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Kobel's Art Weekly

Unchained: KI, Krypto & Kunst among others with Paul Seidler, Yasmin Mahmoudi, Anne Schwanz at Radialsystem Berlin
Unchained: KI, Krypto & Kunst among others with Paul Seidler, Yasmin Mahmoudi, Anne Schwanz at Radialsystem Berlin
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 36 2023

Christof Habres obviously enjoys the Art-o-rama in Marseille, which he expresses at Parnass: "This year's Art-o-rama presents 59 international exhibitors - 40 art galleries and 19 design galleries. It is remarkable that exhibitors from Mexico to Georgia to Korea have found their way to Marseille, but no exhibitor from Germany is listed - whereas three have travelled from Vienna (City Galerie together with Shore, Tappeiner and Wonnerth Dejaco) and one from Zurich (lange + pult). In the former tobacco factory, solo presentations predominate, with a maximum of two positions. It is very positive that the prices have been kept moderate. The majority of the works range between 1500 and 11,000 euros.”

Andreas Platthaus writes from Leipzig in the FAZ with a reason to celebrate: "The spring tour seemed like a safety course in art; almost only paintings and almost only those of Leipzig provenance. This weekend, however, the galleries of the Baumwollspinnerei are really attacking the autumn tour. It goes out into the wide world and far back into history - for which thirty years is enough for contemporary art. It is a spectacle - also because an idea that gallery owner Jochen Hempel has had for years is finally coming true: This evening, in the middle of the Spinnereigelände, 450 invited guests will be entertained outdoors at a 150-metre-long table covered with a tablecloth decorated with drawings by Bastian Muhrs.

Nicole Scheyerer attests to a mediocre season for the Austrian auction industry in the FAZ, without naming sales revenues: "There were few outliers in the first half of the year in the Austrian auction business. There was, however, sure demand for high-quality Orientalist paintings".

The fear of damaging the image was probably stronger than the greed for profit: Christie's refrains from further selling the controversial jewels from the estate of Heidi Horten, reports Katya Kazakina at Artnet. Austrian media also take up the topic. Michael Huber writes in the Kurier: "The reactions have touched us and many others very much, and we will not stop reflecting on them," says Christie's President for Europe and the Middle East, Anthea Peers in a statement. The auction house had not initially proactively addressed the roots of Horten's fortune and only responded to the issue after media reports and complaints from wealthy clients." In the Standard Olga Kronsteiner explains: "The staging as a patron of the arts, orchestrated for years by Horten's entourage, was thus supposed to find a crowning conclusion. It turned out differently. In the run-up to the first auction, Jewish organisations such as the US Holocaust Survivors' Foundation (HSF) had already called for a halt to the sale. The umbrella organisation of Jewish organisations in France called the auctions simply 'indecent', especially since the proceeds went to a foundation 'whose task it is to preserve the name of a former Nazi for posterity'."

Sabine Spindler recommends print editions as a collecting field not only for beginners in the Handelsblatt: "Tobias Birr from the Copenhagen print trade 'Borch-Editions' knows the market. The Danes have established artists like Per Kirkeby in their programme, but also established artists like the African-American painter and 'Documenta' participant Julie Mehretu and the multimedia artist Tacita Dean. [...] Those who are interested in art flipping, i.e. the quick speculative resale of artworks for the purpose of profit taking, will give the graphics market a wide berth. Value increases are generally not as extreme in the graphics market, 'but the graphics market is more stable,' says Birr.”

AI, blockchain and other digital innovations have the potential to change the situation on the art market in favour of artists, believes Susanne Schreiber in the Handelsblatt: "For the art world, the Web3, which has added the use of blockchain to the interactive Web2, is highly tempting. For in this way the internet becomes not only the medium of today's aesthetics and creativity, but also an infrastructure. On the one hand, the infrastructure allows the collector blockchain-secured ownership of art, but on the other hand, it allows the artist collegiality and community with other creatives. This could eventually go as far as developing non-institutional distribution channels. As a complement to the gallery system, not abolishing it."

The parent company of Art Basel is making a profit again, according to its annual report, which I am summarising for the Handelsblatt .

Just 17 people attended the virtual general meeting of Artnet AG, which I attended for Handelsblatt, including the proxy for transferred shares and myself. What a difference to the live event of Weng Fine Art AG in Düsseldorf the week before, which counted many times as many visitors but cost only a fraction, as it turned out on respective enquiries. The difference could have financed a full-time job (at least in Germany).

The magazine “art” seems not to be sold after all, reports dpa: 'Gruner + Jahr boss Bernd Hellermann told 'Art': 'The magazine is profitable and well positioned. We will now - together with editor-in-chief Tim Sommer and the entire team - develop it further ourselves.' With its 'excellent positioning at the top of the segment, the brand has great potential, especially in digital, which we want to tap.'" To get in the back of the queue on the internet, because the company had shut down its online activities except for the shop a few years ago. Maybe it would be a good idea for a change to let publishers run publishing houses and journalists run magazines and not bean-counters driven by quarterly figures.

Hanno Rauterberg criticises in the ZEIT that an exhibition at the NRW Forum is now consecrating the hobby art of celebrities as museum art is connected to the contemporary art world's refusal to accept aesthetic criteria: "For all this has only marginally to do with the avant-garde, that is, with what is usually praised in state museums. The only problem is that the avant-garde has been dead for a long time. And no one wants to hear the mantra of formal innovation, the dissolution of boundaries and the absence of taboos any more. Today, there are discussions in artistic circles about care aesthetics, about art being healing and helpful. And museums, too, are committed to inclusion: everyone should be able to find themselves and feel good. Justice is the new formula for progress. [...] Although curators don't like to admit it, they are faced with a huge justification gap, even a justification abyss. For why are some artists highly traded and others banished to their hobby cellars? There is hardly ever an open discussion about what museums still understand by quality. If formal aspects no longer play a role in evaluation, what is the point?" On the one hand, one would like to shout "Exactly! He's right". On the other hand, the bad-tempered rant speaks to a somewhat general distrust of the current art scene, which it has encountered at all times. Only in this case it is not the artists but the curators whom the author has identified as the culprits. And "some artists are highly traded" is something one wonders about, especially at art fairs and contemporary auctions, which have long since taken over the interpretive sovereignty in many areas. That is the real problem, not the woke discourse bubble that Rauterberg probably means without naming it.

The scandal at the British Museum prompts Tobias Timm to look to Germany and its deficits for the ZEIT: "In many German museums, too, we hear from employees who wish to remain anonymous, there are still boxes of antique objects, graphic collections, bequests that are poorly documented - and could thus become easy prey for thieves. Moreover, the collectibles usually remain unexplored and unseen. One of the great tasks of the 21st century, says art historian Bénédicte Savoy, who teaches in Berlin and Paris, is to create a political awareness of the fact that what European museums guard is not in their sole possession, but is the responsibility of the general public - in both an ethical and a material sense. 'The more complete and transparent a collection is accessible on the internet, the better this responsibility can be met worldwide and the safer this is for the cultural property.'"

Of Turkey's dispute with the Cleveland Museum in Ohio over a bronze statue of Marcus Aurelius with an estimated value of $20 million, Tom Mashberg reports in the New York Times. The story remains shadowy for outsiders (including the numerous reporting media), as neither the two parties in dispute nor the New York court that ordered the confiscation of the statue seem to want to comment on details.

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