‘Tea Stain’ by Gavin Turk – Fantastic Artwork, Bad Investment
I recently came across a limited edition print by Gavin Turk which was being sold by White Cube gallery entitled ‘Tea Stain’ which basically consists of a round tea coloured stain from the base of a tea cup on a white piece of paper. There are those that would immediately dismiss this artwork as another piece of rubbish modern art but I have to admit that I personally find the concept rather intriguing.
Tea Stain by Gavin Turk
According to the White Cube website, “This work by Gavin Turk further explores the complex ideas surrounding authorship and the concept of the artist as ‘creative genius’. With each tea stain – a unique mono print – Turk asks the viewer to examine not only the way that an artist is seen to be a creator of objects venerated within an art historical context, but also the ways in which the simple motions of the everyday can become amusing or important.” Apart from the obvious comment on the issues of authorship and artist as ‘creative genius’, tea has many different cultural, social and historical associations which are universally relevant and should evoke some sort of response in almost everyone. Although the artwork consits mainly of blank white paper, it is the simplicity of the work that forces the viewer to generate their own understanding and make their own interpretation of the work thus increasing the relevance and level of interest for each individual viewer.
As much as I like ‘Tea Stain’, there are unfortunately several factors that make this work a bad investment, such as:
1. The work is an edition of 1000 which is way too big to have any value as an investment. With 1000 of the works on the market there is never going to be enough of a demand on the secondary market to produce an increase in their value significant enough to categorise the work as a good investment.
2. ‘Tea Stain’ was originally released in 2004 since which half of the edition has sold. That means that is has taken over three years to sell only half of the edition which means that it will either take another few years for the edition to sell out or it won’t sell out at all (which is quite likely considering that the original enthusiasm for the work has worn off and the price for the work has increased).
3. The price of the work was raised from the original 75 pounds to 120 pounds which is an instant turnoff. For 120 pounds I could purchase a limited edition etching from the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition which would most likely be an edition of less than 50 and would be a much better investment.
So in conclusion, great work, bad investment…
**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectables for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications.