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ART WORLD Q&A

In the first edition of ART WORLD Q&A, NYC based art advisor, Sima Familant thoughtfully shares her extensive knowledge of the contemporary art world, her philosophy of collecting and how all it takes is “curiosity” to begin the journey.

What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

The best advice I offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art is…. education.

Art is a language – a way to discuss a myriad of things where language stops. Typically art is not one’s first ‘language’, which requires learning. And as with language, one of the beginnings is to establish vocabulary. With art, the vocabulary is describing what one likes. Think about how you choose your clothes, your car, your furniture, jewelry, china, etc –time period, pattern, structure, color, and forms.

I see art as that – it is a new vocabulary that dovetails already with the choices you are making in your everyday life, yet you most likely have not articulated what this is. This is your style. You learn the players, the tenses, the precedents and later the nuances. It explains why from the cave men to emerging countries, the art starts with figurative as the figure is what one understands first (it is what one sees) and then, as that is mastered, the collective creative consciousness moves towards abstraction, eventually culminating with artists such as Malevich, later Mondrian and still later Ryman. It does not mean that you the collector are only sophisticated if you like abstraction, yet it is an easy example of how one begins to articulate the language called art.

Learning art takes seeing art. This became the major instrumental idea that I learned in graduate school at Sotheby’s Institute in London. Not everyone has the time/luxury/ inclination to attend graduate school and dedicate their focus on the arts.

Yet I did. I spent two years in London where I was up early every day at the library and any extra time that I had, I was visiting and traveling to see art exhibitions.

I am not suggesting that one has to ‘study’ art, more it is a mater of having a idea of what is attracting you – ie is it Pollock or Rothko? Figurative or Abstraction ? Landscape or Portraiture? Or you discover that you love an artist’s work, say Calder. Which tells you that A, you love sculpture. B, you love playfulness. C you love movement. And D you love form and color. Best to start with generalities and from there, it is easier to focus and move forward.

Whether it is at a gallery, museums, other collectors’ homes, or auction houses, the idea is to see art. I am the advisor yet I can not tell you what you like. I can show you what is interesting, important, and a good value. Yet I also ask my clients to steer me.

In today’s art world, there is more information available as well as opportunities. This allows for ‘there is something for everyone’ adage to be true and I hope distills the belief that to begin collecting, one has to collect art that they don’t understand and / or like. So not true. It is a big art world. Which allows for much choice.
Collecting art is a privilege and a nexus to access one’s engagement with ideas, business, economics, beauty, politics, philosophies, and cultures. And is a fun, fascinating way to engage in the world, differently than one’s day job.

All it takes is curiosity ….

In the second edition of ART WORLD Q & A, we met with Chicago based artist Ann Toebbe to gain some perspective on the artist and her work.

1. What’s your favorite place to see art?

I’ve lived in Chicago for ten years. My two favorite art venues are The Arts Club of Chicago and The Chicago Cultural Center.  These institutions are beautiful, under trafficked, and free spaces that consistently mount great shows and support emerging artists.

2. What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

My ruler.

3. What’s the first artwork you ever sold?

When I was twenty I sold a group of 15 figurative messy drawings drawn in ketchup for $100. They were in an undergraduate group exhibition at the Cleveland Institute of Art. At the time, 1994, I was focused on buffet pot luck style meals served at family get togethers.

4. What’s your art world pet peeve?

The uncertainty of it all. What is success? There are periods of intense deadlines, acknowledgement, and demand or there’s silence.

5. What work of art do you wish you owned?

Florine Stettheimer’s 1919 painting “Heat.”

6. Who is your favorite living artist?

Robert Gober

7. What international art destination would you most like to visit?

I would like to travel in India, but primarily visit Delhi, to explore the Mughal painting collections in the museums and to check out the contemporary art scene. In a strange twist of fate when I was in London a couple years ago I went to the Victoria Albert Museum to see their extensive collection of Mughal paintings and the South Asian galleries were closed for renovations!

In this edition of Art World Q&A, LivWill Art is privileged to have Blair Clarke, founder of Voltz Clarke LLC, share her invaluable insight on the art market.

