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Kobel's Art Weekly

Shipman Kid Voltaire "Marioupol but i would like to let ukrainian people title it."; free via
Shipman Kid Voltaire "Marioupol but i would like to let ukrainian people title it."; free via
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 40 2022

The fate of Ukrainian museums (and the objects in them) that have allegedly been on Russian territory since last week is described in detail by Sophia Kishkovsky in The Art Newspaper.

In exchange for a promise to report exclusively from the Cosmoscow art fair, Kerstin Holm received a journalist's visa to Moscow. Her detailed report in the FAZ provides a rare insight: "As a result of the war and Western sanctions, Russia's culture has been cut off from Europe, to which it belongs by its very nature. Exhibition projects with Western museums no longer exist; in future, the country is to orient itself towards China, India, South America and the Arab states. [...] The Western art market has also been cut off. Luxury goods, including art and antiques, may not be exported from Europe to Russia. Russian collectors who have bought works of art in London, for example, cannot bring them home. For collectors, therefore, a second citizenship would be useful, [fair director] Margarita Pushkina philosophises to the fair guests, or a residence permit in a Western country, where one can bring foreign acquisitions, but also Russian art that is not subject to export restrictions. For all others, Pushkina recalls the example of sanction-exposed Iran, which she has often visited and whose art is enthusiastically bought and promoted by local collectors. She recommends enthusiasts to emulate this in Russia. And indeed, the fair is reporting record sales."

George Nelson visited the third edition of the Tbilisi Art Fair in Tbilisi, Georgia, for The Art Newspaper: "Eighteen of the 28 galleries that set up shop in ExpoGeorgia were Georgian, with a particular focus on emerging artists. Several gallerists said they noticed fewer international visitors compared to the previous years but the locals turned out in force-and according to [fair director Eric] Schlosser, more money was spent than in 2019. 'Around 140 works were sold, not including those purchased directly from artists' studios, with another 20 or so sales still being discussed,' Schlosser said when the fair closed. 'Photographs have been particularly popular, ranging from €150 to €4,500.'"

From the Hamburg subsidiary of Paper Positions, Farnk Kurzhals reports for the Handelsblatt from a former "Karstadt sports department stores'. Now it has been rededicated as a 'space for creative interim use'. Good storytelling is half the battle in city marketing. So the building was quickly renamed and promisingly christened 'Jupiter'. Even from a distance, the new name can be read in large letters on the roof. Why Jupiter? Next door is the Saturn technology shop. The new constellation of stars is meant to arouse curiosity. This also includes a likeable, wry sense of humour. Visitors to the fair need that, too, because before they arrive on the second floor, they have to pass studios, including those of hobby artists, music performances that can be heard throughout the building, lectures, and sales stands with clothes from all over the world."

Good news is brought by Christiane Fricke from the Practice Day for Galleries of the Federal Association of German Galleries and Art Dealers BVDG in the Handelsblatt: "'The ball is now really in the court of the German legislator,' said the Cologne tax advisor [Florian Greiner] in the aftermath of the event." What the EU allows should now soon be transposed into national law. By reintroducing tax relief in the art market, he said, Germany could correct a mistake that had led to visual artists and galleries being taxed differently in recent years."

Kolja Reichert explains the entry point on the subject of money in his book "Can I do that too?" on art in an interview with Silke Hohmann for Monopol (paywall): "Because money, like art, concerns everyone. Both only make sense if they belong to everyone and never to just one person. Money allows us to relate to other people and things, including art. I find it perverse and presumptuous when gallery owners at art fairs try to dissuade journalists from naming prices in front of the public. Should the numbers only be for the rich, and for the people only the paintings? There is something paternalistic about the fear that numbers could corrupt the experience of art. Why shouldn't everyone be part of the conversation? Art has never existed outside social relations of exchange. You can talk about both without losing either."

The tech giants' economic slump could put the art world in trouble, believes Ji-Hun Kim at Monopol: "Assuming that the golden era of Silicon Valley is really over, it doesn't mean that all the companies will close their shutters overnight. However, one should take a closer look at what implications this could have for the world of art and culture, if the previously unconditional trust placed in the giants - because there was so much money - were to be re-examined. The influence that Instagram, for example, has had on the art world does not need to be detailed here. Not only are exhibitions now curated to be almost exclusively Insta- and TikTok-ready, but the vast majority of careers in art, music and graphic design are based on how many followers young creatives have. The cultural world has completely submitted to the quantifiable exploitation mechanisms and performance indices of the digital platforms."

