The Art Lawyer’s Diary: Reflections on the 60th Venice Biennale: Foreigners Everywhere – Part II

Listen, Look, Learn, Love

By Barbara T. Hoffman

Did you know there are currently 200 Biennales around the globe? Notwithstanding, the Venice Biennale is the “mother of all” Arte Biennale, and, thus, a most prestigious event for nation-states and artists, is to take center stage here. It is incredibly significant that the Biennale governance has selected as the artistic director, the self-described first queer curator and first curator from the global south, Adriano Pedroso, who in his turn, has invited more than 330 artists, almost 400 considering collectives, to participate for the time in the Biennale curated exhibitions at the Giardini and Arsenale. A place at the table for those artists with different origin theories, world views, and theories of  human beings’ relationships to nature, time, and history promotes a dialogue to transcend colonial hegemony and dominance of the current art world’s structure. If only for the fleeting period from April 13 through November 24, 2024, the closing date of the Biennale. Artists evoke our collective histories in the present to imagine a future which transcends colonial hegemony and anti-western sentiment. If we only listen, learn and respect the “other”, we may collectively preserve our planet for future generations (and on a more micro scale, the art world and biennales, of course).

The task of writing about this event, the collateral events, and other exhibitions is daunting. I cannot and do not think it is within my expertise or interest to do yet another art critic’s journalistic review of everything. There is a value, too, in not doing the scoop and, or the frontline coverage. This Biennale and its official collateral events are filled with complex and layered artistic expression and meaning. I find myself continuing to turn over the pavilions I visited, and the artists and their work encountered in the Arsenale, Giardini, and other curated events. My present memory and understanding of the historical moment and meaning continue turning and churning as I see new threads and connections relevant to my objective as an art lawyer and cultural critic of art and politics as it relates to structures of law, politics, and art.

More in-depth review of exhibitions, cultural events, politics and art law can be found at my Art Lawyer’s Diary. Join my email list on my website to receive future issues and read past editions.

The artists in the curated exhibition and the pavilions challenge contemporary Western philosophy. In particular, Foreigners Everywhere can be seen from the vantage point of the colonized, the indigenous inhabitants of the land with a rich culture and civilization destroyed or reinvented by the colonizer. Notions of time, space, and relation to the land, our ancestors, and the universe are challenged, as well as ways of seeing and being.

In PART I, I discussed the Australian Pavilion, Kith and Kin. The sentiments of these quotes from the indigenous artists Archie Moore and Ellie Buttrose, curators of Kith and Kin, find expression and voice in other artists. Archie notes that in indigenous culture, there are several people you call mother and father, brother, and sister. “The family tree shows a 65,000-year scope of time…I wanted to show how long aboriginal cultures have existed, and despite invasion, massacres, and systemic incarceration, continue to exist now”…In the First Nation, the notion of kinship and time, the present, past, and future, share the same space here and now. The curator states that “by placing 65,000 years of family on a single continuum, kith, and kin immerses audiences in the co-presence of ancestors and time and by doing so, Archie enfolds each of us into the everywhere.

The Egyptian pavilion, featuring Wael Shawky’s Drama 1872 (one of my favorites), similarly criticizes the revisionist histories told by colonial occupiers. Time and history do not begin with the “foreigner”. Shawky and other artists reflect, if not absorb, the philosophy of Edward Said, a Palestinian professor at Columbia, who challenged Western views of history, particularly of Asia and the Middle East. Edward Said’s 1978 publication Orientalism, which I read as a student, exposed European fantasies denigrating colonial subjects in a constant barrage of fetishization and “othering” across Asia and the Middle East. Andrea Villani, in an essay in the catalog for the Egyptian Pavilion, states: “The events of 1879-1882 in which past and present, facts and imagination, history and its fabrication, being a citizen or a foreigner, a hero or a traitor, become entangled.” In looking backward and, at the same time, forwards, we could, therefore, ask ourselves: Can we ever be or go back to beings who are fair towards each other and our fellow species? Or could colonialism or rather “coloniality”, the persistent dark side of European and Western modernity, the echo of an ancestral separation between hegemonic and subaltern mentalities and behaviors, which do not allow colonialism to end, the analog of the flood and fires of the ancient myths? Are we cursed by our own stories?”

Alternatively, might we, one day, be freed, thanks to them? Is this not also the underlying question posed by the Nigerian pavilion and its consideration of the past to find the solidarity and vision to imagine a brighter future? There are no bright lines or set boundaries here. The German pavilion artists pose the reality of the present as Thresholds.

In the British pavilion, Sir John Akomfrah’s Listening All Night to the Rain alludes to the final ensemble of installations – “Iterations of acoustemology” – detours back to questioning the architectonics of the present and the specters of the past, with the idea of listening to the activism of the mind “Sir John states,” I sense that one can know the world-that you can find a name, “an identity, and a sense of belonging- via the sonic.”

These issues and questions, in my view, are best presented by the pavilions and the artists discussed below, while not excluding others that are too numerous to mention here.

Egypt – Wael Shawky; Drama 1882
I was introduced to Wael Shawky at MOMA PS1. His first solo exhibition there, Cabaret Crusaders, tells the story of the crusades, through Arab eyes, using marionettes for actors. In his new theatrical film, Drama 1882, Shawky continues his ongoing practice of historical renditions transforming the Egyptian Pavilion into the center-stage for a timely and critical conversation around the necessity of revisionist histories and the futility of war.

Shawky has created Drama 1882, a musical play about Egypt’s nationalist Urabi revolution against imperial influence (1879-82). The year 1882 was the year this revolt was crushed by the British, who then went on to occupy Egypt until 1956. Shawky says:

“There was a revolt led by the Egyptian Colonel Ahmed Urabi and his army against the Egyptian monarch, calling him a traitor because he fell prey to the British and French. The interesting thing about this discourse Is the idea of the foreigners – what does it mean to be foreigners? Who were they? They were the occupiers – it was not the idea of immigrants that we have today.”

In an essay on Shawky, the distinguished Egyptian critic and author Yasmine El Rashidi writes that Shawky’s practice is rooted in his deep relationship to the history and cultural heritage of the Arab world. His work adheres to the premise that history is a record of subjectively depicted sequences rather than indisputable facts, which he posits to create elaborately choreographed re-stagings and interpretations of historical events. By meticulously blurring lines of recorded fact and possible fiction, and studiously interweaving into his narratives the spiritual and whimsy, Shawky’s work offers poetically alternate prisms with which to consider pivotal moments in history.

Nigeria – Nigeria Imaginary
The press information states “Nigeria Imaginary explores the role of both great moments in Nigeria’s history – moments of optimism – and the Nigeria of the mind—a Nigeria that could be and is yet to be. Presenting different perspectives and constructed ideas, memories, and nostalgias of Nigeria, Nigeria Imaginary leverages an intergenerational and diasporic lens to imagine Nigeria for the future. These voices are articulated via diverse mediums, from painting, photography, and sculpture to AR, sound, and film.”

“Yinka Shonibare CBE RA explores the Benin Expedition of 1897 and presents a new way to understand the looted objects. In contrast, Toyin Ojih Odutola reimagines a new world centered around the Mbari House. Onyeka Igwe and Abraham O. Oghobase explores the colonial hangover and questions the future of this legacy…”

Tunji Adeniyi-Jones, above, looks to the history of Nigerian modernism to evoke an alternative art-historical future.

Ndidi Dike presents several artworks: In a powerful work, she assesses the intersection between the 2020 EndSARS protests in Nigeria and the global movement of Black Lives Matter. In the image below, she is pictured with her work commemorating young individuals who have died from police brutality: the police stick represents the symbol of brutal, lawless violence, while the tags record the name of a person murdered by the police in a demonstration.

Precious Okoyomon, a child of Nigerian immigrants who grew up in the US, is interviewed by me about her work. She invites us into a dream state, placing us into the minds and perspectives of contemporary Nigerians so we can reimagine Nigeria with them.


British Pavilion – Sir John Akomfrah; Listening all Night to the Rain
Listening All Night to the Rain weaves together newly filmed material, archive video footage, and still images with audio and text from international archives and libraries. The catalog states “The exhibition tells global stories through the “memories” of people representing migrant communities in Britain. Each gallery space layers together a specific color field influenced by the paintings of American artist Mark Rothko, to highlight how abstraction can represent the fundamental nature of human drama…

The exhibition positions various theories of acoustemology: the study of how the sonic experience mirrors and shapes our cultural realities. Akomfrah draws on an acute acoustic sensitivity influenced by various formative experiences, from protests to club culture in 1970s-80s London. Akomfrah’s “cantos” are accompanied by a specific soundtrack, which layers archival material with field recordings, speeches, and popular and devotional music. Extending the sense of hybridity in the filmic collages, Akomfrah’s use of sound encourages us to consider the breadth of cultural identity in Britain more broadly.”

The complexity of the pavilion and its narrative are mind-boggling. It was and is not unusual for viewers to stay intently seizing upon the multiple benchmarks and references for hours. A timeline of events evidences the in-depth research of Akomfrah to document the historic events shaping memory and narrative. The only other artist of whom I am personally aware that mines historic archives, including music, to create a sonic and visual experience, as part of his artwork and exhibition design, is Adam Pendelton, as in the MOMA exhibition Who is Queen 2022. In a recent conversation at Pace, the curator of Pendelton’s first European solo exhibition at mumok – Museum moderner Kunst Stiftuna Ludwig Wien, mumok Curator Marianne Dobner, remarked how Austrians were drawn to the soundtrack of the exhibition and Pendelton’s use of Bach as random counterpoint to the digital repetition of historic texts.

