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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.

Conclusion

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 www.privateclientselect.com

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.

ART FAIR TIPS: HOW TO GET THE MOST OUT OF YOUR EXPERIENCE

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!

A BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO STARTING AN ART COLLECTION

So, you’ve decided that you want to start an art collection. Congratulations! Collecting artwork can be a truly rewarding and fulfilling experience. However, it’s important to approach art collecting with a strong foundation of knowledge and understanding.

It can be overwhelming to navigate the complex and fascinating art world, but with the right guidance, you can build a collection that is both meaningful and enjoyable. As featured in our new ArtCollect online course, we’ll share some tips and insights to help you get started on your art collecting journey.

TIPS FOR STARTING AN ART COLLECTION 

Step 1: Define Your Style and Personal Motivation for Collecting

Buying art is a great way to add some personal style to your living space! Before you start buying art, it’s important to take a moment to ask yourself some questions to understand your personal style and motivation for collecting art. Are you drawn to figurative or abstract works? Do you prefer paintings or sculptures? What is the message or emotion you want to convey through your collection? Answering these questions will help you build an art collection that is uniquely yours, and that truly reflects your personal style. Take the time to think about what you want to collect and why, and then start exploring the wonderful world of art collecting!

Step 2: Identify the Types of Art to Collect

If you’re looking to start an art collection or build upon an existing one, it’s crucial to identify the different types of art you can collect. There are two primary categories of artists you can consider including emerging and blue-chip artists. Emerging artists are those who are just starting their careers and may not have a big reputation yet and offer a sense of excitement and potential growth. Blue-chip artists, on the other hand, are established names in the art world whose works are highly sought after. It’s important to consider both types of artists when building your collection, as they each offer unique benefits.

Step 3: Look, Look and Look Some More

One of the best ways to determine your style and preferences when starting an art collection is to look at a lot of art. Whether you prefer old masters’ paintings, contemporary pieces, or something in between, the more art you see, the better your chances of finding what you like. Visiting museums, galleries and art fairs is a fantastic way to see a wide range of art works from different genres and artists. Make sure to take notes on what you like and what you don’t, so you can start to formulate a style profile that will guide your future art purchases.

Museums offer a great starting point for budding art collectors. Not only do they offer a diversity of exhibits, but they often have tour guides and educational materials available to help you understand the works. Visiting galleries, on the other hand, is a great way to see what’s happening in the contemporary art scene. This is where you can glimpse the newest, most relevant creative talent. Finally, art fairs provide an excellent opportunity to see a wide range of work styles, genres, and mediums all in one place. Fairs often present works from artists from around the world, providing an exciting, international flavor.

Step 4: Know Where to Find Art

Now you’ve explored enough art and are interested in buying art for your collection. There are many places to find art, including galleries, art fairs, auctions, and artist studios. Each art buying avenue has its own unique benefits, allowing you to appreciate the diverse range of art styles and techniques available. Galleries are a great starting point, where you can find established and emerging artists represented. Not only can you find a mix of art forms, but you can also immerse yourself in a community of like-minded art enthusiasts. Many galleries now offer online access, making it more accessible and convenient for art lovers to browse and purchase art from anywhere in the world. Connect with our ArtCollect expert Caren Petersen to find out how to best work with a gallerist.

Another excellent option for buying art is by attending art fairs like ones offered by Redwood Art Group. During these events, thousands of artworks are displayed in diverse mediums, presenting an incredible opportunity to gain exposure to new artists and artworks. Art fairs are a fun, dynamic way to explore a massive array of art styles—you can view different pieces, chat with artists, and obtain valuable insights into the art industry. Art auctions like Bonhams and online platforms like artnet are also great channels, as they provide the chance to acquire unique and rare pieces at lower prices. Moreover, visiting an artist’s studio enables you to connect with an artist on a more personal level while witnessing the progression of their creative process. This experience allows art collectors to develop deeper insights into an artist’s work and gain more profound appreciation for their art. Whatever your preference, exploring multiple channels for finding art is crucial to discovering new artists and unique art pieces.

Step 5: Set the Direction of Your Collection

Once you have a sense of your personal style and preferences, it’s important to set the direction of your collection. You may want to focus on works from a particular historical genre or a specific subject of personal importance. Alternatively, you may want to focus on the aesthetic value of the works, such as building an all-blue collection. Whatever your direction, make sure it aligns with your personal motivation for collecting. If you’re struggling to determine what your direction is, consider seeking advice from experienced collectors, curators, and art advisors. They can offer valuable insight into the art world and help navigate you through the process of building a collection.

Step 6: Buy the Best of What You Love

As an art collector, it can be easy to get caught up in the idea of buying works solely for investment purposes. However, it’s important to remember that the true value of art lies in its ability to evoke emotion and convey meaning. Ultimately, the most important rule of starting an art collection is to buy what you love.

This means looking for works that speak to you on a personal level, rather than just trying to invest in works that may increase in value over time. Contemporary art has outperformed the S&P 500 since 2000, but not all art is created equal. It’s important to do your research and buy the best works within your budget. By developing a keen eye and a discerning taste, you’ll be better equipped to make informed decisions when acquiring works for your collection.

THE ULITMATE ART COLLECTING GUIDE

Starting an art collection can be a rewarding and exciting journey, but it can also be intimidating. Whether you are looking to add to your existing art collection or just starting out as a collector, the prospect of navigating the art world can be intimidating. That’s where 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:

FAIR OR FOUL: PROTECTING CELEBRITY ARTISTS AT THE EXPENSE OF A CREATOR’S RIGHTS. ANDY WARHOL FOUNDATION v GOLDSMITH (2nd Cir. 19-2420)
Oral argument in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Andy Warhol Foundation v. Goldsmith took place on September 15, 2020. In the lower court (The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. v. Goldsmith et al.) Judge Koeltl of the SDNY, incorrectly in my opinion, decided on a motion for summary judgment (there were no disputes as to the facts), that Andy Warhol’s silk screen images of Prince which copied noted portrait photographer Lynn Goldsmith’s image of Prince, did not constitute copyright infringement. On July 1, 2019, Judge Koeltl ruled that when Andy Warhol copied an unpublished photographic portrait of the late singer Prince, (allegedly provided to him by Vanity Fair as a resource), and created 16 different variations of the unpublished photo, that these were “fair use” and not copyright infringement. Plaintiff, Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, immediately praised the decision saying “Warhol is one of the most important artists of the 20th century, and we’re pleased that the court recognized his invaluable contribution to the arts and upheld these works.”

 

“Fair use” is a statutory affirmative defense to copyright infringement. 17 U.S.C. § 107. “The four factors identified by Congress as especially relevant in determining whether the use was fair are: (1) the purpose and character of the use; (2) the nature of the copyrighted work; (3) the substantiality of the portion used in relation to the copyrighted work as a whole; (4) the effect on the potential market for or value of the copyrighted work.”  The critical question in determining fair use is whether copyright law’s goal of “promot[ing] the Progress of Science and useful Arts would be better served by allowing the use than by preventing it.” To make that determination, the Supreme Court has articulated in the case of Campbell v. Acuff Rose (1994) that one work transforms another when “the new work . . . adds something new, with a further purpose or different character, altering the first with new expression, meaning or message.” Although transformation is a key factor in fair use analysis under the first factor, whether a work is transformative is often a highly contentious topic, more often applied when it appears to justify a conclusion rather than operating as a bright line rule of law.

Of course, an artist’s celebrity status is not a factor to be considered under the weighing of the fair use factors under Section 107; for that misunderstanding, one needs to look at the sharply criticized and debated 2013 decision of the Second Circuit in Cariou v. Prince, its most recent articulation of the muddled and murky fair use doctrine. Cariou published Yes Rasta, a book of portraits and landscape photographs taken in Jamaica. Defendant celebrity appropriation artist Richard Prince who altered and incorporated several of plaintiff’s photographs into a series of paintings and collages called Canal Zone that was exhibited at a gallery and in the gallery’s exhibition catalog. The issue was whether defendant’s appropriation artwork, which incorporated the plaintiff’s original photographs, must comment on, relate to the historical context of, or critically refer back to the plaintiff’s original work in order to qualify for a fair use defense.

The Second Circuit found Prince’s uses to be fair, and that a secondary use does not need to comment on or critique the original in order to be transformative as long as it produces a new message. While Cariou’s book of 9 ½” x 12” black-and-white photographs depicted the serene natural beauty of Rastafarians and their environment, Prince’s work featured enormous collages on canvas that incorporated color and distorted human forms to create a radically different aesthetic. The Second Circuit found Prince’s work to be a transformative fair use of Cariou’s photographs. Whether or not art is transformative depends on how it may “reasonably be perceived, and not on the artist’s intentions.”

