Not so Grrrrreat


Leo raises $40m worth of Grotjahn and Sterling Sterling Ruby at Christies to save some (paper) tigers rather than the poor, sick and downtrodden of the world. What would Tony the Tiger say, That’s not so Grrrrreat.

Venice: A Curmudgeon’s Take

'Venetians' by Polish artist Pawel Althamer on display at the Arsenale
'Venetians' by Polish artist Pawel Althamer on display at the Arsenale

I feel like the character in Thomas Mann’s short story Tonio Kroger, peering into a slightly fogged window at a party I will never be invited to. To Marino Auriti's ho-hum "Il Encyclopedico Palazzo del Mondo (Encyclopedic Palace of the World)" (ca. 1950s), standing in for the exhibition’s supposed pan exclusionary take on art and humanity, I say poppycock.

If the biennial is meant to depict an encyclopedic look at human ingenuity and output, why not expand the definition and boundaries so as to include, for instance, industrial design, and other pursuits further afield than outsider art which has long been held close to the bosom of the trendier powers that be within the contemporary art world? Ok I am a bit disgruntled at not being able to swing the trip and the mandatory four night stay at inflated hotel rates, but from first blush, it all seems a little to safe and knowingly self-congratulatory. Maria Lassnig’s painting below pretty much sums up my unreasonable and misguided take on a show I may never see: "Du oder Ich [You or Me],"

The Separation of Church and State: Selling vs. Programming


Some questions from an upcoming Art Newspaper article:

1.Do you agree that there are two main models: a newer model in which staff are split between exhibitions and sales, and the traditional model in which staff straddle both departments?    ... weiterlesen

There Is Plenty Of Jeff To Go Around

Jeff Koons attends a Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on May 6 2013
Jeff Koons attends a Gala at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York on May 6 2013

X: Hi Kenny, you didn't mention whether you liked the Koons at Zwirner's. Images are in scant supply. They look a bit dislocated, the juxtaposition of the 2 objects. Is that how they read? Someone said you really have to see them to "get" the emptiness they seem to be about. Also, is there any clarity on Larry vs. David re Koons?

KS: the works were plentiful so there was no scant, just oversupply. they are vacuous but highly decorative with high sell through rate! i think there is plenty of jeff to go around and with such high production costs no one will be able to shoulder it alone.  ... weiterlesen

Writing on the wall

photo: dpa
photo: dpa

Josh Baer called a top. New York dealer Roland Augustine said We’re pretty close to the top now, so I think it will plateau soon. Followed by today's headlines: The Highest Total in Auction History (nearly $500m take in one night). Is it a new era in the words of Christies or a new error? Is the (graffiti) writing on the wall or is the rude health of the market here to stay (for time being, anyway)? I'd wager on the latter.

Read more about the auction here

New York Art Lobotomy (rough draft)


Fairs have come to take up such a signficant portion of how I view art that it can get confusing, though I admit that I prefer them to the far-flung, geographically diffuse galleries and auction houses at home in London.

One of the main reasons I took this trip to New York was to meet a prospective client, who recently—prior to having ever purchased a piece of contemporary art—decided to open a museum. But, just before takeoff, he called to cancel. Welcome to my world, where you are always at the behest of the wanton and capricious. And so it was once again at the second edition of Frieze New York. Here is a diary of my whirlwind four-day trip.  ... weiterlesen

I admit to loving fairs


Roberta Smith rarely misses the mark (if I may) but she does in her Frieze piece which merely physically describes a checklist of artists and ends on the sour note, pining for a “a time before the mixed blessings of mega-galleries and art fairs." I found the Hauser and Wirth space breathtaking and I admit to loving fairs. Shoot me.

Carlo Mollino: Skill-ettante


Carlo Mollino was born in Turin in 1905 and died in 1973 while still professionally active. The range of his activities miraculously and magically spanned the design of buildings (inside and out), furniture, a racecar, fashion and stage sets. Yet architecture, design and engineering weren’t quite enough—he also drove the car at Le Mans, flew a stunt plane, wrote a book on skiing techniques and took a plethora of erotic photographs till his death. Why not?

