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

It's all change in the art world once again;  here Adeline Ooi; Photo Stefan Kobel
It's all change in the art world once again; here Adeline Ooi; Photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 41 2023

For an employee of Messe Schweiz, Paris+ director Clément Delépine, in an interview with Bettina Wohlfarth in the FAZ of 7 October, is unusually clear after initial PR-speak. Asked whether Paris is curbing its ambitions so as not to cut off Basel's water, he answers: "Certainly not! There is no desire whatsoever in Basel for the Paris+, for example, to hide its light under a bushel so as not to cast a shadow on the Swiss fair. We are a group with four international fairs now - in addition to Paris and Basel in Hong Kong and Miami Beach - and we work together on good terms. With Paris+ we have not invented another fair. FIAC existed before, and even the date has remained the same. Art Basel and Paris+ position themselves very differently, in terms of size. They are two events with different contexts that probably attract different audiences. Internally, we see this as quite a positive opportunity, because Basel's dominance hasn't sparked a debate for years. Now we have the opportunity to enrich each other, but also to question what works and what doesn't or how we could rethink our model. In Paris, we are still experimenting. In Basel, the whole city lives in the rhythm of the fair for a few days."

The auction of works from the Shanghai Long Museum's collection at Sotheby's in Hong Kong was disappointing, says Daniel Cassady at Artnews: "The sale had the highest total of any single-owner sale in Asia. [...] But the numbers overall aren't impressive, which could mean that assumptions about the end of the Covid-era seller's market, and the lackluster state of the market in general, may be correct. Sources told ARTnews that the bidding was restrained for more than a few artists, and at times even disappointing. When it was announced, the sale was expected to bring in around $150 million. The total with fees was less than half that: $69.5 million, more than $20 million less than the low estimate of $95.4 million [without fees]."

Titus Blome reflects on the reasons for the collapse of the NFT market for the Freitag: "The vision behind NFTs was not a grassroots network, divided among its users. It began and ended with the vain desire to be able to own things online and to bring digital culture into a format tangible to markets. Behind this is a murky, late capitalist view of humanity that can't imagine any motivation for cultural production other than money. Memes, art, tweets and everything else should be turned into tokens that can be sold and auctioned. Their artistic and even their social value should be determined by the speculative logic of financial markets. NFTs have never been more than the financialisation of absolutely everything." The metaverse is equally "in a coma", explains Berlin computer science professor Raúl Rojas González at Telepolis.

The Goethe Institut is closing "nine of the current 158 institutes: Bordeaux, Curitiba, Genoa, Lille, Osaka, Rotterdam, Trieste, Turin, Washington and the Strasbourg liaison office". The Goethe Institute reports to the foreign ministry. "This has never happened before in this form," Rüdiger Schaper comments in the Tagesspiegel on the drastic funding cuts "The independence of the cultural ambassadors abroad was previously considered a precious commodity. The Institute has 158 branches in 98 countries, with a total of 4300 employees worldwide. And it has always been this freedom that has strengthened the reputation of the Germans, especially in societies where civil rights mean little or nothing. But the world is turning, money is getting tight, geopolitical shifts are noticeable, governments want control, they exert pressure. [...] Turning point, that's a big word. Or even too small a word. We don't know. When politics intervenes in culture, you have to be vigilant in any case." Green cultural policy seems to be even worse than red.

Frank Kurzhals congratulates the Kunsthalle Bremen on its 200th birthday and and on its pioneering collection model with its close ties to the members of the merchant community in the Handelsblatt: "With wealth came quickly the desire to gain distinction. Art was the right instrument for this and Gustav Pauli the gifted conductor for the benefit of the Kunsthalle. With its location far away from Berlin, it could act more inconspicuously than its colleagues in the capital. In Berlin, Kaiser Wilhelm II had ensured that Hugo von Tschudy, the director of the National Gallery, was placed in administrative handcuffs. They were supposed to prevent him from continuing to buy French art instead of German. Bremen, on the other hand, was operating under the capital's radar."

True Crime podcasts about the art market are introduced by Philipp Hindahl in the Freitag of 5 October: "There are plenty of cases that seem to be waiting to be treated as crime stories. Be it the recently uncovered theft of an employee at the Deutsches Museum who simply replaced a painting by Franz von Stuck with a copy in order to sell the original. Or the case of Inigo Philbrick, the young, charismatic Great Gatsby of the art market, whose gallery empire was built on fraud and collapsed with his arrest. Beyond enlightenment, however, the true-crime stories and adjacent reporting have the side effect of confirming prejudices and clichés about the art world - they are filled with characters who are greedy, neurotic and vain."

In Switzerland, too, people are thinking about the restitution of looted art. In the NZZ, Julien Reitzenstein outlines the debate: "And even though Switzerland had never been occupied and there were no anti-Jewish laws, countless works of art from Jewish ownership ended up in Swiss museums and in private hands during the war and afterwards. It is therefore right that Switzerland is currently discussing the future handling of looted art and the establishment of a commission. For Switzerland not only contributed to the success of the Washington Conference 25 years ago. It is able to calibrate its understanding of property as a constitutional state through the measures currently being discussed."

The theft of three paintings from the Baudach Gallery in Berlin is reported by Monopol: "'It's hard to take this incident as a compliment. We are still in shock,' the gallery says. 'Anyone who has any pertinent information that could contribute to the recovery of the artworks, please contact us. Finder's fee and discretion guaranteed.'"

And another editor-in-chief is leaving, reports Francesca Aton at Artnews: "On Monday, The Art Newspaper announced Cole's departure after five and a half years at the helm. She will, however, retain a position as editor-at-large.Cole is leaving the publication to oversee a newly-created policy unit that will inform cultural policies in the arts and creative industries in the UK."

Not even Larry Gagosian is immune from being evicted, reports Katya Kazakina at Artnet. The mega-gallery owner has to vacate his prestigious domicile on New York's Upper Eastside: "Some were puzzled why Bloomberg Philanthropies chose 980 Madison at a time when there is so much available-and less expensive-office space elsewhere in Manhattan. But, it makes sense. Bloomberg Philanthropies has occupied a mansion on the corner of Madison and East 78th Street for years. Bloomberg himself lives in the neighbourhood. And the building has plenty of cachet." The building is owned by RFR (Rosen Fuchs Real Estate), a company founded by Aby Rosen and Michael Fuchs. Rosen and Gagosian were previously considered best buddies - so there could be more to the deal than just business.

Not entirely surprisingly, Adeline Ooi is leaving the Art Basel organisation. Vivienne Chow reports at Artnet: "The departure, announced internally on Thursday, October 5, is a conclusion of a major chapter of Asia's art world story that saw the region's rise to become an integral part of the global art market with Hong Kong, home to Art Basel's fair in Asia, at the centre. Ooi said she will be focusing on personal matters following her departure. Her role will not immediately be replaced." In its German report, the FAZ confuses the issue somewhat, since Ooi was already replaced as director of Art Basel Hong Kong by Angelle Siyang-Lee at the end of last year. Oii remained Director Asia for the time being.

Georg Imdahl congratulates the Hamburg collector Harald Falckenberg on his 80th birthday in the FAZ: "Falckenberg is a man who makes his opinion known without beating about the bush and is open to controversy. As the owner of the long-established publishing house Philo Fine Arts, which also owns shares in the Merve publishing house, the honorary professor of the Hochschule für bildende Künste exerts an influence on the discourse." And Monopol praises: "That a Hamburg lawyer and entrepreneur with a doctorate, of all people, is enthusiastic about art that is dirty, funny, loud and ugly sounds like a contradiction. But Falckenberg has no Hanseatic conceit."

Christiane Fricke mourns the death of the Swabian collector Peter W. Klein in the Handelsblatt: "Of course, admission to the museum "Kunstwerk. Klein Collection" is free of charge. An estimated 30 to 40 schools would send their classes to the house for workshops, he told us at the time. And if the school couldn't pay for the school bus, the foundation would take care of that. That is what I wanted. To bring art to the rural population without them having to go to the city.'"

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