As a District Court Judge, Koeltl was bound to follow Cariou: in sum, the Prince Series works are transformative. They “have a different character, give [Goldsmith’s] photograph a new expression, and employ new aesthetics with creative and communicative results distinct from [Goldsmith’s].” See Cariou, 714 F.3d at 708. They add something new to the world of art and the public would be deprived of this contribution if the works could not be distributed. The first fair use factor accordingly weighs strongly in AWF’s favor.

In finding Warhol’s use transformative, the circuit court denies protection to those elements of a photographic portrait that are protected by copyright law, as if the fair use defense to copyright infringement and the concept of celebrity transformative use literally erases “substantial similarity” and fails to appreciate how extensively Warhol’s silkscreen is derivative of – and a misappropriation of—protected expression from Lynn Goldsmith’s photographic portrait of Prince. It is difficult to reconcile the district court’s lack of solicitude for such camera-related choices in Goldsmith’s portrait of Prince with the Second Circuit’s 1992 decision in Rogers v. Koons, finding that “protectible elements of originality in a photograph may include posing the subjects, lighting, angle, selection of film and camera, evoking the desired expression, and almost any other variant involved.”

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
mandla

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

Hotels
The Chedi Al Bait Sharjah
Sheraton Sharjah Beach Resort & Spa
Coral Beach Resort Sharjah

Food
The Saturday Night Taste of Arab Buffet is Extraordinary!

For an alternative art universe with respect to thinking historically in the present, our readers may wish to spend several days in the Disneyland that is Dubai visiting the Museum of the Future, Leila Heller Gallery’s Tales Under the Gate new sculpture installation and the Dubai Art Fair (March 1-5, 2023).

Works at Tales under the Gate (2023), Dubai.

* Barbara T. Hoffman is a preeminent international art lawyer with an undergraduate degree in art history. She has been a passionate follower of the contemporary art scene for years and a regular attendee at the Venice Biennale, Documenta, and other international art events since the early 1980’s. She writes frequently on law, art and politics for a variety of publications and is a member of the International Association of Art Critics. She serves on the Board of Performa, the Visual Performance Biennale, founder State Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts and is on MoMA’s Contemporary Arts Council and Black Arts Council. She serves on the board of several artist endowed foundations and advises museums and artist foundations on issues of governance, including board development and conflict of interest and intellectual property. www.hoffmanlawfirm.org.

** Quotes included in the article, unless otherwise stated by the author, are taken from the Guidebook to the Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present.

*** Artists who received the Sharjah Biennial Prize at Sharjah Biennial 15: Thinking Historically in the Present.

**** Artists who received an honorable mention by the Sharjah Art Foundation jury for their work at Sharjah Biennial 15.

***** This by no means reflects artists not included in the list. Notwithstanding, the author dedicated only five days to viewing the Sharjah Biennial and Inevitably some artists may have been overlooked. It is a matter of time. I would return in a minute for another experience of the Historical Present.

 

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.

5 Questions with Artist Federico Uribe

As I walked through Art Miami, an array of lively and playful works caught my eye. Specifically, this large-scale piece drew me into a booth until I got close enough to realize that it’s made of pencil crayons:

So of course, I had to inquire with Adelson Gallery about the work and soon found out that the artist behind it is Bogotá-born Federico Uribe, who currently lives and works in Miami. His artwork resists classification and emerges from intertwining everyday objects in surprising ways. I wanted to find out about how he came to use household objects (plastic cutlery, colored pencils, and so on) in favour of a paintbrush and canvas. So, I was thrilled for the opportunity to ask him…

1AN: Federico, I’ve been fortunate to see your work in person and can confirm that is really does resist classification. So, how do you describe your art to people who’ve never seen it before?

FU: I always say that I build objects out of objects. In my pursuit of beauty, I look for the aesthetic possibility of an object and think about the symbolic and emotional connection within them. For example, color pencils will take everyone to a pleasant moment from their childhood. Even if their experience was dysfunctional, the memory of color pencils is always good. Conversely, bullets always have the implication of violence against animals and innocents. I try to make objects as beautiful as possible to try to show them from a different perspective.

1AN: That makes sense, as you seem to push the limits of applying everyday objects in all possible and surprising ways. What does your work aim to say?

FU: Every material I work with has different emotional, sociological, and psychological connotations on people’s minds and memory. Therefore, each object I use has a different intention. My “Plastic Reef” installation is a reflection on ocean pollution and our responsibility for it. My works with bullets make people think about the absurdity of hunting as a sport and maybe the death of innocents because of human conflicts. My works with X-rays and surgical instruments would hopefully make people think about the power or ability of science to improve and extend human life, and at the same time, the potential of beauty in objects that are related to pain.

