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Kobel's Art Weekly

30. Artissima 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
30. Artissima 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 45 2023

It is often the details that make the somewhat dull Art Basel UBS Art Market Report (PDF-Download) worth reading. And sometimes a little frightening. 43 per cent of all collectors would have bought art on credit in the past, almost a third in 2022 or 2023. However, this clearly does not refer to the occasional impulse purchase at the fair: "For those collectors using credit or lending to buy art, the average share of the value of their collection financed this way was 29%. Wealthier and more established collectors and those with the largest collections tended to have the highest share of their collections bought using credit. The average share for UHNW collectors was 39%, and one third had financed over 50% of their collections with loaned funds versus only 2% of those with wealth of less than $5 million. The average share for those collecting longer than 20 years was 38%, almost double that of new collectors. Just over half of the collectors had financed up to 25% of their collections using credit and the majority (91%) less than 50%." So there is a lot of borrowed money in the art market. Elsewhere in the report, it can be read that only a quarter of those surveyed plan to sell within the next twelve months, compared to just under 40 per cent in the previous year, because they are hoping for rising prices. This in turn means that even more credit-financed art will be waiting to be sold again at a profit. This could prove to be a toxic cocktail if the art market does not pick up again in the foreseeable future. At the same time, buyers in the high-price segment have become more cautious, explains Angelica Villa in her summary of the report on Artnews: "Noah Horowitz, CEO of Art Basel, said the conservative turn on the part of collectors can be related to 'volatile' economic and geopolitical conditions impacting the world right now, including the conflict taking place in Israel and Gaza. Paul Donovan, UBS Global Wealth Management Chief Economist, said in the report that collectors are now more selective with their art acquisitions than they were in years past."

The opportunity to watch the soufflé shrink could arise at the upcoming New York evening auctions, should Zachary Small's assumptions in the New York Times be correct: "For major collections, auction houses often set their estimates about six months in advance, although regular evening sales have more flexibility; nowadays, they are finalised a few weeks ahead of the sale. But the economic volatility of global conflicts might widen the gap between expectations and reality, some auctioneers fear. 'I am not painting you an elephant in every corner,' said [Alex] Rotter, the Christie's executive. 'To say anything that happened this year will have no impact would be irresponsible."

Luigi Fassi, the director of Artissima, explains Elke Buhr the special status of the Turin fair for Monopol: "Fassi also attributes the special quality of the fair to the fact that it is publicly owned. 'Artissima belongs to a co-operation of three museums, which is why Artissima thinks like a public institution. We also curate exhibitions outside of the fair, we commission works and organise projects in the city. We do things that a museum would otherwise do. We have built this up over many years. We are a commercial platform, we need the collectors, the galleries have to sell. But we also think that we all create cultural value here. And all the institutions in the city are involved. It's an ecosystem that we cultivate and that is growing." Kira Kramer searched for the Middle East conflict at the fair and only partially found it for the FAZ: "There is nothing to be seen on the stands about the wars in Ukraine and Israel. Is this none of art's business? Fassi sees the fair as a counterweight: 'I find it difficult to call this place a utopia, but only because it is concrete, it really exists. Galerie Sommer from Tel Aviv is represented, as is the Palestinian artist Khalil Rabah, who is exhibiting at the Merz Foundation, one of the many satellite venues of Artissima in the city of Turin. Here they talk to each other, something that is no longer possible in many other places. 'Relations of care', Fassi repeats, is something that the Artissima participants live out very directly." I was in Turin for Handelsblatt and Artmagazine.

Martha Schwendener finds a few words of praise in the New York Times for the ADAA's Art Show at the Armory, before compiling a list of stands that she liked: "What the Art Show demonstrates, however, is the fleet-footed ability of contemporary galleries - compared with larger or besieged institutions - to ferret out lesser-known artists and showcase them in compact, distinctive displays. This edition of the fair really shines in highlighting under-the-radar masters, often women and Black artists." Maximilíano Durón makes even less effort for Artnews. However, Artnet takes the cake, with art consultant Anwarii Musa telling us about his daily routine on the opening day of the Art Show.

