The 2010 Art Market Review – artmarkeblog.com

The 2010 Art Market Review – artmarkeblog.com

2010 has been one of the most confusing, unpredictable and unexplainable years for me as an art market analyst. So many of the trends, events and fads that emerged during 2010 did not appear to be caused by the sort of conditions, have the same effects, or follow the same path of logic that one would expect they would given the way things have panned out in past years. This leaves me with no doubt that the art market is evolving at such a rapid pace that there is little point trying to justify or explain the events of today using logic that is based on the progression and events of previous years. In fact, more of the art market events that took place during 2010 appeared to defy logic than ever before. I do, however, strongly believe that one of the reasons that it has become even more difficult to determine what is going on with the art market is that the art market (auction houses in particular) has become adept at making the situation appear much better than it really is. Whether it be by skewing figures or manipulating the way results are perceived – galleries, fairs and auction houses have become the plastic surgeons of the art world.

What has also made 2010 such a hard year to analyse was the contraction, and slow regeneration, of the market for the work of trendy emerging artists and recent works by top contemporary artists – both of which are usually the most global, visible and publicised sectors of the market. As the market moves towards the work of artists with a proven track record, collectors and investors have shifted their focus from the usually dominant and globally relevant contemporary art market to the work of artists from a wide of variety of styles, mediums and movements that cannot appear to have very little in common. This has resulted in a situation where there is not one dominant global trend that art market analysts such as myself can focus on, but a number of smaller and disjointed trends that make reading the market particularly difficult.

A few months ago I wrote a series of posts on what I believed was a move towards a more sentimental art market, which appears to be exactly the direction that the market has headed. General disillusionment with the contemporary art market has sent many collectors and investors take a more sentimental approach to fine art that is characterised by a focus on the safety of more established artists and the familiarity of artists that they can relate to. When art collectors or investors seek safety and familiarity they are most likely to gravitate towards works by artists from the era and culture that they have the greatest connection to. This would explain the large number of seemingly unrelated trends that emerged during 2010 many of which involved previously unfashionable styles and movements that are distinctly associated with a particular era or culture.

There is no doubt that the art market has recovered far quicker than many people thought possible. Again, the unexpectedly rapid recovery has thrown a spanner in the works when it comes to analysing the art market and trying to make sense of what is going on. Some journalists and analysts have gone as far as to admit that they cannot explain how a market that seemed to be at breaking point could make such a rapid recovery. To give you an idea of how quickly the art market has recovered, in March of this year (2010) Walter Robinson, editor of Artnet Magazine, said that “Art Market Watch has been on something of a hiatus during the last few months. What with the recession, reporting on auction results just isn’t as compelling as it was during the boom years”. Six weeks later a painting by Picasso become the most expensive work of art ever sold at auction when it fetched a staggering $106.5 million. A week after that an Andy Warhol self portrait sold at Sotheby’s for $32.6 million (more than twice the estimate) setting a new record for a Warhol self portrait at auction. Compelling enough?

When it comes to rationalising art market events there is much to be gained from knowing who has money to spend and how much they have to spend. The top end of the market is fuelled by super wealthy collectors whose level of wealth would not have been affected enough by the financial crisis to deter them from buying art. Therefore at the high end of the art market things have been pretty solid as is evident from the number of record auction prices set in 2010. The lower end of the market is fuelled by collectors who focus on edgy and trendy contemporary art by emerging and newly established artists, and who will usually have a high level of interest in the cultural and artistic side of fine art. Collectors at the lower end of the market are a very determined group who are always going to be around even if they appear a little less active at times. Things at the lower end have improved but have done so at a less than rapid pace which makes it difficult to judge where this sector of the market is heading. Without a doubt the sector of the art market that has suffered for the longest period of time due to the effects of the global financial crisis and the art market downturn is the middle market. The middle market includes lesser works by big name artists, and the more expensive (less justifiable) works by the trendy contemporary artists, which makes the middle market a sort of currently un-necessary compromise for the super rich, and a stretch too far for the modestly well off. Middle market works are, however, perfect for the financial advisor and hedge fund manager types who are more interested in art as a status symbol than the quality or art historical importance of the works they are buying. With the pay packets of hedge fund managers and financial advisors taking a massive hit due to the financial crisis, there is little interest in the middle market works. The super rich are still rich enough to not have to compromise and settle for middle market works and the modestly well off continue to fuel the lower end of the market.
My next post will be the top ten art market 2010 so stay tuned……..

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

Advertisements

The Art Auction House Sin Files – artmarketblog.com

The Art Auction House Sin Files – artmarketblog.com

Where does it all end? When will people realise that although the questionable practices exhibited by some auction houses are legal, they should not be tolerated? How far will art auction houses be able to go before someone steps in and says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH !! Let’s take a look at the history of sins committed, and those allegedly committed, by the big three art auction houses.

The most famous art auction house scandal took place in 2000 when Christie’s and Sotheby’s were dragged through the mud because of allegations that they had formed a “cartel” and were agreeing in advance to fix commission rates. The price-fixing scheme violated federal antitrust law by eliminating competitive choice and cost customers millions of dollars. Christie’s dobbed on Sotheby’s and were given immunity from prosecution for their information. Sotheby’s ended up taking most of the flak with several senior members getting the boot and two senior managers, A. Alfred Taubman and Dede Brooks, both getting jail sentences. Sotheby’s, Christie’s and their owners also paid a civil lawsuit settlement of $512 million.

In September of 2004, Forbes magazine reported that Christie’s were allegedly withholding information regarding the authenticity of objects from clients. These allegations were made by Canadian newspaper heiress Taylor Lynne Thomson who went on to sue Christie’s. According to Forbes magazine: “Thomson sued and British courts ruled in May that Christie’s had been too lax in its catalog description, leaving out qualifications to its classification of the urns as being “Louis XV.” The judge highlighted the auction specialists’ decision to remove the qualifying words “possibly Italian,” which would’ve raised the possibility of the urns being far less valuable 19th-century copies.”

Christie’s controversial purchase of the highly regarded gallery Haunch of Venison in 2007 caused a flurry of opinions, many of called the sale a conflict of interest and accused Christie’s of blurring the lines between what galleries and auction houses offer. Christie’s wasn’t the first auction house to purchase a gallery though as Sothebys also made a foray into the gallery world by purchasing Noortman Master Paintings in 2006.

In 2008, CNet founder Halsey Minor sued Sotheby’s for allegedly failing to fully declare when they had an ownership stake in works that they were selling. Sotheby’s won the case and were awarded $6.64 million in outstanding debts. Minor can appeal but, as far as I know, has yet to do so.

In February of this year Christie’s allegedly settled with a brother and sister who sued Christie’s for allegedly failing to identify a painting that they consigned to the auction house as being by Titian. The painting was sold for £8,000 by Christie’s in 1993 as a painting ‘from the school of Titian’. It was determined after the painting had been sold by Christie’s that it was in fact a genuine Titian which was worth in the region of 4 million pounds. The siblings claimed that Christie’s failed to competently research and advise on the painting’s value when it was sold in 1993.

In May of this year (2010), Jeanne Marchig, a Swiss animal philanthropist, launched a law suit against Christie’s for failing to identify a painting owned by Marchig, which was sold by Christie’s for $19,500 in 1998, as a painting by Leonardo worth upwards of 100 million pounds. Christie’s sold the painting as a mere ‘19th century German’ work for which Marchig is suing Christie’s for ‘wilful refusal and failure to investigate the plaintiff’s believed attribution, to comply with its fiduciary obligations, negligence, breach of warrant to attribute the drawing correctly, and making false statements in connection with the auction and sale’. Christie’s disagrees with the claims that the painting is a Leonardo. Reaching an outcome with this case is likely to take quite a while.