I was amazed to find that the film of the founder of a UK charitable trust, the Tairona Heritage Trust, on whose board I sit, served as reference for Canto VII. The film is a message from “the Kogi, an indigenous group in Columbia, who warned the world of the first signs of environmental collapse in the BBC documentary “From the Heart of The World”, found here. Akomfrah credited only the BBC as source and failed to include the name of the documentary filmmaker Alan Eriera – indeed a serious oversight by a fellow filmmaker. Eireira, at the request of the Kogi, made a second film under their guidance. The Tairona Heritage Trust continues its work to advance the message of the Koji for the betterment of the world.

The pavilion is well publicized, and I recommend visiting the website link for more information.

Germany – Thresholds and Echoes; On Migrant Listening, Ersan Mondtag, Yael Bartana, Ersan Mondtag, Louis Chude-Sokei (Giardini)
“Thresholds is about space, moving through a house, a building but also encountering the world through it. It is about passages, tunnels, and about how space gives rise meanings, particularly from culture to culture, ethnic group to ethnic group, and how communities in motion make home within spaces that are often inhospitable, and often incarcerate or expel them. After all, to speak of space is to speak also of borders.”

– Louis Chude-Sokei, Thresholds and Echoes: On Migrant Listening

Michael Akstaller, Yael Bartana, Robert Lippok, Ersan Mondtag, Nicole L’Huillier, and Jan St. Werner to navigate the verge, the gradation, the boundary under the title of Thresholds. Proceeding from alternative readings of history and the future, the contribution extrapolates realms of experience from the liminal.

Ersan Mondtag and five performers bring biographical fragments to life: workplace, factory, living quarters, and public space. His reference point is the life of his grandfather Hasan Aygiin, who came to West Berlin from Central Anatolia in the 1960s, made a living by working in the Eternit asbestos factories, and died due to this work. On a parquet floor transferred to Venice from an abandoned Brandenburg arts center, Mondtag crosses post-migrant history with forgotten biographies of the work-oriented society of the GDR. Through placing motifs from migrant and East German biographies at the center of the pavilion, Mondtag raises questions about post heroic historiography, representation, and narrative at the threshold of a post-industrial landscape.


“With her ongoing work Light to the Nations, Yael Bartana approaches a threshold in time and space: the present reality of planet Earth on the brink of environmental and political destruction. In an act of salvation, a spaceship, envisioned by the artist and named after a passage in the Book of Isaiah, carries multiple generations of humans toward unknown galaxies.”

Arsenale – Three artists who stand out, Santiago Yahuarcani, Rember Yahuarcani, and Dalton Paula
Going through the Giardini/Central Pavillion and the Arsenale, I wandered without a programmed agenda. The quality of the exhibitions and the selection of artists engaged me. I followed my eyes. Notwithstanding that these encounters were “subjective,” I share my “chance encounters.”

Coincidentally, the three artists who stand out in the Arsenale are from Brazil.

Dalton Paula is a multifaceted artist who lives in Brazil and is from Goiana. The image below is from the 16 Full Body Portraits (2023-2024) series of historical figures of African descent involved in or who lead anti-slavery movements in Brazil in the late 19th or early 20th century.

Not surprisingly,  I also would be remiss not to mention or suggest a stop at the Pavillion of Brazil – renamed the Hãhãwpuá Pavilion (ancestral territory)  in the Giardini, on your way to visit the Egyptian Pavillion. The Pavillion brings together the Tupinambá Community and artists coming from the coastal peoples — the first to be transformed into foreigners in their own Hãhãw (ancestral territory) — in order to express a different perspective on the vast territory where more than three hundred indigenous peoples live (Hãhãwpuá). “The Hãhãwpuá Pavilion tells a story of indigenous resistance in Brazil, the strength of the body present in the retaking of territory and adaptation to climatic emergencies,” say the curators, adding,”The Tupinambá were considered extinct until 2001, when the Brazilian State finally recognized that not only had they never been exterminated, but that they were actively fighting to reclaim their territory and part of their culture, taken away by colonization”. This  parallels the narrative and historical mythology used by the Australian government with respect to the aboriginal population until about the same time.

The Takeaways

This  Biennale confirms the relevance of the Venice Biennale  for art world citizens and the broader population. The dialogue and conversation of both the curated exhibitions and the National Pavillions  is not always linear, often multilayered, and often full of contradictions. Others have found much to criticize. This is not the  first international exhibition to make the case for an expanded vision of what is art and the global artworld.

Okwui Enzor’s 2002 Documenta, which is the international exhibition which occurs every five years in Kassel, was a milestone, in enlarging  art world horizons and positioning artists of the 20th century avant-garde as just a few actors in a vast ebb and flow of world civilization. Though earlier shows like “Magiciens de la Terre” (Paris, 1989) expanded  the canon to include non-western art, Enwezor featured 117 artists, where Europeans, Americans, Africans, Latin Americans, and Asian artists all had equal exposure. Enwezor offered a critique of the territorial approach to the Biennale represented by Venice to tackle the art world’s persistent Euro- and Western-centrism. He argued that the art world must expand its horizon to see and understand non western art in part, by juxtaposing the work under-appreciated  artists of the Western canon with non-Western counterparts, highlighting affinities and contrasts  to establish a dialogue and conversation which permitted the viewer to see the familiar in a new light. Okwui went on to curate the Venice  Biennale and was the inspiration for the Sharjah Biennale, Thinking Historically in the Present (see my review of the Sharjah Biennale).

Adriano Pedrosa continues the call for inclusiveness and in a sense updates the art world to what has been occurring in the global economic and forum fuelled by the increasing and  critical situation of climate change and out of control migrations. The art world cannot be a bubble. We require dialogue between the Global South and the Western world: listening, respecting, learning. Only then can we develop the sense of community and interconnectedness of our actions to create a sustainable future, participating, and acting as a global community. Some people have commented to me that this was a biennale too linked with commerce. Of course, one could mention the native American dance companies, who distributed cards for future performances, the sponsorships and financing of collateral events as well as pavilions by commercial galleries, including creating pavilions with globally marketed artists, to sustain the introduction of artists who seek global recognition We do see for years the porous boundaries and criteria between the art fair and the biennale. Is this good? Is this negative? Is it a problem for the Congolese critic of the capitalist society, to use art sales to finance land purchases in the Congo and use “the white box” to do so? Probably, but so what? Let’s discuss this. Can this Biennale and the current art world go beyond identity politics to look at the art  and revise the western canon or to understand as Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan famously observed “the medium is the message” (the “message” of any medium or technology is the change of scale or pace or pattern that it introduces into human affairs. 1964). 

At the end of the day, if we look and listen, there is much in this Biennale, which touches the soul and resonates as a memory, again and again. For those who seek to judge or ask if this is art, I submit that is a starting point.

And If You Have Time

For those with time, there are several terrific off-site exhibitions in conjunction with the Biennale, some of which are housed in Palazzo and other historic structures. I highly recommend exploring the following works:

1. Willem de Kooning – Gallerie dell’Accademia

2. Shahzia Sikander – Palazzo Soranzo Van Axel, Collective Behavior

3. Lee Bae – Wilmotte Foundation, La Maison de la Lune Brûlée

4. Zeng Fanzhi – Scuola Grande della Misericordia di Venezia, Near and Far, Now and Then

5. Jean Cocteau – The Gugenheim

6. Dread Scott – All African Peoples Consulate. See New York Times here.

7. Wael Shakey’s video with puppets – I am Hymn of the New Temples; Texas artist and activist Rick Lowe’s solo exhibition – The Arch within the Arc

Both artists can be seen at Pallazo Grimani. Rick Lowe’s urban abstractions are a revelation and stunning success for those of us who hear more about his preservation and community efforts. Plus, several Titan portraits to see for those who have had it with contemporary art.

5 Questions with Bianca Cutait, Senior Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Bonhams – Part II

OK, we’re back! Now we want to chat with Bianca with a little more focus on art auctions themselves and her experience in this area…

It’s no news that art auctions can be an intimidating space to step into for the first time. How would you explain to potential young collectors the benefits of participating in an auction?

Auctions are the best way to start buying something you desire, since it gives you the opportunity to purchase it at a better price than you usually could. Also, and foremost, auctions are an extremely regulated marketplace, so you know that everything you buy or make an offer on has already been cleared by several experts. Most often, these pieces have good provenance. And of course, the thrill of bidding is an unbeatable feeling! Beware: Once you’ve experienced the rush of bidding, you will want to do it more.

How do you build and maintain relationships with clients, collectors, and industry professionals?

I believe the best way to maintain any relationship is to be cordial and respectful. With colleagues and peers, we have to be nice and get along, working together as a team. With clients I have a similar approach, but I also think my outgoing personality makes it a little easier for me. Respect is key though.

Surely, some clients have made the experience easier than others! Who is your ideal client?

My ideal seller is the one that trusts us on the process and knows that we will do our best to make their work sell as best as possible. Now, my ideal buyer is the one that bids with an open mind and a set budget. But all clients are ideal, to be honest, and as our clients, we will fight for them and make sure they are treated well.

Tell us about your most recent career highlights as a senior specialist.

I wear a lot of hats being the Senior Latin American Specialist, but one of the proudest moments of my career has been consigning an amazing work by Doris Salcedo, a Colombian artist who had a solo room at Fondation Bayeler in Germany. Another highlight so far has been showcasing important Latin American artists at our private sale exhibitions, like Julio Le Parc and Pablo Atchugarry.

What is the most memorable auction you have curated and what challenges did you encounter in the process?

We as a team curate these auctions together, always helping our heads of sale, and I think the biggest challenge we have is adjusting the price estimates with the expectation of the sellers. Having that said, I’d think that one of the most memorable auctions I have worked was the Barbara Walters single owner sale.

And here’s a BONUS question, just to fulfill my own curiosity: Can you share an example of a challenging auction situation you’ve faced and how you resolved it?

Once, I was faced with a client who yelled at me for not agreeing to sell one of his works. I kept my cool, did not engage and reported him afterwards. But there are so many challenging situations we encounter at auction. A piece that might not sell. A client that does not pick up the phone. Sometimes buyers might take too long to pay, while the seller is expecting payment.

I think the best way to solve any of these problems is to always remain calm and work together. We are all extremely well-trained to handle all sorts of challenges, and as a team we think better. I am very fortunate to have great colleagues and to have a great Head of Department, who knows all about dealing with adversities and challenges with a smile on his face.

Find out more about Bianca here and read PART 1 of this interview here. You can also learn more from Bianca who contributed to our ArtCollect program.

10 Things to Avoid While Collecting Art

When you begin to collect art, you are embarking on the journey of a lifetime. You will meet wonderful people, discover amazing artists, and fill your home with beauty. But if you are like most people, you will also make mistakes! We are going to present you with our top 10 things to avoid while collecting art.

What Not to Do When Collecting Art

Don’t Rush: Starting an art collection takes patience. Remember, this isn’t a race, and often feeling pressure to do things quickly will result in making foolish decisions. When you are searching for a work of art, you will often have to wait for the right piece to come available. Or you might simply not be able to find something that fits your needs. That’s okay! There is no reason to buy something that’s available right now but not perfect. Rushing the process also takes away so much of the fun you can have while finding and collecting great artwork.

Don’t Buy Just for the Investment: While art can be a great investment, it offers you so much more than a simple return. But if you end up buying a work of art just to profit later, you won’t be able to enjoy it while you have it. What’s worse, no investment is foolproof. You might end up losing money on the deal — a lose-lose situation. It is a smart idea to consider the long term investment value of artwork you buy, but it should never be the only factor in your decision. No one can predict the future 100% of the time, but if you love a work of art, you know for certain that it will give you joy.

Don’t Ignore Your Budget: When we fall in love with a work of art, it can be tempting to splurge. That makes keeping to the budget you set difficult — but not impossible! Disregarding your budget has long term consequences for your collection. For one, it makes the entire thing much less financially sustainable. It also puts unnecessary strain on the art to make a return in the future, skewing your decision making process.

Don’t Skip the Research: Make sure you always do your homework about the artist, the pieces provenance, and the seller — whether you are buying from an individual, gallery, or auction house. Sometimes, collectors get so excited about a piece that they want to jump right to acquiring the work of art, but that can be a mistake. No matter how good a deal “feels,” you want to make sure you are buying the real deal. And there is no alternative to simply doing the research. (Artnet and Artsy are great resources to begin finding the right information.)

Don’t Neglect the Condition of the Artwork: Collectors need to be certain about the condition of a work of art before they buy it. Damage can affect the resale value, and in some cases it can make the piece break down much faster over time — leading to much more money and effort spent on preservation. Even minor flaws can seriously curtail the value of a work of art. While you may be forgiving of a tiny scratch or dent, future buyers might not be.

Don’t Overlook Emerging Artists: It’s easy to get swept away by big names. But you’ll find that emerging artists are often the best way to get incredible artwork for a great price. That doesn’t mean you should look at these creators as bargains. If you do your research, you can find artists who are going to be tomorrow’s blue chippers. Buying from emerging artists also helps support young careers — leading to a more robust art scene in the future.

Don’t Disregard Your Own Taste: Even if a piece is expected to appreciate in value or is by a well-known artist, if it doesn’t resonate with you, it’s not worth the purchase. Your collection should reflect your personal taste. After all, you are the one who is going to be spending time with the art! You’ll have a much better experience if you buy things you actually love.

Don’t Neglect Proper Care: Once your collection is under way, you’ll need to stay on top of keeping your artwork safe. This includes proper framing, storage, and cleaning. Different mediums will have different best practices, and you should make it your responsibility to know what those are. If you fail to care for your artwork, it will rapidly lose value and diminish in beauty.

Don’t Forget About the Space: Building an art collection is not a purely abstract activity. The artwork needs to go somewhere. So you’ll need to take into account the place you are putting it. What is the right size for a work of art there? What about style? You will also want to keep an eye out for the right medium. For instance, there might be a place in your home or office that’s perfect for a work of art, but it is drenched in sunlight most of the day. You’ll want something that can hold up under those conditions.

Don’t Go It Alone: If you are uncertain about how to get started collecting, don’t worry! There are many people you can turn to for help. Of your many options, some are more expensive than others. On the free side, you can go to galleries and art fairs with a friend who knows about the art market. Even if they don’t have much expertise, sometimes having a second opinion can help. And if you feel really stuck, you can always hire an art advisor.

Guidelines for Successful Art Collecting

Starting out as an art collector is such an exciting time. You will learn learn so much, and you’ll soon be surrounded by stunning works of art.

But to do it right means navigating the complex world of art — which always comes with its own set of challenges. Avoiding the pitfalls listed above, you can make informed decisions, get more joy from your collection, and become the savvy art collector you were always meant to be!

Where to Learn More

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 BonhamsWinston Art GroupartnetArtwork Archive, Private Client Select Insurance Services and 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!

ArtCollect Program



The Art Lawyer’s Diary: Reflections on the 60th Venice Biennale: Foreigners Everywhere – Part I

By Barbara T. Hoffman

Without having paid much attention to the origin of the theme and title of the 60th Biennale, I assumed it to be a response to the movements to the far right in Europe and the United States stoked by fear of the “other,” the “different”. Thus, I anticipated a Biennale focused on a selection of artists who oppose the negative notions associated with the “other” in their work, including the economic and power structures that have created the current problems of migration fueled by poverty and war. For those unfamiliar with the Venice Biennale, the title and theme are set by the selected curator as the basis for the curatorial agenda and selection of artists in the curated exhibitions at the Giardini (321 in this Biennale) and the Arsenale and the 86 National Participations in the historic pavilions at the Giardini, the Arsenale, and city center of Venice and its surroundings. The term “foreigners everywhere” seemed to focus on the viewpoint of the observer rather than on the subject, the “foreigner.” Which accepts the indigenous or “other” as the foreigner.

However, after three days of exploring the national pavilions, the curated exhibitions, and the collateral events, I was stunned by the rich tapestry of imagination, ideas, intellectual musings, and multiple worldviews colliding to envision new futures to resolve the current global crisis. As John Akomfrah, the artist commissioned by the British Council, noted, in the final ensemble of installations in the pavilion of Great Britain, “Listening to the Rain,” iterations of acoustemology, which look at meaning and memorial from a different vantage point questioning the architectonics of the present and the specters of the past with the idea of listening and activism in mind, “I sense that one can know the world that you can find the name, and identity and a sense of belonging in this sonic.

John Akomfrah, Press Day Visitors “Listening all Night to the Rain” © 2024 British Pavillion**

In the same vein of optimism, the artists in the Nigerian pavilion express this sentiment: Nigeria Imaginary, the Nigerian Pavilion, explores the role of both great moments in Nigeria’s history – moments of optimism – and the Nigeria of the mind — a Nigeria that could be and is yet to be. Presenting different perspectives and constructed ideas, memories, and nostalgias of Nigeria, Nigeria Imaginary leverages an intergenerational and diasporic lens to imagine Nigeria for the future. These voices are articulated via diverse mediums, from painting, photography, and sculpture to AR, sound, and film.

This year’s Biennale was curated by Adriano Pedrosa of Brazil, the first curator from the Southern Hemisphere. Like his processor of two years ago, the theme finds inspiration in a work of creativity. In this instance, the title “is drawn from a series of works made by the Paris-born and Palermo-based collective Claire Fontaine since 2004”. The works are neon sculptures in different colors, each rendering the expression “Foreigners Everywhere” in a growing number of languages. The expression was, in turn, appropriated from the name of a collective from Turin that, in the early 2000s, fought racism and xenophobia in Italy: Stranieri Ovunque.

As Pedrosa stated, “The backdrop for the work is a world rife with multifarious crises concerning the movement and existence of people across countries, nations, territories, and borders. These crises reflect the perils and pitfalls of language, translation, and nationality, in turn highlighting differences and disparities conditioned by identity, nationality, race, gender, sexuality, freedom, and wealth. In this panorama, the expression “Foreigners Everywhere” has several meanings. First of all, it means that wherever you go and wherever you are, you will always encounter foreigners-they/we are everywhere. Second, it means that no matter where you find yourself, you are always truly, and deep down inside, a foreigner.

“In Venice, foreigners are everywhere. Yet, one may also think of the expression as a motto, a slogan, a call to action, a cry of excitement, joy, or fear: Foreigners everywhere! More importantly, today, it assumes a critical signification in Europe, around the Mediterranean, and in the world, especially when the number of forcibly displaced people hit the highest in 2022, at 108.4 million, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and is expected to have grown even more in 2023.”
What differentiates this Biennale Arte 2024 is Pedrosa’s focus on artists who are themselves foreigners, immigrants, expatriates, diasporics, émigrés, exiled, or refugees-particularly those who have moved between the Global South and the Global North. Thus, he states, “Migration and decolonization are key themes here”. Pedrosa does not stop here, however, and uses “straniere,” another term in Italian for foreigners, to explore a second meaning, strange which then leads to queer.

Pedrosa further explains and justifies that “According to the American Heritage and the Oxford English dictionaries, the first meaning of the word “queer” is “strange,” and thus the exhibition unfolds and focuses on the production of other related subjects: the queer artist, who has moved within different sexualities and genders, often being persecuted or outlawed. Queer artists appear throughout the Exhibition and are also the subject of a large section in the Corderie.

The outsider artist, who is located at the margins of the art world, much like the self-taught artist, the folk artist, and the artista popular; and the Indigenous artist, who is frequently treated as a foreigner in their own land. The work of these four subjects is the focus of this Biennale Arte.”

Something else is also going on in the Biennale that apparently is a sea change in perception of the art world. I talked to many artists who traveled for the first time, indigenous artists from the Amazon who proudly spoke of a different worldview and aesthetic of equal value to solve our current crisis if “the other” would hear the message. In the past, Biennales focused on indigenous issues and brought forth voices not often heard by filmmakers and other artists; however, this Biennale presents the art of the “foreigner” as “art.”

Perhaps it is not surprising that the Biennale’s top prizes for the best artists participation in the curated exhibition went to the Mataaho Collective, which consists of four Māori women artists: Bridget Reweti, Erena Baker, Sarah Hudson, and Terri Te Tau. The Maori Mataaho Collective has created a luminous woven structure of straps that poetically crisscross the gallery space. Referring to matrilinear traditions of textiles with its womb-like cradle, the installation is both a cosmology and a shelter. Its impressive scale is a feat of engineering that was only made possible by the collective strength and creativity of the group. The dazzling pattern of shadows cast on the walls and floor harks back to ancestral techniques and gestures to future uses of such techniques.

Yinka Shonibare’s Refugee Astronaut VIII, © 2024 Venice Biennale**

As a First Nation artist of Australia, Archie Moore won the Golden Lion prize for the best national pavilion for Kith and Kin. Although Moore is not the first First Nation artist to represent Australia, this is the first time Australia has won the Golden Lion. Moore created a genealogical chart with chalk on black walls tracing his British ancestors going back 65,000 years. In speaking of the work, Moore said, “Aboriginal kinship systems include all living things from the environment and a larger patchwork of relations. The land itself can be a mentor; we are all one and share a responsibility of care to all living things now and into the future”. While Moore’s thought represented and found expression in the world view of many of the Biennale artists, the judges seemed impressed by his technique of working in charcoal and the simple and elegant structure of the installation.

In selecting this quietly powerful pavilion, Archie Moore worked for months to hand-draw a monumental First Nations family tree with chalk. Thus, 65,000 years of history (both recorded and lost) are inscribed on the dark walls, as well as on the ceiling, asking viewers to fill in blanks and take in the inherent fragility of this mournful archive. Floating in a moat of water are redacted official State records, reflecting Moore’s intense research as well as the high rates of incarceration of First Nations people. This installation stands out for its strong aesthetic, lyricism, and invocation of shared loss for occluded pasts. With his inventory of thousands of names, Moore also offers a glimmer of possibility for recuperation.

Archie Moore, Kith and Kin © 2024 Giardini, Venice Biennale**

The art press has been diverse in its response to this Biennale. I refer to one specific critic, who largely seems to have raced through the Arsenale and largely thought the medium was the message. I refer to Arsenal Review: ‘Foreigners Everywhere’ Treads Familiar Ground, Freize April 182024 by Cloe Stead, who describes the Arsenale as “A textile and painting-heavy edition of the Venice Biennale” and further argues that the “Venice Biennale follows a tried and tested method of curation…” With ‘Foreigners Everywhere’ unquestionably the most diverse biennial to date, I remain hopeful that, two years from now, we’ll get an exhibition that includes all these nationalities under a theme that doesn’t reduce them to the languages they speak, and the places they were born or moved to. Other more reflective and observant critics collectively state that “there has never been a Biennale like this.”

There is much to learn here, and there is no one-size-fits-all beyond the general themes stated above. For me, it is perhaps the first Biennale to be in tune not only with artists expressing the critical issues of their time, rather than the latest in marketable contemporary art aesthetics, but also deeply held values and world views that seek to use the lessons of the past, whether ancestors, a negative colonial experience or a religious world view and cosmology, to address a more positive future.

There is pride, not pessimism, and a recognition, too, of the contradictions inherent in the criticism of the global capitalist north. At the same time, there is pride in joining the “white box,” as expressed most strongly by the occupiers of the Dutch Pavilion, the Congolese Artist Collective Cercle d’Art des Travailleurs de Plantation Congolese (CATPC).

The sculptures exhibited are made of clay from the remaining growths of old forests and are recast in cocoa and palm oil in Amsterdam. The collective stated, “Each sculpture will mark the passage from a painful and dark past to an ecological tomorrow, a future in which the Sacred Forest will flow through the pavilion.”

For the readers of One Art Nation, professionals in the art world, and collectors, the importance of the messages of this Biennale cannot be overlooked. Many artists, if not the majority, are exhibiting in Venice for the first time. The importance of the historic moment for the pavilions and the artist cannot be overstated. I was so moved to hear Jeffrey Gibson of the US express his emotions about being the first native American to represent the United States and the importance to his people and Native Americans to represent a country that by law had tried to eliminate them as a people and culture.

Julian Creuzet, a French artist from Martinique, is also the first from a French former colony to represent France. Both Creuset and Gibson are established artists with successful careers. Creuset, who was commissioned for the Performa 2023 Biennale in New York, asks, “What does the center mean when you are French? What is the meaning of the French pavilion in Venice and national representation? How do you construe all of that when they call you an overseas citizen, someone aware of being a part of a much more complex French story?”. Creuzet decided immediately on leaning his selection to make openness, joy, hospitality, and dialogue a key element of the pavilion experience, characteristics of his life in Martinique (6) Creuzet.

This Biennale informs not only about new artistic trends in art making but it links the art world to legal and global changes in the international area regarding traditional knowledge, climate change, migration, and other areas in which developments are largely unknown to the insular art world. For example, the UN’s goals for sustainable development reflect a new emphasis on culture as a fourth pillar of sustainable development.

In a recent presentation I made on behalf of ICOMOS at a preparatory conference to the G2 Cultural minister meeting in Brazil, I stated that the following principles guide G20 policy:

  1. Acknowledge the rights of Indigenous Peoples as established under the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP 2007)
  2. Affirm that Indigenous Peoples have rights over their traditional knowledge, traditional cultural expressions, genetic resources, and associated intellectual property rights. (Article 31 of the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples).
  3. Recognize and incorporate Indigenous heritage action in the face of widespread climate change, which includes working, where appropriate and feasible, with Indigenous communities to anticipate, assess, and help manage worsening and future climate impacts on their heritage
  4. Embrace the principle of free, prior, and informed consent of Indigenous communities before adopting measures concerning their cultural heritage. (ICOMOS Buenos Aires Declaration 2018).
  5. Acknowledge the rights of Indigenous Peoples to maintain, control, protect, and develop their cultural heritage and to define and implement the best methods to conserve heritage of significance to their culture.
  6. Recognize that cultural and natural values are inseparably interwoven for Indigenous Peoples and should be managed and protected holistically.
  7. Recognize Indigenous sovereignty and control over their land and knowledge when seeking to use Indigenous knowledge as part of effective climate responses and initiatives.
  8. Promote the need for culturally appropriate Intellectual Property clauses when engaging with and sharing Indigenous Knowledge or TK.

My Brazilian colleagues further urged that any declaration of the G20 to issue from this year’s conference in Brazil address the following;

  1. Consider the deep interconnection between indigenous peoples’ tangible and intangible culture, in the ongoing digital planning and information processes to which these communities have been passively added.
  2. Value the heritage of Afro-descendants and their knowledge, memories, and places as cultural heritage, including Quilombola communities, ensuring the rights of these peoples.
  3. Valorization of forms of popular expression recognized as national heritage, such as music and dances (samba, choro, frevo, etc.) and gastronomy (artisan cheese, acarajé, etc.) operate consistently with the protection of traditional cultural expressions and expressions of folklore, respecting that for many traditional communities, their knowledge and cultural expressions form an indivisible part of their holistic identity. See the presentation by ICOMOS at the G20 Culture Working Group: Culture, Digital Environment, and Copyright.

UNESCO adopted the World Heritage Convention in 1972, which links culture and nature. Organizations like ICAMOS have recently included principles of indigenous people’s rights and values in designating world heritage sites of importance to humanity.
In 1970, the United Nations Education and Social and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) adopted the “Convention on the Means of Prohibiting and Preventing Illicit Activities”, which deals with the obligation of signatories to return illicitly obtained art and cultural heritage.
The latter, the 1970 convention, deals with the obligations of signatories to return illicitly obtained objects and cultural heritage. The Dutch Pavilion, “The International Celebration of Blasphemy and the Sacred”, and Yinka Shonibare of the Nigerian Pavilion deal with this principle and the complexity involved in returning cultural heritage. Yinka Shonibare’s installation at the Nigerian Pavilion, as shown below, deals with the complexities of the return of cultural heritage work.

Yinka Shonibare, Nigeria Imaginary: Benin Expedition of 1897 © 2024 Palazzo Canal 3121 Rio Tera Canal Dorsoduro**

This Biennale is an example that all our worlds have porous boundaries: Ideas and change migrate as do people, even in spite of physical boundaries, whether between nations, institutions, or areas of practice. Can the art world be a model for correcting social injustice, climate action, and fostering global peace for a sustainable future when political institutions are failing?

Indeed, given the situation of the United States’ inability to engage in conversation, and given the situation at the level of academics in the United States, the Biennale represents the most positive steps forward in the art world’s ability to engage in positive dialogue and discussion.

Stay tuned; In  the June issue, I will discuss my selections of several of the most interesting national pavilions, to include, Great Britain, Egypt, Nigeria, Germany, Brazil, France, Netherlands and Mongolia, with interviews from some of the artists both in the pavilions and the Arsenale, my  preferred of the two curated exhibitions. Of course, as is my practice, look for practical tips to enjoy Venice including collateral exhibitions and restaurants.

5 Questions with Bianca Cutait, Senior Specialist, Post-War and Contemporary Art at Bonhams – Part I

We were thrilled when Bianca enthusiastically agreed to contribute to our latest ArtCollect program. And here’s why. She has such a diverse work experience in the fields of art and culture – having held roles in many different aspects of the industry on three different continents. So, we knew she had a lot to bring to the table.

Before joining Bonhams in 2022, Bianca founded the international art advisory firm Arte Fundamental with a gallery in Miami, exhibiting American and Latin American artists as well as NFTs and digital art. And many of you have read her pieces on the art market that Bianca has written for Robb Report Brazil, Forbes, Vogue, and other major publications.

But we still had so many questions to ask her. So, we did…

Currently, you source artworks and assist clients with their collecting decisions. So, we’d love to know, in your opinion, what makes a great art collection?

A great art collection always consists of pieces the owners love and cannot live without once they are made aware of its’ existence. I have seen collectors sigh when looking at their pieces. Any art collection, or any collection for that matter, must fit the budget of its owner, and it evolves with time and is adapted to the reality of the current moment. It can also be perceived as an investment and, as such, it must start at the financial planning to achieve a goal. Basically, a great art collection is formed out of love with a goal that fits your pocket.

Having worked in different realms of the industry, starting as an artist, then becoming an advisor, a gallerist and now a specialist at auction, where do you most prefer to buy art: galleries, online platforms, art fairs, or auctions?

I believe we can buy art at those four places, plus I will add a fifth option. Galleries are the seal of approval that shows an artist is consistent enough with their work, while also caring for the artist’s career, which I appreciate as a former artist myself and as a former gallerist as well. Online platforms are a great way of comparing different artists with different mediums and at different galleries, which comes back again to the seal of approval and even curatorship. Art fairs, on the other hand, are the best way to interact with the galleries and maybe even the artists and, again, compare. These 3 first options are all primary market ways of buying.

Auctions, however, are the big opportunity gateway to start understanding the market as a whole and make more educated purchases. I personally started selling and buying at auctions and have not stopped since.

Now, the fifth option is buying directly from artists, and while it can be risky (knowing that the artist may not thrive professionally) it can also be fun, and they might end up being a tremendous success with a gallery to back them up, eventually.

How do you stay up-to-date with market trends and item valuations?

I study a lot and keep myself updated with the art portals which provide current sales results. It is so important to know what happens year after year, season after season, and how trends are affected. I personally love going to gallery openings and museums, and I love reading art publications. I watch live auctions almost as much as Netflix!

Now that’s the “real” reality TV! Let’s see if I can challenge your memory here, considering you’ve attended endless shows and auctions over the years. Which was the first that blew your mind?

So many exhibitions and art shows have blown my mind, as well as live auctions that were historical, such as the Leonardo da Vinci, which sold at Christie’s for $450,000,000. When I was around 12 years old, I went to a photographic exhibition in Brazil by Sebastião Salgado and I got emotional, then learning that when you get that reaction you have something called Stendhal Syndrome, which makes you cry at the sight of something beautiful. It has happened to me a few times since. I ugly cried when I saw a show by Group Zero at the Sakip Sabanci Museum in Istanbul in 2016. They are my personal favorite artists collective of all times.

Now, the first time I was on the phone tables at auction making a sale was very impactful for me too, and my first ever piece sold was a work by Brazilian artist Adriana Varejão (as a Brazilian myself, it was a total coincidence).

Love that! OK, 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 this module, participants can learn how auctions work from the most basic perspective to the highest level of bidding, while navigating real stories and the excitement of building a collection as an investment or as a business. The regulations that suit and surround the auction world make it the most interesting part of the industry in my opinion, and people can expect emotion at every step of the process.

Find out more about Bianca here and keep an eye out for Part 2 of this interview!

5 Questions with Alaina Simone of Alaina Simone Inc.

Alaina Simone is the owner and founder of Alaina Simone Inc.. But that’s just the start. She’s also an art consultant, gallerist, curator, and artist liaison focused on internationally recognized interdisciplinary emerging and established artists, collections, and institutions. And if that’s not enough, she runs Alaina Simone Productions LLC, a production company specializing in creative partnerships between luxury brands, cultural influencers, and contemporary artists actively working across disciplines, practices, and fields.

She has also produced and curated internationally recognized exhibitions with corresponding educational programming. So with this background to share, we were thrilled that she agreed to join our ArtCollect program, as a co-presenter of Module 1: Building Your Art Collection and were eager to learn more about Alaina. Here’s what we found out:

OK, with so much experience under your belt, we’d love to know what, in your opinion, makes up a great collection.

An Art collection should be invariant and naturally reflect the collector’s or institution’s interests. The works should all be “Museum Quality” and professionally installed or stored. It is best when the overall integrity and theme of the collection match the Artist’s intention. I love it when collectors develop a theme for their collections. I also love when collectors have outlandish collections based on their sheer emotions.

We know that you value being able to share ideas and work with artists, collectors, and institutions from around the world. So, do you have any advice for people who are looking to buy their first piece of artwork?

Buy what you love. Working with a consultant to build your collection is a good idea.

Advisors and consultants provide background information on the artwork and Artist. The buyer should buy art that inspires them and that they want to live with and interact with daily.

Makes perfect sense. Tell us a little bit about how you have made it your mission to elevate Black voices in the art world. How are you fulfilling this important goal?

I am fortunate to work with amazing and talented Artists, foundations, estates, and institutions.

Recently, I wrote an essay for an exhibition, “Black Artists in America: From Civil Rights to the Bicentennial,” curated by Dr. Earnestine Jenkins and published by Yale Press and Dixon Galleries in Memphis, Tennessee. This is the second iteration of a three-part traveling exhibition series. The exhibition is on view until May 19, 2024, at Crocker Art Museum in Sacramento, California.

Love that! Although I’m not sure where you find the time, being an art consultant, gallerist, curator, and Artist Liaison all at once. So many hats! What does a day look like for you?

I’m a forever gallerist and a dealer, which means I’m constantly liaising between the Artists and the public. Artists are always the most integral part of the equation for me, so working closely with them has always been the center.
Everything spreads out from there, including conceptualizing and curating an exhibition while simultaneously working with collectors and institutions.

Speaking of curating exhibitions, what was the first show that blew your mind?

That’s a tough question. My mind is constantly blown.

The King Tut exhibition that came to Memphis when I was a child changed my life. I never saw anything like it. My brother Ainsley screamed, “They Black, Momma.” Our eyes lit up, and it was exciting to see our reflection in the Art and history of this supreme ancient civilization.

Imagine my enthusiasm after discovering that my DNA has a percentage from Egypt. In a way, all these different African, Indigenous, Native and European cultures reflected in my bloodline personally make this journey with Art even more meaningful and impactful.

How AI Is Transforming the Art Market

Everywhere you turn, there is more news about artificial intelligence (AI). From terrifying tales of robots taking jobs to strange stories about people falling in love with ChatGPT, AI seems to be everywhere. The art world is no exception.

In fact, as we move into this new frontier, we find that AI can serve us in the creation, curation, and sale of art. As the market evolves to take on the new opportunities and challenges this technology presents us, both collectors and creators will have to reckon with the changes. Let’s dive into the top five ways AI is changing art.

5 Ways AI Is Changing Art

1. AI Art Generation

This is probably the first thing that jumps in your head when you think about the connection between AI and the art world. Beginning around the second half of 2022, headlines were taken up by the shockingly high quality images AI programs could spit out. But the art world has really been dealing with this phenomenon for much longer than that. In 2018, Christie’s auctioned off an AI-generated artwork for $432,500.

To make this artwork, Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) are trained on enormous datasets of existing artworks. The AI then reverse engineers the images, making the program able to reproduce parts of them to satisfy the user’s prompts. This has sparked a lot of controversy, as visual artists claim that the AI is essentially plagiarizing their work — all without the original artists being compensated for their contribution.

The debates rage on. In September 2022, an AI generated piece took Colorado State Fair’s top prize in the digital artwork category. Moments like these are making some artists queasy, while still others are embracing this new technology.

2. Collaborating With AI

Some artists are now using AI in the studio — not as a replacement but as an assistant. There are a wide range of tools that can help. Pre-visualization and drafting can now be easily iterated using AI art generators. This allows artists to rapidly produce and cycle through ideas, augmenting their creative process.

There are also now a wide range of tools that use AI to change images that you give it. For instance, Infinite Patterns creates new, unending patterns by morphing your input. Tools like this change the relationship between artist and AI tool in an important way, emphasizing collaboration between the two.

There are even algorithms that can mimic specific artistic styles. This means artists have the ability to immerse their work in the aesthetic of another era or artist without extensive study or training in that particular style. For instance, tools like DeepArt or DeepDream can transform a simple sketch or image into a piece reminiscent of Van Gogh or Picasso.

3. AI Art Curation

The 2021 Whitney Biennial hosted 64 curatorial statements and artist lists that were all curated by an AI program. Called The Next Biennial Should be Curated by a Machine, the resulting internet-based work of art created waves.

But two years out, and AI is only more capable of taking up curatorial responsibilities. Earlier this year, The Algorithmic Pedestal brought together an exhibit curated by a human and one curated by an AI. This made a clear comparison, and it also highlighted key questions about how this new technology is shaping our visual culture.

On a more individual level, AI can also help create recommendations and so curate private collections. It’s kind of like the art world version of Spotify’s AI DJ. But it can help you collect art instead of discover new tracks. This last application is especially useful on online platforms for buying artwork, where there are simply too many options for a single user to sift through. AI, however, can look through the immense amount of artwork and suggest items that match the user’s taste.

4. Restoration and Preservation

One of the most optimistic uses for AI in the art world is centered on restoration and preservation. Here, these new tools are allowing us to better predict how artworks would have looked originally, helping to guide our decisions in their restoration.

The most direct way we can use this technology is in analysis. We have many techniques to peer under the layers of a painting to see into the process of Old Masters. But the more refined our imaging becomes, the more information it produces. That can lead to a confusing glut, where even experts have a hard time piecing together all the data available to them. But that’s not a limiting factor for machine learning algorithms.

They can also be used to digitally restore images. Cambridge’s MACH laboratory does this by finding spots where damage is likely and then recreating those sections. This was famously used to bring a Rembrandt painting back to its original size. In 2021, the Dutch master’s painting The Night Watch (1642) returned to its full size thanks to AI. It had been trimmed in 1715, but now we can see an approximation of what was lost.

5. Interactive Art

Creating fully immersive, interactive art experiences is now made much easier thanks to AI tools. These machine learning algorithms can be used to make installations more responsive to visitors.

An excellent example of this is teamLab’s Borderless exhibition. teamLab is a collective of artists, programmers, engineers, CG animators, mathematicians, and architects that create immersive digital art installations. Many of their works use AI to change and evolve based on viewers’ movements and interactions, creating a unique and dynamic experience for each visitor.

These projects can also help build massive collaboration between audience members, as in Es Devlin’s Poem Portraits. This installation invites participants to contribute a single word to a collective poem. An algorithm, trained on 25 million words of 19th-century poetry, then generates a unique poem for each participant, which is projected onto their face and added to the collective poem. This work combines machine learning and participatory art to create a shared experience that is simultaneously personal and communal.

The New World of Art and AI

The intersection between technology and art has always been a place of controversy and innovation. Right now, that means AI is at the forefront of the conversation. As we’ve seen above, it is reshaping so much of how we make, view, and buy art.

The next few years will reveal even more changes as we all try to navigate through our rapidly changing world.

Responsibilities as an Art Collector: Ensuring Proper Maintenance & Protection of Art Collections

Art collecting is a passion for many individuals who appreciate the aesthetic value of art pieces and the historical significance they hold. However, owning an art collection comes with a responsibility to maintain and protect the pieces. Collectors must understand the key considerations involved in proper maintenance and protection to ensure their collections last for years to come. In this blog article, as shared in our new ArtCollect online course, we will explore the responsibilities of an art collector including due diligence, collection care, logistics, and insurance.

Due Diligence: Understanding the Key Considerations Before Purchasing Art

Whether you are a seasoned collector or a new art enthusiast, it is essential to exercise due diligence before making any significant purchases. Art collector needs to conduct due diligence which involves researching the artist and artwork’s condition and provenance, understanding its value, receiving a certificate of authenticity upon purchase, and working with a reputable seller.

  • Authentication to ensure the artwork you are buying is genuine and not a forgery. Research the artist and the artwork thoroughly before making a purchase to ensure that there are no red flags or discrepancies in the artwork’s history.
  • Provenance refers to the history of ownership of the artwork. It is essential to know who has owned the artwork in the past, as well as how they obtained it. A clear, documented provenance can significantly increase the value of an artwork, while a lack of provenance may call the artwork’s authenticity into question.
  • Condition when an artwork that is in poor condition may be worth significantly less than a similar piece that is in excellent condition. Inspect the artwork before buying it for any damage, such as tears, stains, or paint loss. Additionally, you should consider the artwork’s age and any conservation efforts that may have been undertaken.
  • Market value and how the art market can be volatile, and prices can fluctuate significantly. It is important to understand the current market conditions, including trends and demand for specific artists or styles. You should also consider the artwork’s historical significance and the rarity of the piece.

Collection Care: Maintaining an Up-to-date Inventory of your Collection

One essential aspect of maintaining a collection is keeping track of what you have, where it is, and what condition it is in. This can be achieved through a comprehensive inventory management system like the one provided by Artwork Archive. A good inventory should not only encompass the object’s identification details but also include information on its location, condition, and value.

Maintaining an up-to-date inventory of collections is fundamental to risk management purposes. An up-to-date inventory allows you to provide comprehensive information to your insurance provider in case of loss, theft or damage. Moreover, it helps to ensure that you are covering all collections adequately and avoiding any gaps in coverage. Keeping updated is crucial for the survival, sustainability, and proper management of your collection. It is an investment that requires careful and thorough planning, execution, and continuous evaluation.

Logistics: Understanding Specialized Shipping and Transit Protocols

Shipping and transit present the primary cause of loss within collections, making it crucial to engage professionals for handling delicate and fragile items. General movers may not be sufficiently trained to pack and handle art collections, antiques, or other fragile items. Art shipping requires specific logistics considerations. From packing to transit, these high-value items need exceptional care and attention, and specialized art transport companies have adopted stringent protocols to ensure artworks’ safety and security across different modes of transportation. These protocols aren’t just limited to packaging, but they also include handling, transportation, and installation.

It is also recommended to choose fine art storage facility centers to ensure proper storage conditions, including humidity and temperature regulation. These storage facilities include vaults and specialized art storage facilities. And remember, logistics involves the planning, implementation, and control of the movement of art pieces from one place to another. Proper logistics ensure that art is transported safely and efficiently. It is vital to work with a logistics provider that has experience in specialized art logistics and the expertise to ensure safe transit.

Collections Insurance: Mitigating the Risk of Loss of Irreplaceable Items

Art collectors need to engage the services of a broker like Private Client Select Insurance Services who specialize in fine art and collections to have a suitable and comprehensive insurance policy to protect their collection. Collectors need to protect the collection from home exposures such as water, fire, or theft. Collectors must also consider environmental factors such as location and catastrophic exposures, including wildfire zones or hurricane zones, to install impact-resistant windows and hurricane shutters.

It is crucial to receive appraisals every three to five years to determine the collection’s value and avoid being under-insured. For more volatile markets, collectors may require more frequent appraisals. Appraisers should be affiliated with one of the following organizations: American Association of Appraisers, American Society of Appraisers, and International Society of Appraisers, and the appraisal document should comply with Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP) standards.


Art collectors should work with their carriers to source appraisers, conservators, consultants, art handlers, transit companies, storage facilities, etc. The responsibilities of an art collector span from due diligence, collection care, logistics, and insurance. These tasks are crucial to ensure the safekeeping and longevity of the collection, eliminating the risk of loss or damage to irreplaceable items. By following the guidelines outlined in this article, art collectors can properly manage the risks associated with art collecting and protect their collections for years to come. Art collecting is a passion, but it is also a responsibility.

Where to Learn More

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 BonhamsWinston Art GroupartnetArtwork Archive, Private Client Select Insurance Services and 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!

5 Questions with Multimedia Artist Dennis Rudolph

We came upon multimedia artist Dennis Rudolph’s oil painting at Berlin’s @positions.artfair and were immediately drawn in by the colour scheme, the scale and the attention it screamed for. At that point, we hadn’t realized just how interactive it really was.

We couldn’t just walk by. We needed to meet the artist behind the work. We needed to learn more about him. And so, we did…

It turned out, the piece we were looking at, “The Artwork of the Future (ATLAS shrugged)”, combined the traditional medium of paint with virtual and augmented reality. Dennis explained that painting in virtual reality has refreshingly changed the way he paints “in real life”, creating an innovative exchange between reality and virtual reality both for his artistic practice in the studio and for the viewer’s reception of his works in public space.

Naturally, this made us even more curious.

1AN: After navigating through The Artwork of the Future ourselves, we’d love to know what drew you to the medium of virtual and augmented reality for your artwork. How did you first begin experimenting with these technologies in your creative process?