Vievienne Chow visited the small invitational fair Art Collaboration Kyoto and Art Week Tokyo for Artnet.

A new fair for art books will be hosted by the Kunsthalle Düsseldorf next weekend. Between Books will feature 75 exhibitors. However, the press work in the run-up was so poor that only a short report by Georg Imdahl can be found in the FAZ of 4 November: "On enquiry, the Kunsthalle announced that it wanted to make it dependent on the public's response as to whether the fair would be continued."

In addition to the three well-known works by Paul Cézanne from the Swiss Museum Langmatt, more museum holdings will go under the hammer in New York, reports Ursula Scheer in the FAZ of 4 November: "Deaccessioning - for various reasons - is the fourth, smaller D of the consignment logic at the upcoming New York evening auctions of top works of modern and contemporary art at Christie's and Sotheby's, alongside 'death', 'divorce' and 'debt': Sotheby's is offering a painting by Balthus (F.a.Z. of 28 October), an object from the Chicago museum collection in the 'Modern Evening Auction' on 13 November."

Are these regrettable isolated cases, or is the otherwise politically aware art scene susceptible to blindness in the non-Western eye? Ingo Arend has questions to Ute Meta Bauer, director of the Diriyah Biennial in Saudi Arabia, among others in the taz: "But when Bauer admits to reporters: 'You can't promote other religions or show sexual content', it becomes obvious what narrow limits are placed on her attempt to 'develop critical discourse'. And the changed socio-cultural context does not change the fact that the Biennale is under the direct control of the compromised crown prince and is paid for by him. Measured against the blood toll that bin Salman's reforms have cost the country, despite all the new freedoms, the monarch would be the Saudi Sackler. Can the freedom of art be preserved in such a context? Or does this aesthetic collaboration support the art-washing of dictatorships?"

After reading the results of Saskia Trebing's research for Monopol one has to wonder whether the city of Hagen is fulfilling its duty of supervision: "Since 2017, there have also been exhibitions in Hagen with the Geuer-&-Geuer artists Heinz Mack (2023, directly before Niclas Castello), Hermann Nitsch (2018/19), Stephan Kaluza (2020) and Yvonne van Acht (2017). With the double show by Jiří Dokoupil & Julian Schnabel, two representatives of the gallery were represented in the museum at the same time in 2021, and there was also a section with Schnabel's prints, which Dirk Geuer claims to represent as a 'worldwide exclusive publisher'. Mel Ramos, also listed with the Düsseldorf gallery, was on display in the group show 'Lebensecht' in 2020. In 2022, the museum also showed a solo presentation by musician Bryan Adams, whose works can be purchased via the Geuer & Geuer online shop. A 2017 show by actor and painter Armin Mueller-Stahl is described on the Osthaus website as a 'cooperation with Geuer & Geuer Art GmbH'. The Osthaus Museum logo also appears on the gallery's website under the heading 'Partner'."

The Kunsthaus Zürich is unlikely to be happy with its heavy Bührle legacy in the foreseeable future, according to a report by Brita Sachs in the FAZ: "The city and canton of Zurich have commissioned historian Raphael Gross to scrutinise the provenance research results of the Bührle Foundation, which are by no means beyond doubt. The results are expected in the summer of next year. Aside from the Advisory Board's accusation that it received the exhibition texts too late, it feels that its recommendation to open up a real counter-perspective in the overall concept has not been realised. He had wanted much more space for the presentation of the close links between the fate of the persecuted, dispossessed and murdered people and their artworks, which were still being traded without hesitation decades later, when their origin from Jewish ownership was no secret." In the NZZ, Thomas Ribi does not just ascribe honourable motives to the Advisory Board: "Whoever wants to believe that the Advisory Board's publicity-grabbing withdrawal was about the cause may believe it. The historians and experts were probably more interested in polishing their own reputations. They did not want to issue a clean note of health for a company that had clearly been criticised from the outset. The fact that the accompanying texts for the exhibition were presented to the committee late may be a legitimate point of criticism. The fact that the presentation did not go in the direction that the advisory board had envisioned could hardly have been foreseen until the last minute."

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