The most recent art auction scandal involves auction house Phillips de Pury and their ‘Carte Blanche’ sale which took place on November the 8th (2010). So many issues have been raised in relation to this auction that it would take a series of posts to explain them all so I will only mention the most serious allegations. To begin with, the so called “curator” of the auction, Philippe Ségalot, not only was directly responsible for negotiating and organising the consignment of works for the sale, but he also advised some of the buyers – a situation that could be seen as a serious conflict of interest. If this wasn’t enough of a conflict of interest, Segalot is reported to have bid on works himself presumably on behalf of his clients. There have also been several reports that the auctioneer on the night, Simon de Pury, failed to make it clear to the audience when works failed to sell, which auctioneers are legally required to do. By failing to announce the failure of a work to sell the auctioneer could be seen to be attempting to deceive the audience by inducing a false sense of success and excitement.

These are only a few of the more serious scandals that have arisen as a result of some questionable tactics and practices adopted by the world’s top art auction houses. Are these the sort of businesses that you want to business with? Would you trust such a company to treat you fairly and honestly? I have made it my mission to make art collectors and investors more aware of what is happening in the art auction world and hopefully at the same time encourage the art auction houses to be more honest, ethical and transparent. Stay tuned, there is more to come………

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

The Great Contemporary Art Market Cock-Up – artmarketblog.com

The Great Contemporary Art Market Cock-Up – artmarketblog.com

All last week I was bombarded with headlines that announced the returning strength of the contemporary art market thanks to the phenomenal prices achieved for works by artists such as Warhol, Lichtenstein and Klein whose work was described by one major newspaper as the fons et origo (latin for source and origin) of contemporary art. Now I am not trying to be rude or degrade the journalists who make this mistake, but Warhol, Klein (Yves) and Lichtenstein are NOT CONTEMPORARY ARTISTS, and their work is NOT CONTEMPORARY ART !!. To be honest, I am sick of hearing and seeing artists of another era being referred to as ‘contemporary’, because they are not. The fact that Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein are all dead – and were all born in the 1920’s – should be enough of an indication that their work should not be classified as contemporary any more. As for myself, when I refer to the work of contemporary artists I am referring to artists who are currently alive, active and producing work that is in line with the prevailing contemporary ethos. At this point I would like to say that there are many journalists and market representatives who do make the correct distinctions between post-war and contemporary art to whom I would like to give a round of applause.

The reason this trend of referring to the likes of Warhol, Lichtenstein and Klein as contemporary artists annoys me so much is because many representatives from the media and the market have been announcing the return of the contemporary art market based on records achieved by artists who are NOT contemporary artists. Thankfully, some market representatives and some journalists have rightly referred to the work of Warhol, Lichtenstein, Klein etc. as postmodern or post-war, which is a much more accurate description. I do, however, also have a problem with the use of the term post-war because of the broadness of the category which I think is another marketing ploy – but would still prefer they use the term ‘post-war’ instead of ‘contemporary’. Although this may seem like a small problem not worthy of being discussed, I think there are too many little issues that are not discussed – issues that together can cause major confusion and misunderstanding.

This whole ploy of including anything produced post world war II in contemporary art auctions and referring to them as works of contemporary art is just not right. In fact, it is deceptive and misleading. So why do some auction houses continue promoting the likes of Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein as contemporary artists and alongside true contemporary artists? – I believe it is for three very simple yet potentially very lucrative reasons. Firstly, the association of emerging artist with the likes of Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein lends more credibility and validity to the work of emerging artists. Secondly, the inclusion of a few big names in a contemporary art auction pretty much guarantees that a poor performance by the work of the true contemporary artists will be overshadowed by the success of the work of their predecessors. Thirdly, artists such as Klein, Warhol and Lichtenstein attract large and wealthy crowds who are more likely to throw down some money on the work of an emerging artist if the room is already buzzing from the record sale of a Warhol. Essentially, the inclusion of work by Modern masters such as Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein appears to be nothing more than a clever marketing ploy.

If you disagree with my opinion then consider for a moment these definitions of the term ‘contemporary’ :

-marked by characteristics of the present period
-happening, existing, living, or coming into being during the same period of time
-belonging to the present time
-characteristic of the present; “contemporary trends in design”

As far as I am concerned, each of these definitions are blatant indications that the work of Warhol, Klein and Lichtenstein cannot be referred to as being contemporary.

The current definition of contemporary art that is used by a large portion of the art market – auction houses in particular – is basically a creation of the market it’s self that serves the pursuits of the auction houses very well. Although the journalists appear to be the main protagonists when it comes to promoting the work of non-contemporary artists as contemporary, the auction houses certainly don’t seem to do anything to discourage this practice. Although some auction houses do hold auctions that are promoted as including post-war and contemporary art, many fail to make much of an effort to distinguish between the contemporary and the post-war, which leaves the journalists free to make the incorrect assumptions and associations regarding the classification of the works – perhaps a cunning ploy by the auction houses to avoid being accused of incorrectly classifying the works. Regardless of who it is that is ultimately responsible for the errors being made, I think it is important that something be done to stop this misleading practice. In the interest of fairness I would like to encourage anyone who has a view on this issue – whether in agreement with my opinion or not – to make a comment below.

 

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

Network of Arts and Culture Websites Creates New Model for Online Publishing – artmarketblog.com

For Immediate Release

Contact: Brigid Brown, Publicist

Cell) 551.358.1058

brigidbrown13@yahoo.com

Network of Arts and Culture Websites Creates New Model for Online Publishing

“Life in the arts has taught (Kathryn) Born that you can’t have a life in the arts unless you’re ‘able to work for free or almost nothing.’ She thinks that’s wrong … “

Chicago Reader, January 2010

The network of websites that comprise Chicago Art Map and Chicago Art Magazine are not simply local websites but a case study for a new model of online publishing.

See: http://chicagoartmagazine.com/transparency-pages/

“Print media is in a mindset that online publishing is simply posting on a screen rather than printing on paper,” says Kathryn Born, founder of the CAM. “It’s rarely utilizing the internet’s capabilities to connecting the story ancillary data and deeper pools of information. It doesn’t harness the power of online distributions, which can categorize and deliver content to the audience — in the exact moment and form they wish to receive it.”

What does that have to do with Chicago Art Map? The network stands as a proof-of-concept of new publishing through several scenarios.  The key example is that Chicago has 300 art venues and countless events every week. Comprehensive lists are ideal, but unwieldy.

The answer? Put all the information into a database instead of a list. Put a Google Map layer on top, add images, and code additional software tools so the events can be sorted and filtered.

The result? Search an art map by geographical range or  exhibit type (a museum vs. a gallery or alternative art space) or type of art or type of event. Sort alphabetically or by neighborhood,   location, specialty and filtered by date and geography.

For Chicago Art Magazine, footnotes are back in style using “hovering” tools, paragraphs of extra information expand with a click to instantly reveals more information (without refreshing the page).   And images! Since ink is no longer a cost factor, they’re abundant, and expand to full size when clicked upon.

Chicago Art Magazine doesn’t publish monthly, it publishes twice a day. Each piece is pushed out to over 5,000 Facebook and Twitter followers.

It’s operational budget, for what would-be a 200 page magazine, is only $1,700 a month. Every dime goes to writers, editors and staff. No rent, no paper, no trucks. Suddenly, an advertising-based model that only requires $2000 per month to support freelancers and stay in the black, is attainable, often with sole-sponsorship deals that provide a blast of coverage for only a few sponsors each month.

“‘Advertorial; content is permissible, but only if it’s fully disclosed in every instance,” is the policy of the magazine, as they are supported with “sponsored posts” along with graphic advertisements.

Most unusual, yet still in accordance with the Open source (software) background that prepared Kathryn Born for the task, is the idea of freely sharing ideas so that others can build upon what was learned. A tab called “transparency” reveals everything from tech tricks, to philosophy and budgets. A weekly blog gets into even smaller details about editorial and survival

-MORE-

The site speaks to all tiers of art fans whether a seasoned collector or a newbie looking to go out on a Friday evening. This breadth of reviews is credited to the aptly named “Friday Night Army” which is a team of critics, released onto the city, with the mission to report back on what is seen and heard in their own voice. “The editorial goal is to write about art in a simple, lively way, using pictures, video and audio,” says Born. “Our belief is that writing about art can be a literary style that’s as colorful as the art we describe.”

