Art Advisory

Why the “Superstar Economics” of the Art Market Is Its Biggest Threat

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Auctions, Art Collections, Art Market

As written by Artsy’s Claire McAndrew:

At least 20 notable galleries closed up shop in the first six months of this year, some after decades of working in the art market. As an economist observing the art market for the last 20 years, I try to stay objective about the trends I see, but a gallery closure still gives me an emotional pang. I’ve been lucky enough to have interviewed hundreds of gallery owners in the course of my research, and I can safely say they tend to be very smart, knowledgeable, and passionate about what they do. They’re also extremely hard-working, and often underpaid compared to similarly educated counterparts in other industries.

What can be done about this accelerating trend of gallery closures, which, as I’ve observed before, poses a grave danger to the art market ecosystem as a whole? I believe the answer lies at least partly in collaboration, both between small and large galleries, and between a variety of different actors in the art market. But before we identify potential solutions, let’s examine why the art market is especially vulnerable to the logic of “superstar economics,” and what that means for galleries going forward.

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An L.A. Gallerist Bought Out Warhol’s First Painting Show for $1,000—and Ended Up with $15 Million

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Collections, Art Market, Exhibitions, News

Andy Warhol, Campbell’s Soup Cans, 1962. The Museum of Modern Art, New York. © Andy Warhol Foundation/ARS, NY/TM Licensed by Campbell’s Soup Co.

When Los Angeles gallerists Irving Blum and Walter Hopps offered a young Andy Warhol his first-ever solo painting show, they thought it would be a sensation.

They were wrong. Local critics panned it; the Los Angeles Times went so far as to publish a snarky cartoon of two barefoot beatniks contemplating Warhol’s Campbell’s soup paintings. “Frankly, the cream of asparagus does nothing for me,” says one, “but the terrifying intensity of the chicken noodle gives me a real Zen feeling.” A nearby gallery tried to capitalize on the outrage by setting up a window display of Campbell’s soup, accompanied by the sign: “Get the real thing for only 29 cents a can.”

But Hopps wasn’t deterred. Ever since his first visit to Warhol’s studio, he was certain that the ghostly pale, silver-wigged artist was something special.

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Two Groups Made Art a Chief Component of Luxury Real Estate

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Auctions, Art Market
Bill Braun, New Building, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, $6,300

Bill Braun, New Building, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 48 inches, $6,300

Later this summer, luxury rentals at the 33-story residential tower One Hudson Yards, located in the heart of New York’s up-and-coming neighborhood near the Hudson River, will hit the market. Developed by Related Companies, with rents starting at $5,095 for a one-bedroom, its impressive amenities include a bowling alley, an 82-foot lap pool, and a half-size basketball court. But what distinguishes it from competitors is its gem of an art collection.

“It’s not just picking up things and throwing them against the wall,” said art adviser and actor Alexander DiPersia, who curated the common spaces with works by emerging artists including Matthew Chambers, Przemek Pyszczek, Sayre Gomez, and Michael Phelan. “It’s a long, thought-out process.”

The carefully chosen art collection of One Hudson Yards is one example of art’s increasing importance in the high-end, multi-family real estate market, as developers vie for the attention and housing budgets of the art-loving wealthy along with Instagram-obsessed, experience-hungry Millennials. Read More

Next Art Boom Could Be on the West Coast

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Auctions, Art Collections, Art Fairs, Art Market
iMac - 015, oil and acrylic on canvas, 23 x 25 x 9 inches, $18,000

iMac – 015, oil and acrylic on canvas, 23 x 25 x 9 inches, $18,000

Now head of his own art consultancy, the London-based American observed that attendance at this year’s contemporary art fair proved Hong Kong was now firmly on the map of the art world’s jet set – representatives from a record 78 international art institutions attended the fair, according to Art Basel. But Murphy is also watching keenly watching an emerging market on the other side of the Pacific ocean.

“The next big boom is going to be the west coast USA. The trajectory of what’s happened here in Asia shows that the market potential has always been here. It just took enterprises to see Asia as a coherent, integrated part of their businesses. The same will happen on the west coast,” he says. Read More

Auction House Buzzwords

By | Art Advisory, Art Auctions, Art Collections, Art Market
Menu, acrylic on five stretched canvases, 12.5 x 13.5 x 13.5 inches (each), $40,000

Menu, acrylic on five stretched canvases, 12.5 x 13.5 x 13.5 inches (each), $40,000

As a share of the population, the number of people who participate in fine art auctions is miniscule. To an outsider (that is to say, most human beings), the rituals of an auction—from paddle waving to forking over thousands for a work of art—are intimidating enough. And then there’s the language, a lexicon with its own nuances and auction-specific meanings. While we may not be able to get you a seat to the evening sales at Christie’s or Sotheby’s, we can help you understand what they’re talking about. Here’s a breakdown of a few terms to know and, more importantly, what they tell us about how the auction market operates, so you can understand what exactly is going on when an auctioneer bangs his or her gavel.

Chandelier Bid 

What does it mean?

