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Kobel's Art Weekly

Art Cologne 2022; Photo Stefan Kobel
Art Cologne 2022; Photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 47 2022

Art Cologne, which Georg Imdahl visited for the FAZ, has positioned itself permanently in November again: "'Everyone is cautious - everyone', a gallery owner from the Rhineland emphasises categorically. At last year's Art Cologne, many colleagues were already satisfied, economically speaking, if they 'got off lightly'. This time, the caution of some local galleries has gone so far that they are not even taking part in the 55th edition of the fair. The fair is planned in a very airy way, offers a lot of space for supposedly large sculptures, presents itself in a dignified way with light-coloured carpeting and a colourful, even motley range, as if numerous exhibitors had agreed to address the public with inviting rather than bulky, sometimes uncomfortable art. The result is less something like market heat and more a certain feel-good flair. But the principle of 'playing it safe' in the booths is probably a sign of how the suppliers assess the collector's desire to experiment."

Susanne Schreiber for the Handelsblatt identifies a higher potential for discovery in Cologne than elsewhere: "The 55th edition of Art Cologne brings together what makes collectors of 20th and 21st century art happy. With 190 galleries, it is bigger than in 2021 and comes up with a new hall plan. Plazas at the corners allow for large spaces for voluminous sculptures, lines of sight to the neighbouring big names in the sector and resting places. There will be 17 exhibitors from Austria, 15 from Belgium and Holland, and eight galleries each from France and Switzerland. The proportion of foreign galleries is 37 percent. Even if mega-galleries like David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth are once again absent, all the German galleries of weight are there. But above all, the art is international, young and not too expensive. There are still discoveries to be made here beyond the standardised, high-priced mainstream offerings of the fairs in Basel or London."

I was in Cologne for Artmagazine and the Tagesspiegel of 19 November.

Instead of being sold, the Gagosian Gallery is getting an advisory board, Kelly Crow has learned for the Wall Street Journal: "The gallery's 77-year-old founder, Larry Gagosian, said Wednesday that he's not retiring anytime soon, but he wants to do whatever he can to give his company a fighting chance in the long run-and creating a board could help, he said. The 20-member board he formed earlier this year will advise him on strategic and financial decisions. He said he retains ultimate say. Mr. Gagosian acknowledged for the first time that the board is part of his broader thinking about the gallery, though he winced at naming it succession. I'm still working hard and not stepping back, but I'd like for my gallery to continue indefinitely,' he said, 'and this board gives the gallery a broader reach and another dimension, professionally.'"

After the fabulous Paul Allen auction, the subsequent events were less glamorous, Ursula Scheer sums up the New York results in the FAZ: "There is still no talk of crisis or crash in the art buying of the crème de la crème, but it is obvious that people are now acting cautiously rather than in a party mood, both in investing and in selling. Guarantees and irrevocable bids in advance secured substantial shares of the lots in the current evening events. The amount of bidding may also have played its part in the reluctance of bidders. It's the biggest auction season in history," Brooke Lampley, chairwoman at Sotheby's and responsible for the worldwide sale of art, tells the online portal Artnet. They are happy if only a few lots remain unsold. After auction series in London, Paris and Hong Kong, after fairs in Europe, above all the Paris+ par Art Basel, in the Middle East and in America, it had to be seen in New York how much the market was still willing to take in - and at what prices."

Barabara Kutscher comes to a similar conclusion in the Handelsblatt: "After Christie's sensational turnover of 1.6 billion dollars for the Paul Allen collection, Sotheby's could also be satisfied. On two evenings in New York, 117 works from Modernism to the present fetched 706.1 million dollars. Despite the Allen success, it became clear this week that the overheated art market has cooled slightly. 'The effervescence is gone,' noted Stephen Brooks, CEO of Phillips. 'Still excellent quality and provenance excite. But collectors were not easily drawn out of their shells. The most expensive lot this week was Andy Warhol's large format 'White Disaster [White Car Crash 19 Times]' from the not very pleasing series 'Death and Disaster' from 1963. But the upright format fell short of the advised, unpublished $80 million at the $74 million hammer price ($85.4 million with buyer's premium)."

In a large-scale investigation, Deutschlandfunk has uncovered a supposed scandal, which it unfolds in an entire dossier: In the Corona subsidies of the federal government's cultural billion, of which, at around 30 million, approximately 3 (!) per cent ended up with galleries and art fairs, there were allegedly misfundings and multiple subsidies. Christiane Fricke summarised the story for the Handelsblatt, Ursula Scheer jumps on the DLF bandwagon in the FAZ: "Now the acute phase is so far behind that blindly dishing it out can no longer be justified - precisely because times have not improved. After a phase of recovery, we are already hearing about declining sales in the art trade, the recession is hitting, and the energy crisis on top of that. In order to alleviate the hardships, aid is again to come from the federal government. It would be wise to act according to need. If the big gallery owner keeps the showrooms warm at state expense while others are freezing, that's not a good sell."

To put this into perspective: In the same period at the beginning of the Corona pandemic, far too many masks, some of them defective, were ordered for billions in a so-called open house procedure at prices of up to five euros each, which the federal government temporarily stored in the National Health Reserve until they reached their expiry date so that they could then be disposed of with a clear conscience. The first 800 million are now ready. The German car companies received billions in state aid during the pandemic and at the same time paid dividends to their shareholders. The gas price brake will probably not only be distributed evenly across all private households from millionaires to welfare recipients. Companies are also to benefit from it, as they are even to be allowed to resell gas they do not use themselves at a profit.

Daniel Völzke finds an appropriate response to the accusations made by Deutschlandfunk at Monopol (paywall): "But the research by Deutschlandfunk is hardly suitable for a scandal. After all, in 2020, private galleries in Germany received state funding for the first time ever. By way of comparison, the funding for the film industry from the federal budget amounts to around 40 million euros. Year after year! Year after year, whether for the most commercial Til Schweiger nonsense or for arthouse, whether in times of crisis or boom. Most galleries have made the best use of the money in the Corona era: with "window exhibitions", online shows, digital accompanying projects. Rarely have you seen so many gallery publications as in that period. Many gratefully bore the 'Neustart Kultur' logo. When all museums, art halls, art associations and project spaces had to close at the end of 2020 in the second lockdown, galleries were even the only remaining places where you could still see art live at all. The funding money therefore also reached the artists, and for that reason alone was well spent."

Hans-Jürgen Hafner asks at Artmagazine why the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin, including the Rieck Halls, has to be saved with 166 million euros of taxpayers' money: "While the HBhf was once well conceived neoliberally as a 'collector's museum', its self-image has been irreparably cracked by the Flick disaster and is also damaged on the outside. Meanwhile, CA Immo's intention to build set in motion an increasingly desperate rescue competition due to the separation of federal and state competences. With the end of the lease looming - and already dramatically underfunded for years (collectors bring their art with them, after all) - long-term programme planning, reliable compliance with conservation standards for exhibitions and storage, and promises to collectors and sponsors were no longer conceivable on the museum side. Unfortunately, you could see it in the house, which was difficult to play in."

The structures of the art market contributed to the marginalisation of East German artists, claims Paul Kaiser in the ZEIT: "With its capital- and prestige-supported networks, galleries, major collectors, art fairs, rankings and representation rituals, it offered the 'newcomers' at best places at the cat tables. The freedom that had long been hoped for in the GDR thus had to appear as a chimera to many of the once approximately 6,000 actors licensed in the Verband Bildender Künstler (including about 1,200 painters, graphic artists and sculptors) due to the ignorance of the Western-dominated art business. Firstly, most of the former 'GDR artists' were largely denied access to the markets anyway due to the lack of potent galleries, regional buyers and the discontinuation of nationwide art promotion. And secondly, even their art now became the object of a comprehensive questioning of the artistic way of life in the interpretative battles of the image controversy."

Banksy has called on his fans to shoplift at the Guess fashion chain, reports watson: "The graffiti artist Banksy has called on shoplifters on Instagram to go to a shop of the American fashion chain Guess in London and help themselves. The background: In one of the shop windows, a work by the artist has been used as background decoration - apparently without permission. He shared a picture of the window and wrote:
'Attention all shoplifters. Go to Guess on Regent Street. They helped themselves to my art without asking, how can it be wrong for you to do the same to their clothes?'"

Towards the end of a press release for the next edition of Art Basel Hong Kong, the Swiss pointed out that the fair was getting a new director in Angelle Siyang-Le. Adeline Ooi will devote herself to Art Basel's strategy in Asia as Director Asia. Similar wording could be read when Vincenzo de Bellis was hired to support Marc Spiegler.

Anna Tingley visited Anna Delvey for a home story for Artnews.

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