Chicago Art Magazine ~ Reviews & Features

Chicago Art Map ~ One-Stop-Shop Gallery Finder

The Chicago Art Machine speaks to all tiers of art fans whether it is a collector on the prowl for the latest discovery or a newbie looking to branch out. This breadth can be credited to the aptly named “Friday Night Army” which is a team of critics, released onto the city, with the mission to report back on what is seen and heard in their own voice.

Some features are more mainstream like, “The Bath Haus of Gaga” and others more niche-y but still accessible such as, “A Crash of Critters at Fill in the Blank”. No matter what genre, each article is informative and as a whole the network feels like a mini-course in art history. After a short time of perusing the sites, visitors will walk away knowing way more than when they started.

“The editorial goal is to write about art in a simple, lively way with a whole bunch of pictures, video and audio,” says Born. “The belief is that writing about art can be a literary style that’s as colorful as the art we describe.”

Kathryn Born is the Editor-in-Chief of the online Chicago Art Magazine and oversees ChicagoArtMap.com. Born breaking off to start her own network of sites, Born had created the blog Art Talk Chicago for the Chicago Tribune-sponsored network of blogs called ChicagoNow.com.

If you plan to run a review and/or would like to set up an interview with Kathryn Born, please contact: Brigid Brown @ 551.358.1058 or brigidbrown13@yahoo.com

Visit us online at: www.chicagoartmagazine.com

-END-

Top iPhone Apps for Art Collectors – artmarketblog.com

Top iPhone Apps for Art Collectors – artmarketblog.com

Several art related companies and institutions have taken advantage of the revolution that is the Apple iPhone, and released apps that make buying, browsing and finding out about works of art possible anywhere, anytime. Below are my top iPhone Apps for art collectors and investors.

Artfact.com iPhone App

Why waste your valuable time searching hundreds of old auction house catalogs and websites for auction price results, when you can find everything you need all in one easy-to-use service?
Artfact is the world’s largest and most comprehensive online auction price guide, delivering over 55 million price results for fine art, decorative art, antiques and collectibles all sold at auction.

-Browse over 100,000 upcoming live auction items
-Research over half a million auction price results
-Place confidential absentee bids on upcoming lots
-Receive email alerts if you are outbid
-Share your favorite items via Facebook or email

Available free of charge from the iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/artfact-live-auctions/id340245009?mt=8

Invaluable.com iPhone App

Invaluable Live! is the world’s premiere live auction bidding platform, enabling collectors and dealers around the globe to bid online in real-time on over 100,000 upcoming items for sale at auction. More than 150 traditional, international auction houses host their auctions exclusively on the Invaluable Live! platform.

-Browse over 100,000 upcoming live auction items
-Research over half a million auction price results
-Place confidential absentee bids on upcoming lots
-Receive email alerts if you are outbid
-Share your favorite items via Facebook or email

Available free of charge from the iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/invaluable-live-auctions/id343664441?mt=8

Christie’s iPhone App

When you are on the run, Christie’s iPhone application allows you to browse over 450 auctions in over 80 categories including all areas of fine and decorative arts, jewelry, photographs, collectibles, wine, and more from the palm of your hand. With a touch of a finger, you can also review auction results and learn how to buy and sell with Christie’s.

* Email a lot to a friend
* Discover how to buy and sell with Christie’s or more about our Private Sale services
* Explore over 80 Specialist Departments
* Get directions to and locate our salerooms across the globe using Google maps
* Show your passion for fine art, jewelry, decorative arts and more with one of our downloadable wallpapers
* Learn about the history of the the world’s first fine art auctioneers, and about our company today

Available from iTunes App Store
http://www.christies.com/on-the-go/iphone/

Saffron Art iPhone App

Key features of the application include a color-coded bid status indicator, proxy bidding capabilities, as well as information on current bid amounts, bid histories and post-auction results. Users can also preview the entire auction catalogue, with such lot details as size, surface, medium, estimates and images, searching by lot number, artist or designer name, material or type

Available from iTunes App Store
http://www.saffronart.com/sitepages/Mobile-Auction/iPhone.aspx

LiveAuctioneers.com iPhone App

Anyone with this application loaded onto their iPhone will have instant access to any auction catalog listed on LiveAuctioneers and can even log in and leave absentee bids through our Secure Bidder Network (SBN). With SBN functionality, which is unique to LiveAuctioneers, your absentee bid is kept private and unknown to anyone until auction day, when the bid is executed. Additionally, the new iPhone app enables the user to share auction lots with others via e-mail and to access more than 4 million fully illustrated auction results from past sales conducted through LiveAuctioneers

Another bonus feature of LiveAuctioneers’ iPhone app is its exclusive direct connection to Auction Central News (www.auctioncentralnews.com), the leading online source for news about auctions, antiques and fine art.

Available from iTunes App Store
http://www.liveauctioneers.com/iPhoneApp

Heritage Auctions iPhone App

Heritage Auctions has announced the launch of a mobile version of its award-winning Website, http://www.HA.com. Collectors now have the opportunity to search for, view and bid on any lot in any current Heritage auction from most any mobile device with a web browser from anywhere in the world where there’s Web service.

Available from iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/heritage-auctions/id346185455?mt=8

Artnear iPhone App

Artnear is the first global guide to art for the iphone platform. Find top galleries and museums around the world. Browse and see images of current shows, openings and more.

Available from iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/artnear/id320653064?mt=8

Seoul Auction iPhone App

Check what’s happening with Korea’s leading art auction house

Available from iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/seoulauction/id345138823?mt=8

Saatchi Magazine iPhone App

Art News, views, reviews, interviews, essays by the world’s leading writers, critics and curators on art and artists, weekly openings and more…

Available from iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/saatchi-magazine/id341552232?mt=8

Louvre iPhone App

The Musee du Louvre in Paris has recently launched its own iPhone application, offering a virtual experience of the world’s largest museum. Users can view some of the Louvre’s most famous items, such as the Mona Lisa and St. Mary Magdalene, and take a virtual tour of the museum’s historic buildings. As well as virtual guides, the app also offers tourist information about the museum, such as opening times and visitor maps.

Available from iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/id337339103?mt=8

National Gallery London iPhone App

The National Gallery is offering art lovers the opportunity to put works by Leonardo and Van Gogh in their pocket. A new application, called Love Art, allows iPhone and iTouch users to explore 250 of the Gallery’s best-loved paintings in the palm of their hand.

Take an unforgettable journey around the National Gallery. Zoom in to explore fine details and enjoy over three hours of video and audio content.

You can listen to the stories behind the masterpieces in insightful interviews with artists, writers and experts including:

* National Gallery Director Nicholas Penny
* Dramatist Robin Brooks
* Artist Maggie Hambling
* Author Tracy Chevalier

Available from the iTunes App Store
http://itunes.apple.com/au/app/love-art-national-gallery-london/id314566159?mt=8

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

The Spectacle of the Art Market Part 3 – artmarketblog.com

The Spectacle of the Art Market Part 3 – artmarketblog.com

Natalya Goncharova's Linen

I am sure that many of you would agree that it has become the norm for people to approach fine art as consumers instead of as scholars or connoisseurs. If you were to ask me whether there is anything wrong with this I would say that there definitely is. Don’t get me wrong, I am obviously a strong supporter of the art market, but also recognise the need for a balance between the commercial and the cultural. Without that balance the art market becomes unstable and the art world becomes too closely connected to the art market. Whether you realise it or not, the art market requires a certain level of “infiltration” by scholars and connoisseurs. It is the scholars and connoisseurs who add value to works of art by generating information and knowledge that make works of art historically and culturally more significant. It is this information that is generated by scholars and connoisseurs that we should be using to justify the dollar value of a work of art because this information is usually based on intrinsic characteristics of the work of art that cannot be disassociated from the work of art or become obsolete, and therefore encourage more stable long term values. The contemporary art market, on the other hand, often relies on factors that have very little to do with the work of art its self such as social status, economic status, popular trends and financial gain. These factors can become obsolete very quickly which usually means that the dollar value that these factors generated also disappears causing the sort of correction that we have just experienced.

In February of 2008 Nicholas Penny, the curator of the British National Gallery, made a statement that he was going to put an end to the gallery’s blockbuster exhibition days. According to an article in the Guardian Newspaper, Penny said “The responsibility of a major gallery is to show people something they haven’t seen before. A major national institution should be one that proves a constant attraction to the public. What is important is encouraging historical and visual curiosity in the general public.” Ralph T. Coe, the former director of the Nelson Gallery-Atkins Museum in Kansas City, Mo., a former president of the American Association of Art Museum Directors and a former chairman of the Museum Committee of the National Endowment for the Arts, put the problem in even simpler terms when he said: “One of the saddest things museum connoisseurs like me have had to observe is the substitution of entertainment values for the intrinsic values incarnate in great works of art that alone can confer aesthetic authenticity.” This problem of the substitution of entertainment values (the spectacle) for intrinsic values that the cultural sector is experiencing is also a big problem for the art market as I have shown above. We need to stop the spectacularisation of the contemporary art market if we want to have a more culturally and historically significant period of art production. I believe that we need to be asking the following question on a far more regular basis: in one hundred years time will this work be able to be exhibited in a museum, and will people consider the work to be culturally significant and be historically important?

**Nicholas Forrest is an art market analyst, art critic and journalist based in Sydney, Australia. He is the founder of http://www.artmarketblog.com, writes the art column for the magazine Antiques and Collectibles for Pleasure and Profit and contributes to many other publications

Saffronart’s Winter Online Auction 2009 – artmarketblog.com

Saffronart’s Winter Online Auction 2009

Modern and Contemporary Indian Art

December 9-10, 2009

· 100 works of art by 51 Modern and Contemporary Indian artists with a total low to high estimate of approximately Rs. 15 crores (US$ 3.2 million) to Rs. 19.4 crores (US$ 4.2 million)

· Attractively estimated works by renowned modernists and popular contemporary artists, of exceptional provenance and quality

· Auction highlights include important modern works by Manjit Bawa, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta and Jagdish Swaminathan

· Prominent contemporary artists featured in the sale include Subodh Gupta, Anju Dodiya, Raqib Shaw and Jagannath Panda

Mumbai, November 27, 2009: Saffronart, India’s leading auction house for Modern and Contemporary Indian Art, will host its annual Winter Online Art Auction on December 9-10, 2009. Presenting 100 lots of exceptional quality and provenance by 51 leading modern and contemporary Indian artists, the sale will take place online at http://www.saffronart.com.

The auction catalogue includes paintings, drawings and sculptures by celebrated modern artists Manjit Bawa, F.N. Souza, S.H. Raza, Akbar Padamsee, Tyeb Mehta and Jagdish Swaminathan among others. Notable contemporary artists in the sale are Subodh Gupta, Anju Dodiya, Raqib Shaw and Jagannath Panda among others. With a strong focus on aesthetically significant works, this sale promises to generate great interest and demand from collectors across the globe.

Featured on the front cover of the catalogue, is an untitled canvas of epic proportions by Manjit Bawa. The artist’s men, women, gods and animals, suspended wondrously in colourful space, are rendered with a simple fluidity that borders on the abstract. Rather than brushstroke and texture, Bawa relies on chiaroscuro and subtle shading to deliver depth to his canvases; and rather than developing a narrative, the artist focuses on perfecting form by paring it down to its most basic essence. Together, these characteristics give the artist’s paintings an arresting luminosity, and his characters a dreamlike presence.