A chandelier bid is a phantom bid, acknowledged by an auctioneer who often pretends to see someone raise a paddle in the back of the room, pushing up the price in an effort to stimulate interest in a lot. Read More

How to Assess Contemporary Art

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Auctions, Art Collections, Art Fairs, Art Market

Porky Chanel_48 x 48 inchesAs a budding collector the choice of artworks available to you at galleries and art fairs is overwhelming. Paintings, sculptures, multi-media work, limited editions, you name it. Here are a couple of tips from our art advisors to get you to start looking at art like a pro. This is not an exhaustive list so if you need more help give us a call.

First, you need to know the difference between emerging, mid-career and established artists. There are no hard-and-fast rules in this regard (for example age is not necessarily relevant here). Emerging artists are just starting out and their first exhibitions tend to be group shows, whereas mid-career artists have achieved a level of recognition through a solid body of work and a number of solo exhibitions and publications. In addition to that, established artists have built a stable career over many years and are well-known internationally. Read More

The Market Is Dictating Art

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Auctions, Art Collections, Art Fairs, Art Market

Southeast-Gallery copyOn Friday at The Armory Show, a panel of art insiders gave their thoughts on the future of the market to a packed house. Moderator Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal was joined by auctioneer Simon de Pury, art advisor Todd Levin, collector Alain Servais, CEO of Athena Art Finance Andrea Danese, and gallerist Dominique Lévy of Lévy Gorvy.

Crow opened the discussion by prompting the audience members to do the near-impossible: truly use their imaginations.

“Close your eyes and try to conjure a color that you have never seen before,” said Crow, admitting that when asked to do the same thing she failed—only familiar colors came to mind. That reflex is “an apt metaphor for trying to understand the art market,” she said, before diving into a conversation that at times tried to conjure the future, but largely consisted of parsing more familiar recent market trends. That’s not to say there weren’t valiant attempts at prognostication, up to and including the use of props: A smiling Levin at one point pulled out a Magic 8-Ball when asked how he decides if a work of art is a good purchase. Read More

New Collectors: How to Discover Your Taste in Art

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Auctions, Art Collections, Art Fairs, Art Market

douke installation 1Tens of thousands of galleries across the globe, representing hundreds of thousands of artists, deal art everywhere from Düsseldorf to Dallas. You can bid on a painting at auction from your iPad in your PJs. To say there is a lot of art at your fingertips is an understatement.

So while it is perhaps easier than ever to buy a work, navigating the commercial art world is understandably daunting for the inexperienced collector. How does one go about finding their taste? What separates true quality from the hype? What potential pitfalls should one watch for when stepping out into the vast world of collecting? The answer will be different for everyone, but here are a few key points to remember. Read More

How Long Do You Need to Look at a Work of Art to Get It?

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Auctions, Art Collections, Art Market

stremmel-1This is an easy one: Scientists have determined that the exact amount of time one should look at a work of art in order to understand it is four minutes and eight seconds.

Just kidding. Like almost every question asked in this series, the answer is highly subjective and dependent on the work of art, as well as how well-versed one is in parsing visual images. But it is safe to say that, generally speaking, we’re not looking at works of art for long enough. The exact numbers vary, but studies have determined that the average time a person spends gandering at a piece in a museum is between 15 seconds and 30 seconds. That’s plenty of time to figure out what the image is attempting to represent (or not, if you’re looking at abstraction). But that’s not nearly enough time to fully experience the work.

James O. Pawelski, the director of education at the University of Pennsylvania’s Positive Psychology Center, compared the way in which most people walk through a museum to the experience of strolling through library stacks. “When you go to the library,” he told the New York Times, “you don’t walk along the shelves looking at the spines of the books and on your way out tweet to your friends, ‘I read 100 books today!’” The contention here is that people can go to a museum, spend hours there looking at hundreds of works, and walk out not really having seen anything. When he was teaching, Pawelski would take students to Philadelphia’s Barnes Foundation and ask them to spend 20 minutes in front of one single work. The resulting contemplation, he claimed, not only enhances one’s appreciation of art, but can also have the same beneficial effects as meditation. Read More

What Makes an Abstract Expressionist Painting Good?

By | Art Advisory, Art and Design, Art Collections, Art Market
Photo courtesy: Bastian, via Flickr.

Photo courtesy: Bastian, via Flickr.

One of my responsibilities here at Artsy Editorial is to ponder the art-historical questions that are perhaps best answered either with a raised eyebrow or by saying, “because duh, that’s why.” Today’s entry in this series: What makes a work of Abstract Expressionist art good?

As in previous iterations (see: Why buy a painting when you can make your own?), the simplest of queries sometimes raises interesting and compelling ideas if one stares at it hard enough. In exploring subjective questions of quality and their relationship to the art-historical canon, one finds that a “good” AbEx work is one that is determined to be so by both the viewer and the critics and experts, as well as being the result of societal biases (more on that last part later).

Abstract Expressionism is perhaps one of the most recognized historical genres. Blame it on the impact of these typically large-scale, vibrant works, their permanent presence in the Art History 101 curriculum, or the skeptical cries of “My kid could do that!” The term originally rose to prominence in the mid-20th century to describe a group of artists working in New York following World War II. You know their names: Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Franz Kline—the list goes on. Read More