The pixel party seems to be over. Since the beginning of the year, the NFT market has plummeted by 97 per cent, reports Sidharta Shukla at Bloomberg. In September, only $466 million worth of NFTs were traded, down from $17 billion in January.

According to Rishabh Mansur at Yourstory from India, the solution is to fractionalise individual NFTs like cryptopunks in order to broaden the market. Whatever one thinks up when one is the last newcomer to the pyramid game.

He who comes too late late... Christie's is now jumping on the bandwagon with its own NFT marketplace, Ursula Scheer reports in the FAZ: "Under the name 'Christie's 3.0', the auction house has now opened its own sales platform for NFTs, where buyers can register their digital purses ('wallets') directly and then bid on NFTs online - following the model of the market-leading NFT trading place OpenSea. Competitor Sotheby's has long had a similar in-house crypto art sales department, the 'Sotheby's Metaverse'. However, Christie's intends to continue offering NFTs with particularly high sales expectations in traditional evening auctions."

A fine example of how the media landscape works is the burning of a work of art by Frida Kahlo. The Mexican alleged self-made-millionaire Martin Mobarak has minted an NFT of 10,000 to a watercolour by Frida Kahlo; part of the purchase price of 3 ether each is to go to charity. The first traceable news of the event on 30 July is from the end of August, apparently parallel publication of a video of the act. A month later, the story was picked up by Zachary Folk for Metro, among others. At that time, according to Evan Simko-Bednarski in the New York Post, the Mexican authorities were already investigating Mobarak for the wanton destruction of cultural property. Ursula Scheer of the FAZ is outraged.

With all the excitement, hardly anyone except Emily Green of Vice seems to have bothered to investigate the fantastic-sounding price claim. For 10 million US dollars, one could easily have bought a nice large-scale oil painting at Christie's or 20 pastels at Sotheby's. Incidentally, the entrepreneur and ostensible benefactor has quite a varied CV.

The complex relationship between art, money and NFTs is illuminated in detail by Shanti Escalante-Di Mattei at Artnews: "All this, and yet none of the NFT artists who emerged successfully from 2021 with new riches and expanded opportunities has picked up gallery representation. Skepticism remains, on both sides. [...] If crypto winter is the time to build bridges between the art and NFT worlds, well, folks have their work cut out for them."

When visiting the exhibition "Ways of Art. How Objects Come to the Museum", Susanne Schreiber experienced for the Handelsblatt how institutions can also deal with their own collection history: "In its fascinating exhibition, the Zurich museum [Rietberg] consistently tells the story from multiple perspectives. Only in this way do the different interests become clear. At the centre of every single exhibit is the object biography: knowledge from museum files that is almost never laid out in front of the visitors, because until now the museum has been primarily concerned with aesthetics. The new, exemplary museum narrative now links art history and national history, includes the knowledge of the societies of origin, but also the history of the collectors and the art dealers. For the gallery owner is not only a merchant. Sometimes he is the 'tastemaker' who recognises and opens up a collecting field in the first place. At times he also manipulates the art."

On the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the Central Archive for German and International Art Market Research (formerly the Central Archive of the International Art Trade), Georg Imdahl looks back and forward in the FAZ of 1 October: "In the future, ZADIK wants to intensify its connections with other archives cooperating in the 'European Art Net' and is counting on further growth through prominent donors of personal documents in order to expand the two hundred holdings of preliminary and estate papers. ZADIK lacks the funds for acquisitions. And one should not expect complete transparency in all economic transactions. But anyone who delves into the quickly get lost in the folders."

When art gets you high: paintings painted with cocaine have been confiscated at Cologne airport, reports 24rhein (Ippen Media) : "'Particularly remarkable was the seizure of five kilogrammes of highly pure cocaine, which was pressed very flat and painted for camouflage. The quantity of these cocaine pictures alone would have resulted in a single dose for as many people as fit into the sold-out stadium of 1. FC Köln,' explains Jens Ahland, press spokesman of the main customs office in Cologne."

According to Daniel Cassidy in The Art Newspaper, the Briton Robert Newland has been extradited to the USA to stand trial as an accomplice to the fraudster Inigo Philbrick in a New York court, which has set bail at $400,000.

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