DR: In an artistic crisis in 2012, a friend told me to go to Los Angeles. I applied for a grant with the idea to update Rodin’s Gates To Hell in California to mark the end of western civilization. I never got the grant but went anyway and it changed my art forever. Upon arriving in Los Angeles, I told somebody at a friend’s party that I had come there to build a portal between heaven and hell and he said: “You have to build that portal in California City.” I skipped getting any sleep that night and went there straight away. It is a failed urban development project from the late fifties in the middle of nowhere in the Mojave Desert, one and a half hours north of LA. Lots of empty streets nicely carved out into the sand. The perfect place! But I ran into some problems. Contrary to Rodin’s Gates To Hell, my work — Das Portal — should be open. That meant it had to belong to two realities since it was standing on the threshold between them (heaven and hell, so to say). I struggled from 2012 – 2017 to find a medium which is both present and absent simultaneously, thus fulfilling the concept of something which belongs to two realities at the same time. In 2017, the first consumer friendly VR headsets came to shops like Target and I immediately thought: Great! I’ll paint Das Portal in VR using a 3D painting program that tracks my hand in the virtual space and then place it with a GPS based Augmented Reality App on the Desert Butte in California City. VR became the other side of Das Portal and seen in AR on your phone, things are present and absent at the same time. Thus, the new medium of VR and AR allowed me to finish my project and fulfill the concept. It also then triggered lots of inspiration for my oil painting and helped me overcome my crisis. Technology radically changed my art in a very refreshing way. Not only did I update Rodin’s Gates To Hell but subsequently also myself and I became a painter of the 21st century.

Unity. 2023, 2023, 110x99cm, oil on canvas + AR app, private collection Photo by Gert Van Rooij

1AN: Similarly, your work Götterfries I (ATLAS Shrugged) is a multi-sensory experience that combines oil paintings, augmented reality, and music. Can you discuss the importance of creating immersive and interactive artwork?

DR: Götterfries is a painting measuring 8×2.2m. It is a discussion with Wagner and his idea of the Gesamtkunstwerk which he describes in his essay „Das Kunstwerk der Zukunft” (which was also the title of my last two exhibitions at Upstream Gallery in Amsterdam and FWR Gallery in Berlin). You download an augmented reality app, which I developed, and scan the large-scale painting with it. The painting then comes to life and four digitally 3D painted figures of Atlas, Gaya, Hermes and Europa emerge out of the thick painted oil brushstrokes of the canvas to music composed by Dietrich Brüggemann. It is then that you realize the painting is not abstract, but rather part of something bigger. What I painted are merely details of the large figures. I find it fascinating that the whole space in front of the painting becomes a stage. This is an incredible new opportunity for doing art. In former times paintings used to be a window into a utopian other world. Now, with the development of the recent technological mediums, the Other comes out of the painting to our reality. The spectator also becomes part of the art since they must activate the painting with their phone. On the one hand this draws attention to the fact that everybody has a smart phone nowadays and that we are all already cyborgs. But it also invites the viewer to become part of the work. I love to watch people engaging with a painting in different choreographies since the figures emerging from the painting are in 3D and always too big for any room and so you must move around to get the whole picture. This engagement of the spectator was also one of Wagner’s points in his idea of the ideal, multi-faceted, inclusive, total artwork, the Gesamtkunstwerk. He argued back in the 19th c.  that people who are able to partake in the total artwork don’t exist yet, this kind of art appreciation should be born out of a revolution. Now the digital revolution is happening and maybe this time it will create a new man who will completely and totally be able to become part of an artwork.

1AN: Such an interesting concept! Can you elaborate on the notion of painting in VR, and how you translate these digital brushstrokes into physical, tangible works of art?

DR: Painting in VR is a revolution by itself because it allows for painting in 3D. This has never been possible in the thousand-year history of painting. It allows me to use my artistic hand in the digital realm. I draw a line in the air and can walk around it. It appears right in front of me – like magic. In my left hand is a virtual palette; I can choose colors and different brushes from it. Usually, I select the wet oil paint brush.  But I soon realized my artistic self-continued to need real, tangible things in the studio, otherwise I would go crazy. So, I thought about how I could materialize my digital creations, transform them into the real world. I wrote a program where I can fly around the world I created in VR, which is filled with giant figures I call Artificial Gods. I then take photos of details of the figures which I think could become a good abstract painting. These photos serve as the inspiration for my oil paintings. I work with a lot of paint in a very thick impasto technique in order to give back the digital brushstroke its body. Digital brush strokes are very thin, they just appear thick because of the applied shaders. The IRL oil painting then seems to be abstract since it is only a very small detail. But seen with my app the complete figure appears in the exact position where I painted a detail of it and you realize it is not abstract but part of a digital whole. The transformation from the digital medium into the very old medium of oil painting gives the work a tension I like. You sense something is off, but you can’t really tell where the painting is coming from. Same as when I 3D print VR paintings and have them cast in bronze. A medium that is even older. The 3D forms I paint in VR could have never been thought of if you use clay or you carve them out of stone. The casts then also have a surprising similarity with Futurism. Which I find very fitting regarding the euphoria towards technology from Marinetti and the likes. The way I do art is only possible because of recent technological developments. This makes me think about my artistic autonomy. Who is in charge: technology or me? Materializing the digital is the exact opposite of the general trend in society to digitalize everything real. It is my way of trying to take control over the digital assets. I don’t know if I’ll be successful, but it certainly is a great topic for doing art in the 21st century.

1AN: With your work being displayed in galleries across Europe and the US, how have you seen the art world evolve and shift in response to new technologies and digital mediums, and how do you envision virtual reality and augmented reality continuing to shape the future of art?

DR: I think everything that has been written in science fiction books is becoming true. It is fascinating for me to incorporate the new technologies into my art and that the science fiction component becomes a part of it. There is an old German science fiction sequel called Perry Rhodan. In the first book, mankind comes across a spaceship of an old civilization stranded on the moon. The inhabitants are all very decadent and play a sort of telepathic game all day long where they invent abstract geometrical figures in their thoughts which are projected onto a screen in front of them. All they talk about is what kind of figurative inventions they were able to construct. I think this would be a great future also for our civilization. If we spent all our days in the metaverse, the world might become a much more peaceful place.

1AN: Many already live in a Metaverse to varying degrees, and it’s increasing presence in our lives leaves no question that it has a direct impact on society. But what about artists? In your opinion, what role does the artist have in society?

DR: For me doing art is to gain power over the things that surround me. If I draw something that’s standing in front of me and I manage to give it a striking form, it becomes a part of me. Like magic. The artist is the only person in society who is able to get done with the things in the world. I believe for the coming ages, technology will be one of these things we have to deal with. And it will become one of the main topics for the arts. So, if there will be a showdown between the machines and us, the artists are our last hope. Which probably means we are doomed.

5 Questions with Muys Snijders of Private Client Select Insurance Services

You don’t need to sit down for a chat with Muys Snijders for long to determine that she is a seasoned executive and visionary leader. With over 25 years of international experience working in the art world, she has plenty of stories to share, between owning a successful art consultancy firm, and working in executive positions at Christie’s and Bonhams. Now, on a daily basis at Private Client Select Insurance Services, she provides collections related loss prevention and collection care services to policyholders, ensures that high-value claims are handled seamlessly, and implements disaster mitigation and response initiatives. But we did sit down for a chat with her, as we wanted to see what else we could find out about Muys…

Having worked in the art world for over 25 years, you’ve worn many relevant hats. Now, you oversee all aspects of risk management for Private Client Select Insurance Services’ portfolio of art and collectibles. So, what is the particular challenge of art insurance?

Depending on the type of art one collects, works may be subject to market fluctuations. Keeping a pulse on the market for the artists you collect is critical to ensure your art collection is insured to value. Thankfully, many dedicated art insurance policies are written on an agreed-value basis, which often includes a percentage increase that accounts for market fluctuation. This does give some coverage during the policy term. However, rapid market shifts could create a situation in which this percentage may no longer be sufficient to cover the full value in the event of a loss. At Private Client Select Insurance Services, we assist our clients and brokers by conducting regular schedule reviews and monitoring market changes. This will inform when works may need to be reappraised.

Indeed, considering the art market is extremely volatile and can be impulsive, I can see how that would be a challenge for emerging collectors and seasoned vets alike. In fact, we have often heard the question, “when is a good time to purchase art insurance?” So, what is the general profile of a collector who has their art collection insured?

Art collecting has diversified over the years, broadening the appetite of the collector class. Some are new to the market, drawn to artists and the art world through social media. Others are lifelong collectors and art connoisseurs looking to diversify or build their collections. We also see collectors who simply want to decorate their space, or who look at art as a way to support artists and communities. Some are just utilizing art as an investment opportunity. Regardless of the profile of the collector, we always look to solve our clients queries and art related collections needs. Our decades of industry knowledge and expertise combined with our direct access to top market experts allow us to advise clients on all aspects of the management of their collection. From appraiser, conservator, collection database or sale referrals to packing and shipping arrangements, we work tirelessly to help collectors identify the precise experts needed for the best possible outcomes.

Sounds like every client is different, which keeps things fresh and exciting for you, I’m sure. Tell us about your most recent career highlight?

I believe in being an integral part of the community I serve, sharing market expertise, learning and supporting others. Earlier this year, I participated in the annual fundraising event Come as You Are at Pen + Brush gallery supporting artists who are creating impactful work that is so engrained in a larger cultural dialogue. The event brought together its community and included a live painting performance by Michela Martello in dialogue with B&B Italia’s iconic Up Chair and raised much needed funds for the continued work of this 129-year-old not-for-profit looking to establish gender equity in the arts.

I love that! So relevant, as we all know how staggering the breadth of the gender gap in the art world is! However, despite the bias against female artists, there certainly seems to be a growing interest in acquiring art by women, and the prices of works by female artists are starting to reflect this trend. Which others current art world “trends” are you following?

Over the years, we have witnessed ever increasing advancements in technology. Traditionally the art market has been rather slow to adopt and adapt to implementing those transformations, however since the pandemic when the art market was forced to adjust, things have changed. As Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming part of our daily lives and is creating a revolution in the insurance industry, I am looking at how machine learning can support the work that we do in insuring art collections and what we can learn from our data, and make decisions and predictions based on that learning.

Oh, sounds like we need to circle back to that when you have all of your findings together! In the meantime, you’ve recently contributed to the ArtCollect online program! Can you provide a quick synopsis of what participants can expect to learn in your module that you lead alongside Kyle McGrath?

In our module we will help you understand what it takes to maintain and protect an art collection. We will discuss what to look out for prior to purchasing art such as researching the artist, establishing the condition of the item, understanding the provenance and evaluating what the artwork might be worth today. Subsequently we will discuss in detail how to maintain your collection including how to move and store the art works and keeping up to date records. We will also explain more about the key differences between insurance policies and what risks you may have to manage whilst being the custodian of an artwork or art collection.

Learn more from Muys by participating in ArtCollect. In Module 2, she will help you understand the key considerations for properly maintaining and protecting your private collection. By following Muys’ guidelines, you can properly manage the risks associated with art collecting and protect your collection for years to come.

Private Client Select Insurance Services offers risk management and insurance solutions that meet the unique and complex needs of high-net worth clients. We understand their passion and are committed to preserving the life that they built. Additional information about Private Client Select Insurance Services can be found at

5 Questions with Linda Mariano of Redwood Art Group

Recently, One Art Nation has partnered with Redwood Art Group to offer ArtCollect, an online course that has been designed to support art collectors in navigating the complex and fascinating art world. In fact, Redwood’s Managing Director of Marketing, herself, leads Module 6: Art Fair Insider Tips, along with Jack Mur of Winston Art Group.

After meeting Linda at Spectrum in Miami and experiencing her enthusiasm for the art world and ability to inspire others, we knew she’d make a perfect addition to the program. Here’s a little more we found out about Linda after sitting down with her…

1AN: With a career that spans 35 years, I can just imagine how many Art Weeks you have been part of. So, during weeks in Miami or New York, for example, with so many fairs on offer, how does one decide which to target?

LM: It really is a case of so much to see, not enough time. So, prep in advance. Research the fairs. What is each fair’s schedule, programming, things you’d really like to see? What kind of art will be showcased and what are your interests? Some fairs feature particular categories of art, like limited edition art on paper, or primary market first offerings of original and limited edition works from living artists, or masterworks of well-established and past artists. The fair’s exhibitors might be limited to galleries only versus artists. From your perusing, you’ll find the fairs, events, and programming you want to see, and your schedule will evolve.

Here’s one more tip: Try to consolidate your schedule so you aren’t spending your time going back and forth across town. It’s supposed to be fun, not a time-crunching hassle.

1AN: This makes a lot of sense. And how about you? Do you have an art fair strategy when visiting other fairs?

LM: Well, quite honestly, I never go to just stroll and enjoy the fair. Because of my involvement in the industry, I’m always looking for other things too. How is the fair presented? What is the entrance and ticketing experience? What kind of programming does the fair offer? Things that pertain to the business aspects of being a fair organizer. But not necessarily too different for what I would recommend for any fair goer, because it is the experience that makes going to a fair memorable.

Things to do in advance: Go online and check out the fair’s website — programming, schedule of events, exhibitor list, and get your tickets. If you have a particular spot you are hoping to fill, take measurements, take a photo for reference, then relax and know you are prepared. Decide your budget, this will help as you walk the fair knowing what you intend to spend.

Then go and enjoy. Maybe you’ll find that perfect piece, maybe not. Be open; discover new galleries and artists you didn’t know before; listen and learn.

1AN: Having seen thousands of collectors coming in and out of your fairs, do you have any advice for people who are looking to buy their first piece of artwork?

LM: First and foremost, it’s not a chore, it’s fun to collect art. What kind of art resonates with you? Is it landscapes, abstracts, mixed media, sculpture? Not sure? Do some preliminary scouting on the internet, check out websites of upcoming art fairs in your area, stop into local galleries and look around. Is there a particular space in your home where you will put the new piece? How will it enhance your space? All of these things and more can come into play as you make plans to acquire a new piece of artwork. Enjoy the process!

1AN: True, the process should be fun! But aside from the excitement, what is the due diligence process when purchasing a piece at an art fair?

LM: By now, you’ve got the idea that I think the priority should be to enjoy the fair and the art. So, you are there, walking the aisles, meeting the gallery owners, directors, art dealers, and artists. Ask questions about the art you like and learn the story behind the art and artists. Check the price to be sure it’s in your price range.

Step away for a moment to think about it and talk about it. Beautiful art can transform your space — make a living room inviting and interesting, bring coziness to a bedroom, welcome guests with warmth in an entry hallway. Walking into a room and seeing a painting or sculpture that speaks to you can make you feel happy, relaxed, inspired. It’s not just visual appeal. It’s also the emotions and feelings that art can evoke.

Now, go back and negotiate the price. Does the piece and/or the artist have a story — a provenance? What will you receive along with the art? Is there a Certificate of Authenticity? If you are local, will they deliver and hang it in your home? Or if you are traveling, does the price include packing and shipping?

1AN: Any tips on how to identify the “next big thing” amongst a sea of emerging artists?

LM: What is the next big thing exactly? For you, it might be different than for me. It might be a style of artwork that you never thought you would enjoy, but you love it. Emerging artists are always inspiring to meet and see their creativity blossoming. Their excitement and enthusiasm inspires you. Buy artwork that lets you take home the experience. It becomes part of the story of the art in your home and collection. Enjoy it! Have fun!

Learn more from Linda Mariano by participating in ArtCollect. In Module 6, whether you are going to an art fair with the intention of buying art or just to enjoy, she will share some insider tips to help make the most of your time. Plus, you will learn about taxes, shipping, and condition information, and why you should always keep important post-sale documents like certificates of authenticity and invoices.


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 do specifically, 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 symposia to 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.

Stay Connected

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 ArtCollect comes 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! 

ARTCOLLECT online program for art collectors

5 Questions with Charlie Manzo, Director of Advisory at Winston Art Group

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.

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.

Tips for Building an Art Collection with a Local Focus

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 Archive and 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.


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.


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 ArtCollect comes 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! 



5 Questions with Jeannette Montgomery Barron on Her Most Recent Book, JMB

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 IGarchive, and website for additional details or order JMB here.

The Art Lawyer’s Diary: Lots of Smoke and No Fire as Goldsmith Prevails Against Warhol Foundation in the Supreme Court

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.”

The Decision

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.

Key Takeaways

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:

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.”

In October 1984, Vanity Fair licensed one of Goldsmith’s black-and-white studio portraits of Prince from her December 3, 1981 shoot (the “Goldsmith Prince Photograph”) for $400. The article stated that it featured “a special portrait for Vanity Fair by ANDY WARHOL.” The article contained a copyright attribution credit for the portrait as follows: “source photograph © 1984 by Lynn Goldsmith/LGI.”

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.

The Future of NFTs: Poised for a Comeback?

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 are vital 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 it introduced 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.

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Art Market Trends in 2023 to Watch For

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.

Economic Recession

Let’s start with the bad news first. Many economists are 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 mediums have 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.

The Rise of Asia

The Asian art market has leapt into the driver’s seat. It now controls a larger share of global art sales than North America or Europe. That is likely to continue to have an effect on the tastes of the art world at large.

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.

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Art Auction Results of 2022: What They Tell Us

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.

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Image from CHRISTIE’S IMAGES LTD. 2022

The Art Lawyers Diary: Sharjah Art Foundation Brings Together Over 150 Artists and Collectives for Sharjah Biennial 15

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.

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.”

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.”

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’s Hum 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.

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’s Agua 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.

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.”

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.”

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.

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.”

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

Recommended Artists*****

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
Wangechi Mutu
Helina Metaferia
Manthia Diawara
David Hammons
Hassan Hajjaj

Bank Street Building
Tania El Khoury****
Lee Kai Chung****

Calligraphy Square
Carrie Mae Weems
Isaac Julien
Mithu Sen
Carolina Caycedo

Al Mureijah Square
Mona Hatoum
Maria Magdalena Campos-Pons
Vivan Sundaram
John Akomfrah
Hajra Waheed***
Bouchra Khalili***

Old Al Jubail Vegetable Market
Tania El Khoury
Elia Nurvista
Mirna Bamieh
Joiri Minaya****

Khalid Bin Mohammed School (The Africa Institute)
The Living and the Dead Ensemble

The Flying Saucer
Kambui Olujimi

Al Hamriyah Studios
Mary Sibande
Veronica Ryan
Hank Willis Thomas
Nabil El Makhloufi

Old Al Diwan Al Amiri
Kerry James Marshall
Yinka Shonibare
Joiri Minaya
Barbara Walker

Old Al Dhaid Clinic
Cao Fei
Felix Shumba
Laura Huertas Millán
Ibrahim Mahama****
Rehab Eldalil
Pushpakanthan Pakkiyarajah

Kalba Ice Factory
Nari Ward
Doris Salcedo***

Khorfakkan Art Centre
Coco Fusco
Theaster Gates

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.

** 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.


5 Questions with Artist Julia Ibbini

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.

Read more about Julia here.

African Art Market Trends – Growing Demand From Western Collectors

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 Mehretu and 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.

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5 Questions about 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.

Please find out more about Abdoulaye Konaté here.