1AN: What does a day at your studio look like?

FU: I have 3 employees who work from 7 am to 3 pm, getting material ready for me to work (e.g. cutting pencils in pieces, making holes in bullets, cutting wires, making frames and so on). I get to work at 9 am and work until 8 pm. I have my own space at the studio where I build objects 6 days a week. The atmosphere is very friendly but disciplined as well. I buy groceries and cook for everyone every day.

1AN: Rooted in the craft of sculpture and paint, how has your approach and process changed over time?

FU: Every time I work with a new object, I also have to create a new technique. I repeatedly make mistakes until I am successful. I have perfected my pencil and bullet techniques over time, but for other materials, it is an ongoing learning process.
I learn from my employees who are carpenters and engineers, but it takes time to get the full potential of each object despite their skill.

1AN: I can only imagine! But if the sky were the limit, describe to me what your “dream project” would be.

FU: I would love to do art in public places that change the cityscape and create an identity for the cities they are in. I want to make whales jumping out of water, made from 747 airplanes. I have a lot more ideas for projects and will have to wait for the opportunity to disclose them.

1AN: Fair enough, but I’ll keep my eyes open for those whales! And as a quick bonus question: What has been the highlight of your career?

FU: I have very beautiful and emotional moments when people who see my installations are moved to tears or smile uncontrollably and tell me that I made their day.

Read more about Federico here.

The Return of Art Fairs Post-Pandemic

As we continue our return to normal life and things open up more and more, art fairs are roaring back. This comes as great news to artists, collectors, galleries, and host cities — not to mention the fair organizers themselves. Art fairs are also important cultural and economic events, allowing for people to spontaneously discover their new favorite artist and for all of us to get a vibe check for the moment.

So let’s look at the return of art fairs. How is it going and what’s different about them moving forward?

Back From the Brink

With Covid prevention measures, many feared that the form of the art fair would become obsolete. In the last decade, the internet has provided a direct link between artists and collectors like never before. As lockdowns shuttered galleries and art fairs, more and more people engaged with art buying online. It seemed like the time had come for a major shift to take place.

But luckily, as soon as people had the chance to return to the art fair, they did. By 2021, many art fairs were coming back — albeit in smaller and more protective forms. By late 2022, things seemed to be fully back to normal, with major events like Art Basel showing extremely healthy attendance. The catastrophic predictions of the art fair’s end have now dried up entirely.

Covid and Art Fairs

The truth is, while Covid is now much more under control, there are still many collectors, artists, and gallerists concerned about it. That means that organizers have had to negotiate this complicated issue every step of the way. More than anything else, this has shaped the new post-pandemic art fair.

During the first year, many art fairs were canceled altogether, yet others like Art Paris and Vienna Contemporary continued in 2020. The controversy around these decisions put pressure on organizers from all directions, and this became only more true as fairs came back. When art fairs began to return in greater numbers through 2021, organizers struggled to strike a balance between safety and the fundamental togetherness that these events represent. There was no one single policy that everyone followed, except masking.

Other rules could get much more complicated. Miami Art Week 2021, for instance, had a dizzying number of different protocols depending on which fair you went to. This didn’t seem to have much of an icing effect. While attendance was down everywhere, organizers were able to put together profitable events.

Today, art fairs are by and large back to normal, with masks optional almost everywhere. Proof of vaccination, once a pretty common requirement for entry, has since been lifted almost entirely.

The Rise of Art Fairs in Asia

Maybe the most uplifting news is the increasing interest in art fairs around the world, particularly the white-hot art market in Asia. It should come as no surprise, as the continent now represents the largest share of global art sales — yet they’ve lagged behind in the development of major art fairs.

But that’s all changing. In 2023, the brand new ART SG and the returning India Art Fair have shown that this format is gaining momentum in southern Asia, able to attract global buyers as well as activate and engage collectors in their area. Along with the upstart ART SG in Singapore, Tokyo Gendai launches onto the world stage in July. The Japanese economy is enormous, yet regulations on art imports have dampened their spending in the past. Those have since been lifted, and now they are ready to unleash their incredible buying power. This new art fair will have around 80 galleries presenting work in an exciting new locale.

This is in-line with what we’ve seen in the last handful of years, like the new Frieze art fair in Seoul, which debuted in 2022 to major success. South Korea is another major economy that’s been underserved by the art market, something that is being corrected more and more. The Asian art fair calendar will no doubt continue to fill in, probably creating more can’t-miss events.