Another important lot is Jagdish Swaminathan’s untitled canvas from 1975, which was formerly in the collection of World Bank director William Diamond. Swaminathan, in his quest for this new modernist ‘Indian’ vocabulary, turned to the local, exploring not only the folk art of varied regions, but also the historically significant miniature traditions of North-Western India. The Bird, Tree, Mountain series of canvases, to which this lot belongs, stands testimony to his attempts at instituting a new idiom for modern Indian art, and is inspired by both the simplicity of Indian folk art, and the intensity of Indian miniatures.

Among the contemporary lots on offer, Subodh Gupta’s 2005 untitled work, a shimmering theatre of polished stainless steel pots and pans, is featured on the back cover of the catalogue. Gupta’s main concerns have been subjective value and material production and consumption. In charting and presenting India’s unique developmental path, the artist creatively draws attention to the present interdigitation of tradition and modernity in the country, and the distinct social realities that emerge from this interface. In doing so, Gupta effectively communicates the impossibility of capturing the intricacies of the developing world through a developed world lens.

Featuring for the first time at a Saffronart auction is Raqib Shaw, whose work has been celebrated in prestigious solo exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and the Tate Britain in London. Drawing from various disciplines including literature, zoology and art history, Raqib Shaw’s body of work is a dizzying amalgamation of influences, including the work of old Masters like Bosch, Holbein and Piranesi, Mughal miniatures, the Romantic works of Wordsworth, Byron and Coleridge, Japanese decorative arts, Kashmiri shawls, and various specimens and images drawn from natural history museums, medical journals and popular culture, to name only a few.

Speaking about the auction, Dinesh Vazirani, CEO and Co-founder of Saffronart said, “The success of our recent auctions has proved that collectors around the globe continue to show great demand for rare and exceptional works with impressive quality and impeccable provenance, which this auction offers. Strong results, record prices, and increased international interest illustrate that there is renewed strength in the market as a whole. It is on this positive note that we look forward to strong interest in this auction.”

The total lower and higher estimates for this auction are Rs. 15 crores (US$ 3.2 million) and Rs. 19.4 crores (US$ 4.2 million) respectively. The sale will be accompanied by an illustrated print catalogue, also available online at http://www.saffronart.com, and preview events at Saffronart’s gallery spaces in Mumbai and New York.

Highlights from Saffronart’s Winter Online Auction 2009:

Manjit Bawa
Untitled
Rs. 70,00,000 – 90,00,000
$ 152,175 – 195,655

F.N. Souza
Mr. Sebastian (1956)
Rs. 55,20,000 – 82,80,000
$ 120,000 – 180,000

Subodh Gupta
Untitled (2005)
Rs. 70,00,000 – 90,00,000
$ 152,175 – 195,655

Akbar Padamsee
Untitled (2007)
Rs. 45,00,000 – 55,00,000
$ 97,830 – 119,570

About Saffronart

A global company with deep Indian roots, Saffronart was founded in 2000 on the strength of a private passion. Remaining committed to this passion and personal values, today Saffronart is a strong and successful international business that both embraces and drives change.

A pioneer of online art auctions, Saffronart has set global pricing benchmarks and transformed the landscape of Modern and Contemporary Indian Art, making it accessible to connoisseurs and collectors around the world. Its robust online auction platform and secure technology offers a personal, intuitive and effortless bidding and buying experience for clients.

With its online presence, and offices in Mumbai, New York and London, Saffronart has broadened and simplified access to Indian art and jewelry. Responding to the needs of today’s collectors, Saffronart also offers services such as art advisory, private sales, appraisals and valuations, and specialized art storage.

For further details on the auction, please contact:

India: Punya Nagpal, Nishad Avari or Dhanashree Waikar

Tel: (91 22) 2432 2898 / 2436 4113 or Email: auction@saffronart.com

USA: Anu Nanavati Chaddha

Tel: (212) 627 5006 or Email: newyork@saffronart.com

UK: Abha Housego

Tel: 44 (0) 20 7409 7974 or Email: london@saffronart.com

Media Contact: Malika Bhavnani, CMCG India Pvt. Ltd.

Tel: (91-22) 24450991/2/3, (91) 9820496099 or malika.bhavnani@cmcgindia.com