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Kobel's Art Weekly

Fits unfortunately to many topics at the moment; HINKU Mainostoimisto "Freedom of Speech", free via
Fits unfortunately to many topics at the moment; HINKU Mainostoimisto "Freedom of Speech", free via
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 22 2023

Arco Lisboa is emancipating itself from its Madrid mother with its own focal points, according to Nicole Scheyerer's report on the fair for the FAZ: "86 galleries are participating in the sixth edition, of which only 25 are from Portugal. For the past three years, ARCO Lisboa has focused on Africa, as Portugal's colonial history has maintained close ties with countries such as Angola and Mozambique to this day. Eight exhibitors from the continent are represented, who are deliberately not assigned to a separate 'exotic section', as the curator in charge, Paula Nascimento, emphasises.

Austria has a new art fair, STAGE Bregenz, starting next year. The director is Renger van den Heuvel, who was already responsible for the Viennacontemporary and the Spark Art Fair in Vienna, as Werner Remm explains to Artmagazine: "Together with partners in the region, Renger van den Heuvel wants to design an attractive overall programme with which the high potential of the four-country region is to be further developed. However, there is competition in the extended region in the first year, because STAGE Bregenz takes place at the same time as Art Karlsruhe, 200 kilometres away. Nevertheless, Renger van den Heuvel is convinced that the new fair will be successful with support from politics, art, design and architecture."

Swantje Karich notices how underrepresented women are in the German secondary market when browsing through the current auction catalogues for DIE WELT: "Looking at these auction offers shows again how little presence women artists still have in Germany, but also how costly it is for the auction houses to find the works and the collectors who already want to sell. Sheila Hicks is certainly an example of an artist whose market is only just developing in Germany. Miriam Cahn, on the other hand, has her steady collectors. [...] So is the situation internationally so much better for women artists? In New York, only three women (Eli Nadelman, Berthe Morisot and Georgia O'Keefe) were counted in the evening auction of modern art at Sotheby's in May, and only five at Christie's for the entire 20th century. But it gets interesting there in the 21st century, which is weaker in German auction houses: the Evening Sale at Christie's in May, for example, offered 14 women in 28 lots."

Scott Reyburn and Anny Shaw point to a tax-saving model in the USA in The Art Newspaper: "Timing has become a significant issue in the realm of philanthropic giving in the US thanks to little-known but increasingly influential anonymous charitable vehicles known as Donor Advised Funds, or DAFs. Remarkably, DAFs allow a wealthy individual to claim tax relief as soon as assets are donated to the fund, without being under any formal obligation to pay out that money to a charity within a fixed time. Assets can accrue value tax-free within the fund and philanthropic decision-making can be deferred to succeeding generations, in theory indefinitely."

Christian Herchenröder traces how the acquisition policy of museums is certainly influenced by "big" politics, using an Albrecht Dürer exhibition in Berlin as an example for the Handelsblatt: "The latent hunger for Dürer and his instrumentalisation as a "Reichsdeutscher" artist in the course of the founding of the German Empire in 1871 led to a scandal in the history of collecting. It went down in history as the "Dürer controversy". [...] In 1877, the lawyer Friedrich Lippmann, who had been appointed director of the Berlin Museum of Prints and Drawings only a year earlier, was able to remedy the situation. He managed to acquire the Posonyi-Hulot Dürer collection in a roundabout way. [...] Within a few years, the Viennese art dealer and Dürer connoisseur Alexander Posonyi had collected almost the entire collection of early prints by the master, as well as 48 drawings from all phases of his career. In 1867, his financial situation forced him to part with the treasure at an auction held by Montmorillon'sche Kunsthandlung in Munich. But before the auction, the French collector Anatole Hulot acquired the collection and sold it to a French dealer on the condition that it not be sold to Germany for political reasons. Lippmann had it bought by a French dealer based in London and acquired it from him for 125,000 francs, a 'low price' as [Wilhelm von] Bode points out."

France wants to facilitate the restitution of Nazi looted art with a new law, reports Olga Grimm-Weissert in the Handelsblatt: "Since until now one had to enact a special law for each restituted object - which took up to four years - the framework law will speed up pending restitutions."

An art dealer who apparently took advantage of the owner of a painting on the Austrian version of Bares für Rares and behaved at least clumsily afterwards does not advertise his profession, Olga Kronsteiner reports in the Standard: "The painting promptly changed hands to a German private collector: for a net bid of 34,000 euros (43,520 euros including buyer's premium) and thus a world record for a work by the artist, which deviated exceedingly clearly from the TV expert's estimate. It was initially unclear who was to enjoy the profit. In response to a question from the STANDARD, Markus Kral explained that he had sold the painting for 2,000 euros to an intermediary shortly after the recording, who must have earned around 27,000 euros, as he calculated. The Servus TV dealer had to know, as it was he himself who had commissioned the Dorotheum with the auction not three weeks after the recording, as it later turned out."

Conflicting rights and obligations regarding transparency in different jurisdictions seem to increasingly affect the international art trade, suggests a report on a Franco-British dispute traced by Vincent Noce for The Art Newspaper: "One month after the Artcurial sale in November, the French state issued an export certificate. But [art dealer Patrick] Matthiesen says he could not transfer the painting to the UK as he had no information on its provenance after 1929. 'Under AML [anti-money laundering] procedures, we have to know who the seller is, and, if they are an agent, to find the ultimate beneficiary,' Matthiesen says. Similar rules apply in America and there is no way we could sell the painting in the US with no information on its whereabouts for almost a century. Unfortunately, Artcurial was unable to provide any useful information.'"

A collector sues at the Federal Supreme Court for the deletion of a painting from the Lost Art database, reports Christiane Fricke in the Handelsblatt: "On 25 May, the Federal Supreme Court (BGH) in Karlsruhe heard a case on whether the collector's property will now be tainted by the official measures - in other words, whether the painting will become unsaleable. The attractive coastal landscape had once been traded by the gallery owner Max Stern. The matter is complex, which is why a decision has not yet been reached. Should the BGH rule in favour of the collector on 21 July, it follows that the Stiftung Deutsches Zentrum Kulturgutverluste (DZK), as the operator of the database, would have to adjust its entry practice. A plausibility check would no longer suffice for an entry." More details on the case can be found in a dpa report: "The plaintiff wants his property to stop being criticised because Stern may have sold the painting under Nazi persecution pressure. The trustees had a wanted notice for the painting published on the website of the Lost Art database. It has been listed there since 29 June 2016. 'Circumstance of loss reported as Nazi-confiscated cultural property', it says."

On the question of whether the deal with the jewel thieves of Dresden was the right one, the ZEIT lets two opposing positions have their say. The former Saxon Justice Minister Geert Mackenroth finds: "From the point of view of the rule of law, there is no such thing as the perfect deal, the perfect compromise: the judiciary must see that it finds pragmatic, justifiable solutions. Moreover, one should not forget: The civil proceedings still follow. The perpetrators will have to pay a hefty claim for damages from the Free State of Saxony [...] The question that needs to be answered is: Has the rule of law shown itself to be toothless? My answer is: No, on the contrary, it has proven itself." Berlin's senior public prosecutor Ralph Knispel, on the other hand, says: "Anyone who commits a criminal offence and causes damage in the process is fundamentally obliged to pay compensation. I think it is adventurous to present it as an act of charity when thieves part with stolen goods and return them. Of course, this can have a mitigating effect on the punishment. But then please only if the loot is returned in its entirety - and undamaged! And who seriously believes that large compensation payments can now be expected in civil proceedings? That the perpetrators will at some point be willing or able to come up with such a considerable sum?"

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