Rethinking the Art Fair

In 2021, art fairs were coming back to the fray after two years. That extended break gave organizers a lot of time to rethink and retool their approach to how art fairs look and operate. But much of this opportunity was taken up by concerns around getting tens of thousands of people to follow safety rules.

By 2022, innovations really started to trickle in. We saw several excellent ways to integrate hybrid in-person and digital events and programming, something that greatly expanded the amount of people who could see and enjoy the artwork on display. Those were often being implemented only the first (or, at most, second) time. But these new ideas are continuing to grow and expand, especially now that so many tech platforms are looking to move offerings into virtual reality. For the foreseeable future, every year will bring headlines about how major art fairs are using digital solutions to augment the in-person experience and create ways to engage fully online.

The addition of online programming means more people can participate and, crucially, spend money. So it will likely prove essential for art fairs going forward. Take a look at the fair programming One Art Nation created prior to the pandemic.

These technological innovations have combined with the more economic reforms that occurred at major art fairs over the late 2010s. In that time, booth fees at major events like Art Basel became scaled to the size of the gallery, making things much more profitable for small and midsize galleries. If the hurdle to participate in the hybrid programming can follow that same sentiment going forward, fairs look to become even more important to the art world at every level.

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Tips on Collecting Unusual Mediums

When you first become an art collector, things can seem extremely complicated and most aren’t even contemplating collecting unusual mediums. There are so many special terms for auctions, retail galleries, and buying directly from the artist. Plus, there are a head spinning number of things that go into the value of a work of art. That makes deciding on a big purchase difficult, especially at the beginning. But then your journey continues for a time, and you start to get your feet under you. You know all about how to value a print, what’s a good deal at your local gallery, and you’ve maybe even attended a few auctions. Your collection is starting to really take shape and develop a character. You’ve done it!

Yet that old excitement starts to haunt you. The memories of those early days when you were a little lost, when you had to work to keep up, when art thrilled you to no end — you want that excitement back. So what do you do? You start collecting unusual mediums. All of a sudden, everything you’ve learned seems out the window. Well, not quite so fast. When collecting unusual mediums, there certainly are special considerations you need to make. But you might find no matter what the medium is — even if an artwork is made out of a banana and duct tape — things can work more or less the same.

What is an unusual medium?

In art, mediums are the supplies and materials that an artist uses to create a work. For instance, acrylic paint is a medium, as is watercolor and charcoal and brass casting. An unusual medium is one that is simply not as common as others. Recent years have seen a rise in the popularity of these works, especially with the dominance of social media. Unusual mediums are often instantly delightful, generating a lot of engagement on platforms like Instagram. These can range from the innocuous to the controversial — like Damien Hirst’s use of animal bodies or the strange history of using body fluids in art (which is cataloged in this rather out-there Wikipedia article).

Should I collect unusual mediums?

This is the most important question to answer, and in some ways it’s the easiest. It comes down to the same fundamental calculus you need to make anytime you buy artwork: do you love it? If you love a work of art, and it is worth the asking price to share your life with it, then the medium doesn’t really matter.

Now, if the medium is perishable, you’ll need to think about the timeline. After all, if something is going to disappear in a short amount of time, will it still be worth the money? But even after taking all that in, it’s still the same decision it always is. The only major barrier that unusual mediums have for collectors is that, given they aren’t standard, it can be difficult to tell how the artwork will hold up in your home or office in the years to come. Are you reacting to the brilliance of the art, or temporarily won over by its strangeness? That can be hard to tell when you’re first venturing into unusual mediums. For that reason, it might be good to start small and see how the weird and unique elements of it age over time for you. Every collector will be different in this regard.

Is it a good investment?

This is the next big question. And it’s one of the more complicated to answer. After all, this can be difficult in the most standard, banal circumstances. When you throw in unusual mediums, it can get even weirder and hard to pin down. The benefit to buying in mediums like ceramic sculpture, oil painting, and other “normal” mediums, is that you can get a much better read on how they would fare on the market.

Obviously, no estimates are 100% perfect, but they improve the more data points you have. In the last five years, think of how many oil paintings were sold. That means you have information you can check, and that provides a lot of comfort when buying art as an investment. Unusual mediums, by definition, don’t really have that. But they do still have some other factors that can be used to determine potential future earnings, such as:

  • the artist and their career trajectory
  • the era and style
  • any previous sales

These should look familiar to all forms of art buying. And just because you can’t rely on as many data points doesn’t mean these aren’t solid things you can look at.

How do I take care of artwork in an unusual medium?

