nayyar from Hyperallergic: “I found the rest of Level 2 pretty uninspiring, and confirmed that through the devastating birds-eye view of it from the floor above. It was like the opposite of how a Monet painting is described in Clueless - decent up close but a total mess from afar. Level 4 was the most redeeming section of the fair, and the Central and South American galleries carried. [...] I was uplifted by what I saw on Level 4, but was knocked back down to earth when I reached the last swath of booths on Level 6 and came across gimmick-y neon text signs, astonishingly boring paintings, and ... well, a bunch of other stuff that never made it to my long-term memory repository.” Following the phenomenon of fair fatigue “Fair Fatique”, Julie Baumgardner explores alternative fair formats in New York for Hyperallergic: “Fast forward a decade, and here we have an arts landscape that at once feels static - enclosed by corporate overhead and confining real estate influence - but equally as agile (or fragile, depending on your disposition) and ever-shifting. ‘You know, the game has changed radically. And if you're not hip to what that is, it's just gonna pass you by. So you have to think about different ways to engage,' said Eric Firestone, the Hamptons-based, bespeckled gallerist whose Great Jones St. loft space is hosting the second edition of That ’70s Show. Eighteen fellow galleries have joined in for the art fair, which runs through the weekend, including Andrew Kreps, Franklin Parrasch, Magenta Plains, Karma, and Gordon Robichaux. ‘There's no 'big box' gallery,’ Firestone told me.” Side note: In New York, Andrew Kreps seems to be considered a ‘small’ gallery with 13 employees. According to Elaine Velie, also at Hyperallergic, new trends are most likely to be discovered at NADA: “Spread across four floors in a loft-style building in Chelsea - linked by a perilously steep concrete staircase - the 10th edition of NADA presents a mixed roster of newbies and success stories who deliver a painting-centric show where sci-fi, absurdism, and surrealism shine.”

Scott Reybeurn in London is looking for new opportunities away from the well-worn distribution channels for art for The Art Newspaper: “Maybe in the current economic environment, mould-breaking, self-organised group shows of works by young artists are a thing of the past, along with the avant-garde. But in an art market dominated by mega-galleries, mega-collectors and mega-prices, some enterprising independent dealers are at least reimagining the Impressionists‘ 150-year-old formula to try to reconnect selling exhibitions with lived life.”

Farah Nayeri examines in the New York Times whether and how art can maintain or expand its status in society by moving closer to the luxury industry: “Artists are designing handbags and accessories for luxury brands. Luxury brands are building museums and putting on art exhibitions. Auction houses, which since the 18th century have been prestige marketplaces for fine art, are now selling bags, sneakers and streetwear. For fashion brands, it's a win-win: associating with art elevates them from being seen as purely commercial ventures. The hope is that their high-end products will be likened to works of art. The artists benefit financially and raise their profiles, becoming known to wider and more global audiences. Yet depending on the frequency and the extent of the collaborations, there are credibility hazards: the risk of being perceived as selling out for money.”

Simone Dede Ayivi wants to talk about the production conditions under which artists work in the taz: “In art, very few colleagues earn a lot of money, while most live on the breadline. To say something against this would mean admitting that you will probably never belong to the first group. In a worrying interview on the ‘Nachtkritik’ portal, Berlin's Senator for Culture Joe Chialo pointed out that Mozart died poor and that ‘artists in Africa’ are not supported by the state either, but dance in front of ‘tin huts’ and go viral on Tiktok. I see. Mozart died in 1791, and Chialo is the cultural senator of Berlin. Nevertheless, these were his ‘reference points’.”

Renault is liquidating the art collection it has amassed since 1967 at Christie's in Paris, reports Susanne Schreiber in the Handelsblatt: “The proceeds from the auction will go to a foundation to promote street art. Not only do companies need less art for their offices in times of working from home. The reorganisation also makes it clear that the maintenance and care of the art collection will become a considerable cost factor over the decades. It's better to take to the streets and promote art for everyone. That suits a car brand.”

When it comes to protecting cultural assets, Germany has probably also neglected to do its homework in terms of defence policy, according to an article by Rolf Brockschmidt in the Tagesspiegel: “The Bundeswehr does not have the kind of cultural asset protection structures that many allies such as the USA, the UK, France, the Netherlands or Italy have. ‘We are not capable of forming an alliance in this way,’ says Alexander Gatzsche, a lieutenant captain in the reserves and one of the three initiators, in an interview with the Tagesspiegel. [...] They are calling for the topic to be integrated into basic and advanced training, the inclusion of specialised civilian personnel in the army and the creation of a dedicated cultural property protection unit, as other nations already have.”

Aurélie Tanaqui criticises an EU directive that will come into force next year in the Handelsblatt: ‘However, the EU directive on the import of cultural goods is likely to apply from 2025. It is expected to have a dramatic impact on the art market for non-European antiquities and ancient art. In order to import cultural goods that are subject to the new rules, import and export documents must be presented. Without these, it will be impossible or at least very difficult to import cultural goods into EU member states. Which art is affected? The EU has introduced this regulation to combat the illegal trade in cultural goods by controlling their import into the member states. This applies to works of fine and decorative art as well as collector's items with no indication of date or value.’

The Free State of Saxony is demanding compensation from both the burglars in the Green Vault and the security service responsible at the time, reports dpa: “It is a matter of almost 76.1 million euros for the missing and damaged parts of the loot that were returned [...] According to Aldejohann, the five legally convicted young men from the well-known Berlin Remmo clan have received reminder notices in this regard in order to secure the Free State's claim. [...] A civil chamber of the Dresden Regional Court is dealing with the Free State's lawsuit against SKD's security company. It is demanding a good 15 million euros in damages plus 300,000 euros for repairs to the museum - the verdict is due to be announced on 9 July.”

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