Success at an art fair is not simply a matter of showing up and hoping for the best. The sheer number of exhibits, galleries, and artists at an art fair can make it challenging to decide how to make the most of the experience. With a few tips and strategies in mind, art collectors can navigate an art fair and discover new and exciting pieces that will make a perfect addition to their collection:
Establish Your Art Fair Strategy
Before heading out to an art fair, it’s a good idea to establish a clear strategy especially if you are planning on attending multiple fairs! Luckily, with a little bit of knowledge and some art fair tips, you can navigate any fair with ease. Whatever your goals may be, by taking the time to prepare and equip yourself with some helpful art fair tips, you’re sure to leave feeling fulfilled and inspired.
First, consider the purpose of your visit. Are you going with the intention of buying a specific piece or to enjoy the artworks on display? For first time art buyers, here’s a guide for starting an art collection. It can also be helpful to attend with a specific theme or style in mind to narrow down your search. Do your research beforehand and map out your path by identifying which galleries, art dealers, and artists you want to focus on. It’s also worth purchasing tickets in advance to streamline the process at the door.
Meet the Gallerists & Artists
Attending an art fair is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the artworks, artists, and galleries. While browsing through the myriad of art pieces, it’s important to ask questions and engage with gallerists and artists. Do not hesitate to enquire about a particular piece of artwork, the artist’s approach, or the gallery’s values and identity.
While at an art fair, take advantage of the opportunity to meet and network with art professionals, who can provide valuable insights and recommendations. By doing so, you gain a deeper understanding of the artwork and its creator, creating a more meaningful and personal connection. It can also often lead to great deals or insider information on up-and-coming artists. And if you’re asking what does an art dealer dospecifically, read on!
Participate in Onsite & Online Programming
Art fairs often have artist talks and exhibition tours to expert panels and workshops aimed at educating visitors about different art forms, artists, and styles. Participating in these programs and features can add value to your experience, expand your knowledge of the art world and provide invaluable insight into the art you love. Check out One Art Nation’s past art fair symposiato give you an idea of programming available. It is an opportunity to learn from experts, hear from the artists directly and engage with other art collectors.
Attending events in person can help you establish relationships with artists and curators, while online programming like our new ArtCollect online course gives you access to educational materials and behind-the-scenes footage. Taking advantage of these resources at art fairs can give you the tools and knowledge you need to enhance your collection and make informed purchases.
Buy Art You Love
Art is subjective, and ultimately, art collectors should buy what they love and what speaks to them. Think long-term and consider the purpose of collecting for your space. Art is an investment in history and beauty, and it should make you happy every day. Collect based on what resonates with you, the artist’s story, and inspiration. Consider what the piece can become in your home and the artwork’s readability.
If you are ready to make a purchase, ask the dealer directly for the price. Know your budget before looking for art and keep in mind any additional costs, such as shipping or framing. It’s important to consider the logistical aspects of purchasing art. Shipping, storage, taxes, provenance, and certificates of authenticity are all vital elements to consider when acquiring new pieces.
Attending an art fair is not a one-time experience. Your connections and relationships with galleries, artists, and other collectors don’t have to end once the fair is over. Staying connected can lead to even more opportunities to further your collection and deepen your knowledge of the art world. One tip is to follow up with any business cards you received and connect with galleries and artists on social media or through email. Additionally, attending gallery openings and events is a great way to continue supporting the artists you discovered at the fair. Don’t let the momentum of the art fair dwindle, utilize these tips to stay connected and keep the excitement alive.
In Summary on Getting the Most Out of an Art Fair
Art fairs can be an exhilarating experience for art lovers and collectors. With a little bit of planning, asking questions, and participating in programs, art collectors can navigate the fair with confidence, knowledge, and a clear strategy. Remember to buy what you love and stay connected with the artists and galleries of interest. The ultimate goal is to find that perfect work of art that makes your collection complete. From Art Basel to Redwood Art Group Fairs and Frieze, you’re now ready to get exploring!!
ArtCollect: The Ultimate Art Collecting Guide
Starting an art collection can be a rewarding and exciting journey, but it can also be intimidating. Whether you are looking to add to your existing art collection or just starting out as a collector, the prospect of navigating the art world can be intimidating. That’s where ArtCollectcomes in. Our ultimate online course is specifically designed to help art collectors like you build a strong foundation of knowledge and skills, ensuring you smoothly navigate the complex world of art collecting. With the guidance of our team of experienced experts from all areas of the art world, you’ll develop the knowledge required to build an art collection that is both meaningful and enjoyable. By the end of the ArtCollect course, you’ll be a confident and informed art collector with a collection to be proud of. Enroll Now!
We were thrilled when Charlie enthusiastically agreed to contribute to our latest ArtCollect program. And here’s why. He brings almost 20 years of experience in the art world to the course through roles at major galleries such as Pace, Gagosian and Metro Pictures, prior to joining Winston Art Group. And there’s no denying his passion for what he does. The people, the artists, the work they create and how others relate and interact with it – he loves it all!
So, we sat down with Charlie to see what else we can find out…
You’ve worked in brick-and-mortar galleries, with an online auction house and with artists directly. So, after all of that, where do you most prefer to buy art: galleries, online platforms, art fairs, or auctions?
There are many places and venues to purchase art, I don’t think there is any one right answer here. A lot depends on how much time you have to look at and purchase art for your collection. Being in the trade myself, I prefer to purchase art via galleries, online platforms and from the artist directly. I enjoy taking my time and discussing the work while standing in front of it and really soaking it in and trying to determine what it’s going to be like to live with. Galleries tend to provide this experience more so than the others.
I will use online platforms for works I’m already very familiar with or prints or something similar that I already know and have experience dealing with. There are some really great online platforms that make it easy to browse and buy good art.
Buying a piece from an artist directly during or after a visit to the studio is one of the best experiences for me when purchasing art. I feel connected to the work and the process via the artist in a way that is meaningful and special and my commitment to buy something feels stronger when giving directly to the maker.
What I don’t like about art fairs and auctions is the speed and intensity of which the transaction must take place. Nevertheless, I understand this is important given the short duration of an art fair and also competitive nature of auction buying. And I think this is good for a lot of people as it forces them to make a decision and commit during these intense active engagements.
It sounds like you don’t have one preferred resource and a selection can be used to build a coherent collection. But what is it that makes a great art collection?
I think what makes a great art collection is not only great art but also fitting the art to the owner’s/collector’s own style, their personality, and the space(s) in which they live. All three of these fits need to come together and when they do, there is harmony and aesthetic magic that takes over the experience – it becomes palpable. It’s hard to put into words but when this trio of fitments happens, you just know it. You can feel it and that is the feeling of a great art collection. You see, anyone can go to auction or walk into a gallery and buy great art. There is a lot out there and it’s easy to pick up a big name here and there and even easier to follow trends of what your neighbor has or a highlight you read about from an emerging artist if you’re lucky to secure one.
But a truly great collection is one that is unique to that particular owner. The art they choose will essentially summarize their personality through the visual language and concepts delivered by the artwork itself. Then when the artwork is installed meticulously in the space, that is when “moments” happen. I like to call these moments because the artwork comes alive through the owner and their space in a way that it never could hanging on the wall in the artist’s studio or in a gallery. It’s different – it’s where it was meant to live and it’s what establishes a great collection when this happens throughout the entire house.
I love that! But I can imagine it’s quite a process to help an aspiring collector define their style and personal motivation for collecting. So, what’s the process when you start working with a new client?
This is a good one for me because it’s usually exciting, fun and real to get to know someone and start discussing artworks with them. It usually starts with a conversation, hopefully in person, but sometimes over the phone or on a video call. I want to understand their goals for the collection or whatever the reason is that they want to start buying art. I try and get to know them (and in some cases their partners) and find out more about how much they know about art in general, specific artist they like, colors that appeal to them, budget in mind and how much time they would like to dedicate towards building their collection. All of this is taken into consideration after the initial meeting. I will start to construct a personal private view via ArtLogic with images and details of works I think they will respond to – some positive, some negative and some challenging. I want new clients to get an understanding of what’s going on in the artworld, where some trends are but also challenging conceptual art that might connect with them in some way they never knew was possible. The more I get to know clients and the more they are open to share, the better I understand what they will like and want to live with and then it’s my job to find it for them.
How fun! I’m sure you’d have lots of stories to share. But tell us about a recent career highlight!
There is one that comes to mind immediately! It was bringing a client’s Agnes Martin painting (pictured below) to market for the first time in 26 years. She and her husband had purchased the work in 1997 and they lived with it and enjoyed the work for a long time. The artwork was installed in the couple’s New York City apartment and, as these works so often do, just made the whole room glow with joy and subtle, soft comfort. The time had come to sell it and move on and I was honored to help the owner with the process. Agnes Martin is an artist I studied deeply while at Parsons School of Design and I was able to meet the artist a year before she died in 2004 while I was working at Pace Gallery. I was able to install and handle her paintings and developed a true love for them. Bringing this special piece to market was for sure a highlight for me in 2023. I started showing the work carefully – one person at a time – until we found the right buyer and the piece will live on in a new place.
Artist: Agnes Martin
So, you’re contributing to the recently released ArtCollect online program! Can you provide a quick synopsis of what participants can expect to learn in your module?
In my module, I expect participants to learn some important first steps to building your art collection from the ground up. Starting with identifying yourself and what type of collector you are or wish to become. Also – equally important – we will discuss what kind of art you want to collect as there are many different types of fine art. Participants will learn tips on how to get started, most importantly where to find art along with a detailed breakdown of contemporary art – my specialty! They will also learn how to think about and hopefully develop a specific direction for the collection shaped by their own personality.
Learn more from Charlie by participating in ArtCollect. In Module 1, alongside Alaina Simone, he will guide you through the process of building a collection, step by step. They’ll discuss the different types of art to collect and how to identify them. You’ll also learn how to navigate the art market like a pro, including the primary and secondary markets as well as collecting logistics. Overall, Charlie will show you that building your art collection from the ground up is a rewarding and exciting journey.
Building an art collection is a journey worth taking. With each piece, you add a piece of your own personality and interests to the collection. However, it’s easy to become overwhelmed, particularly if you’re starting from scratch with no outside influence or guidance. With the right approach, you can create a cohesive art collection that you’re proud to call your own.
This blog article will provide tips and best practices for building an art collection with a local focus that reflects your personality and interests. Whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned collector, these tips, as shared in our new ArtCollect online course, will help you get started on the path to creating a unique and meaningful art collection.
Developing a Focus for Your Art Collection
Before you start buying art, it’s important to have a clear idea of what you want to collect. This is the first step in developing a focus for your art collection, and sure your focus can change over time. You can start by considering your current personal and professional interests, or the type of art that appeals to you visually. This could be anything from abstract paintings to sculpture, from photography to street art.
Once you have a general area of focus, you can start to develop a more specific theme or criteria for your collection. For example, you may decide to collect art from emerging artists, or to focus on a particular genre or medium. Having a clear focus for your art collection will help you make informed decisions about what to buy, and it will help you to build a cohesive collection that reflects your interests.
Supporting Your Local Art Community
Supporting your local art community is an important part of building an art collection. By attending local exhibitions and events, you can get to know the art lovers, artists, gallerists and curators in your area and learn more about the art scene in your city. This can be especially helpful if you’re interested in collecting emerging artists.
Visiting galleries in your area provides you with the opportunity to see new and exciting art, and also supports the artists and the community they are a part of. Exhibitions frequently held by galleries offer a great way to discover the work of local artists and meet others in the field, including collectors and art enthusiasts. By becoming more involved in your local gallery scene, you can actively contribute to the growth and prosperity of artists in your community while expanding your own personal collection.
Another way to get involved is by joining local art boards and committees. These organizations are integral in promoting the art scene in your community. They consist of individuals who share a passion for art and aim to raise awareness about local artists and their work. By joining these groups, you will have the opportunity to meet fellow art lovers and build meaningful relationships. Not only will you be contributing to the growth of your local art scene, but you will also be enriching your own art collection and knowledge.
Identifying and Finding Local Artists
To build an art collection, it’s important to identify and find local artists that you’re interested in collecting. As mentioned, one way to do this is by attending local exhibitions, art fairs and events, which often showcase the work of local artists.
You can also research the artists who are trending in your area, nationally, or internationally. This can be done by reading art publications and following art blogs and social media accounts. Once you’ve identified artists that you’re interested in collecting, you can start to build relationships with them. This can be done by attending their exhibitions and events, or by reaching out to them through email or social media. Building relationships with artists can be a rewarding experience, and it can help you to build a collection that is unique and personal.
Working with Galleries and Art Advisors
Another important aspect of building an art collection is working with galleries and art advisors. These professionals can help you to discover new artists, navigate the art market, and build a collection that reflects your interests.
Gallerists serve as trustworthy intermediaries between artists and collectors, representing a curated selection of talented individuals. They can offer their insights and guidance in building a collection based on a specific theme or style, as well as recommend new artists that fit within those guidelines. This expertise can be especially valuable in the ever-changing art industry, where staying ahead of the curve can mean the difference between purchasing a mediocre work or a masterpiece. Additionally, partnering with galleries can facilitate access to exclusive events and exhibitions, giving the collector a deeper understanding and appreciation of the art world.
Working with art advisors can be an invaluable resource. Art advisors not only have in-depth knowledge of the art market and emerging artists, but they also work directly with collectors to help them navigate the process of building a collection. By understanding a collector’s preferences and focus, art advisors can assist in identifying artists and works of art that would be of interest. Additionally, they can help negotiate prices, ensuring that a collector gets the best value for their investment. With their expertise and guidance, collectors can make informed decisions and build a collection that reflects their individual taste. Interested in becoming an Art Advisor? Check our professional development courses for Art Advisors.
Regardless of whether you choose to work with a gallerist or an art advisor, it’s important to build a relationship based on trust and transparency. This will help ensure that you’re working with someone who has your best interests in mind.
Best Practices with Art Collecting
There are several best practices that you should keep in mind when starting an art collection:
Trust: Working with art advisors, galleries, and artists that are trusted is key to building a successful collection.
Loyalty: Learning to remain consistent and transparent with your art advisor, consultant, gallerist, and artist is important to maintain relationships over time.
Transparency: Always exhibit a level of honesty and integrity that is above board when working with art advisors, gallerists, and artists to build and establish trust.
Patience: Learning to develop your collection and your taste with time and focus. Art collecting isn’t a race, it is a marathon. It takes years to develop a substantial collection.
Perseverance: Remaining consistent with the focus of your collection as your taste develops over time.
In conclusion, building an art collection with a local focus can be a rewarding experience that not only adds beauty to your space, but also supports and strengthens your community. Developing a focus for your collection and identifying local artists are key steps in this process. Additionally, working with galleries and art advisors can provide invaluable guidance and expertise. By following these tips and investing in your local art scene, you can build a collection that is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also meaningful and significant.
The Ultimate Online Course for Art Collecting
For those who are interested in building an art collection, the prospect of navigating the art world can feel overwhelming. But fear not – One Art Nation and Redwood Art Group along with Bonhams, Winston Art Group, artnet, Artwork Archiveand more, have created ArtCollect, the ultimate online course to help you achieve your goal. Our team of experienced experts from all areas of the art world will provide you with the knowledge and skills you need to confidently and adeptly collect art. Through our comprehensive guidance, you’ll be empowered to create a collection that is not only meaningful but truly enjoyable to curate. By enrolling in the ArtCollect course, you’ll have the tools to become an informed and confident art collector with a remarkable collection to be proud of. Let us help you on your journey towards building the art collection of your dreams – enroll now!
So, you’ve decided that you want to start an art collection. Congratulations! Collecting artwork can be a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience. However, it’s important to approach art collecting with a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding.
It can be overwhelming to navigate the complex and fascinating art world, but with the right guidance, you can build a collection that is both meaningful and enjoyable. As featured in our new ArtCollect online course, we’ll share some tips and insights to help you get started on your art collecting journey.
TIPS FOR STARTING AN ART COLLECTION
Step 1: Define Your Style and Personal Motivation for Collecting
Buying art is a great way to add some personal style to your living space! Before you start buying art, it’s important to take a moment to ask yourself some questions to understand your personal style and motivation for collecting art. Are you drawn to figurative or abstract works? Do you prefer paintings or sculptures? What is the message or emotion you want to convey through your collection? Answering these questions will help you build an art collection that is uniquely yours, and that truly reflects your personal style. Take the time to think about what you want to collect and why, and then start exploring the wonderful world of art collecting!
Step 2: Identify the Types of Art to Collect
If you’re looking to start an art collection or build upon an existing one, it’s crucial to identify the different types of art you can collect. There are two primary categories of artists you can consider including emerging and blue-chip artists. Emerging artists are those who are just starting their careers and may not have a big reputation yet and offer a sense of excitement and potential growth. Blue-chip artists, on the other hand, are established names in the art world whose works are highly sought after. It’s important to consider both types of artists when building your collection, as they each offer unique benefits.
Step 3: Look, Look and Look Some More
One of the best ways to determine your style and preferences when starting an art collection is to look at a lot of art. Whether you prefer old masters’ paintings, contemporary pieces, or something in between, the more art you see, the better your chances of finding what you like. Visiting museums, galleries and art fairs is a fantastic way to see a wide range of art works from different genres and artists. Make sure to take notes on what you like and what you don’t, so you can start to formulate a style profile that will guide your future art purchases.
Museums offer a great starting point for budding art collectors. Not only do they offer a diversity of exhibits, but they often have tour guides and educational materials available to help you understand the works. Visiting galleries, on the other hand, is a great way to see what’s happening in the contemporary art scene. This is where you can glimpse the newest, most relevant creative talent. Finally, art fairs provide an excellent opportunity to see a wide range of work styles, genres, and mediums all in one place. Fairs often present works from artists from around the world, providing an exciting, international flavor.
Step 4: Know Where to Find Art
Now you’ve explored enough art and are interested in buying art for your collection. There are many places to find art, including galleries, art fairs, auctions, and artist studios. Each art buying avenue has its own unique benefits, allowing you to appreciate the diverse range of art styles and techniques available. Galleries are a great starting point, where you can find established and emerging artists represented. Not only can you find a mix of art forms, but you can also immerse yourself in a community of like-minded art enthusiasts. Many galleries now offer online access, making it more accessible and convenient for art lovers to browse and purchase art from anywhere in the world. Connect with our ArtCollect expert Caren Petersen to find out how to best work with a gallerist.
Another excellent option for buying art is by attending art fairs like ones offered by Redwood Art Group. During these events, thousands of artworks are displayed in diverse mediums, presenting an incredible opportunity to gain exposure to new artists and artworks. Art fairs are a fun, dynamic way to explore a massive array of art styles—you can view different pieces, chat with artists, and obtain valuable insights into the art industry. Art auctions like Bonhams and online platforms like artnet are also great channels, as they provide the chance to acquire unique and rare pieces at lower prices. Moreover, visiting an artist’s studio enables you to connect with an artist on a more personal level while witnessing the progression of their creative process. This experience allows art collectors to develop deeper insights into an artist’s work and gain more profound appreciation for their art. Whatever your preference, exploring multiple channels for finding art is crucial to discovering new artists and unique art pieces.
Step 5: Set the Direction of Your Collection
Once you have a sense of your personal style and preferences, it’s important to set the direction of your collection. You may want to focus on works from a particular historical genre or a specific subject of personal importance. Alternatively, you may want to focus on the aesthetic value of the works, such as building an all-blue collection. Whatever your direction, make sure it aligns with your personal motivation for collecting. If you’re struggling to determine what your direction is, consider seeking advice from experienced collectors, curators, and art advisors. They can offer valuable insight into the art world and help navigate you through the process of building a collection.
Step 6: Buy the Best of What You Love
As an art collector, it can be easy to get caught up in the idea of buying works solely for investment purposes. However, it’s important to remember that the true value of art lies in its ability to evoke emotion and convey meaning. Ultimately, the most important rule of starting an art collection is to buy what you love.
This means looking for works that speak to you on a personal level, rather than just trying to invest in works that may increase in value over time. Contemporary art has outperformed the S&P 500 since 2000, but not all art is created equal. It’s important to do your research and buy the best works within your budget. By developing a keen eye and a discerning taste, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions when acquiring works for your collection.
THE ULITMATE ART COLLECTING GUIDE
Starting an art collection can be a rewarding and exciting journey, but it can also be intimidating. Whether you are looking to add to your existing art collection or just starting out as a collector, the prospect of navigating the art world can be intimidating. That’s where ArtCollectcomes in. Our ultimate online course is specifically designed to help art collectors like you build a strong foundation of knowledge and skills, ensuring you smoothly navigate the complex world of art collecting. With the guidance of our team of experienced experts from all areas of the art world, you’ll develop the knowledge required to build an art collection that is both meaningful and enjoyable. By the end of the ArtCollect course, you’ll be a confident and informed art collector with a collection to be proud of. Enroll Now!
We’ve always been a fan of renowned photographer and artist Jeannette Montgomery Barron, whose work has been celebrated for decades. So, we were thrilled to have her join our panel discussion many years back. Since then, we’ve been following her activity closely and are super proud of her latest endeavour, a limited-edition book, JMB, which showcases her remarkable portraits of the late Jean-Michel Basquiat alongside Andy Warhol. The complete sittings, taken in 1984 and 1985, have never been published, making this a truly special release for fans of both artists.
In this interview, Montgomery Barron shares with us her approach to selecting the photos and why she waited so long to publish them. We also discuss Basquiat’s artistic evolution during his brief yet impactful career and what was revealed in the portraits of him and Warhol together.
1AN: To start, congratulations on your latest book! How in the world did you approach the process of selecting which photographs you would include in JMB?
JMB: Nick Groarke, the publisher (NJG Studio) and I decided to show every single frame I took of Jean-Michel alone and of Jean-Michel and Andy Warhol together. Nothing was left out. This shows how little film I shot back in those days! Nick and I work together remotely–he’s in London and I’m between Connecticut and Rome. Amazing how well this works.
1AN: I love that you’ve included every single frame, which, by the way, were taken almost 40 years ago! Why have you waited so long to publish them and why now?
JMB: I’ve been going through my archives for the past few years and decided I’ve kept all of this work to myself for way too long. The book that Nick Groarke and I published previous to JMB was a book of portraits I took of Cindy Sherman in 1985. Again, every single frame I took of Cindy was included in the book. I have a vast archive and we will continue making these books together. My photographs of Keith Haring will be an upcoming book–again all of the photographs were taken in one sitting.
1AN: Well, decades may have passed since you sat with the artists in the Factory, but I’m sure you remember it as if it were yesterday. How would you describe Basquiat’s artistic evolution throughout his career, and why was the timeframe of 1984 – 1985 so significant?
JMB: Jean-Michel was at the height of his very brief career during this period. In fact, within three years of these photos, Jean-Michel would be dead. And Andy too.
1AN: Speaking of Warhol, what is revealed in your portraits of he and Basquiat together and how did you achieve this?
JMB: Jean-Michel and Andy were really great buddies and collaborators when I took that photo of them. They were getting a huge amount of energy from one another. The sad part is that shortly after, their friendship broke up because their collaborative paintings were not well received. So ironic–now everyone loves them.
1AN: The photos really do portray the “soul” of these artists. It’s clear they trusted you and felt comfortable. Word on the street is that you don’t work with assistants and that you use minimal props? Is this true and if so, why?
JMB: This is true, except on a fashion shoot. When I take a portrait, I like to be alone with the subject to gain a sense of intimacy. And I use minimal props because I don’t like to carry a lot of heavy stuff around with me. At the core, I’m a minimalist.
As we concluded our interview with Montgomery Barron, it is clear that JMB is a significant contribution to the legacy of two iconic figures in art history. Not only does the book showcase never-before-published portraits of Basquiat and Warhol, but it also presents an intimate glimpse into their friendship and artistic collaborations during a pivotal time in their careers.
Montgomery Barron’s decision to publish every single frame she took highlights the value of having access to archives and not restricting the public’s ability to view an artist’s work. JMB serves as a testament to the enduring legacy of Basquiat and Warhol, and Montgomery Barron’s esteemed portfolio of work. We look forward to future releases that showcase her archives and contributions to the art world.
Please follow Montgomery Barron’s IG, archive, and website for additional details or order JMB here.
Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith et al. No. 21-869.
This Art Lawyer’s Diary refocuses on an area of expertise and passion: the subject of artists and copyright, particularly the doctrine of fair use which is an affirmative defense to an artist’s copying another artist’s work without permission.
It is no surprise to my readers that I had written critically of the detour taken by the Second Circuit in Cariou v. Prince (2013), predetermining the ruling of the District Court in this case. In the September 2020 Art Lawyer’s Diary, I wrote on Warhol v. Goldsmith as the appeal of the clearly depressing district court decision was in process; the relevant excerpt follows and is useful source material for this issue which focuses on the takeaways from the Supreme Court decision.
The appellate court reversed the district court’s finding, and held that Warhol’s use of Goldsmith’s photograph was not fair use. Each of the four factors weighed strongly in favor of Goldsmith. The Andy Warhol Foundation appealed the decision of the Second Circuit that Warhol’s use of the photograph of the singer Prince as basis for series of artwork was not protected as fair use under Copyright Act, 17 U.S.C.S. § 107, with respect to factor one, the Second Circuit stated that Warhol’s series was not transformative because it retained essential elements of photograph without significantly adding to or altering those elements, notwithstanding a different message created by the style of appropriation and that “it’s a Warhol.”
In a 7-2 opinion written by Justice Sonia Sotomayor, the Supreme Court affirmed the Second Circuit Appellate Court’s decision; however, the Supreme Court considered only one question. The question—as paraphrased by me—was whether stating “it’s a Warhol” is enough to conclude that factor one favors the appropriation artist on these facts. The question, as framed by the Court, was whether the Warhol Foundation established that its licensing of Orange Prince was a “transformative” use, and that §107(1) therefore weighs in their favor, simply by showing that the image can reasonably be perceived to convey a meaning or message different from that of Goldsmith’s original photograph of Prince.
Justice Sotomayor opined that the first fair use factor focuses on whether an allegedly infringing use has a further purpose or different character, which is a matter of degree, and the degree of difference must be weighed against other considerations, like commercialism. Although new expression may be relevant to whether a copying use has a sufficiently distinct purpose or character, it is not, without more, dispositive of the first factor. Here, while there may have been a different aesthetic, the Warhol Foundation’s use of Goldsmith’s previously unpublished image of Prince in a Warhol silkscreen print for licensing to Condé Nast was for the same purpose as Goldsmith’s image and competed with her licensing of that image…
The opinion is well worth a read for both lawyers and non-lawyers. While shedding light on a doctrine that had become increasingly murky and unpredictable over the years, largely based on the continuing expansion of the “transformative” concept as an analytical tool to determine “purpose and character” under factor one, the arguments on the merits in the opinion between the majority and dissent are remarkable on many levels. In some ways, they reflect that 59 amicus curiae briefs were submitted to the Court, almost equally divided in passion and law, between supporters of the Warhol Foundation and Goldsmith. As discussed below, the doom and gloom and apocalyptic vision predicted by the dissent and the Warhol Foundation find no support in this decision.
The Supreme Court’s last fair use decision was in 1994 in Campbell v. Acuff-Rose Music, Inc., involving a rap parody recording and song “Pretty Woman” by 2 Live Crew; a parody of Roy Orbison’s rock ballad, “Oh, Pretty Woman.” The Court’s analysis made clear that the work not only had a new message and aesthetic, but was a parody. This requirement that a secondary use comment on the original work had long been a requirement of the fair use doctrine in the Second Circuit until it was jettisoned by the Second Circuit’s decision in Cariou v. Prince (2013) and fair use became a “famous artist” defense with nothing more needed.
1. The Supreme Court held that original works like Goldsmith’s photograph of Prince are entitled to copyright protection, even against famous artists. Such protection included the original author’s right to prepare derivative works that transformed the original. Goldsmith’s original photograph of famous musician Prince, and Warhol’s copying use of that photograph in “an image licensed for the same purpose that Goldsmith licensed the image,” violated that right reserved for Goldsmith. If an original work and a secondary use share the same or highly similar purposes, and the secondary use is of a commercial nature, the first factor is likely to weigh against fair use, absent some other justification for copying. Parody needs to mimic an original to make its point, and so has some claim to use the creation of its victim’s (or collective victims’) imagination, whereas satire can stand on its own two feet and so requires justification for the very act of borrowing. More generally, when commentary has no critical bearing on the substance or style of the original composition, the claim to fairness in borrowing from another’s work diminishes accordingly (if it does not vanish), and other factors, like the extent of its commerciality, loom larger. This conclusion, I would argue, has been the law both prior to and after Campbell in the Second Circuit and others, until Cariou v. Prince. Ringgold v. BET (1997) is still good law. BET used Ringgold’s artwork for set dressing and for the same purpose Ringgold would have licensed her work. Ringgold would have licensed the poster for the same use. BET’s use was commercial, and it cut into Ringgold’s right to create and sell posters, and other derivative works. Thus, all factors favored Ringgold. ***
2. Patrick Cariou prevails in a rematch against Richard Prince on factor one and transformative use. The Supreme Court’s opinion states that the Second Circuit’s rejection of the idea that any secondary work that adds little more than a new aesthetic or expression to its source material is necessarily transformative. Contrary to the misapprehension of the dissent, it also accepts —correctly—that the meaning or message is relevant to, but not dispositive of, the transformative use inquiry. Adding the color purple was not sufficiently transformative for Warhol, nor is adding the color blue and a guitar sufficient for Prince.
3. The commercial purpose of the Warhol Foundation’s recent licensing of Orange Prince to Condé Nast was in direct competition with Goldsmith’s licensing. The fact that Condé Nast may not have chosen to license the Goldsmith over Orange Prince is not relevant to the Court. That reasoning, however, does not comment on Warhol’s other uses of the photograph embedded in his silkscreens, such as for display in a museum. In other words, the secondary work’s specific use of an unauthorized derivative work is what is relevant to the analysis.
4. Using a Campbell Soup can logo, or another commodity logo, may still be fair use by artists. The Court clearly distinguished this use from the use of Goldsmith’s portrait, which, when incorporated as a reference by Warhol, was an unpublished photograph. The Court stated:
“The Soup Cans series uses Campbell’s copyrighted work for an artistic commentary on consumerism, a purpose that is orthogonal to advertising soup. The use therefore does not supersede the objects of the advertising logo. Moreover, a further justification for Warhol’s use of Campbell’s logo is apparent. His Soup Cans series targets the logo. That is, the original copyrighted work is, at least in part, the object of Warhol’s commentary. It is the very nature of Campbell’s copyrighted logo—well known to the public, designed to be reproduced, and a symbol of an everyday item for mass consumption—that enables the commentary. Hence, the use of the copyrighted work not only serves a completely different purpose, to comment on consumerism rather than to advertise soup, it also “conjures up” the original work to “she[d] light” on the work itself, not just the subject of the work.”
5. The Court rejects a bright line pass for all appropriation artists. Koons’s appropriations pass for fair use as long as there is parody. Both Rogers v. Koons and Blanch v. Koons remain good law. Notwithstanding the Warhol Foundation’s claims that affirmance of the lower court’s judgment would upset existing expectations concerning the proper analysis of infringement claims targeting visual art, the Court’s opinion makes it clear that this is not the case. First, courts have long recognized the fact-specific character of fair use analysis, and they have not always upheld fair use arguments advanced by34 famous appropriation artists. Compare, e.g., Rogers v. Koons, 960 F.2d 301, 304 (2d. Cir.), cert. denied, 506 U.S. 934 (1992), with Blanch v. Koons, 467 F.3d 244, 251 (2d. Cir. 2006). Claims of fair use in the visual arts are governed by the same Copyright Act provision that applies to other modes of expression. 17 U.S.C. § 107. While the Warhol Foundation’s arguments developed in Cariou, and embodied for the first time in the Second Circuit decision, had that effect, the Supreme Court’s decision repudiates any such “bright line approach” to fair use, thereby leaving open many possibilities for artists who appropriate; including paying the appropriate license fee, commenting on the original in some way, or creating their own copy of an artifact for comment. Koons prevails, as would other artists, when the use would not be licensed for the same purpose, and the original is integrated for commentary on consumerism specifically, not necessarily for societal satire. The Court’s rejection of the Second Circuit’s factor one analysis in Cariou goes an enormous distance in clearing up the confusion attributed to the ever-expanding doctrine of transformative use.
6. The First Amendment is alive and well. Notwithstanding the doom and gloom of the dissent, artists are free to pay homage to iconic works of art history, and copyright law creates a breathing space to achieve the balance between encouraging artistic creativity while protecting the individual artist from unlawful appropriation. Limitations on copyright, such as the non-copyrightability of facts and ideas, still serve the intended purpose; and if not, as the concurring opinion states, that issue is one for Congress to address.
From the September 2020 Archive:
FAIR OR FOUL: PROTECTING CELEBRITY ARTISTS AT THE EXPENSE OF A CREATOR’S RIGHTS. ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION v GOLDSMITH (2nd Cir. 19-2420)
Oral argument in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith took place on September 15, 2020. In the lower court (The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith et al.) Judge Koeltl of the SDNY, incorrectly in my opinion, decided on a motion for summary judgment (there were no disputes as to the facts), that Andy Warhol’s silk screen images of Prince which copied noted portrait photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s image of Prince, did not constitute copyright infringement. On July 1, 2019, Judge Koeltl ruled that when Andy Warhol copied an unpublished photographic portrait of the late singer Prince, (allegedly provided to him by Vanity Fair as a resource), and created 16 different variations of the unpublished photo, that these were “fair use” and not copyright infringement. Plaintiff, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, immediately praised the decision saying “Warhol is one of the most important artists of the 20th century, and we’re pleased that the court recognized his invaluable contribution to the arts and upheld these works.”
“Fair use” is a statutory affirmative defense to copyright infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 107. “The four factors identified by Congress as especially relevant in determining whether the use was fair are: (1) the purpose and character of the use; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; (4) the effect on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.” The critical question in determining fair use is whether copyright law’s goal of “promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts would be better served by allowing the use than by preventing it.” To make that determination, the Supreme Court has articulated in the case of Campbell v. Acuff Rose (1994) that one work transforms another when “the new work . . . adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning or message.” Although transformation is a key factor in fair use analysis under the first factor, whether a work is transformative is often a highly contentious topic, more often applied when it appears to justify a conclusion rather than operating as a bright line rule of law.
Of course, an artist’s celebrity status is not a factor to be considered under the weighing of the fair use factors under Section 107; for that misunderstanding, one needs to look at the sharply criticized and debated 2013 decision of the Second Circuit in Cariou v. Prince, its most recent articulation of the muddled and murky fair use doctrine. Cariou published Yes Rasta, a book of portraits and landscape photographs taken in Jamaica. Defendant celebrity appropriation artist Richard Prince who altered and incorporated several of plaintiff’s photographs into a series of paintings and collages called Canal Zone that was exhibited at a gallery and in the gallery’s exhibition catalog. The issue was whether defendant’s appropriation artwork, which incorporated the plaintiff’s original photographs, must comment on, relate to the historical context of, or critically refer back to the plaintiff’s original work in order to qualify for a fair use defense.
The Second Circuit found Prince’s uses to be fair, and that a secondary use does not need to comment on or critique the original in order to be transformative as long as it produces a new message. While Cariou’s book of 9 ½” x 12” black-and-white photographs depicted the serene natural beauty of Rastafarians and their environment, Prince’s work featured enormous collages on canvas that incorporated color and distorted human forms to create a radically different aesthetic. The Second Circuit found Prince’s work to be a transformative fair use of Cariou’s photographs. Whether or not art is transformative depends on how it may “reasonably be perceived, and not on the artist’s intentions.”
As a District Court Judge, Koeltl was bound to follow Cariou: in sum, the Prince Series works are transformative. They “have a different character, give [Goldsmith’s] photograph a new expression, and employ new aesthetics with creative and communicative results distinct from [Goldsmith’s].” See Cariou, 714 F.3d at 708. They add something new to the world of art and the public would be deprived of this contribution if the works could not be distributed. The first fair use factor accordingly weighs strongly in AWF’s favor.
In finding Warhol’s use transformative, the circuit court denies protection to those elements of a photographic portrait that are protected by copyright law, as if the fair use defense to copyright infringement and the concept of celebrity transformative use literally erases “substantial similarity” and fails to appreciate how extensively Warhol’s silkscreen is derivative of – and a misappropriation of—protected expression from Lynn Goldsmith’s photographic portrait of Prince. It is difficult to reconcile the district court’s lack of solicitude for such camera-related choices in Goldsmith’s portrait of Prince with the Second Circuit’s 1992 decision in Rogers v. Koons, finding that “protectible elements of originality in a photograph may include posing the subjects, lighting, angle, selection of film and camera, evoking the desired expression, and almost any other variant involved.”
Based on the Goldsmith Prince Photograph, Warhol created the “Prince Series,” comprised of sixteen distinct works — including the one used in Vanity Fair magazine — depicting Prince’s head and a small portion of his neckline.
Prince died on April 21, 2016. The next day, Vanity Fair published an online copy of its November 1984 “Purple Fame” article, which had credited Warhol and Goldsmith for the Prince illustration in the article. Condé Nast then decided to issue a commemorative magazine titled “The Genius of Prince” and obtained a commercial license to use one of Warhol’s Prince Series works as the magazine’s cover. The magazine contained a copyright credit to Warhol but not to Goldsmith. Condé Nast published the magazine in May 2016.
When NFTs first stormed into art world headlines in early 2021, commentators were quick to make bold predictions. And soon, everyone took a side. Some said that these blockchain-based tokens would redefine art buying and owning as we know it. Others said that not only would they change little, they would be gone as quickly as they came. So, the question seems to be: what is the future of NFTs? (For those still confused about these digital assets, check out our NFT primer.)
The Collapse and Future of Art NFTs
Looking at the current situation, NFTs appear to be in dire straits, to put it mildly. As has been reported for months, their total trading volume is down by unfathomable levels — OpenSea, the world’s biggest NFT trading platform, lost 99% of volume from May to August of 2022 alone. That isn’t the sign of a bad year or a deep recession. For NFT’s, this is total collapse.
A combination of factors created a situation where people simply weren’t interested in feeding the speculative value. The first and probably most important is the fate of cryptocurrency, which experienced devastating losses in 2022 as well. In a sign of the times, the third largest crypto exchange in the world FTX went belly up in a process that revealed massive amounts of fraud. It was about to be purchased by the biggest crypto exchange Binance, which turned out to be under investigation for money laundering and tax fraud as well.
Needless to say, the blockchain bulls have had their optimism considerably tamped down. NFTs, many of which are minted on the same blockchain as the cryptocurrency Etheruem, were hurt in a case of guilt by association. There is also much more skepticism about the future of NFTs than there was just a year ago. In 2021, many people believed that the large prices for NFT art would hold and even grow, meaning people were willing to purchase these works as speculative assets. When that growth didn’t materialize and even led to tremendous losses, fewer and fewer buyers were interested.
This is not to mention the enormous amount of fraud that has occurred in the NFT realm. One of the most pernicious is “wash trading” — an issue that cuts to the heart of NFT art. In this scheme, owners of NFTs will surreptitiously buy from themselves (sometimes over and over again) to make the price of the asset appear to be increasing. Many high profile successful thefts of expensive NFT assets also undermine the claim that the technology is secure. A major report showed that more than $100 million worth of NFTs were publicly reported as stolen from July 2021 to August 2022 — a staggering amount to think about. With so many bad news stories and cautionary tales, NFT art sales have suffered tremendously. But are they going extinct?
How NFTs Might Be Used
NFTs in the art world has largely failed in only one category: as a way to own digital artwork. In that narrow sense, the apocalypse is here. But NFTs have many more applications, even in the art world. NFTs aren’t just useful as a way to own art. They can serve as a way to prove provenance for real world art, and they can even be used as certificates of authenticity. These applications, while much less exciting than a full digital revolution of the art world, can still provide a service that arevital to art collecting.
It is a dramatically reduced outlook, and that can be hard to stomach for those true believers who have sung the praises of NFTs. Yet there is one benefit to this more humble and sober use of the technology: it can actually work, it isn’t dependent on the market, and it might actually be helpful. Used this way, NFTs could also still work to provide kickbacks to the artist whenever their artwork is resold. That would be a great way to maintain the positives of the technology without exposing buyers to the vagaries of the NFT market.
NFT as a Digital Asset
NFTs do seem to be sticking around in areas where there is no non-digital alternative. The video game industry has found this to be particularly helpful, and there are similar applications where assets exist solely in a digital space. That makes connecting them to an NFT much more of a natural fit. Digital art might one day be a good fit, too, but the amount of early speculation, inflated expectations, and fraud produced an explosive situation that couldn’t last. Can it continue to be a viable way for digital artists to sell their work?
The NFT art boom was not so much a phenomenon of traditional art buyers spending more of their dollars on NFTs and fewer of them on traditional fine art. What it really represented was a massive increase in the number of people who purchased art. That means itintroduced a lot of people to the world of art collecting, teaching them valuable lessons and making them interested in this fascinating world.
But for NFTs of digital art to succeed, they need to draw in more traditional collectors who have a better sense for what is normal and what isn’t. That will give the overall market more reliability. That will convince people who enjoy paintings, sculpture, and other physical mediums to take the leap into a world that they simply don’t find as enjoyable.
2023 looks to be a very interesting time for the art market. The last few years have brought major headlines and shaken many assumptions. The explosion of online auctions through pandemic lockdowns, the rise and fall of NFTs, and the massive sums being paid at the top of the market have all captured a lot of attention in recent history. The fallout from these and the rise of new stories will define the new year. But we also need to look further afield to see how bigger influences will come to affect the art market. Combined, we can begin to see the major trends that will play out in 2023.
Let’s start with the bad news first. Manyeconomistsare forecasting a bleak picture for 2023. The art market, while sometimes touted as recession proof, exists inside the greater context of the world economy. When the world experiences a recession, the art market will have to react.
Recessions have a particularly large impact on lower priced art, which is where most buyers and artists are at. As people with fewer financial resources look ahead with caution and even concern, they stop spending so freely at the art fairs, online shops, and local galleries that make up the vast majority of the art market.
That being said, the top end can sometimes slightly benefit from recession. For many millionaires and billionaires, art can appear like a highly valuable asset when all other options are looking bearish. Art has great long term prospects. No matter how bad the economy gets for a time, a blue chip piece of art will still mean something. A recession can force companies to close, but the profile of a proven, big-name artist is unlikely to diminish entirely.
This protection for the top end is buoyed by another trend: the increasing number of ultra-wealthy people in emerging juggernauts like Asia. The influx of new buyers at the very top of the market injects a lot of life. What does this all mean? If an economic recession does come, it will probably hurt the lower end of the market the most. And new buyers will need to approach the market with care. The top end will be much more secure, and could even benefit.
Tastes Are Getting More Conservative
Recent years have seen a lot of experimentation in the art market. New technologies and mediumshave been explored, and the celebration of artists once passed over due to their gender or race brought attention where it was long overdue. But this impulse seems to be fading.
Much more traditional names are creeping back into the top spots at auction and in the major museum exhibitions. As we all know, the trends of the art world have many influences going at any given time — so a combination of what is winning headlines, what is showing at major institutions, and what is trending on social media all have their part to play.
That being said, major art events like Miami Art Week and the Venice Biennale were no strangers to exploration in 2022 (we’ll look at events like those more below). And the overall cultural cache continues to be in expanding diversity. So this will no doubt be contentious ground over the next year in a way it hasn’t in years past.
Maybe the way to see this trend is less that things will go in any one direction. Perhaps the bigger theme is conflict between two impulses: the urge to stick with the tried-and-true in the face of economic uncertainty and progress fatigue, and the urge to continue pushing into new horizons as technology and changing social values make more things possible.
Less Digital, More Physical
The pandemic era brought a lot of distortion to art market tastes, especially early on. The lockdowns had the necessary effect of pushing a lot of buying and selling online. At the same time, digital assets (particularly NFTs) gained serious ground. But as things have opened up and remained open, that sprint into cyberspace has slowed down to a crawl, with many people returning their preferred in-person art experiences.
In what should be a surprise to no one, people have been craving a chance to put down their screens and engage with art. That’s provided a rebound effect. For instance, Art Basel found enormous success by offering the largest edition in their history. It seems that these fairs and biennials are likely to see massive growth continue in 2023, and that is great news for emerging and mid-career artists, as these events provide a lot of opportunity.
This is also good news for traditional art institutions and brick-and-mortar galleries. These make up the bedrock of an art world many were calling outdated in the past few years. But 2022 showed that isn’t the case, and 2023 will continue that trend. Overall, the physical experience of art might fully reclaim its dominant position in the market.
The one countervailing point could be a return to lockdowns, particularly in Asia — the emerging powerhouse of the art market (more on this point below). Though this fear has lessened since China changed its Covid policy due to protests, a bigger viral wave might move things back in the opposite direction.
Asia is also seeing an explosion of art fairs that are drawing global attention. January’s ART SG 2023 was the biggest art fair in Southeast Asia. Held in Singapore and featuring more than 150 galleries, this UBS-backed event promises to further secure Asia as the center of the art market — at least the art market of the future. Similarly, India Art Fair 2023 is set to hold its biggest edition ever in February. That two major fairs are surpassing expectations back-to-back shows how the region is poised to grow.
As Asia rises, the tastes of these buyers and the movements of their institutions will become ever more important to understand where the art market of future years are headed.
When we wrap up one year and head bravely into the next, it is always a good time for reflection. In the art market, that typically means sifting through the results of auctions to see where things stand and where they might be going. While we can only ever make educated guesses, art auction results do give us a lot of information to work with. So let’s recap art auctions in 2022 and see what they tell us about the year ahead.
The Most Expensive Photograph Ever
Though the total sum is more than eclipsed by some works we will talk about later, one of the most important auction headlines in 2022 was Man Ray breaking the record for most expensive photograph ever. His Le Violon d’Ingres (1924) went for $12,412,500 at Christie’s in May. For a little perspective, that’s almost three times the previous record holder.
Of course, if anyone was to break this record, it would be Man Ray. But it also signals a growing appetite for fine art photographs at auction. They’ve always suffered from a perceived lower value, given their reproducibility. This piece is somewhat unique as the particular print in question was created extremely early on in the process, making it feel more like an original. Nevertheless, it has taken decades for fine art photography to get here, and it looks like it might continue to grow at auction in the years to come.
NFT Auctions Crater
The NFT market as a whole has collapsed. The top marketplace OpenSea supposedly lost 99% in trading volume just from May 2022 to August. This was no doubt connected to the major drops in value for cryptocurrencies. While NFTs were never a major part of the art auction world, some speculated that their successes in 2021 would continue to grow. Some even speculated that these digital assets could eventually take a major share of the market.
That did not turn out to be the case. Instead, we saw many marquee names fail to make their NFT auctions a success. For instance, Beeple (whose massive NFT sales in 2021 helped kickstart the fad) collaborated with Madonna. Together, they auctioned off three original works of art in May. The outcome? Underwhelming. They sold for a combined $627,000. That isn’t nothing, but it fell far short of expectations.
Headlines around widespread theft and fraud also put a damper on NFT auction results, with buyers unsure how safe their purchases really could be. This all added up for a terrible year in NFT art auctions. And the prognosis for 2023 is more or less the same. To overcome the current buyer hesitancy and general downward trend would take moving mountains.
Andy Warhol Breaks Records (Again)
Probably the top story from the world of 2022 art auctions is the sale of Andy Warhol’s Shot Sage Blue Marilyn (1964). This famous work by the first name in pop art sold for a jaw-dropping $195 million to art dealer extraordinaire Larry Gagosian under the aegis of Christie’s.
The enormous number makes the Marilyn screen print the most expensive piece of American art ever sold at auction. And it isn’t even close. The former record holder was a Jean-Michel Basquiat that sold for $110.5 million in 2017. So a record is broken, but what does that really mean for the art market? It definitely says that at the highest levels, things are still growing and moving. The post-lockdown world is proving extremely kind to those selling blue chip art.
The Most Valuable Art Auction in 2022
While Warhol made an impact by pushing the profile of American art ever higher, the Paul G. Allen Collection went up on the auction block — leading to the most valuable art auction in history. The biggest contributors were five central paintings that each received more than $100 million a piece:
Les Poseuses Ensemble by Georges Seurat — $149,240,000
La Montagne Sainte-Victoire by Paul Cézanne — 137,790,000
Verger avec cyprès by Vincent van Gogh — $117,180,000
Maternité II by Paul Gauguin — $105,730,000
Birch Forest by Gustav Klimt — $104,585,000
In total, the Christie’s auction fetched something in the ballpark of $1.5 billion in November 2022. It should be clear that this really is a once-in-a-lifetime collection to go up for auction, and the market ate it up, particularly in Asia. The tale here confirms what the Warhol auction already told us: the blue chip art market is as healthy as ever. But we also see the continuing trend of Asia rising as an important part of the global story.
Strong at the Top, Weak at the Bottom
Stories of surging prices for blue chip art can give us a distorted perspective on the market as a whole. After all, the vast majority of works are not selling for tens (or hundreds) of millions. The outbreak of war in Ukraine, high oil prices, and continuing economic uncertainty have pushed prices in the middle and lower end of the market down. It has also pushed people up into the higher echelons, where buyers feel things are less risky. After all, a Warhol will remain a Warhol. For those with the money, why take a risk on a $10 million piece of art when the $100 million is a sure winner?
That force gave us some genuine shocks, with a few notable artists having their pieces going unsold at the auction block — including a piece by Antonio Canova and Willem de Kooning. So while Christie’s might have done a record $8.4 billion in art sales for 2022, that doesn’t tell the entire story.
Thinking Historically in the Present (February 7 – June 11, 2023)
Sharjah is the United Arab Emirates’ third largest emirate with coastline on both the Arabian Gulf and Gulf of Oman and known appropriately as the cultural and intellectual center of the UAE. I had never been to the Sharjah Biennial; however, I was drawn by press that Okwui Enwezor, the much beloved and respected curator whose 1997 Johannesburg Biennial and Documenta 11 posed a fundamental restructuring of the paradigm of the biennale, had conceived this as his last biennial prior to his premature death. Sheika Hoor bint Sultan Al Qasimi, President of the Sharjah Art Foundation and curator of the Sharjah Biennial since 2009, in her curatorial statement acknowledges the critical guidance of Enwezor: “First, he dislocated the biennial from its comfortable seat of origin, expanding the site.” Thus, Hoor Al Qasimi moves beyond nationality centered pavilions. The Sharjah Biennial in its curatorial direction expands beyond the historical core into landscapes and communities that make up the Emirate of Sharjah, such as the Kalba Ice Factory, Kalba Kindergarten, the Khalid Bin Mohammed School (The Africa Institute), the Old Al Dhaid Clinic, the Khorfakkan Art Centre (the old Court House), the Al Hamriyah Studios and the Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market. Also premiering in SB15 are works that engage with the local context of Sharjah. Kerry James Marshall proposes an outdoor installation in the form of an archaeological find inspired by fact, myth and tales, while Kambui Olujimi, Mirna Bamieh and Veronica Ryan present site-specific projects that converse with and recontextualize the old and new architecture of the Foundation.
Secondly, “Enwezor decentered the discursive myths of the European art canonical avant-garde, critiquing the conservatism and social detachment of its vision of modernity….” Sharjah Biennial 15 is a “transnational nexus of global civic enunciation.” Artist identifiers do not refer to the artist’s nationality except indirectly to provide context for artistic practice in the Guidebook (an essential reference tool for visitors to maximize the viewing experience). Carrie Mae Weems presents The In Between (2022-2023) that pays homage to Enwezor, a multimedia installation composed of elements to foreground the in between, a point of departure neither here or there where Enwezor sought to make cultural institutions and art canonical histories more inclusive and representative of non-western identities.
Thinking Historically in the Present: The Notion and Meaning of Time
The phrase that is the guiding principle of the biennial — “thinking historically in the present” — was introduced by Enwezor in 2005. Al Qasimi states “he invoked the dislocation of belonging” and the “disjunction of time as the shared affective core felt across the post-colonial world. How, he asked us to imagine, do you live these disjunctions and experience these disjunctions and experience these dislocations from the inside?” This principle provides an amazing source for archival research, inspiration and creativity for the selected artists. The impact of colonial histories, global politics, immigration, incarceration, traditional narrative structures, indigenous folklore and communal practices enable the artists through film, multimedia, painting, sculpture and performance, to invite viewers to reconfigure ways to view non-canonical wisdom or understand contemporary problems like power, food trade, and climate change as caused by other than as explained by the dominant power structure. Artists create narratives to interweave current political problems and turmoil with a rich historical past mythical and forgotten histories to enable both artist and viewer to search for identity and new ways of resistance, reconciliation and politics. Not surprisingly, the theme causes us and the participating artists to reflect on ancient epistemologies and time as a philosophical, historical and existential concept. Not surprisingly, the theme causes us and the participating artists to reflect on ancient epistemologies and time as a philosophical, historical and existential concept. Contradicting the tendency of Eurocentric historiographies of the Gulf to frame oil expeditions as the beginning of the emirate history, Al Qasimi begins her statement by referencing that “tales and allegories of Sharjah and the Gulf were historically mediated by soothsayers whose intuition served as a conduit to transmit messages from other worlds… These stories were vessels for the accretion of ancestral wisdom relayed orally from one generation and reference to Sharjah and its beginnings dating from archeological finds to 10,000 years ago… In Sharjah’s curatorial and historic models for the Sharjah Biennial 15 there is guidance with the chronotype of ‘deep time’ and the Kharareef of our ancestors.” Wangechi Mutu presents a new sculptural installation titled My Mother’s Memories, a Mound of Buried Brides (2023), a visual poem which reflects on the resilience of the women who fought for the independence of Kenya in the Mau Mau rebellion.
Wangechi Mutu, My Mother’s Memories, a Mound of Buried Ashes (2023) at Bait Al Serkal.
Time as history is seen in the installations and documentation of many photographers and film makers who were either direct participants in the struggles like Omar Badsha, political activist and trade union leader, who is known as one of the pioneers of anti-colonial resistance art from South Africa, and his work Once We were Warriors: Women and the Resistance in the South African Liberation Struggle (1982-1999); or witness to such struggles like Hiroji Kubuta, Magnum photographer, who documents with the rare vision of an outsider from Japan the end of segregation, the rise of the black panther Party and black power and the antiwar movements. Manthia Diawara’s capacious scholarly and documentary creative process has made a major contribution to the field of Black and African diasporic cultural studies. He presents Angela Davis: A World of Greater Freedom (2023). Together he and Davis unpack the principle cores of Davis’s philosophy: “to deconstruct and contextualize contemporary meanings of life and ecology… to narrate new, multiple and unpredictable social realities.” Sir Isaac Julien’s practice often examines the politics of masculinity, class and race to deconstruct and reclaim black histories. Julien presents Once Again… (Statutes Never Die) (2022), taking its title from the 1954 film of Chris marker and Alan Renais Statutes Also Die (1954) on historical African art and its decline under colonialism. Originally commissioned for the 100th anniversary of the Barnes foundation, the five-channel black-and-white video installation explores the legacies of the philosopher, critic and queer cultural leader Alan Locke and African art collector Albert Barnes, whose collection inspired both Locke and the Harlem Renaissance artists. While not immediately obvious unless one spends the time with this mesmerizing five-channel installation and accompanying sculptures, Julien not only reimagines Locke’s relationship and correspondence with Barnes, but also contextualizes contemporary efforts for reparations, gesturing at the critical dialogue which can inspire such claims. Al Qasimi’s goal to build a platform that links Sharjah as a center for knowledge production to the intersectional discourses of the postcolonial constellation, while remaining grounded in collaborative methodologies and civic engagement, is advanced by presenting us such discourse and conversation as presented by Julien, given the clear focus on homosexuality and its acceptance, given the fact that Sharjah is one of the more conservative of the Emirates where prayer is regular, women are veiled and alcoholic consumption is forbidden.
Isaac Julien, Once Again… (Statues Never Die) (2022) at Calligraphy Square.
Coco Fusco, an interdisciplinary artist and writer, engages with themes of power, race and the sociopolitical ramifications of her Cuban exile. She has also studied an era of Cuba’s history, characterized by the persecution of those deemed “ideologically divergent.” The term, introduced by Raul Castro in the 1970’s, extended to “all whose personal and political identities permitted them from submitting the revolutionary, effectively criminalizing dissent.” The Eternal Night (La Noche Eternal) (2022) is a poetic feature length black and white film which reactivates and reimagines the political conflicts precipitated by the modern nation-building process in Cuba is based on the life of writer and former political prisoner Nestor Diaz de Villegas. Researched for over two years and based on archival footage mixed with live performances, the film follows the lives of a poet, a young Evangelical man and a seasoned stage actor charged with an assassination attempt on Castro. Guided by the actor, the three endeavor to survive incarceration with wit, strength of will and shared love of cinema.”
Poetry, art, theater, and connection to the narratives of a time remembered of the richness of Haitian cultural and intellectual production, spiritual practice as a means of survival and resistance in a world of chaos and irrationality caused by the natural and political tragedy of Haiti is the message of The Living and the Dead Ensemble. It is composed of ten artists, performers, and poets from Haiti, France and the United Kingdom. The Wake (2021) is an immersive and powerful three-channel video that revolves around the charged atmosphere of a night filled with demonstrations, earthquakes and the fire of struggle and pain, rebirth and chaos. “Amid these flames, a community dreams of flight, travel, and alliances among diasporas, invoking the restlessness that haunt our electronic realms. We, as viewers, share the pain and trauma-immured in the hope that the goal to create a narrative based on the weaving of the insane present with the mythical, colorful and often forgotten histories of the past can lead to rebirth.”
The Living and the Dead Ensemble, The Wake (still) (2021) at the Africa Institute.
Time as memory and lived history, including its impact on those who have suffered systematic abuse and institutional complicity fuels the performances and photographic art work of Vivan Sundaram, a leading artist of New Delhi’s intellectual and artistic community for six decades. Sundaram’s photography-based project, Six Stations of a Life Pursued (2022), signifies “a journey with periodic halts that release pain, regain trust, behold beauty, recall horror and discard memory – a life pursued. History acquires an allegorical mode yet the narrative rewinds history.”
Vivan Sundaram, Six Stations of a Life Pursued (2022) at Al Mureijah Square.
In Parliament of Objects (2023) (see above), Ibrahim Mahama creates as assemblage of found objects, including abandoned seats, desks, handwritten textbooks, and combines them with Polaroid images of institutional buildings in Ghana. Together, these objects create a timeline of freedom, “a country, and its people, claiming the right to their independence from the British colonizer—a journey that came to an end 65 years ago.”
Hajra Waheed’sHum II (2023) “explores humming and other vocal practices as a means to consider radical forms of collective and sonic agency… Consisting entirely of voice, the composition features seven songs central to popular uprisings, mass social movements and anti-colonial struggles across the Americas, Africa and Asia where women have been at the forefront. Despite being either suppressed or banned, these songs and musical forms continue to be sung widely, preserved and passed down by women to a new generation of youth.” The artwork is both seductive in drawing the visitor to what purports to be a comfortable mediative experience. At the same time, the sound piece represents resistance to power and aggression. One thinks in terms of power and surveillance of the Jordanian-born artist based in Dubai Lawrence Abu Hamdan, a previous a participant in the Sharjah Biennial.
Time as an existential construct created by a society and its durational measurement relative to traditional beliefs, nature and the universe is dramatically presented in the five-screen multichannel mesmerizing installation by Sir John Akomfrah. The brilliance and sheer poetry of Akomfrah’s practice in pushing the boundaries of the cinematic form to explore radical ways of understanding history is taken literally and figuratively to new levels in the new film commissioned for Sharjah 15, Arcadia (2023). Arcadia “tackles the ecological implications of settler colonialism, extractive capitalism and the extinction of microorganisms… The artist extent the oral as well as representational history of various indigenous cultures to create a multiscreen installation that combines events, memories, landscapes and characters in the form of a mixed media collage. The result is an immersive experience of a less human centric view of postcolonial reality that brings to the floor the often-destructive relationship between humans and inorganic matters in an already fragile ecology.” If there is one work that could be said to embody the themes of memory, identity, postcolonialism, temporality and the politics of aesthetics that pervade so many of the eloquent artistic statements in their manifest forms, media and materials, it is for me, Arcadia. I am thrilled to learn that Akomfrah will represent the UK in Venice in 2024.
John Akomfrah, Arcadia (2023) at Al Mureijah Square.
Environmental Historical Memory, Diasporic Labor, Food, Shelter, Power and Extraction of Resources
Not surprisingly many artists draw on indigenous epistemologies to examine the future of shared resources. Others investigate the meaning of food in socio-political and cultural context on a local and global scale. Elia Nurvista reflects on concepts within food discourse related to “globalization, material extraction, exploitation and exotification.” Mirna Bamieh’s work in the Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market, Sour Things (2023) (see above), uses fermentation “as a metaphor for zooming into micro-words of encapsulated multitudes in order to look at life, cities, people, relationships and culture.” Joiri Minaya’s work investigates colonial hierarchies particularly in reference to the repetitive fixation of the global north on the tropics as an “abundant land and society poised for extraction and servitude, visually linking ethnobotany and exoticism, tropical identity and its commodification” (ie: Gaugin).
Mandla is a queer and agender writer performer who presents a video installation taken from As British as A Watermelon (2019), a performance examining frameworks of systemic racism through the bounds of a structure of fluorescent lights and watermelons.
Mandla, As British as a Watermelon (2019) at the Africa Institute
Carolina Caycedo’sAgua Pesada / Alma Althaquil [Heavy Water] (2023) is inspired by the aludeles, bottomless-pot furnaces of the Almadén mercury mines in Spain, the largest and most prolific mercury concentration in the world. The work is intended to “contribute strength of environmental historical memory considers fundamental force in defense of human and nonhuman entities against destructive violence.
Carolina Caycedo, Agua Pesada / Alma Althaquil [Heavy Water] (2023) on view at Calligraphy Square.
Felix Shumba explores social trauma in an attempt to interrogate ways in which history is constructed. Researching in the historic archives of his native Zimbabwe, he presents Ruwa River (2022) and Nocturnal Body (2022) revealing from his research the lethality of the government’s suppression of the insurgency through the use of chemical weapons. For Shumba, the materiality of charcoal parallels the suffocation of black lives.
Felix Shumba, Ruwa River (2022) and Nocturnal Body (2022) at the Old Al Dhaid Clinic.
Nari Ward presents Duty Colossus (2023), a site-specific installation in a former fish factory composed of two elements, a dhow and a Jamaican fish trap. For Ward, one important element is the space in between. Even more important, Ward told me is the fish trap as a metaphor for time. The portal functions through an interplay of seduction and entrapment. With reference to time, Ward quotes from Jimmie Durham: “we live with our experiences always in the past as echo and reverberation of the present.”
Artist Nari Ward in front of his work, Duty Colossus (2023) at Kalba Ice Factory.
Doris Salcedo presents Uprooted (2020-2022), 804 dead trees that are sculpted and assembled to depict a house. “Structurally uninhabitable, the work symbolizes the refugee’s predicament—a seemingly permanent state of impermanence… attributing the cause of this forced movement of people most fundamentally to the capitalist destruction of the environment, Salcedo manipulates organic material into monumental sardonic artefact.”
Doris Salcedo, Uprooted (2020-2022) at Kalba Ice Factory.
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons “grapples with the coordinates of diasporic identity formation: migration, displacement, collective memory, spirituality and gender.” In her work, Murmullo Familiar [Family Whisper] (2021-2023), “alongside beds of red sand collected from Mleiha, a desert in Sharjah that is reminiscent of the soil in Mantazas, Cuba, a set of glass stools, cast from one passed down by Campos-Pons’ family across generations, operate as metaphors of absence, representing those lost or unaccounted for by the ruptures of Afro-Cuban history …” Campos-Pons will have a solo exhibition at the Brooklyn Museum at September 2023.
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons, Murmullo Familiar [Family Whisper] (2021-2023) at Al Mureijah Square.
Rachid Hedli’s performance of Gueles Noires (2016), a French term used as slang for soot covered miners is a brilliant work of choreography superbly executed by his company Cie Niya, composed of a composer and performers, sons and grandsons of immigrant miners from the French Pas de Calais region. The atmospheric dance blends narrative and hip hop elements with breaking and popping movements to emulate the rhythm of hard labor set to a soundtrack of heavy machinery the piece pays tribute to Hedli’s father who died of lung cancer.
Tania El Khoury is a live performance artist. Her work is drawn from the political realities of the Lebanese Civil war and its aftermath. I attended El Khoury’s performance The Search for Power (2018), limited to an investigation around a dinner table for thirty people inviting us to track her research into power shortages in Lebanon which interfered with her wedding celebration at which we are recreating the investigation and experience. During the Biennial, “an audio guide helps audiences navigate the dense archives amassed during El Khoury’s … transnational research, locating electricity at the intersection between colonial legacies, political and economic hierarchies and everyday acts of resistance, survival and sabotage.”
Tania El Khoury, The Search for Power (2018) at the Old Jubail Vegetable Market.
Each Biennale has its own character and traditions as each varies within its own paradigm from biennial to biennial. From what I have heard of attendees of the past, Sharjah 15 is at the pinnacle, benefitting from the collective wisdom and experience of the past. One must acknowledge the stunning curatorial success of Hoor Al Qasimi in both the selection of artists and the installation of the works in each exhibition, including the selection of sites. Each artist is represented by multiple works and located in conversation with adjacent artists. While there is a denial of a single curatorial voice, the El Quasim’s decades of experience is reflected in this important edition of the Sharjah Biennial. Notwithstanding this singular curatorial excellence, the spirit of being guided by one another, another stated aim, is achieved, “by our ever-evolving cross cultural solidarity.”
A Practical Guide to the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present
The Sharjah Art Museum
There are numerous retrospective historical photographs, indigenous artists, in addition to numerous other excellent creations and works by known and some lesser-known artists. Anybody visiting the museum should carefully choose, in accordance to the Sharjah Biennial Guidebook, to their personal taste.
Bait Al Serkal
Bank Street Building
Tania El Khoury****
Lee Kai Chung****
Carrie Mae Weems
Al Mureijah Square
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market
Tania El Khoury
Khalid Bin Mohammed School (The Africa Institute)
The Living and the Dead Ensemble
The Flying Saucer
Al Hamriyah Studios
Hank Willis Thomas
Nabil El Makhloufi
Old Al Diwan Al Amiri
Kerry James Marshall
Old Al Dhaid Clinic
Laura Huertas Millán
Kalba Ice Factory
Khorfakkan Art Centre
The Chedi Al Bait Sharjah
Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa
Coral Beach Resort Sharjah
The Saturday Night Taste of Arab Buffet is Extraordinary!
For an alternative art universe with respect to thinking historically in the present, our readers may wish to spend several days in the Disneyland that is Dubai visiting the Museum of the Future, Leila Heller Gallery’s Tales Under the Gate new sculpture installation and the Dubai Art Fair (March 1-5, 2023).
Works at Tales under the Gate (2023), Dubai.
* Barbara T. Hoffman is a preeminent international art lawyer with an undergraduate degree in art history. She has been a passionate follower of the contemporary art scene for years and a regular attendee at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, and other international art events since the early 1980’s. She writes frequently on law, art and politics for a variety of publications and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. She serves on the Board of Performa, the Visual Performance Biennale, founder State Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and is on MoMA’s Contemporary Arts Council and Black Arts Council. She serves on the board of several artist endowed foundations and advises museums and artist foundations on issues of governance, including board development and conflict of interest and intellectual property. www.hoffmanlawfirm.org.
** Quotes included in the article, unless otherwise stated by the author, are taken from the Guidebook to the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present.
*** Artists who received the Sharjah Biennial Prize at Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present.
**** Artists who received an honorable mention by the Sharjah Art Foundation jury for their work at Sharjah Biennial 15.
***** This by no means reflects artists not included in the list. Notwithstanding, the author dedicated only five days to viewing the Sharjah Biennial and Inevitably some artists may have been overlooked. It is a matter of time. I would return in a minute for another experience of the Historical Present.
When our friends at Long-Sharpe Gallery told us about Abu Dhabi-based Ibbini Studio, we were intrigued to learn more. So, we chatted with Julia Ibbini about how she explores historical ornament using algorithms and new technologies to create intricate works that intersect art, design and engineering. The practice is a collaborative effort between herself and Stéphane Noyer, who she has worked with since 2017. While Julia is a visual artist and designer, with a background in graphics and collage, Stéphane is a computer scientist and maker, with an interest in computational geometry. We dug a little further…
1AN: What inspired you to pursue art?
JI: I’ve never wanted to do anything else other than be an artist, but I worked in marketing for over a decade before I was able to move into making art full-time in my 30’s.
1AN: I love that you followed your dreams! Your work is so visually complex. How do you describe your art to people who’ve never seen it before?
JI: My work explores ornament and pattern using algorithms and new technologies to create works that intersect art, craft, design and engineering. The work is a collaborative effort with Stéphane Noyer who is a computer scientist and engineer.
The pieces we make combine contemporary digital design and traditional craftsmanship with extreme detailing, using algorithms and new technologies. A specific focus is the creation of visual complexity, either through repetition of simple motifs, elaborate geometric construction, or accumulation of ornamental detail in order to create high levels of intricacy.
We use materials such as paper, veneer woods or mother of pearl – selected for their delicate, tactile qualities – that are then layered and meshed together using a complex collaging method, with individual projects taking up to a year to complete.
1AN: Yeah, you definitely seem to test the limits of possibilities in collage and construction with your work. What does it aim to say?
JI: It’s mostly about exploring the spaces between certain fields of interest; between mathematics and visual art, engineering and craft, machine versus hand-made.
For example, we recently began a new series of sculptures that play on the idea of developable surfaces. Developable surfaces are a mathematical concept that describes how flat sheet material can be rolled or curved in three dimensional shapes and is traditionally used in areas such as industrial manufacturing, boat building or cartography.
We used developable surfaces to design and build a sculptural prototype out of layered, laser cut papers, using a very large amount of computational geometry, custom developed software scripts, custom 3d printed forms, customised laser machines and experimental collaging methods to build the end result by hand.
1AN: Considering this, your works really are extremely intricate and precise, pushing the boundaries of materials in unusual ways. But how has your approach and process changed over time?
JI: I am always playing with how far I can push boundaries and ideas creatively, while Stéphane focuses on engineering quality. As a result, there is an ongoing increase in both the complexity of the pieces and the technology we are working with; it’s an endless learning curve.
1AN: So, with all of this learning, what does a day at your studio look like?
JI: I’m an early riser so things typically get going at about 7am.
We arranged our studio into 4 areas: a workshop space for the laser machines, an office area for the computers, a clean build space (where all the pieces are assembled) and a photography studio. I’m generally on the move between the four spaces throughout the day.
I always work on a mix of several pieces/projects at once and it’s about nudging each one forward towards completion each day.
1AN: And as a bonus, mainly because I’m dying to know, what has been the highlight of your career?
JI: Mostly the fact that I get to do this every day. Being a creative person in any field is incredibly difficult on so many levels, but also deeply rewarding in ways I could never have imagined.
The art market in Africa has experienced significant growth in recent years. This is due to several factors, including the emergence of a new generation of African artists and the increasing demand for their work from Western collectors. Additionally, increased access to digital platforms has allowed African art to reach a wider audience than ever before. We’ll take a closer look at some of the trends driving the African art market and how they are impacting the world of collecting.
Modern and Contemporary Works by African Artists
One of the most notable trends in the African art market is the rise in demand for modern and contemporary works by African artists. According to ArtTactic’s Modern & Contemporary African Artist Market Report, auction sales increased by 44% in 2021, amounting to $72 million. This surge in interest is attributed largely to international collectors who have become increasingly interested in works by young African artists.
This trend was reflected in both established markets like South Africa as well as emerging markets such as Nigeria where young collectors have been eager to buy works by top contemporary African artists. Furthermore, access to digital buy/sell platforms like artnet and the return of art fairs like 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair, works have been able to reach an even larger global audience. With so much potential for further growth within this area of collecting – now could be a great time for those wishing to invest or simply enjoy beautiful works by some truly talented modern and contemporary African artists!
Prominent Female African Artists
Another trend that has had an impact on the African art market is the emergence of prominent female artists such Julie Mehretuand Njideka Akunyili Crosby. Both have seen their auction prices increase significantly over recent years as collectors have become more aware of their talent and influence on modern art history. Julie Mehretu’s “Black Ground (deep light)” sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong for $5,6M in 2019 and Njideka Akunyili Crosby’s “The Beautyful Ones” sold at Christie’s New York for $4.7M in 2022.
While male artists still dominate many aspects of the market, it is encouraging to see female artists featured amongst the top African artists for their contributions and achievements. Included alongside Julie Mehretu and Njideka Akunyili Crosby are Ben Enwonwu, Amoako Boafo and El Anatsui. These artists have all seen their works fetch record prices at auctions and are considered some of the best-selling contemporary African artists around.
Galleries Looking Towards Africa
African art is an integral part of many different cultures and boasts centuries of history behind it. Works represent a variety of styles and media including painting, photography, sculpture and installation art, each made with thoughtfully traditional techniques and often evoking a strong sense of African culture and history. Increasingly, galleries across the world are recognising African art as a source of talent and are providing a platform to African artists and their works. With African art being so varied and unique, it adds an interesting twist for gallery-goers to explore diverse art styles from all over the African continent.
These galleries provide a platform for African artists to showcase their works and gain admiration from the global audience and attract new buyers from abroad. Galleries give artists opportunities that may not have been available in previous generations. It is encouraging to see people around the world supporting African artists and appreciating their skills, it is also spurring exciting collaborations between African and international galleries as they look towards African artistic talent as an important source of collaboration.
Galleries that appreciate African art now form an important part of our global cultural conversation about African arts, making African culture more accessible to everyone. As galleries around the globe continue to draw on African talent for impressive works of art, we can only hope it will further open channels for artists to share their timeless talents and singular perspective on the world with us all.
Discover the Next Wave of African Art
The global nature of the art world is ever-evolving, and Africa is playing an increasingly prominent role. As Western audiences become more aware of the talented pool of artists coming out of the continent, there is a growing demand for their work. This has resulted in a boom in both auction prices and gallery representation for African artists. While contemporary pieces are gaining popularity, works by modern masters are also sought-after by collectors. And as the number of female artists making a name for themselves continues to grow, it’s clear that this trend is here to stay. If you’re interested in getting ahead of the curve and adding some truly unique pieces to your collection, keep an eye on what’s happening next in the African art market! To get started, read our latest interview with African artist,Abdoulaye Konaté.
It’s no exaggeration when I say that as I turned into an aisle at Art Miami, I stopped dead in my tracks as my eyes fell on this piece by Mali-born artist, Abdoulaye Konaté:
So, I ducked into the booth and approached Daniele at Primo Marella Gallery, as I just had to find out more about the talent behind these works that suddenly surrounded me. He told me that Abdoulaye studied painting at the Institut National des Arts in Bamako and then at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. He is the founder and General Director of the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers Multimédia Balla Fasseké Kouyaté in Bamako, Mali, where he also lives and works. Naturally, I had more questions…
What inspires Abdoulaye Konaté to create art and how is this reflected in his artistic approach?
For this West African artist, creating art reflects the fascinating and unique Koredouba outfits that can be found in both the Senufo milieu as well as Mali’s Segou region. The technique used by the Mandingo hunters to construct these garments involves tearing up pieces of fabric before attaching various objects including cellphones, bottles, glasses – even items most would consider garbage! They are incredibly symbolic since they absorb everything society casts away or deems unworthy, transforming it into something beautiful. In wearing them with such pride and confidence they are creating an intermediary to break down societal divisions – no matter their age, class or status, everyone can come together through this artistic approach.
What does Abdoulaye’s work aim to say?
Abdoulaye works on two main lines. On one side, he seeks beauty and expression in colors, new forms of balance and compositions to create captivating visuals. Meanwhile, on the other side, he focuses on highlighting the many issues that plague modern society like religion tensions, warfare conflict, health disparities and systemic injustice – using vibrant palettes as powerful tools for expressionism with thought provoking messages carried within them!
How has Abdoulaye’s approach and process changed over time?
Abdoulaye ventured into the world of textiles in the 90’s, enthralled by their potential. Initially experimenting with acrylics alongside fabrics as an accompaniment to his work, he gradually discovered how this material could be used just like paints or watercolors – a powerful new way for him to express himself.
Today Abdoulaye runs a creative team of 5 experienced sewers and embroiderers – some of whom have worked with him for over 20 years. They understand his eye for detail, from the finishing touches to re-creating what he’s asked them to make. Now every element is made in-house by his close crew, resulting in truly special pieces worthy of admiration.
Abdoulaye is determined to keep pushing the boundaries of textile design and craftmanship. He has already studied traditional techniques from places like Vietnam, Thailand, China and Japan; but his ambition doesn’t end there! There are still so many exciting possibilities left to explore in the field – with himself as an artist and alongside artisans around the world. Abdoulaye’s story promises a future full of innovative textiles born out of collaboration between countries on this vast continent.
What lessons did Abdoulaye learn along the way of forging a successful career as an artist?
Through his work, Abdoulaye strives to keep the messaging clear and focused. His journey taught him the importance of being heard and understood, rather than changed. It is essential to look beyond what you want to gain a better understanding; focusing on finding essence in his work makes for sharp expression that won’t get lost even if perspectives are different. Social themes remain closest at heart, with clarity shining through no matter how complex it might seem!
What advice could be given to African students considering the field of art?
Abdoulaye believes this generation must adopt new techniques and learn the classic, academic skills that have been mastered elsewhere. By focusing on technical mastery, knowledge of objects and anatomy – along with staying up-to-date on evolving trends – these creatives can shape an incredible future for themselves!
He also believes that there is a disconnect between those with deep cultural knowledge and these young artists – which could potentially be addressed if barriers were removed for these elders so they can freely pass on their wisdom. It’s important because many members from families capable of teaching this valuable learning mechanism are dying out. By doing this we can ensure African cultural richness will not fall into obscurity – helping keep roots alive.
Finally, Abdoulaye stresses the importance of mastering cutting-edge digital techniques, which opens up a ton of possibilities not just for artists – but across all industries. Understanding this “universal language” can help link us to others in an easily accessible way and make sure professionals are always ahead of the curve when it comes to industry trends.
As I walked through Art Miami, an array of lively and playful works caught my eye. Specifically, this large-scale piece drew me into a booth until I got close enough to realize that it’s made of pencil crayons:
So of course, I had to inquire with Adelson Gallery about the work and soon found out that the artist behind it is Bogotá-born Federico Uribe, who currently lives and works in Miami. His artwork resists classification and emerges from intertwining everyday objects in surprising ways. I wanted to find out about how he came to use household objects (plastic cutlery, colored pencils, and so on) in favour of a paintbrush and canvas. So, I was thrilled for the opportunity to ask him…
1AN: Federico, I’ve been fortunate to see your work in person and can confirm that is really does resist classification. So, how do you describe your art to people who’ve never seen it before?
FU: I always say that I build objects out of objects. In my pursuit of beauty, I look for the aesthetic possibility of an object and think about the symbolic and emotional connection within them. For example, color pencils will take everyone to a pleasant moment from their childhood. Even if their experience was dysfunctional, the memory of color pencils is always good. Conversely, bullets always have the implication of violence against animals and innocents. I try to make objects as beautiful as possible to try to show them from a different perspective.
1AN: That makes sense, as you seem to push the limits of applying everyday objects in all possible and surprising ways. What does your work aim to say?
FU: Every material I work with has different emotional, sociological, and psychological connotations on people’s minds and memory. Therefore, each object I use has a different intention. My “Plastic Reef” installation is a reflection on ocean pollution and our responsibility for it. My works with bullets make people think about the absurdity of hunting as a sport and maybe the death of innocents because of human conflicts. My works with X-rays and surgical instruments would hopefully make people think about the power or ability of science to improve and extend human life, and at the same time, the potential of beauty in objects that are related to pain.
1AN: What does a day at your studio look like?
FU: I have 3 employees who work from 7 am to 3 pm, getting material ready for me to work (e.g. cutting pencils in pieces, making holes in bullets, cutting wires, making frames and so on). I get to work at 9 am and work until 8 pm. I have my own space at the studio where I build objects 6 days a week. The atmosphere is very friendly but disciplined as well. I buy groceries and cook for everyone every day.
1AN: Rooted in the craft of sculpture and paint, how has your approach and process changed over time?
FU: Every time I work with a new object, I also have to create a new technique. I repeatedly make mistakes until I am successful. I have perfected my pencil and bullet techniques over time, but for other materials, it is an ongoing learning process.
I learn from my employees who are carpenters and engineers, but it takes time to get the full potential of each object despite their skill.
1AN: I can only imagine! But if the sky were the limit, describe to me what your “dream project” would be.
FU: I would love to do art in public places that change the cityscape and create an identity for the cities they are in. I want to make whales jumping out of water, made from 747 airplanes. I have a lot more ideas for projects and will have to wait for the opportunity to disclose them.
1AN: Fair enough, but I’ll keep my eyes open for those whales! And as a quick bonus question: What has been the highlight of your career?
FU: I have very beautiful and emotional moments when people who see my installations are moved to tears or smile uncontrollably and tell me that I made their day.
As we continue our return to normal life and things open up more and more, art fairs are roaring back. This comes as great news to artists, collectors, galleries, and host cities — not to mention the fair organizers themselves. Art fairs are also important cultural and economic events, allowing for people to spontaneously discover their new favorite artist and for all of us to get a vibe check for the moment.
So let’s look at the return of art fairs. How is it going and what’s different about them moving forward?
Back From the Brink
With Covid prevention measures, many feared that the form of the art fair would become obsolete. In the last decade, the internet has provided a direct link between artists and collectors like never before. As lockdowns shuttered galleries and art fairs, more and more people engaged with art buying online. It seemed like the time had come for a major shift to take place.
The truth is, while Covid is now much more under control, there are still many collectors, artists, and gallerists concerned about it. That means that organizers have had to negotiate this complicated issue every step of the way. More than anything else, this has shaped the new post-pandemic art fair.
During the first year, many art fairs were canceled altogether, yet others like Art Paris and Vienna Contemporary continued in 2020. The controversy around these decisions put pressure on organizers from all directions, and this became only more true as fairs came back. When art fairs began to return in greater numbers through 2021, organizers struggled to strike a balance between safety and the fundamental togetherness that these events represent. There was no one single policy that everyone followed, except masking.
Other rules could get much more complicated. Miami Art Week 2021, for instance, had a dizzying number of different protocols depending on which fair you went to. This didn’t seem to have much of an icing effect. While attendance was down everywhere, organizers were able to put together profitable events.
Today, art fairs are by and large back to normal, with masks optional almost everywhere. Proof of vaccination, once a pretty common requirement for entry, has since been lifted almost entirely.
The Rise of Art Fairs in Asia
Maybe the most uplifting news is the increasing interest in art fairs around the world, particularly the white-hot art market in Asia. It should come as no surprise, as the continent now represents the largest share of global art sales — yet they’ve lagged behind in the development of major art fairs.
But that’s all changing. In 2023, the brand new ART SG and the returning India Art Fairhave shown that this format is gaining momentum in southern Asia, able to attract global buyers as well as activate and engage collectors in their area. Along with the upstart ART SG in Singapore,Tokyo Gendailaunches onto the world stage in July. The Japanese economy is enormous, yet regulations on art imports have dampened their spending in the past. Those have since been lifted, and now they are ready to unleash their incredible buying power. This new art fair will have around 80 galleries presenting work in an exciting new locale.
This is in-line with what we’ve seen in the last handful of years, like the new Frieze art fair in Seoul, which debuted in 2022 to major success. South Korea is another major economy that’s been underserved by the art market, something that is being corrected more and more. The Asian art fair calendar will no doubt continue to fill in, probably creating more can’t-miss events.
Rethinking the Art Fair
In 2021, art fairs were coming back to the fray after two years. That extended break gave organizers a lot of time to rethink and retool their approach to how art fairs look and operate. But much of this opportunity was taken up by concerns around getting tens of thousands of people to follow safety rules.
By 2022, innovations really started to trickle in. We saw several excellent ways to integrate hybrid in-person and digital events and programming, something that greatly expanded the amount of people who could see and enjoy the artwork on display. Those were often being implemented only the first (or, at most, second) time. But these new ideas are continuing to grow and expand, especially now that so many tech platforms are looking to move offerings into virtual reality. For the foreseeable future, every year will bring headlines about how major art fairs are using digital solutions to augment the in-person experience and create ways to engage fully online.
The addition of online programming means more people can participate and, crucially, spend money. So it will likely prove essential for art fairs going forward. Take a look at the fair programming One Art Nation created prior to the pandemic.
These technological innovations have combined with the more economic reforms that occurred at major art fairs over the late 2010s. In that time, booth fees at major events like Art Basel became scaled to the size of the gallery, making things much more profitable for small and midsize galleries. If the hurdle to participate in the hybrid programming can follow that same sentiment going forward, fairs look to become even more important to the art world at every level.
When you first become an art collector, things can seem extremely complicated and most aren’t even contemplating collecting unusual mediums. There are so many special terms for auctions, retail galleries, and buying directly from the artist. Plus, there are a head spinning number of things that go into the value of a work of art. That makes deciding on a big purchase difficult, especially at the beginning. But then your journey continues for a time, and you start to get your feet under you. You know all about how to value a print, what’s a good deal at your local gallery, and you’ve maybe even attended a few auctions. Your collection is starting to really take shape and develop a character. You’ve done it!
Yet that old excitement starts to haunt you. The memories of those early days when you were a little lost, when you had to work to keep up,when art thrilled you to no end — you want that excitement back. So what do you do? You start collecting unusual mediums. All of a sudden, everything you’ve learned seems out the window. Well, not quite so fast. When collecting unusual mediums, there certainly are special considerations you need to make. But you might find no matter what the medium is — even if an artwork is made out of a banana and duct tape— things can work more or less the same.
What is an unusual medium?
In art, mediums are the supplies and materials that an artist uses to create a work. For instance, acrylic paint is a medium, as is watercolor and charcoal and brass casting. An unusual medium is one that is simply not as common as others. Recent years have seen a rise in the popularity of these works, especially with the dominance of social media. Unusual mediums are often instantly delightful, generating a lot of engagement on platforms like Instagram. These can range from the innocuous to the controversial — like Damien Hirst’s use of animal bodiesor the strange history of using body fluids in art (which is cataloged in this rather out-there Wikipedia article).
Should I collect unusual mediums?
This is the most important question to answer, and in some ways it’s the easiest. It comes down to the same fundamental calculus you need to make anytime you buy artwork: do you love it? If you love a work of art, and it is worth the asking price to share your life with it, then the medium doesn’t really matter.
Now, if the medium is perishable, you’ll need to think about the timeline. After all, if something is going to disappear in a short amount of time, will it still be worth the money? But even after taking all that in, it’s still the same decision it always is. The only major barrier that unusual mediums have for collectors is that, given they aren’t standard, it can be difficult to tell how the artwork will hold up in your home or office in the years to come. Are you reacting to the brilliance of the art, or temporarily won over by its strangeness? That can be hard to tell when you’re first venturing into unusual mediums. For that reason, it might be good to start small and see how the weird and unique elements of it age over time for you. Every collector will be different in this regard.
Is it a good investment?
This is the next big question. And it’s one of the more complicated to answer. After all, this can be difficult in the most standard, banal circumstances. When you throw in unusual mediums, it can get even weirder and hard to pin down. The benefit to buying in mediums like ceramic sculpture, oil painting, and other “normal” mediums, is that you can get a much better read on how they would fare on the market.
Obviously, no estimates are 100% perfect, but they improve the more data points you have. In the last five years, think of how many oil paintings were sold. That means you have information you can check, and that provides a lot of comfort when buying art as an investment. Unusual mediums, by definition, don’t really have that. But they do still have some other factors that can be used to determine potential future earnings, such as:
How do I take care of artwork in an unusual medium?
The next big challenge comes when you actually take the artwork to your home or office. As with all the other considerations, this one is a lot more difficult because you have less information to go on. In some cases, things will be more or less straightforward. A sculpture made out of recycled grocery bags can probably hold up if treated with general rules of thumb, like:
avoid direct sunlight
avoid extremes in temperature and humidity
avoid dramatic fluctuations in temperature and humidity
keep out of high traffic areas
But what happens when you collect unusual mediums that are much less stable? The best you can do is make sure to ask plenty of questions of the gallerist or, if you are buying directly, from the artist. Even if you buy on the secondary market, you should try to reach out to the artist if you feel confused about how to take care of your art.
The Joy of Going Beyond Normal
Unusual mediums can be a great way to expand your collection and shake up how you see fine art. They also bring up a bit more confusion when buying, but there are many joys that await you once you collect them.
Art auctions and auction data is one of the best ways that art insiders understand the changing fortunes. When you comb over the results, you can see how artworks performed against their estimates, and how the prices of artists and movements have changed over time. That all proves to be fascinating information that any collector would love to learn.
The information is often open to anybody who cares to look, and it is relevant to all kinds of collectors — whether you are buying art at auctionor not. The trends that you can pick up in this data goes far beyond to every corner of the market. If we look over recent auction data from 2021 and 2022, we can see that in some ways the art world is radically changing.
A dive into the numbers gives us an interesting picture, and it allows us to make some prognoses that might help us collect into the future.
It turned out that many NFT artists had learned how to artificially pump up the price of their NFTs by anonymously selling it back to themselves at ever higher costs. This can all be clearly seen in the much more languid pace of NFTs at auction in 2022. Christie’s NFT sales this summer totaled a measly $1.6 million, a fraction of a single Beeple work a little more than a year earlier.
Auctions are showing us that the slow down of NFT sales (tied also to so called “crypto winter”) is likely a very real phenomenon. In many ways, the mainstream craze of art NFTs began with an auction, and it seems that it is here we are seeing the clearest evidence of their demise. At least for now…..
2022 Has Been a Great Year (So Far)
The early months of 2022 proved to be a gangbusters time for the auction houses. From January 1st to May 20th, the art market matched its previously high point for the period in 2018. Both periods raked in about $5.7 billion.
What’s interesting to note is that the first half of 2022 saw more lots offered and sold than the first half of 2018. That might seem like a bad sign, with more art selling for the same amount. But in many ways, that shows that there is simply more action in the auction world. And there is a very optimistic number in there: 73.4 percent of lots offered found their way to a buyer. That’s an incredibly high number, especially compared to recent years.
This good news might show the way to a healthy second half of the year and a strong 2023. At the very least, it reminds us how ready collectors were to get back into the action after 2020.
The Impressionist and Modern Comeback
For many years, the Impressionist and Modern category (including artists born between 1821 and 1910) absolutely dominated at auction houses. It’s easy to see why. This includes peerless artists and important movements, with work still being young enough to have a little movement and prices not totally beyond the pale as with old masters.
But the craze was bound to hit a major wall. After all, there isn’t any new Impressionist and Modern art being made, and eventually it was substantially locked up. By 2019, much of what was left didn’t live up to the kinds of work selling only a few years earlier. And in fact, that year saw the once proud category fall by almost a third.
It was expected that Postwar and Contemporary (defined by artists born from 1911 to 1974) would fill its shoes. But we’ve seen it more or less tie with Impressionist and Modern starting in 2019. That continues into 2022. So what is on the rise?
Ultra-Contemporary Work Is Growing
Ultra-Contemporary Art includes anything made by an artist born after 1974. And this is a section that’s massively increased in size over the last three years. It has seen more work going up at auction and the average sale price increasing, too. For a little perspective, the Ultra-Contemporary category increased five-fold in value since just 2018.
Seeing the future by looking at auctions is one of the best ways to see large trends, particularly at the commanding heights of the art world. But it is important to end with a caveat. The vast majority of the art market does not take place at auction houses like Sotheby’s. It happens in galleries, art fairs, and websites large and small.
If you overemphasize the importance of the major money players at the top, you can lose sight of the vast and healthy world of art that goes on everywhere else. With that said, auctions provide rich data that every collector should be aware of.
If you are an art collector, then sooner or later you are going to need the services of an art appraiser. This is an important service in the art world, and yet many collectors have a lot of unanswered questions about it. We are going to clear up a lot of those questions today. Hopefully, this will give you more confidence in getting your artwork appraised when you need to.
That information can be incredibly important in many different situations. If you are looking to insure your collection, you’ll need an appraiser. If you are dividing assets, like during a divorce, you’ll need an appraiser. If you are looking to resell and want to know a good price to begin at, you’ll need an appraiser. With art, value is seen as so subjective and difficult to pin down, that these professionals at pricing art have become invaluable.
How does an art appraisal work?
To get a sense of your artwork’s value, an art appraiser will track down exhaustive information on prices for similar works. It can be hard to find “similar” works in the world of art. An appraiser will have to take in a large amount of variables into account, including:
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives a good idea of just how many factors go into appraising the value for a single work of art. As you can see, researching a work of artcan be a lot of work.
Art Estimate vs. Appraisal
Anyone can estimate the value of a work of art. When you watch a television show like Antiques Roadshow, that’s essentially what you are seeing. This is a quick and dirty version of an appraisal. But when you need a legal document, an art appraisal goes above and beyond. An appraiser will provide a complete assessment that you can use as proof, whether to a court of law or the IRS. That’s because a true appraisal will follow the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisers Practice (USPAP).
You won’t always need that level of detail. If you are getting a cash offer for a painting and just checking to see if it’s a fair deal, you don’t need a legal document. However, if you are looking to insure your collection, you will need an accredited appraiser.
The three major types of appraisal are:
Insurance value: This will determine the current market replacement value when purchasing a similar work from a retail gallery.
Resale value: This will give you a fair market value — though it is certainly not a guarantee.
Donation value: This is specifically to see how much you can deduct from taxes if you donate a work of art.
There are still others, but these are the most common.
How much does an art appraisal cost?
The cost of an art appraisal comes down to many specifics, but you can easily spend several hundred dollars to appraise a single work. Many great appraisers will charge hundreds of dollars an hour. This can be prohibitively expensive for some works that you are fairly certain aren’t worth anything near that. But for works that are at least worth several thousand dollars, you may find the money well spent.
How accurate are art appraisers?
You could have a leading expert appraising one of your works and still end up selling a piece for less than you could have. In fact, this kind of thing happens all the time at the world’s biggest auction houses. That isn’t because art appraisers are bad at what they do — it’s because the thing they are pricing is extremely difficult to pin down, and prices can fluctuate rapidly.
A piece of bread or a certain amount of processed lumber can be easily compared to similar examples in the market to come up with a fair price. But you can’t ever really compare a one-of-a-kind work of art with another. That’s what makes them one-of-a-kind! The extreme difficulty of art appraisal leads us to our next important question.
What credentials should an art appraiser have?
It’s really important to check an art appraiser’s credentials before hiring them. You’ll want to make sure that they have accreditation for compliance with the USPAP. And it is also helpful to know if they are in a professional organization like the American Society of Appraisers. These will usually have certification that goes above and beyond, ensuring that you’re getting a well trained and vetted appraiser.
How often should I appraise my art?
No matter the reason for getting an art appraisal, you’ll want to update them from time to time. Most legally relevant appraisals are good for 10 years. But the market can change much quicker than that. If you follow those ups and downs, it will sometimes be helpful to reappraise works of art — especially if not doing so will leave you under insured.
When you are looking to sell a work of art, you’ll benefit from a recent appraisal, depending on the actual value of the piece. For instance, if you are going to sell a few limited edition prints for around $100 a piece, an appraisal will likely not be worth the added cost.
It’s no secret that things are feeling a bit nervous in the economy. From high inflation to talk of a potential recession, it seems that a lot of people are getting anxious. That kind of talk makes it hard to feel confident when you are doing any kind of investing. And if you are buying art as an investment, it’s really no different.
Even if you are buying art as a collector who simply loves the beauty of a piece, it can still be unsettling to buy things up when you aren’t sure what tomorrow will look like economically. After all, buying art can become expensive, and when there might be a recession just around the corner, one wonders if that money wouldn’t be better spent somewhere else.
So on a certain level, this isn’t the easiest time to go around shelling out your cash for artwork. But you might be surprised to find that, in other ways, it can be a fine time to collect. Let’s look at a few of the burning questions going on among collectors right now and see if we can give some answers that help you navigate these times.
Is art recession proof?
The major question people ask themselves at a time like this is whether or not art is “recession proof.” If it is, maybe holding on to a bunch of artwork right now is fine. If not, how are we supposed to be buying art when a recession might hit? Now, that is a complicated thing to understand. First of all, there is no standard meaning of the term “recession proof.” It can mean different things to different people. But for the most part, it means an asset that performs better than most others during a recession.
So, is art one of those assets? Yes and no.
For top blue-chip artwork, there can still be major bidding frenzies and high prices even in the worst of economic times. So if you are selling Basquiats and Picassos, there’s no need to worry. But what about the rest of us?
Much of the primary and secondary art market will see prices go down during recessions. That’s because all that discretionary spending on art dries up pretty fast. Lowers prices aren’t all bad. They are a benefit to collectors, for instance. You can get a lot more art for your dollar during a recession while also giving funds to the galleries and artists who keep the art world turning.
All this being said, prices do seem to go down less in the art market than in others. On top of that, prices can fall unevenly across categories. 2008 was the single worst year for the art market on record. But even then, Impressionist and Modern Art prices only went down slightly. If you remember what happened in 2008, you’ll recall that other investments, namely stocks, took much more brutal hits.
But here, you might just be seeing the basic dichotomy rear its ugly head again: major blue chip art is more resilient while lesser known and unproven work can’t hold onto its price as well.
Is it risky to buy artwork right now?
The great thing about art is that it actually provides value outside of what you can recoup as an investment.
When an art collector purchases work, they do not have to worry if it will definitely make them money down the line, because it will be a piece of artwork that they can enjoy no matter what. You can’t buy a stock and simply hang it on the wall and admire it — if it doesn’t make you money, it has no value to you.
That means that when we talk about “risk” with buying art, we need to define our terms. Will the art you buy today all of a sudden have low resale value in a week or a month? It might go down significantly, but that’s only a problem if you want to sell it in a week or a month.
This is something that has made art such a beloved asset for such a long time. It weathers the storms of recession rather well, all because it has far less pressure on it to make money. That ends up slowing down supply during a recession — as people find it easier to simply not sell while the market looks weak — and that ends up keeping prices from falling through the floor.
In short, it isn’t any more or less risky to buy art right now as long as you are doing it for sheer enjoyment. If you are buying strictly as an investment, you will have to assess your own taste for risk.
How do you go about buying art right now?
During a recession, it is probably wise to increase caution around major purchases and the decision to sell work. But the general rules remain the same. Fundamentally, if you can easily afford a work of art that you love and want to take home with you, that math still checks out.
If you are wanting to offload work you own, it might not be the best time, especially if art world prices begin to fall. There’s no harm holding on to things through the slow times.
Keep optimistic when it comes to buying art
No one has a perfect working crystal ball, but many people are reading the tea leaves and seeing economic trouble on the horizon. Whether or not that comes to pass, buying art doesn’t have to become a terrifying prospect.
As long as you keep the fundamentals in view, you’ll be fine. And always make sure that you buy art you will enjoy for many years without needing to resell right away for a profit.
And remember, the more collecting you do through a recession, the more you directly support the artists and galleries that make the art world possible.
The art world is a wonderful place, filled with enthusiasm, interesting ideas, and that effervescent spirit of creation. But it can also be complicated. Very, very complicated. That’s why it can be very beneficial to get the assistance of an art advisor.
We are living through the most diverse, byzantine art market ever. There are constantly new big names, changing trends, new materials and styles, and the shifting winds of change in art market preferences.
The more money that an art collector is looking to spend, the more important it is for them to get everything exactly right. Similarly, many art collectors just do not have the time to spend at art auctions, getting on the phone with galleries, and scouting the best new voices.
That’s when an art advisor comes to the rescue.
What’s An Art Advisor?
An art advisor will help their client do all of the above and more. For their troubles, they will either be paid a commission on every work of art purchased (say, 5-10% of the original price), or they will be paid regularly (say, monthly).
This might seem like a middle-man at first, but they play a vital role in the art market. They demystify art for their clients and give them a clearer understanding of how the market works. They also connect those looking to sell art with those looking to buy.
While most art buyers are never going to spend enough money to justify paying an art advisor, those who will often find their services essential.
Let’s look at the primary features and duties of an art advisor below.
Education and Qualifications
As with any profession, art advisors need some kind of credentials if they are going to be charging clients for their knowledge and savvy in the art world. There is no clear credentialing body in the world of art advising, and each art advisor will likely bring their own unique education and experiences to their role.
This is why One Art Nation created our Art Advisory programs. No industry-wide standard exists for best practice and advisors are left to their own devices when it comes to navigating the idiosyncrasies of the art market. Art Advisory 101 and Art Advisory 201 have been created to cover the key aspects of running a successful art advisory firm from how to navigate the art world and run a successful art advisory business to following best practice and managing client relationships.
Almost always, an advisor will have an education of some extent related to the art market. Art history is a common education track. But a degree alone is not likely to get many clients. Most advisors will have extensive experience working in the art market, whether as a gallerist, as a curator for a museum, or for an auction house.
This experience gives them a rich web of personal connections, good instincts, and a working understanding of how these institutions and businesses work from the inside out.
Consultation with an Art Advisor
One of the most basic ways an art advisor can serve their client is consultation on a piece-by-piece basis.
When an art collector is interested in a work, they might want confirmation about a few things. Is the price fair? How can I tell if the provenance is real? Is there a different piece that is available and is superior to this one?
Those are natural questions if you are about to spend serious money on a work of art. An art advisor can answer these questions and put the mind at rest.
In this same vein, art advisors can be more proactive in consultation. With a set budget and clear ideas of their client’s tastes, they can find available work that matches these terms. This saves the buyer a lot of leg work, which is crucial for the art lover who always finds themselves busy.
Keeping the Client on Track
When are collectors are looking to build a serious collection, there are many factors to consider to do it right. Unfortunately, most people with the resources to build a collection do not have the time to become experts in a niche of the art world.
Art advisors can help their clients stay focused on the pieces for sale that will build their collection and create synergy between the pieces.
And given that a particular collection has a narrower field of artwork to pick from, an art advisor will also spend their time on the lookout for buying opportunities.
An art advisor will be expected to keep their finger on the pulse of the market, know what is becoming available and where, and have the deep reservoir of specialty knowledge to make all of this relevant for their client’s collection.
Representation at Auction
Auctions can be intimidating places. For the uninitiated, they can come across as chaotic places where bidding wars lead to price tags in the tens of millions.
A good art advisor will be at home at an art auction. They will come armed with research on everything going on the block. Art advisors will know the intricacies of bidding. They will even know some of the other bidders.
For these reasons, art advisors will often represent their client at art auctions. With their connections and knowledge, they can maximize the value of their client’s budget.
Making the Connection
It’s who you know — it’s an old saw that fits the art market very well.
In some markets, there are so many prospective buyers and so little product that the only way to get your foot in the door requires a connection to the seller. Art advisors, with their experience in the field, can be representatives for their clients — leveraging a contact list built over a career.
Why Art Advisors
Art has value. Of course, you can see that in the price tag, but more importantly, you can feel it when you look at it.
But that value can’t be measured precisely, especially if you are looking to purchase art that will maintain or increase its monetary value. There are clues: the artist’s name, the projected market demand for the style, etc. But those aren’t laws of nature, and there are no guarantees.
To make matters more complicated, there is an enormous amount of specialist knowledge and insider connections required to really succeed in building a great art collection.
Art advisors provide this incredibly complex service. They have to bring many traits and specialties together, but when they do, they unlock the door to amazing art. And that’s a service many art buyers are willing to pay top dollar for.
The 59th edition of the Venice Art Biennale, under the title of “The Milk of Dreams,” opened to the public on April 23 – November 27, 2022. The exhibition takes place in the Central Pavilion of the Giardini and Arsenal. There are also 88 National Pavilions throughout the city. The curator Cecilia Alemani, the first Italian woman to curate the Venice Art Biennale, responds to the convulsions of our time: Covid 19, climate change, disruption of war, loss of community and culture – by asking us to imagine new forms of co-existence with society and its social structures, technology, and nature: how is the definition of the human changing? What constitutes life and what differentiates plant and human? What is the human relationship to technology?
In an interview, Alemani stated:
“There is a lot of spirituality in the show, especially in the historical micro-exhibitions, which I call ‘time capsules’.
One of the pillar themes is the “post-human” inspired by authors like Donna Hardway, who challenges the idea of the individual being at the center of the world. These ideas are about imagining other kinds of relationships, rooted in togetherness and symbiosis.
At Venice Art Biennale, I was looking at artists who were trying to break with the familiar polarities and dualities that came out of the Enlightenment – mind and body, nature and culture, feminine and masculine and so on – to imagine a world that is more fluid and in-between. That is where the occult and the spiritual come in.
The Milk of Dreams takes its title from a book of Lenore Carrington (1917-2011) in which the surrealist artist describes a magical world, which is constantly reenvisioned through the prism of imagination where everyone can change, be transformed, become something or someone else.”
Alemani states, “In this climate many artists envision the end of anthropocentrism… Others react to the dissolution of universal systems, rediscovering localized forms of knowledge and new politics of identities. Still others practice what feminist theorists call the ‘re-enchantment of the world’, mingling indigenous traditions with personal mythologies in much the same way as Carrington.”
Notwithstanding, it is a paradox that Alemani’s focus remains so rooted and anchored in the Western paradigm: the individual artist and the power of art and the artist to help “us” (the viewer) imagine new modes of co-existence and infinite powers of transformation. Alemani’s curation is brilliant, well researched and the source of new discoveries. Women artists of all generations dominate and others without voices are heard. However, spirituality and magic did not start with the Surrealists. Alemani’s focus is on adding overlooked artistic voice and identities to broaden the western aesthetic canon.
Images from Milk of Dreams Illustrate Alemani’s Curatorial Perspective at Venice Art Biennale
Founded in 1955 in Kassel, Germany, documenta is a quinquennial international art exhibition that carries heavy intellectual weight in the art world, customarily programmed for a duration of 100 days in venues throughout Kassel. While held in high regard among artists, curators and institutional directors, perhaps less so among collectors and dealers given its often more academic, intellectual and less market-friendly nature. Normally, the artistic director is a well-recognized international curator: Adam Szymczyk (14); Catherine David,Pompidou Paris 1997 (10); and Okwui Enwezor 2002 (11).
Breaking with this tradition, documenta fifteen poses a radical artistic response to the world’s crisis, at first encounter, a seismic shift in envisioning not only the role of the site and the exhibition, but the very role of the artist and the systems of art production. documenta fifteen is not theme based. It is about process and practice: how do people create the material and immaterial infrastructure they need to nurture and sustain themselves and their ecosystems?
documenta fifteen takes place from June 18 to September 25, 2022, under the Artistic Direction of ruangrupa at 32 venues in Kassel, Germany. The Jakarta-based artist collective has built the foundation of documenta’s fifteenth edition on the core values and ideas of lumbung, the Indonesian term for a communal rice barn.
The Indonesian word ruangrupa loosely translates as “art space.” ruangrupa’s work is based on a holistic social, spatial and personal practice that is strongly rooted in Indonesian culture, where friendship’s solidarity and community are of central importance.
lumbung as an artistic and economic model is rooted in principles such as collectivity, communal resource sharing, and equal allocation and is embodied in all parts of the collaboration and the exhibition. lumbung is the concrete practice adopted by ruangrupa and the Artistic Team, lumbung members and lumbung artists and all participants on the path towards documenta fifteen, throughout its 100 days and beyond.
“We want to create a globally oriented, collaborative and interdisciplinary art and culture platform that will remain effective beyond the 100 days of documenta fifteen. Our curatorial approach strives for a different kind of collaborative model of resource use–in economic terms but also with regard to ideas, knowledge, programs and innovations.” – ruangrupa
The artist is seen as mediator, and “now we are looking back and asking, ‘what is harvest?’”
14 lumbung members or artists collectives and 53 lumbung artists participate in documenta fifteen. In turn, these artists have been to include their networks.
ruangrupa and the artistic team are aware of the paradoxes in this event. In documenta fifteen, lumbung is still approaching the economy using old paradigms. documenta fifteen is still using the language of and can be understood as a conventional/mega event despite the artistic attempts to approach it as more bottom up. Notwithstanding, the aim here is ultimately the community,ruangrupa stated “lumbung is not only ours now… Own it, and make your own lumbung – ultimately, then, the energy and power of becoming and being is transmitted by the artistic experience transcending the boundaries which divide us to connect us in spirit. The practices and methodology are different.”