The next big challenge comes when you actually take the artwork to your home or office. As with all the other considerations, this one is a lot more difficult because you have less information to go on. In some cases, things will be more or less straightforward. A sculpture made out of recycled grocery bags can probably hold up if treated with general rules of thumb, like:

  • avoid direct sunlight
  • avoid extremes in temperature and humidity
  • avoid dramatic fluctuations in temperature and humidity
  • keep out of high traffic areas

But what happens when you collect unusual mediums that are much less stable? The best you can do is make sure to ask plenty of questions of the gallerist or, if you are buying directly, from the artist. Even if you buy on the secondary market, you should try to reach out to the artist if you feel confused about how to take care of your art.

The Joy of Going Beyond Normal

Unusual mediums can be a great way to expand your collection and shake up how you see fine art. They also bring up a bit more confusion when buying, but there are many joys that await you once you collect them.

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What Auction Data Tells Us About Artist Trends

Art auctions and auction data is one of the best ways that art insiders understand the changing fortunes. When you comb over the results, you can see how artworks performed against their estimates, and how the prices of artists and movements have changed over time. That all proves to be fascinating information that any collector would love to learn.

The information is often open to anybody who cares to look, and it is relevant to all kinds of collectors — whether you are buying art at auction or not. The trends that you can pick up in this data goes far beyond to every corner of the market. If we look over recent auction data from 2021 and 2022, we can see that in some ways the art world is radically changing.

A dive into the numbers gives us an interesting picture, and it allows us to make some prognoses that might help us collect into the future.

The Rise and Fall of NFTs

As we’ve covered before, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) were a major buzzword throughout 2021. And there was an enormous amount of hype behind them. Almost all of that hype was kickstarted by a jaw dropping auction figure — Beeple’s $69 million price tag for a single NFT at Christie’s.

After that, the years-long slow build of NFT popularity skyrocketed into full mania. But by the middle of 2022, the love affair seemed to crest. Beeple, for his part, was hacked and his followers lost about half a million dollars worth of cryptocurrency and NFTs. And that kind of summed up what happened to the entire trend: what seemed like a new major media proved to be as much a scam as a real prospect.

It turned out that many NFT artists had learned how to artificially pump up the price of their NFTs by anonymously selling it back to themselves at ever higher costs. This can all be clearly seen in the much more languid pace of NFTs at auction in 2022. Christie’s NFT sales this summer totaled a measly $1.6 million, a fraction of a single Beeple work a little more than a year earlier.

Auctions are showing us that the slow down of NFT sales (tied also to so called “crypto winter”) is likely a very real phenomenon. In many ways, the mainstream craze of art NFTs began with an auction, and it seems that it is here we are seeing the clearest evidence of their demise. At least for now…..

2022 Has Been a Great Year (So Far)

The early months of 2022 proved to be a gangbusters time for the auction houses. From January 1st to May 20th, the art market matched its previously high point for the period in 2018. Both periods raked in about $5.7 billion.

What’s interesting to note is that the first half of 2022 saw more lots offered and sold than the first half of 2018. That might seem like a bad sign, with more art selling for the same amount. But in many ways, that shows that there is simply more action in the auction world. And there is a very optimistic number in there: 73.4 percent of lots offered found their way to a buyer. That’s an incredibly high number, especially compared to recent years.

This good news might show the way to a healthy second half of the year and a strong 2023. At the very least, it reminds us how ready collectors were to get back into the action after 2020.

The Impressionist and Modern Comeback

For many years, the Impressionist and Modern category (including artists born between 1821 and 1910) absolutely dominated at auction houses. It’s easy to see why. This includes peerless artists and important movements, with work still being young enough to have a little movement and prices not totally beyond the pale as with old masters.

But the craze was bound to hit a major wall. After all, there isn’t any new Impressionist and Modern art being made, and eventually it was substantially locked up. By 2019, much of what was left didn’t live up to the kinds of work selling only a few years earlier. And in fact, that year saw the once proud category fall by almost a third.

It was expected that Postwar and Contemporary (defined by artists born from 1911 to 1974) would fill its shoes. But we’ve seen it more or less tie with Impressionist and Modern starting in 2019. That continues into 2022. So what is on the rise?

Ultra-Contemporary Work Is Growing

Ultra-Contemporary Art includes anything made by an artist born after 1974. And this is a section that’s massively increased in size over the last three years. It has seen more work going up at auction and the average sale price increasing, too. For a little perspective, the Ultra-Contemporary category increased five-fold in value since just 2018.

If this trend continues, it could prove to have some good legs. Buying contemporary art matches a major trend among Millennial and Gen-Z collectors — focusing less on name equity and more on unique perspectives and a closer relationship to the work of art. Ultra-Contemporary is still a tiny fraction of the big categories (Impressionist and Modern, Postwar and Contemporary), but it has powerful allies. The growing Asian market, particularly Hong Kong, often pays comparably high prices for Ultra-Contemporary. That could keep boosting these works for years.

Looking Ahead by Looking Backwards

Seeing the future by looking at auctions is one of the best ways to see large trends, particularly at the commanding heights of the art world. But it is important to end with a caveat. The vast majority of the art market does not take place at auction houses like Sotheby’s. It happens in galleries, art fairs, and websites large and small.

If you overemphasize the importance of the major money players at the top, you can lose sight of the vast and healthy world of art that goes on everywhere else. With that said, auctions provide rich data that every collector should be aware of.

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What You Need to Know About Art Appraisals

If you are an art collector, then sooner or later you are going to need the services of an art appraiser. This is an important service in the art world, and yet many collectors have a lot of unanswered questions about it. We are going to clear up a lot of those questions today. Hopefully, this will give you more confidence in getting your artwork appraised when you need to.

What is an art appraiser?

An art appraiser will use their expertise to assign a value to a work of art. By considering things like the provenance of a work, its medium, the artist who made it, and other factors like style and era, an art appraiser can figure out a price you would expect to sell a piece for.

That information can be incredibly important in many different situations. If you are looking to insure your collection, you’ll need an appraiser. If you are dividing assets, like during a divorce, you’ll need an appraiser. If you are looking to resell and want to know a good price to begin at, you’ll need an appraiser. With art, value is seen as so subjective and difficult to pin down, that these professionals at pricing art have become invaluable.

How does an art appraisal work?

To get a sense of your artwork’s value, an art appraiser will track down exhaustive information on prices for similar works. It can be hard to find “similar” works in the world of art. An appraiser will have to take in a large amount of variables into account, including:

  • provenance
  • medium
  • artist
  • condition
  • size
  • market conditions
  • exhibition history

This list is not exhaustive, but it gives a good idea of just how many factors go into appraising the value for a single work of art. As you can see, researching a work of art can be a lot of work.

Art Estimate vs. Appraisal

Anyone can estimate the value of a work of art. When you watch a television show like Antiques Roadshow, that’s essentially what you are seeing. This is a quick and dirty version of an appraisal. But when you need a legal document, an art appraisal goes above and beyond. An appraiser will provide a complete assessment that you can use as proof, whether to a court of law or the IRS. That’s because a true appraisal will follow the Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisers Practice (USPAP).

You won’t always need that level of detail. If you are getting a cash offer for a painting and just checking to see if it’s a fair deal, you don’t need a legal document. However, if you are looking to insure your collection, you will need an accredited appraiser.

The three major types of appraisal are:

  • Insurance value: This will determine the current market replacement value when purchasing a similar work from a retail gallery.
  • Resale value: This will give you a fair market value — though it is certainly not a guarantee.
  • Donation value: This is specifically to see how much you can deduct from taxes if you donate a work of art.

There are still others, but these are the most common.

How much does an art appraisal cost?

The cost of an art appraisal comes down to many specifics, but you can easily spend several hundred dollars to appraise a single work. Many great appraisers will charge hundreds of dollars an hour. This can be prohibitively expensive for some works that you are fairly certain aren’t worth anything near that. But for works that are at least worth several thousand dollars, you may find the money well spent.

How accurate are art appraisers?

You could have a leading expert appraising one of your works and still end up selling a piece for less than you could have. In fact, this kind of thing happens all the time at the world’s biggest auction houses. That isn’t because art appraisers are bad at what they do — it’s because the thing they are pricing is extremely difficult to pin down, and prices can fluctuate rapidly.

A piece of bread or a certain amount of processed lumber can be easily compared to similar examples in the market to come up with a fair price. But you can’t ever really compare a one-of-a-kind work of art with another. That’s what makes them one-of-a-kind! The extreme difficulty of art appraisal leads us to our next important question.

What credentials should an art appraiser have?

It’s really important to check an art appraiser’s credentials before hiring them. You’ll want to make sure that they have accreditation for compliance with the USPAP. And it is also helpful to know if they are in a professional organization like the American Society of Appraisers. These will usually have certification that goes above and beyond, ensuring that you’re getting a well trained and vetted appraiser.

How often should I appraise my art?

No matter the reason for getting an art appraisal, you’ll want to update them from time to time. Most legally relevant appraisals are good for 10 years. But the market can change much quicker than that. If you follow those ups and downs, it will sometimes be helpful to reappraise works of art — especially if not doing so will leave you under insured.

When you are looking to sell a work of art, you’ll benefit from a recent appraisal, depending on the actual value of the piece. For instance, if you are going to sell a few limited edition prints for around $100 a piece, an appraisal will likely not be worth the added cost.

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Tips for Buying Art During Uncertain Times

It’s no secret that things are feeling a bit nervous in the economy. From high inflation to talk of a potential recession, it seems that a lot of people are getting anxious. That kind of talk makes it hard to feel confident when you are doing any kind of investing. And if you are buying art as an investment, it’s really no different.

Even if you are buying art as a collector who simply loves the beauty of a piece, it can still be unsettling to buy things up when you aren’t sure what tomorrow will look like economically. After all, buying art can become expensive, and when there might be a recession just around the corner, one wonders if that money wouldn’t be better spent somewhere else.

So on a certain level, this isn’t the easiest time to go around shelling out your cash for artwork. But you might be surprised to find that, in other ways, it can be a fine time to collect. Let’s look at a few of the burning questions going on among collectors right now and see if we can give some answers that help you navigate these times.

Is art recession proof?

The major question people ask themselves at a time like this is whether or not art is “recession proof.” If it is, maybe holding on to a bunch of artwork right now is fine. If not, how are we supposed to be buying art when a recession might hit? Now, that is a complicated thing to understand. First of all, there is no standard meaning of the term “recession proof.” It can mean different things to different people. But for the most part, it means an asset that performs better than most others during a recession.

So, is art one of those assets? Yes and no.

For top blue-chip artwork, there can still be major bidding frenzies and high prices even in the worst of economic times. So if you are selling Basquiats and Picassos, there’s no need to worry. But what about the rest of us?

Much of the primary and secondary art market will see prices go down during recessions. That’s because all that discretionary spending on art dries up pretty fast. Lowers prices aren’t all bad. They are a benefit to collectors, for instance. You can get a lot more art for your dollar during a recession while also giving funds to the galleries and artists who keep the art world turning.

All this being said, prices do seem to go down less in the art market than in others. On top of that, prices can fall unevenly across categories. 2008 was the single worst year for the art market on record. But even then, Impressionist and Modern Art prices only went down slightly. If you remember what happened in 2008, you’ll recall that other investments, namely stocks, took much more brutal hits.

But here, you might just be seeing the basic dichotomy rear its ugly head again: major blue chip art is more resilient while lesser known and unproven work can’t hold onto its price as well.

Is it risky to buy artwork right now?

The great thing about art is that it actually provides value outside of what you can recoup as an investment.

When an art collector purchases work, they do not have to worry if it will definitely make them money down the line, because it will be a piece of artwork that they can enjoy no matter what. You can’t buy a stock and simply hang it on the wall and admire it — if it doesn’t make you money, it has no value to you.

That means that when we talk about “risk” with buying art, we need to define our terms. Will the art you buy today all of a sudden have low resale value in a week or a month? It might go down significantly, but that’s only a problem if you want to sell it in a week or a month.

This is something that has made art such a beloved asset for such a long time. It weathers the storms of recession rather well, all because it has far less pressure on it to make money. That ends up slowing down supply during a recession — as people find it easier to simply not sell while the market looks weak — and that ends up keeping prices from falling through the floor.

In short, it isn’t any more or less risky to buy art right now as long as you are doing it for sheer enjoyment. If you are buying strictly as an investment, you will have to assess your own taste for risk.

How do you go about buying art right now?

During a recession, it is probably wise to increase caution around major purchases and the decision to sell work. But the general rules remain the same. Fundamentally, if you can easily afford a work of art that you love and want to take home with you, that math still checks out.

If you are wanting to offload work you own, it might not be the best time, especially if art world prices begin to fall. There’s no harm holding on to things through the slow times.

Keep optimistic when it comes to buying art

No one has a perfect working crystal ball, but many people are reading the tea leaves and seeing economic trouble on the horizon. Whether or not that comes to pass, buying art doesn’t have to become a terrifying prospect.

As long as you keep the fundamentals in view, you’ll be fine. And always make sure that you buy art you will enjoy for many years without needing to resell right away for a profit.

And remember, the more collecting you do through a recession, the more you directly support the artists and galleries that make the art world possible.