Karl Marx said you can be an economist in the morning and a fisherman in the afternoon, meaning we shouldn’t be shackled by societal expectations and market mandates and Mollino certainly took him for his word as he lashed about like a warrior (in his own words) attacking one realm after another in a veritable post-modern whirlwind. Today the snooty art world would have turned its collective nose up and labeled him a dilettante instead of embracing the creative force of nature he was.

However, the classical notion of the term dilettante does not have the negative connotation it does today of a lay about who happens to dabble; rather, it stood for someone who embraced disparate fields with unbridled passion and robustness. A more accurate term to describe the varied pursuits of Mollino might be skill-ettante. In a nutshell, the defining characteristic in the restless, lifelong quest of Mollino was to create, and that he indisputably did, with an appetite unparalleled since.

Mollino was a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps creative entrepreneur who relished his efforts and thrived in his pursuits. He was a true visionary but not of the dreaming variety, instead one focused on doing and implementing. He was tall, dark, athletic and rakish and embodied the swashbuckling lifestyle of an actor like Errol Flynn.

Mollino seemed to attack all of his actions with the credo: you have but one life to live, so cram it all in and then stuff in some more. In a sense, he was too far ahead of his time, which could be worse than being behind, as his all over the place output was simply too much for most to take in. Only now is his furniture much coveted by collectors the world over with a million dollar market to match.

The car designed for the 1955 Le Mans race, known as the Bisiluro ("Twin Torpedo") looked like just that—two menacing missiles attached to a central fuselage, elongated and low to the ground. It seemed to evoke movement, like the work of the Italian Futurists, while standing still. But this automobile was not reducible to a phallic-like, boy’s toy; in a later rendering Mollino drafted the car as an anthropomorphized female torso with the front radiator grille depicted as the pubic region. In the end, Molliono was done in by the wiles of the womanlike vehicle/creature, which flew off the track and into a ditch, causing him to unceremoniously bow out of the race.

Precedents could be seen in the works of Buckminster Fuller and his idealized domes for living and Dymaxion car, and most recently in the work of Zaha Hadid who has designed a range of buildings and objects that seem to personify movement. Hadid has built an Olympic ski–jump and swimming stadium, a parking lot, tram stations, two concept cars and a boat. The salient feature of these far-flung endeavors by Fuller, Hadid and Mollino embodies a democratic notion of what constitutes art and design and the blurring of distinctions and boundaries between them.

Copyright-on! Or rather, Copy Write-Off!


On appeal, Richard Prince won the right to rip off Patrick Cariou with impunity (i.e. for free), though some 5 of the 30 images were remanded back to district court to determine if they constituted fair use; they must have been particularly super blatant if 25 works unanimously sailed through. In celebration of meta-appropriation maybe Jerry can initiate a fair re-use of Prince’s nurse paintings competition and sale. As the inimitable Georgina Adam titled her new column referring to a Turkish vase, Iznik Great!

From FT: “Prince’s images, except for those we discuss separately below, have a different character, give Cariou’s photographs a new expression, and employ new aesthetics with creative and communicative results distinct from Cariou’s” – that is, the paintings make “fair use” of his photographs."

And they are also perversely expensive and attract moguls and celebs, which the court noted for some odd reason in it's opinion. And not so surprising how the judges were seduced by money and celebs like everyone else. Pathetic, really. Don't see why the artist couldn't pay a reasonable fee to the f-ing guy who did the work he made millions from, the logic seems so patently simple and obvious. Arrogance: It's a noun, an offensive display of superiority or self-importance; overbearing pride. Overbearing Prince. Now the (bastardized) works are worth even more - with the backstory - so they are all high-fiving at Lever House, in New York (owned by Aby Rosen, another Prince-ster).

To be devils adovcate, with the widespread accessibility of images on net, why not make it one nihilistic free for all? Otherwise it could hamper the art trade and its dearth of new ideas. There are certainly enough pre existing images already out there to justifty the end of the need/desire to create any more.



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"Die Kunstwelt ist wie eine Mafia, es gibt ein ungeschriebenes Gesetz des Stillschweigens", sagt Kenny Schachter. Auf seinem Monopol-Blog bringt der britische Kunsthändler Licht ins Dunkle und macht die Mechanismen des Marktes transparent. In englischer Sprache