Do you allow optional cookies?

In addition to technically necessary cookies, we would like to use analysis cookies to better understand our target group. You can find out more about this in our privacy policy. You can revoke your consent at any time.

Kobel's Art Weekly

Biennale Internazionale dell’Antiquariato di Firenze; Photo Stefan Kobel
Biennale Internazionale dell’Antiquariato di Firenze; Photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 39 2022

Founded in 1959, the Biennale Internazionale dell'Antiquariato di Firenze is the oldest art and antiques fair still running in the world. Gina Thomas visited it for the FAZ of 24 September: "Some of this initial confidence has also been transmitted to the 32nd edition of the most important fair for Italian art, which after a three-year pandemic-related break is courting greater international attention with fresh élan. Admittedly, the restrictive Italian cultural protection law sets limits to this: Despite all the hullabaloo about internationalisation, the eighty or so exhibitors in the magnificent baroque ambience of Palazzo Corsini are almost all Italians, even if some of them have one or both feet abroad. And some of the most exquisite objects [...] cannot be taken out of the country."

The shackles that politics and administration place on the Italian art trade are the main theme of Naomi Rea's fair report for Artnet: "The fair's chairman, [Fabrizio] Moretti, expressed hope that the future minister of culture, whoever they may be, 'will be open to the market'. Which is not to say, he clarified, that they should 'open the doors to make works of art leave Italy, but to facilitate more elasticity between the market and the state, to see if we can find a dialogue'. He added that this includes reducing the red tape around temporary imports (currently bureaucratic hurdles can take as much as three months to surmount). Let's hope that the future minister will be at least sensitive and will be a man of culture. In Italy we haven't had for many years a man of culture in that position. Only politicians. And I think that is extremely wrong.'"

I was there for WELTKUNST and Artmagazine.

Nadine Khalil visited the all-Russian edition of this year's Cosmoscow for Artnet: "According to gallerist Ekaterina Iragui who has participated in Cosmoscow from the first edition, 'Contemporary art remains one of the few independent resources to activate thinking. What happens cannot be dictated or controlled'. While she admitted that there are instances of self-censorship by the country's artists and art spaces, the Cosmoscow fair is 'the only free platform of such a scale' for Russia's contemporary art scene. On opening night, the hugs were stronger than ever,' Iragui added. I could feel that people's relationships have strengthened. Everyone was happy that such a platform still exists.'"

Phillips has been working with Poly in Hong Kong for the past two years, but the auction house has now teamed up with industry newcomer Yongle to serve the mainland Chinese market, reports Vivienne Chow at Artnet. The move makes sense, she says, as the company already made 40 per cent of its sales in Asia in the last half of the year.

Hilde Lynn Helphenstein, who has become an art world celebrity under her pseudonym Jerry Gogosian with her now highly repetitive Instagram memes, does not limit herself to selling merchandise, begging letters to fund her art fair trips and selling her newsletter. Now she is also putting together an auction "curated" largely by Instagram's algorithm, reports Dorian Batycka at Artnet. What belongs together is growing together.

Yves Bouvier is said to have sold his Singapore Freeport at a massive loss for 28.4 million US dollars to the Chinese billionaire Jihan Wu, who made his fortune with Bitcoin, reports Alexandra Bregman in The Art Newspaper. Dog does eat dog.

Elke Buhr at Monopol has suggestions for solutions to the ongoing debate about the abuse of power in the art business, and not just since the Johann König case: "How can this system transform itself? The public debate is tremendously important. The more frequently cases of boundary violations are discussed, the better the word spreads, even among brazen contemporaries, that some things are simply not okay. What could help is the shift of money and power towards female actors - a process that has fortunately long been underway. Although it is by no means guaranteed that in female-run galleries young female employees are always treated well or that female collectors are automatically more straightforward in their dealings than male collectors. It could be as simple as this: respect your fellow human beings regardless of gender, regardless of the time of day and regardless of how much you've had to drink. Don't promise anyone career benefits for sex. Don't think you own the whole world, even if you own a lot of money. Maybe someone could design some neons with these rules. They would look good in a lot of back rooms."

The extent to which the power imbalance is linked to economic inequality is made clear by Valentin Meyer in the WELTKUNST: "The structural labour ethics misery in our own sector is hardly ever addressed. Yet a report by the European Commission has been available for five years, which expresses the fact that precarious employment conditions are to be found with above-average frequency in the art business - as in agriculture and the construction industry. And a reading of the indicators for decent employment established by the International Labour Organisation (ILO) quickly makes it clear: the art industry has a lot of catching up to do in this respect. Its critical gaze wanders far and wide, watching over human dignity globally - but it seems to be blind to the problems in its own field. Hardly any of the jobs, which are often freelance or on the basis of temporary contracts, offer job security, opportunities for development, further education and training or even the right to have a say. Not to mention a salary that is sufficient for a decent life. Of course: there are also many, many respectable employers in this sector. But there are also countless anonymous reports from workers who tell of how they were made to feel like a bitch by the boss in front of the entire staff, how they had to be insulted on their private mobile phones on Sundays - for example, as an 'incompetent bitch'. Labour law suits are rare. There is little open talk about it - the fear of not being able to get a foot on the ground again is too great.

Daniel Völzke at Monopol (Paywall) derives demands from the neuroscientific evidence that artists are less interested in money than, say, dentists or insurance agents: "The fact that artists don't care about money and set an example for supposedly non-alienated work is what makes not only their art, but themselves so attractive to a society that revolves around money, and which should therefore afford artists and pay them decently. This paradox could also be expressed as follows: artists have to be paid precisely for not wanting to be paid. Artists, on the other hand, must organise themselves, neural disposition or not. Otherwise they will continue to be seen as the avant-garde of self-exploitation and intolerable demands for flexibility. In other professions, precarious conditions reasonably generate discontent that can be exploited by unions. With artists, this happens in a much less[er] way, as surveys showed."

The increased energy costs have prompted the German Museums Association to issue a call for help, which dpa reports: "In order to support the museums and secure their operations, funds would have to be made available for higher energy costs. Energy consumption is significantly related to the preservation of cultural assets and conservation requirements. Closures would therefore be 'a purely symbolic, political act with no effect on energy consumption'. Moreover, experience from the Corona era showed that closing museums 'causes indirect social and economic damage that is fundamentally disproportionate to the benefits'."

Belgian curator Dieter Roelstraete takes up the cudgels for blockbuster exhibitions of Cézanne, Picasso, Warhol, etc., which should be rejected not least for economic reasons, at Monopol: "Jaded art-world veterans like yours truly are tempted to turn up their noses at the fact that yet another canonical, art-historically famous name is being 'reconsidered'[...]. But the arrogance is based on a disregard for the fact that every generation of aspiring art lovers deserves to discover these well-known names on their own terms. And despite all the absurdities, something about the whole spectacle was truly heartwarming if you're a hopeless museum romantic like me. By that I mean not only the fact that after all the world has been through, Cézanne's tentative paintings of gnarled Provençal trees continue to stand the test of time (quite effortlessly, I might add), but also that the appetite for such an old-fashioned conception of art seems genuinely unbroken."

semi-automatically translated


Get the latest articles from Zilken's Newsblog and Kobel's Art Weekly directly by email.
Dr. Stephan Zilkens | Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker