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Kobel's Art Weekly

Arco Madrid 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Arco Madrid 2023; photo Stefan Kobel
Stefan Kobel

Stefan Kobel

Kobel's Art Weekly 9 2023

One year ago, Russia invaded Ukraine. Only a few days later, at the instigation of actors from the Austrian art scene, the Office Ukraine was set up by the Ministry of Art, whose interim report is presented by Werner Remm at "In the first year of its existence, the Office Ukraine was contacted at its three locations by around 900 Ukrainian artists and cultural workers from the fields of visual arts, photography, film, sculpture, performance, dance, classical and contemporary music, graphic design, performing arts and architecture. 350 offers of assistance from civil society were coordinated through the Office and cooperation was established with 190 domestic and international art initiatives and institutions. The offers of help included arranging exhibition and performance opportunities, accommodation, studios, support in submitting for scholarship programmes and very general information on registration and basic care, because many of the refugees came to Austria with relatives and especially children."

As a sign of solidarity, Berlin's Café Moskau will be temporarily renamed Café Kyiv. On this occasion, Philipp Hindahl talks for Monopol with Alona Karavai, the director of the Ukrainian institution Asortymentna Kimnate, which runs a residency and an archive: "We didn't immediately understand that the damage to cultural institutions is not random. Quite quickly, however, we had to understand that culture is one of the targets. Cultural assets are either stolen or destroyed. We don't know yet how many artefacts are lost, but there are many. On the other hand, Ukrainian art and culture must find a way to remain contemporary and keep in touch with its past. Artists are producing a lot now, and that is also a reaction to what is happening. But it is not interchangeable: The things that are lost and what is newly produced - they are two very different categories. Many people are not here, and many will not come back. Compensating for that is a task for the next decades. It feels like being set back twenty years."

In an interview with dpa, the artist Nobert Bisky talks about his support for Ukraine, among other things: "The painter is in contact with Ukrainian artists. There, much of the discussion in Germany would not be understood. 'Because they are fighting not to be tortured, raped and shot.' Bisky himself participates in aid campaigns. The six-figure proceeds of an edition were supposed to finance a catalogue of exhibitions about his recent discussion of the GDR. The money went to Ukraine aid. We support people in an uncomplicated way who, for example, make electronic music in the club scene in Kiev. That's a huge scene and of course dancing, partying, queer parties are also evil from a Kremlin perspective'."

Nicole Scheyerer paid a visit to the Arco in Madrid for the FAZ: "After two slow years, the ARCO is taking off again. The strong rush at the preview proved that. Numerous sales in the first few hours of the fair put many of the 212 galleries in a good mood. Customers from Latin American countries are a mainstay. Due to the political and economic crises in Venezuela and Argentina, more and more South American collectors have bought properties in Spain in recent years. Their empty walls are a good prerequisite for a fair like ARCO, where the price level rarely exceeds six figures."

At a non-US fair, of all places, Uta Reindl observes an astonishing act of emancipation for the NZZ: "Even if she only describes her sales as 'good', explicitly not 'fabulous', Madrid gallery owner Juana de Aizpuru, one of the most important protagonists in the history of Arco, was thrilled that, for the first time, only women collectors were involved in her deals. This might be unusual for the Madrid fair, where traditionally institutions tend to buy and - as in art fairs worldwide - men tend to buy."

Georgina Adam places Arco in the international context of the fair in The Art Newspaper: "Despite its size, Arco does not attract all of the top galleries-Gagosian, Pace, White Cube were absent although Zwirner and Ropac were present. This may be partly because prices at Arco tend to be concentrated under the $100,000 level. It is less fast-paced than, for example, the Basel fairs, but by the end of the first day Ropac was reporting [six figure sales]."

The as usual stupid sensationalist scandal report of the dpa about the Arco has reliably made it into many serious media.

I was in Madrid for the Handelsblatt and Artmagazine.

The French art trade sees its boom, just sparked by the Brexit, endangered by a threatened massive VAT increase. The Paris gallery Perrotin is sounding the alarm on Instagram: "This is an unprecedented increase in the price of works that will jeopardize the very survival of our artists and our galleries. No sector has ever accepted such an increase in VAT. It is imperative that we obtain a cultural exception for our field so as not to call into question the good dynamics of our fragile ecosystem. In the name of cultural exception and in defence of France's interests, it is vital to obtain an exception to the implementation of this directive or to begin the process of its renegotiation by transposing the directive." Perrotin refers to a report by Martine Robert in Les Echos (paywall), as does Devorah Lauter at Artnet and Kabir Jhala in The Art Newspaper. Why should the French be better off than their German counterparts, for example, who are starved to death by the Ministry of Finance?

Ursula Scheer examines the questionable role of the Emirates as crisis profiteers in the FAZ of 25 February: "The United Arab Emirates are not taking part in the sanctions, and so Dubai - during the pandemic already a refuge for the rich who wanted to escape Corona restrictions elsewhere - has become a safe haven for wealthy Russians. They come by sea in their luxury yachts, by air in private jets, and by land they buy their way in. Since the start of the war in Ukraine, real estate prices and the cost of living in Dubai have risen sharply. The 'Art Basel and UBS global art market report' predicts an upturn in trade in luxury goods and works of art between Russia, the Gulf States and Turkey in 2022 - as a consequence of Western sanctions. Half of Moscow is practically in Dubai, they say".

The Neukölln of the 2020s is in California, according to Alexander Gutzmer in the WELT am Sonntag of 26 February: "Los Angeles does not deny social contrasts, cannot deny them, lives with them. And so does the local art scene. This attitude seems to go down well in the art world at large. Los Angeles is hip. More and more galleries from New York are opening branches or moving over completely. Sean Kelly has just had his new headquarters in Hollywood designed by the architect Toshiko Mori. Marian Goodman, Lisson, Hauser & Wirth, David Zwirner, Sprüth Magers - these big names of the gallery world are now also present in Los Angeles. The question is, why? What makes Los Angeles such a good location? A banal reason: the buyers are there."

Sabine Spindler visited the Indian collector Abhishek Poddar and his recently opened museum in Bangalore for the Handelsblatt: "Private museums are still a rarity in India. But they are a sign of a new self-image among art collectors. They want to go public with their collections, create access to new art forms. 'It's not a movement, but we are at a point in India where art and culture are taking on a stronger meaning.' The former banker is convinced that this has to do with the country's prosperity. 'There is a lot of money circulating here, even among the younger generation.' And on the other hand, an independent, contemporary artistic scene has emerged that is recognised internationally. 'The museums collect very little modern art, the private ones do that.'"

The US counterpart to VG Bildkunst, the ARS Artists Rights Society, points out on Twitter that OpenSea, one of the largest trading platforms for NFTs, has made the previously obligatory resale right regulation optional. The promise of a fairer art market thanks to blockchain didn't last long.

The joint project "Art, Looting, Restitution" by the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, the Bavarian State Painting Collections and the RBB is presented by Kevin Hanschke in the FAZ: "A media library will go online in the early summer of 2023 with the first five life stories, which will be presented through texts, images and films. Museums must see provenance research as a natural part of their work and also communicate this, said Minister of State for Culture Claudia Roth. By 2024, the two cultural institutions and the broadcasters plan to publish thirty videos on thirty personalities. 'These are not only to give information about the stories of restitution. It is also our goal to reach a younger audience,' said Bernhard Maaz, the director of the Bayerische Staatsgemäldesammlungen."

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