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Until early Monday evening, the charity auction Editions for a Cause in favor of aid initiatives for Ukraine, which Artnet and the International Fine Print Dealers Association (IFPDA) are jointly organizing, is still running. According to a press release, all auction proceeds will be donated, with Artnet passing on half of the buyer's premium.
While the art trade tends to react fearfully or sluggishly to the fundamental changes in the market, the media, and the world, artists Sung Tieu, Marianna Simnett, and Verena Issel are setting out to actively shape change. In an interview with Juliet Kothe for Monopol (paywall), they explain their motivation and approach: "Tieu: As artists, we are facing a situation where grants and subsidies are being cut, where public institutions are receiving less and less funding, and at the same time are becoming more and more dependent on commercial companies or patrons who pay for a large part of artistic production. These trends mean that artists are increasingly dependent on the sale of their work to make a living. This is why we initiated the Case platform. The goal is to build fairer economies within our complicated and often unbalanced industry. On an open source platform that is currently under construction, we are contributing proposals on how to rethink and develop private sector markets, such as gallery exhibitions, in a different way. "
Reconciling the traditional and NFT art worlds is the goal of a conference in Berlin, which Annika von Taube attended for Monopol: "At one point in one of the talks, the question comes up: are cryptoPunks art? "Absolutely not!" think the old gatekeepers, and "Of course!" the native cryptoartists. Who is right is currently still decided by the established evaluation construct of an evolved ecosystem, i.e. the "old" art world. But the new one just has to stand on the shoulders of the old world, then both can grow bigger together and merge into one organism. And then there will be no more NFT art and traditional art. But only art."
Anette Doms explains for WELTKUNST why we will no longer be able to avoid NFTs with the future of the Internet: "We can assume that NFTs are not just hype, because we are moving towards a new Internet: the blockchain-based Web 3 - a network to which wallets provide the connection. In addition to reading and writing, it will also be possible to own digital data on the decentralized network in the future. The key word here is the metaverse, the future space for communication and consumption - a world shaped by virtual reality and augmented reality that exists independently of a single user. Art museums, galleries, auction houses are already emerging here - and these digital spaces will be populated with NFTs. So NFTs are a subset of the new Internet, and many of their uses are linked to real life." That's a bold thesis, especially since access to the Internet via wallets would almost inevitably mean an end to anonymity. For corporations and governments, that should be a wet dream, but for many people, a nightmare.
Meanwhile, the NFT platform SuperRare is opening a branch in the physical world, Frauke Steffens reports in the FAZ: "The platform is occupying two floors in a house in Soho until 28 August. The artworks are presented on flat screens, next to them a QR code and sometimes headphones. Anyone who buys such a work acquires the unique certification of authenticity on the blockchain, the NFT. The gallery is intended to provide an 'immersive environment' for this art, the website says. By that, I assume it means that you can also see the works online and even meet other art lovers in the process."
How the various NFT platformers are reacting to the cryptocurrency crash is explored by Shanti Escalante De-Mattei at Artnews: "With the drop, the mourning has begun, even among a crypto-community used to weathering the asset's volatility. NFT platforms, however, are not wading through the five stages of grief before taking action. In quick succession, major NFT platforms like Foundation, SuperRare, and OpenSea have announced major changes to the way they run their businesses. While none of these pivots has been explicitly labeled as a response to the market, the timing and nature of the new initiatives seem designed to make up for the lack of enthusiasm in the market currently."
Daniel Grant discusses the potential impact of deregulation of New York's auction system in The Art Newspaper: "John R. Cahill, a lawyer with expertise in art, speculates that the concern for buyers and sellers at auction will be if the terms and conditions clauses, which describe the contractual relationship between the company and its clients, are likely to be changed and, if so, whether they will be altered differently for each sale. 'It will be interesting to see if what New York City has done will spread to other cities,' he says."
The spring auctions of the major German auction houses in Cologne and Berlin were generally encouraging. The highest hammer price so far was achieved by Villa Grisebach for Max Pechstein's "Russian Ballet" at 1.9 million euros net, Susanne Schreiber reports in the Handelsblatt: "Incidentally, many of Grisebach's hammer prices were in the four- and five-figure range, in line with the range of financially attainable art. On Thursday alone, Grisebach grossed 14.7 million with 370 works of art."
A differentiated picture of the evening auction at Lempertz in Cologne is drawn by Christian Herchenröder in the Handelsblatt: "The evening auction of modern and contemporary art at Lempertz, prudently conducted by Isabel Apiarius-Hanstein, was not a dismal event, despite 37 declines out of a total of 96 lots. The rate of decline was offset by unexpectedly high bids for some highly sought-after lots. Where these were not top works, abstinence prevailed or, as in international auctions, buyers tended to go for the lower estimates rather than venture too far with high bids. Characteristic of this auction was that some high price bidders entered the fray late, and were thus successful. In total, a gross of 7.85 million euros was raised that evening."
The multi-day auction series at Van Ham fetched more than 8.3 million euros despite some uproar in the run-up, Susanne Schreiber reports in the Handelsblatt: "The Cologne auction house Van Ham was unable to call out nine works by Russian avant-gardists, including three from the collection of Hilmar Kopper, the former chairman of Deutsche Bank. The authenticity check by technological examinations was missing for them as well as for six other works from the collection of Gerhard Cromme, the former chairman of the supervisory board of Siemens. The remaining works of Classical Modernism from the Hilmar Kopper collection fetched six-figure prices even above their estimated values."
Using the Mortlock mask from Oceania, which was auctioned off for the record price of 9.7 million euros, Professor Brigitta Hauser-Schäublin, emeritus professor of ethnology, recounts a provenance whodunit in the FAZ: "For a hundred years the mask was for a hundred years before it came onto the art market in 1975. With the exorbitant price increases that take place there, no museum is in a position to purchase such an object at auction. Giving it away was a 'point of no return'. For the societies of origin, making money with a formerly sacred cultural asset of their ancestors must seem like mockery. To let them participate at least with half of the profit would be an order of the day."
Hauser & Wirth's gallery empire is extended by an address in Paris, Felix Leitmeyer reports at Monopol: "Apparently, the expansion to Paris was planned for a long time. 'We make no secret of the fact that we have been searching for the perfect home for Hauser & Wirth in Paris for several years, and I am delighted that the search has now come to an end,' says Hauser & Wirth president Iwan Wirth. 'The city's importance to artists has been undisputed for centuries, and we look forward to sharing in this rich history.' Iwan Wirth, Manuela Wirth and Ursula Hauser had founded Hauser & Wirth in Zurich in 1992. In 2000, they were joined by partner and co-president Marc Payot. The gallery wants to 'create a dialogue between art, artists and different target groups' with learning programs, as the institution explains. This, it says, should also apply at its new Paris location." How nice that the gallery takes its educational mission so seriously.