Thus, in the opening press conference, the artist Agus Nur Amal PM Toh informs us of his project with students in Kassel which facilitates a series of storytelling sessions based on the Sudanese life principles, Tri Tangua: “Public space contains a multitude of narratives, all competitions for how they can function as truth within the context of an authoritarian state or one where the powerless have no media access, native histories become a site to find answers.”
documenta fifteen takes place in three geographic zones of Kassel: (1) Mitte, the central city part – museums, Fridericianum***, documenta halle***, WH 22; (2) Fulda – Hafenstrasse 76 and (3) Bettenhausen*** – The Fondation Festival Sur le Niger*** (Hubner-Areal) and Atis Rezistans | Ghetto Biennale *** (St. Kuniqundis).
*** Don’t miss these.
For the duration of documenta fifteen, the former exhibition building has become Fridskul (Fridericianum as school) and is being used by artists and collectives to apply and demonstrate different models of horizontal education that are rooted in life. ruangrupa see it as a – a practice of sharing and a form of architecture often used to store harvests in Indonesian. As a lumbung, as both a domestic place and a social space where all can gather, the cold museum space of the Fridericianum becomes a warm and dynamic place. Artists are sleeping at Fridericianum, eat there communally and hold student encounters at the space.
documenta Halle (Mitte)
Wajukuu Art Project
documenta fifteen advocates for the collective to substitute for art institutions. However, the idea of the collective making individual artworks is more complex and nuanced and warrants further discussion based on each collective’s processes.
Artists in the Wajukuu Art Project have created not only as a collective but as these images reveal, have created powerful works of artistic authorship based on a new aesthetic of the slum and its materials. Wajukuu Art Project’s architectural installation is a tunnel inspired by both Makuru traditional housing and informal aesthetics of the slum. Aesthetic values rest on cultural heritage, cultural attitudes and accessibility of materials.
Britto Art Trust
The Bangladesh-based Britto Arts Trust creates a bazaar, a family kitchen and a large-scale mural all exploring geopolitics, land rights and food.
La Fondation Festival Sur le Niger (Hubner-Areal)
At this time of dislocation and social upheaval, global pandemic, the crumbling of our international legal order and its institutions, immigration, destruction of cultures in the wake of globalization, documenta provides guidance. The Fondation Festival Sur le Niger, founded in 2009 by Mamau Daffe and its individual artists, look to traditions, music and social practices as a means of identity and social cohesion.
Performa, the New York performance Biennale introduced in its last biennale the importance of the role of architecture and architectural space as an element of visual performance artists. Traditional Malian culture recognized the bulon as a sacred space and social structure as early as 1653 with the founding of the Mali empire. The Bulon symbolizes the heart, the past, and the present of the family, a place of decision making and community with the ancestors. It is also a space for teaching and transformation. In this sense the Fridericianum also becomes a Bulon space. “True art,” writes Andre Breton, the Surrealist, “is the one that strives to give expression to the inner needs of man and humanity.” While Alemani’s inquiry begins with and credits the Surrealists, for this new art aesthetic, documenta fifteen takes us to more ancient cultures. The Maaya is an integral concept of humanity based on the relationship of the individual and the community. This is a convergence of views where the function of art and social practice are the same.
One of the most powerful installations is created by the collective Atis Rezistans from Haiti. A fluid collective of artists, working in the Grand Rue neighborhood of Port au Prince, Haiti, the collective was founded by sculptors Andre Eugene and Jean Herald Celeau in the late 1990’s. Coincidentally, my client in the famous case of AFP v. Morel was with Andre teaching art students during the 2010 earthquake that sparked the case that established photojournalist rights on the internet based on the Twitter TOS. The sculptures embody the spirit of the collective – the style derives from popular culture, Haitian history and voodoo using a range of found objects, mostly what is available in this country for artistic production.
There will be those who ask is this a proper role for documenta? This small sized town in Germany of under 250,000, for more than 75 years has provided intellectual content to the art world as an agent of thought and discussion. Could this have been a conference or a symposium? Maybe. But it is a work and experiment in art making that is important. It is, as was said, not the last documenta but the first lumbung.
The seeds of what is germinated here have yet to fully harvest. However, kernels can be found in artist activism in the U.S as either the practice or a practice of sharing with the community. One has only to look at the number of artist-endowed foundations, the renewed study and importance of archives, and the focus on artist residencies and leisure time, conversations and storytelling. Black Quantum Futurism, based in Philadelphia, is a documenta lumbunginter lokal member represented by three projects sourced in African diaspora, nonlinear temporalities, quantum physics and housing futures as framework. Numerous artist-endowed foundations supplement individual artistic practice to use foundations as a community-centered artistic practice or to provide artistic residencies for artists to think and reflect. Derrick Adam’s Charm City Cultural Cultivation Inc. embodies such lumbung themes as the importance of leisure time and conversation and the power of archives as identity to regenerate and cultivate the rich traditions and culture of Baltimore. Its Last Resort Artist Retreat residency subscribes to the concept of leisure as therapy for the black creative, Titus Kaphar’s NZTHVN, provides an arts model that empowers artists and curators, education and access to a vibrant ecosystem to create a sustainable art community in New Haven. Art as social practice and process – the spirit of lumbung– may not replace biennales or art fairs, but it is a present and a future and awaits the harvest.
Barbara T. Hoffman is a preeminent international art lawyer with an undergraduate degree in art history. She has been a passionate follower of the contemporary art scene for years and a regular attendee at the Venice Biennale since the early 1980’s. She has written frequently on law, art and politics for a variety of publications and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics as well as the attorney for AICA USA. She serves on the Board of Performa, the visual Performance Biennale, found the Washington State Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and is on MoMA’s Contemporary Arts Council and Friends of Education. She serves on the board of several artist endowed foundations and advises museums and artist foundations on issues of governance, including board development and conflict of interest. www.hoffmanlawfirm.org. Thank you to Faron Stalker, legal assistant.
It seems non-fungible tokens (NFTs) are constantly in the headlines. That’s especially true for art lovers. Their world is becoming dominated by news of the latest major NFT releases and the fortunes made overnight by crypto artists.
But what are NFTs, how are they changing the art world, and what can we expect to see in the future thanks to this new technology?
We’ve put together this helpful guide to understand NFTs, cryptoart, and take a peek into the future of this strange new technological phenomenon.
What is an NFT?
A non-fungible token (NFT) is a bundle of information stored on a blockchain that links to a unique, one-of-a-kind asset. That unique asset can be any kind of digital information: from an image file to a sound file to a tweet and beyond.
They are called non-fungible because — unlike cryptocurrency that is also run on a blockchain — they aren’t all equally exchangeable.
When you have a dollar, it is equal to every other dollar in existence. That is called fungibility. Similarly, when you have a bitcoin, it is equal to every other bitcoin in existence.
But NFTs are connected to specific assets. If one NFT is connected to a GIF of a cat and the other is connected to a song about a cat, these are not the same thing. People can sell these NFTs for any price they want, and it is up to buyers to decide if they are worth the asking price.
NFTs have allowed artists, particularly digital artists, to make money from their work by selling to the public. They can create (or mint) an NFT for an image they make and sell it on the market. A blockchain, most popularly Ethereum, will track who owns it — the same way blockchains track the ownership of cryptocurrency.
One especially attractive feature to NFTs are smart contracts. These can be built into the NFT itself, and artists are using them to build in an automatic royalty paid to them every time the NFT is resold. This has an obvious appeal for creators, but there are many applications for smart contracts beyond the art world.
Today, many digital artists are using them to finally have a way to make money on their art by directly selling to the public. Previously, they would either need to print off a physical copy or make their art in the context of another project — like an ad campaign, film, video game, etc. NFTs allow them to sell the “original” work of art, just as painters and sculptors and all other kinds of visual artists are able to.
What do you buy when you buy?
One of the biggest controversies around the explosion of crypto art is this question: what am I actually buying when I purchase an NFT?
Owning an NFT does not give you copyright of the image. In fact, other people can still access the digital image and make copies as much as they want, storing them on their own computers to view at their leisure. It also doesn’t give you a physical object of the work of art.
Buying an NFT gives you a kind of “ownership” over the “original” digital artwork. It’s similar to buying a certificate of authenticity for a painting, though not necessarily the painting itself.
If this sounds strange, you’re not the only one. Many critics point to this as lack of any real ownership of the art as a fundamental issue. Others are not so concerned. Those who see virtual reality worlds (like the much talked about Metaverse) as the next big thing think that NFT art will necessarily become the way most art will be bought and sold in the future.
Where can I buy and sell NFTs?
The past year has seen an explosion of NFT marketplaces. There really isn’t enough room to list them all, but some of the biggest sites include:
OpenSea: This is the largest NFT marketplace right now. It has all kinds of assets to buy, like collectibles and artwork, but also other assets like domain names. It also allows you to create NFTs easily. It’s compatible with more than 150 different kinds of payment options.
Rarible: Another major player is Rarible, which is entirely based on the Ethereum block chain. Like OpenSea, you can easily buy and mint NFTs on the platform.
SuperRare: This NFT marketplace is hyper-focused on digital artwork. Many features appeal to artists, including smart contracts that pay royalties to creators every time a work is resold.
While there are plenty of other platforms to explore, many of them quite reputable and honest, one should make sure to learn a lot about a marketplace before sending it money. The explosion of popularity in the NFT market has given rise to many scams, thanks to how many people are both interested in buying and not super sharp on the technical details. Be safe and do your research.
Where do NFTs go from here?
Crypto art and collectibles have been a major throughline for much of the NFT conversation. There are also many communities where membership is now built around owning an NFT. But these are the early days, and there is no doubt that new applications for this blockchain technology will be used in the future.
In that sense, NFTs are here to stay. But what is the future of crypto art in particular?
Opinion is divided. Some believe it is a Tulip Mania style fad that will end in a few people making millions and many more losing everything they put in. When you buy a work of art, whether it’s value goes up or down, you still get to enjoy it. But with NFTs, you don’t get to enjoy it any more than anyone else. That means the only real reason to buy is the hope that it will increase in value someday.
Others believe that it will slowly take up the entire art market. Even physical artworks will begin to use NFTs for certificates of authenticity, and as virtual spaces become more prominent in our lives, we will want to put art up on those computer-generated walls. And that art will come from NFT marketplaces.
Without a crystal ball, who is to say? But no one can deny that, in the short term, NFTs will continue to be a major part of the conversation and art market.
Covid-19 pandemic continues to create disruptions in particular for art fairs and galleries. We are now in the process of sifting through its impact and seeing what remains after two years of painful change and loss.
For art fairs and galleries, their entire model was based on in-person experiences. But the field proved nimble, and they began adapting at rapid speed with the use of digital integration.
That digital pivot, along with the meteoric rise of entirely online art ownership through NFTs, have allowed art fairs and galleries to weather the storm. But what does their ongoing survival look like in the years ahead?
Galleries: A Prognosis
The Art Dealers Association of America surveyed gallery owners last year to see how they were handling the pandemic. At the time, things were uncertain to say the least. Among their findings are a few key insights:
70% of galleries had less revenue in 2020
65% were stilling planning to expand their artist rosters
78% did not have to make layoffs in 2020
The overall picture seems less bad than people were predicting when lockdowns went into effect in early 2020. That’s not to say that 2020 saw no furloughs or layoffs for art galleries, or that the massive falloff in revenue didn’t shutter some galleries forever. But coming out of 2021, things are not so dire.
And now in 2022, with vaccination rates up and restrictions easing, the trends seem to be going in a positive direction.
In fact, the move to online sales proved a winning strategy for many galleries, and the fear of massive closures by the end of 2020 appears to have been overwrought.
The Return of Art Fairs
Miami Art Week in late 2021 proved a testing ground for a new trend in art fairs: online augmentation.
The strategy is simple. Implement ways for people to enjoy (and buy) art online without taking away from the physical experience. In fact, while you are creating these digital tools, you might as well make them work with the physical art fair, too.
With Art Basel and many satellite fairs debuting digital sides to their experiences, it feels like the change is permanent. Remember, these were events that were allowed to be held in person and were attended by thousands of people. These weren’t just ways to make things happen in the face of a lockdown.
That combination of physical and digital appears to be the way that art fairs are going to not only keep numbers up during a pandemic, but grow their numbers in the years to come.
But no matter how much digital augmentation goes on, art fairs are uniquely appealing due to the experience of actually being there. For that reason, 2020 and much of 2021 saw an incredibly anemic scene. Yet art fairs have one advantage over galleries: they don’t have to pay the bills month in and month out.
Art fairs are much more capable of surviving a year or two of postponement, while galleries have employees who need a paycheck to survive and consistent overhead to keep their space. In this way, the survival of art fairs is much less precarious than galleries.
Art Investment: The Good and the Bad
Inflation is now ramping up around the globe, which generally means investors will turn to assets like art. In an inflationary situation, the general thinking is that art performs rather well, and that will provide some boosts to the art world, at least at the top levels and in the short term.
The continued interest in art as an investment has good and bad influences on galleries and art fairs, depending on where you land on the spectrum. Gambling on emerging voices rarely does much for artists trying to establish their name in the long run, but there are some galleries that can serve this desire while still developing their roster of artists in a responsible way.
And with lots of investment dollars comes lots of speculation. This is nowhere more clear than in crypto art and NFTs. These marketplaces are now hotspots for collectors of all kinds.
Is that a problem for traditional art fairs and galleries? That depends. Many people buying NFTs are first time collectors, drawn in by their interest in other blockchain applications like cryptocurrency. In a way, NFTs might be a backdoor for more people to become comfortable with buying art as an asset and making the move to buying physical art.
On top of that, many traditional art sellers (in particular auction houses) aren’t waiting around to get involved in the NFT boom. This presents a new avenue for sales, and as long as it doesn’t eat into their traditional offerings, this embrace of NFTs seems like it could be great for galleries and art fairs.
Art Fairs & Galleries Endure
It seems that art fairs and galleries have made it through the worst that the pandemic had in store, and their ability to meet customer needs online was successful.
While the art world is emerging into a much different landscape than before Covid-19, it is well equipped to face the new challenges and even find opportunities in them.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with Frances Zeman, who has been an active member of the American Society of Appraisers (ASA) since 1980. Her broad client and appraisal experience includes Insurance placement and loss, Estates & Trust matters, Charitable Contributions and other Wealth Management strategies.
But when we really got deep into things, we found out that in reality, her profession allows her to satisfy a favored passion for retail therapy! So, let’s see what else we can find out about Fran…
What do you do in the art world?
I am an ASA accredited appraiser of Fine Art and Decorative Arts and Antiques.
Did you receive any education, training or mentorship that has helped you excel in your career?
A good academic education, including an MA in art history provided a sound basis on which to expand my love of the arts. Joining the American Society of Appraisers and availing myself of their outstanding educational programs provided me with an understanding of what it means to be professional, that appraisal is a profession rather than a trade, and that there is a specific vocabulary to know and methodology to follow; all of these helped me to advance my career. Many experienced appraisers in the organization provided encouragement and mentorship – both of which were so very important.
What are the most interesting – or most challenging – aspects of your work?
Every appraisal is an argument for value. Among the most challenging and rewarding problems involve unique properties that seemingly have no answer – but there always is. Every client is different and to be able to serve each and to meet their needs is one of the most rewarding aspects of my professional career.
Describe your average workday.
We keep to a monthly/weekly plan in terms of projects in house, schedules and progress on each work file; any changes needed are noted. Staff and I keep current with clients and the progress of all appraisal reports and other assignments. Technical issues, emails and phone calls are part of each day.
Any words of advice for emerging professionals trying to make it in the art world?
Academic and professional education are a must – knowledge is a powerful tool. Keep current, never stop learning. Be ethical and follow the standards of your profession. Always reach high.
Learn more from Frances by watching the free webinar, What it’s Worth: Prepare Today for Tomorrow. Along with Edith Yeomans, she will explain why, before thinking about how much your valuable property is worth, it is important to know what you have.