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Last Monday, I received a call from XL Germany informing me that Christina Dopplinger, who was introduced as Chief Underwriting Manager Fine Art Germany at the last Art Cologne, was no longer working for the company.
As of Thursday, XL a Company of AXA is the main sponsor of TEFAF, which will once again delight you with a wonderful mix of art styles from all centuries. It will be interesting to see if the somewhat mixed auction results in London last week have any impact.
Uncertainties continue to grow: war in Ukraine / climate change / migration / lack of education / inflation / deindustrialisation (at least in countries where ideology prevails over expertise) ... . North Rhine-Westphalia, as we know, has brought forward the coal phase-out to 2030, ushering in a very different last generation than the one that now glues itself to the streets and throws mud at pictures to stop climate change. The coal phase-out means that power plants with 8 gigawatts of capacity will be taken off the grid. They will be replaced by gas and wind power plants with 4 gigawatts of capacity, although the approval procedures have not yet been completed. So we are 4 gigawatts short, and this with a policy that puts all its faith in electric mobility, because it is so quiet and clean and increases the demand for electrical energy accordingly. In Switzerland, the Federal Council, almost with a guilty conscience, has decided to prescribe a four-stage plan for 2024 onwards, which specifies which measures must be taken in the event of an energy shortage. Almost apologetically, he let slip that this was necessary because of insufficient measurement data, otherwise citizens could work on saving energy on their own responsibility. The museums can still provide enough warm rooms, even though the increased energy costs are completely against their budget.
Speaking of budgets: Cologne is actually a happy city. However, 9 municipal museums with corresponding buildings are getting on in years. The City Museum is already closed because the building fabric has not been maintained. At some point, an interim building will be opened in a former fashion house, which will only be able to present over 2000 years of the city's history with great difficulty. The Roman-Germanic Museum is already closed because the building fabric was not maintained. But at least a temporary home has been found in a former Belgian officers' mess in the city centre. The Museum of Applied Art is still a bit of a construction site, and has been for years, because something always has to be adapted to new regulations that serve the protection of nature, the environment, the welfare of the population and heaven knows what else. The Rautenstaruch-Joest Museum is also only open to a limited extent because the new building has its quirks, and the East Asian Museum is struggling for its independence and with its structural deficiencies. There is also a city library - and a sunken archive that is just getting back on its feet. Now the citizens of all gender expressions of this city are confronted with the fact that their Museum Ludwig and the Philharmonie connected to it must be renovated at an estimated total cost of over one billion euros. The renovation of the library is also expected to cost over another 100 million. For years, they have been working on a Jewish museum and never finished it - and are planning a historical centre that should solve some of the problems. The city administration, which under the incumbent mayor has grown by almost 7,000 people paid out of taxpayers' money, no longer gets anything coordinated and is happy about a nice sick leave rate. When you consider that in the late 1980s the Museum Ludwig, the Philharmonie and the Rhine bank tunnel were built as one big project for a little over 500 million D-marks, i.e. just under 250 million euros, you ask yourself, what has all gone wrong in the meantime? Every house or flat owner knows that they have to maintain their properties. This also applies to tenants, who have to keep their rented property in good condition. This does not seem to apply to some branches of the public sector, which only administers our common property. And they don't have to assume liability for it either - fortunately, otherwise even the traffic lights wouldn't work any more.
So it's nice to receive news from the other side of the world that shows that art is flourishing on other continents, too. Today is a premiere, for the first time we have a guest writer in the newsblog:
From Dr. Gil Schneider (Singapore) we received the following fair report from New Zealand:
"From 2 to 5 March 2023, the Aotearoa Art Fair took place in Auckland. The "land of the long, white cloud" - the translation of the Maori word that stands for New Zealand - showed its best side in terms of weather on the opening day: a warm autumn day with almost cloudless skies. The atmosphere in the permanent marquee at the harbour was correspondingly good, with the first day reserved for collectors and VIPs. As with all other art fairs, there was a forced break during the pandemic. The first edition took place in 2016, and 40 exhibitors took part in the sixth edition this year.
As you might expect, the fair is a home game: 29 galleries came from New Zealand, nine from Australia and two from Asia, whose participation was facilitated by a grant from the Asia New Zealand Foundation.
Auckland is also the gateway to discovering art in the Pacific neighbourhood. Some exhibitors presented works by artists from Tonga, Niue and other territories, who often express their life experiences on indigenous material, such as "ngatu", a fabric made from mulberry bark, also known as "tapa".
The local galleries do most of their sales with New Zealand artists, names from outside the region play a rather minor role. Similar to Australia, the average price level is well below the international average. With a budget of € 5,000 to 25,000, one already has the opportunity to acquire a respectable work. At € 50,000, the air is already thin, whereby New Zealand is a rather expensive country as far as the cost of living is concerned.
The gallery sector is generally doing well. During the pandemic, business continued. Many a family converted the money set aside for a long-distance trip and used it to buy art. Top dog Gow Langsford opened an additional large-scale exhibition space in Auckland's main shopping street last November, currently showing 25 artists (131 Queen St, until the end of March), and has a positive track record so far. Another gallery on the outskirts of the city is being planned.
There have been changes in the ownership and management of the fair at the end of 2022 Tim Etchells, one of the three owners of "The Art Assembly" has acquired the Auckland fair. This means that a member of "The Art Assembly" group around Tim Etchells, Sandy Angus and Magnus Renfrew has taken over a location and the group thus has another location in addition to Sydney, Singapore, Taipei, Tokyo, Delhi and Shanghai."
To all a perhaps still wintry week at the end of which TEFAF beckons with its treasures. Stay with us
Stephan Zilkens and the team of Zilkens Fine Art Insurance Broker GmbH in Solothurn and Cologne