Top Art Stories: Spring Auctions and Frieze Art Fair

What a week in the New York art world! The Met Gala, Important Impressionist and Modern auctions, the third edition of Frieze Art fair on Randall’s Island, and of course the Contemporary Art evening sales which are coming only next week but already making the news with their major lots and hefty guarantees.

Guarantees return en-force to Spring Evening Sales

G_popeyeWe couldn’t help but notice the omnipresent special notice indications next to major lots in the upcoming Post War and Contemporary art spring auctions catalogues. Guarantees to sellers have been slowly creeping back into the equation, often bringing in financing from interested outside parties that guarantee desired works and benefit financially if the benchmark price is exceeded during the sale. According to The New York Times the numbers of guarantees are growing for both, Christie’s and Sotheby’s and this season totaled  some $680 million. The top lot at Christie’s, Francis Bacon triptych Three Studies for a Portrait of John Edwards was guaranteed by an anonymous outside party for around $80 million. Note here that bidding for the triptych is likely to commence around the $75 million mark and that the record-selling $142 million Three Studies of Lucian Freud was estimated at $85 million and was not backed by any kind of a guarantee. Jeff Koons’ Popeye the star lot for the Contemporary Art evening sale at Sotheby’s is guaranteed by the auction house itself according to a circle symbol in the catalogue. We will find out next week if the expectations are justified. Source: The New York Times

Galleries come to Frieze with single artist booths (Hello, VOLTA?)

F_Top Art StoriesArt fairs are typically synonymous with variety: artistic, geographical, visual, etc. Even within a single booth there is often an overwhelming assortment of artists, media, styles or techniques. But this year’s edition of Frieze Art Fair in New York is bringing along a new trend – galleries showing single artists in their booths. (Remember how we praised the model during last years VOLTA fair?) During Frieze, opening today on Randall’s Island, there will be more than 20 such solo shows, including some by major market players: Ed Ruscha will be shown at the Gagosian Gallery booth, and work by Danh Vo, the Vietnamese-born performance artist will be at Marian Goodman. This is certainly going to provide audience with a deeper understanding of the artist and his/her work, but for the galleries that may seem a risky enterprise as a stand at Frieze can cost as much as $65,000 and showing just one artist takes a lot of confidence in demand for his work. Source: Financial Times

Come play art at Frieze this year

P_popeyeArt fairs can be exhausting, especially when there are 10 of them happening simultaneously in New York. (Read our guide to navigating the art fair.) As a reaction to this inevitable fair fatigue, the trend of art as play gains momentum at art fairs. This strategy, however, is not new and has been around for the past couple of years in New York, bringing crowds to fun and easily digestible interactive art exhibitions. Most recently it was the “Rain Room” at MoMA and Yayoi Kusama’s “Infinity Room” at David Zwirner Gallery, both were enjoyed extremely high demand with the viewers. At Frieze this play-element will be brought by several artists including Marie Lorenz who will take the visitors on a ride on her handmade paddle boat as part of an ongoing performance-based work Tide and Current TaxiEduardo Basualdo will create a faux soccer field with goalposts blocked with shields of glass, and the Czech artist Eva Kotatkova will prepare an outdoor installation resembling children’s playground where each structure will serve to fit viewers inside it, thus making them integral to her work. Source: Financial Times

Investors’ money concentrated in one segment of the market

I_popeyeThere are basically two types of collectors: those who buy art simply out of aesthetic considerations and those who entirely (or at least partially) treat it as an alternative (or principal) mode of investment. Of course, in an ideal word the art you love, regardless of the category it falls into, would appreciate over time as the artist gets more recognition, but in reality wealthy investors seeking to diversify their portfolios buy and resell art almost exclusively in a category that currently seems to yield the greatest profit: Post War and Contemporary art. This in turn disproportionally elevates prices in this category. These dynamics leave little chance to those who value beauty over merchantability to be able to afford the works from this popular (and art historically important) segment. Source: The New York Times

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