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Kobel's Art Weekly

Banksy's charity edition Agile;
Banksy's charity edition Agile;
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 3 2023

Nothing seems too shabby for some people: according to Ursula Scheer in the FAZ, Russian hackers have attacked the website of the charitable organisation Legacy of War, which wants to finance ambulances for Ukraine with the sale of Banksy prints.

Collectors are no longer willing to take risks, Allan Schwartzmann complains on Artnet: "The risk and subjectivity that differentiate the best art collections have recently given way to collective sameness: impeccably flawless and, consequently, increasingly predictable assemblies of A-list artists represented by the best-of-the-best quality works-and, usually, the bigger the better. Today's art market would seem to have no financial ceiling for such 'masterworks'-of which there is a dwindling supply-while at the same time most everything else appears to be dying a thousand deaths. Art collecting has become compliant, shaped by trackable price data that does a great job of enforcing the status quo, reflecting back an idealized portrait of itself through the algorithmic mirror that relies on information about what others have already bought."

Young art buyers from Asia are becoming increasingly important for international auctioneers, Ursula Scheer writes in the FAZ: "Auction houses see growth potential on this continent, even though sales figures in this part of the world have weakened recently and America remains the largest market. But at Sotheby's, Asian collectors now spend more per person on average than collectors from other continents, according to the company, and the house achieved a stable $1.1 billion of its sales in Hong Kong, despite all the political and pandemic turmoil. Reason enough for Sotheby's to open a new branch there in the near future, while Tokyo and Seoul continue to catch up as art metropolises. Overall, the share of younger buyers under 40 is growing at Sotheby's; a trend that Christie's is also observing: Millennials are gaining weight within the buying public - and are changing the supply side with their tastes."

Ursula Scheer sees the German auction houses on the upswing in the FAZ: "They contributed to Ketterer's annual turnover of 103 million euros - the best in the company's history. Gerhard Richter was the only living contemporary among the top ten. Grisebach, where Beckmann's "Grey Beach" and a "Russian Ballet" by Max Pechstein jumped well over the million mark, also posted a new record turnover of 73 million. Lempertz in Cologne also achieved an increase over the previous year with sales of 51.5 million euros - and brings a little international flair to the top list with a monument design by Alberto Giacometti. Apart from the Swiss, only German artists are to be found there this time."

Reinhold Würth reveals himself en passant as the buyer of the record-breaking Beckmann in an interview with Martin-W. Buchenau and Kirsten Ludowig for the Handelsblatt: "I recently bought Max Beckmann's 'Self-Portrait Yellow and Pink' at auction for 20 million euros. Sooner or later it will turn up in our exhibitions, where everyone can look at it for free." The fact that the painting went to Switzerland, according to the auction house, does not have to be a contradiction in terms, as part of the Würth empire is based there.

Bettina Wohlfahrt summarises the past business year of the French art auctioneers for the FAZ.

Stephanie Dieckvoss assesses the premiere of Art SG in Singapore positively in the Handelsblatt: "The visit to Art SG shows that it is a mistake to reduce the vast Asian region to a 'Hong Kong versus Seoul, Singapore or Tokyo'. The art and collector scenes are too different for that. But one understands that many are now betting on Singapore. There is enough money here, collectors come from all over Southeast Asia. The expertise in international art and the institutional environment may not be as developed as in Korea or China, but the potential is there."

Christioph Hein points out in the FAZ that attempts to establish Singapore as an art marketplace have so far been less fortunate: "On several occasions, the prescribed establishment of an art market has been rather miserable: The gallery district Gillman Barracks never took off, a free scene cannot exist due to censorship, the high prices for studios make experimentation difficult. The low point was reached when impresario Lorenzo Rudolf quit nine days before the opening of Singapore Art Stage 2019 and left the city with a grudge. But now the rebirth: while the 7th Singapore Biennale was still renamed to the nonsense name 'Natasha' to get a face, the new ART SG shines on its own: big, colourful, overwhelming."

In a press release, Art Basel parent MCH Group announces the discontinuation of Masterpiece London, which it had just fully acquired. Stephanie Dieckvoss speculates about the reasons in the Handelsblatt: "Or does MCH continue to have financial problems? According to research by 'The Art Newspaper', this question arises because the Swiss company first bought Masterpiece on a pro rata basis in 2017 and then 100 per cent in August 2022. This means that the exhibition company is putting investments in the sand, at least in the short term. This is surprising, as at least the financial and fiscal effects of the Brexit had been foreseeable for some time. But the cancellation also shows that Masterpiece's intention to ensure a stable future by handing over to MCH has failed. Instead of promised capital injection, now the end."

The agreement of the public prosecutor's office with the defendants in the trial about the burglary of the Green Vault reminds Susanne Schreiber of the Handelsblatt of another spectacular case: "The prospective deal in Dresden brings back memories of the agreement before the Cologne Regional Court that brought Wolfgang Beltracchi only six years in prison in 2011. The court neglected to demand a list of all his forgeries in return. Unidentified, these forgeries continue to burden the art market to this day. Applied to Dresden, this means: complete restitution of the loot and full clarification of the course of events, manipulation and whereabouts of the remaining Baroque diamond jewellery."

Britain will hardly be able to avoid returning the Elgin Marbles to Greece, Jürgen Gottschlich explains in detail in the taz: "A return of the 'Elgin Marbles' of any kind will probably also rekindle the debate about the "most beautiful Berlin woman", Egypt's Queen Nefertiti. Here, too, Cairo has led the way with the construction of a new, ultra-modern museum right next to the pyramids of Giza. Egypt has long wanted the bust of Nefertiti back. Berlin, just like London, will not be able to simply stubbornly stand by in the long run."

After half a century, the Michael Werner Gallery is turning its back on Cologne, reports Andi Goral at report-K: "Michael Werner is concentrating on his gallery space in Berlin at Hardenbergstraße 9a and wants to continue his work there. In October 2021, he showed works by Markus Lüpertz there in the Provisorium. Werner is now closing the provisional space with the exhibition 'Footprints of a collector: Reiner Speck - Mallarmé, Broodthaers et les autres'. From February, the exhibition will continue on the ground floor, which has been under reconstruction for months. Here, Werner wants to deal with the art of the 19th to 21st centuries and present and comment on the art-historical development of the last decades."

The Düsseldorf gallerist Hans Mayer has died at the age of 82. "With him, the scene loses one of the founding figures of the Rhineland art trade and Art Cologne, a gallerist who - in the parlance of an earlier generation - thought 'progressively' and for whom constant departure as an attitude was more important than programmatic certainty," writes Georg Imdahl in the FAZ.

semi-automatically translated


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