About Voltz Clarke:

Voltz Clarke LLC is an independent company spearheaded by Southern entrepreneur Blair Clarke. Focusing on the exposure of contemporary artists through private consulting and public exhibitions, the company has a particular emphasis on introducing international artists to the US market. Clarke’s experience combines over fifteen years of East coast gallery associations, curatorial projects and a consulting relationship with Sanford L. Smith & Associates.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

Within the last 20 years, the art market may be more or less characterized by a fiscal “bubble.” Prices seem to keep rising alongside blockbuster sales, making artists like Jeff Koons or Francis Bacon very recognizably household names, with even greater prices.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

I believe artists like Richard Prince, Yayoi Kusama and Alex Katz will all have a lasting impression on the art world. Not only do they have a palatable aesthetic, they’re making waves when it comes to social media, and that almost serves directly in their favor in terms of publicity and recognition.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

I think that many believe that market and value are diametrically opposed in the art world; however, they are more alike than you’d think. Categorically, there are various points of contact in the market that is met with specific needs that create the values that the public takes notice of.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

When buying new work, taste should most definitely play a part in decision making. Catering to trends and “investment” pieces is a bit of a catch 22. There’s a wealth of resources online that show you that some artists shoot to fame just as quickly as they can burn out–the gamble is a risk you’re either willing or not willing to take.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

This may be biased, but with $10,000 I would definitely commission a piece from Bradley Sabin, one of Voltz Clarke’s ceramic artists who does wonders with his installations. For $100K, I would definitely move more in the way of Gerhard Richter or one of Damien Hirst’s Pharmaceutical paintings, for $1 Million, definitely would go towards several John Currins, as I absolutely love him.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

Buying through the auction block, you oftentimes can snag pieces at their reserve, which is much cheaper than buying through a commercial gallery. However, it can also lead to much more inflated prices. The energy within an auction house can’t be beat, either.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

Technique is a big one – content is definitely another facet that I strongly look for. I am also keen on works with great aesthetic value. I am a strong proponent of works that speak on the surface level but draw you in with their content and theory.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

In pricing art, there are a lot of factors at stake. Particularly, an auction record or gallery show drives up price. Innovation and originality–the intellectual property of the work are two other major factors that contribute to pricing. Additionally, with the secondary market, is the work signed? Buyers will almost readily pay more for a signed work than an unsigned work.

9. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

Long-term market value works much the same as an economic practice. Supply and demand are directly related to the fluctuation of price, which will either sustain or bolster the artist.

10. What determines the commercial value of art?

The commercial value of art is, again, dependent on a number of variables drawn from auction records, reputability, materials, and concept.

11. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Coupled with social media, the art fair has brought a newfound sense of education to the contemporary art market. Each and every fair is met with an influx of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts that draw the public into a scene that was once otherwise privy only to those in the market. Actually, as the primary role of art fairs is to sell works, the compendium of support through the digital age has helped further the purpose and support of these events.

12. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

Buying online is fascinating! Especially with places like ArtSpace, Artsy and Paddle8, you can collect in as little as a click. Actually, two of our artists were just recently featured in a benefit auction for Baryshnikov Arts Center powered by Paddle8.

13. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I wish I could collect more! Right now, my personal collection is bursting at the seams with works from artists in my roster. The thing about living in New York, space is so limited. Typically, for the artists that I bring on at Voltz Clarke, I like those who make me think, who challenge but celebrate their medium, and aren’t afraid to create what they feel passionate about. The last one is very important–nothing is worse than half-hearted art!

14. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

For the novice collector, I think that one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve been given is to collect what you love. That’s really quite true, if you’re going to be spending your time looking at it, why not opt for something that you like? At the end of the day, I don’t see the value in buying art that you’re not proud to display.

ArtStar Founder, Chrissy Crawford, explores the benefits of collecting editions and what role the secondary market plays when it comes to value in this edition of Art World Q&A.

About ArtStar:

Founded in New York in 2011 by curator Chrissy Crawford, ArtStar is an online art gallery that offers art lovers the chance to collect museum quality, limited edition fine art prints by some of the best contemporary artists working today. Crawford opened her art advisory business in New York City in 2006 after earning a master’s degree in International Art Business from Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

Art is moving online. Websites will not replace galleries, but they allow collectors in lower price points to participate in the art market. The Internet also allows people to research their purchases before they buy. I think online is all about discovery, education and access.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

That’s a tough one. I think stand out artists like Nick Cave and Yayoi Kusama will last. Artists who do not have to explain why their work is amazing. I’ve seen people’s mouths drop in awe when they see a Cave sound suit and that is what keeps you relevant for generations.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

I determine the value of an “investment” in art by the strength of the secondary market. Is your work worth anything after it leaves the gallery?  95% of work sold today does not have a secondary market.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Many collectors have good taste because they are patient and educated on the market. They also work with great dealers who know which works are important. Every collector’s taste changes and evolves with time.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

Tim Walker or Kim Keever photo, Nick Cave Sound Suit or a large Julie Heffernan work, Gerhard Richter small painting.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

I feel like there is less selection with an auction. I love seeing the whole show by 1 artist.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

If it’s special. Artists who stick gum on a canvas do not impress me. I do not care what the idea is behind the work. Make some effort.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

We sell work between $55-$4,000 USD. I price almost all of our editions at the same price points. It’s fun to purchase something by William Wegman at the same price as an emerging artists.

9. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

That’s tough. Supply, how many people are collecting in a certain area (if there are only a handful of people interested in a genre, then the market is incredibly volatile). It also depends on the artist and having a good dealer who understands how to create a solid secondary market for their work.

10. What determines the commercial value of art?

Galleries and auctions usually base price on where the artist is in their career, size, medium, edition and demand.

11. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Fairs are branded. Some fairs like Basel and Frieze can legitimize a gallery and artists.

12. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

ArtStar and LittleCollector 🙂 I also love Paddle8 museum stores. The New Museum had prints by Rob Pruitt that I wanted so badly!

13. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I collect almost all editions. I love owning something by my art heroes and have a very limited budget.

14. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Start slow. Do not buy something right away. Your taste will change in a year. Editions are great because you can learn while you collect and not spend your entire budget on one work.

For this edition of Art World Q&A, Los Angeles Modern Auctions Founder and principal auctioneer, Peter Loughrey, lends his awareness of the market and the passion and enthusiasm required to successfully navigate the art world.

About Los Angeles Modern Auctions

Peter Loughrey is the founder and principal auctioneer of Los Angeles Modern Auctions, the first auction house to specialize in selling 20th century Modern Art & Design. Loughrey is an established curator, trusted consultant, and a well-recognized expert in Modern Design & Fine Art. He is a prominent figure in the Los Angeles Modern Art & Design community through his involvement at LACMA as a member of the Decorative Arts and Design Acquisition Committee and Contemporary Friends, as well as his contributions to Taschen books. Not only is he a repeat appraiser on PBS’s “Antiques Roadshow”, but he has also been featured on Forbes’ “Sold!” on Ovation TV and Fox Business’ “Strange Inheritance.” He was named one of the 50 most powerful dealers in the Art + Auction “Power Issue” for two consecutive years.

To learn more about Los Angeles Modern Auctions please visit: www.lamodern.com

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

Information and the way it is communicated is the biggest change in the art market over the past 20 years.

The reason for this is clearly the Internet. Twenty years ago, information on identification, rarity, quality, value and other key aspects of a work of art was more difficult to come by. Today, however, information is almost instantaneous, which has democratized the market considerably and has allowed for Fine Art to become a quasi-asset class.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

In my opinion, artists that will stand the test of time will be the artists that have strong collector interest, expert representation, and the acceptance of today’s top curators. Artists with one or two of these will not necessarily hold their value. But artists with all three have the best chance of being the most desirable 20 years from now. I would suggest Mark Grotjahn, Jonas Wood, and Sterling Ruby are three examples of artists that meet this criteria.

3. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Taste still plays a major role.  The taste of the artist is paramount, but the collector must also consider their own level of taste.  Curators and critics also use their taste to formulate opinions.  The market will be partially shaped by all of these factors. Increasingly however, collectors are making objective decisions based not on taste, but rather by data and cold analysis. Just as taste doesn’t play a major role in the value of stocks; it is also becoming irrelevant to market forces.

4. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

For $10,000 I would suggest buying ceramics by the Japanese studios like Otani Workshop which are only recently being represented in America by galleries like Blum & Poe.

At the $100,000 level I would suggest exceptional works on paper by pop icons such as Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein and especially Tom Wesselmann from galleries or auction.

For $1,000,000 I would suggest recent works by Rudolf Stingel, Richard Prince, or Christopher Wool at auction.

5. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

There are some artists that have a very wide discrepancy between the price at a gallery and the price at an auction. So it can be very wise to pay attention to the auction process.  However, for some artists, there may not be a regular volume of work showing up at auction. New works can sometimes take five to twenty years to show up on the resale (auction) market and even then there won’t necessarily be a wide variety to choose from. So, sometimes it’s better to have a choice of a selection of work from a gallery.  Established blue-chip artists are easier to find at auction.  For example, a collector can expect to find exceptional works by Pablo Picasso and at a regular interval. But options may be more limited for Vija Celmins, whose work doesn’t show up with any regularity at auction, however, her dealer would be able to supply a variety of works which they control.

6. What criteria do you use in judging art?

For my personal purchases, I tend to trust my eye and think about how a particular work makes me feel at first.  Then I try to imagine whether this work will be something I’ll like to see everyday and whether it will fit with my other collections.

For my business, I try to anticipate what the target market (including demographics of the buyers in the future) will look like.  Then check to see the performance of the artist’s entire body of work and the artist’s history of representation.

7. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

I tend to rely heavily on comparable pricing at auction or at galleries. The latter can be difficult to ascertain, so a lot of legwork is sometimes required.

8. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

Long term pricing depends on whether there will be a strong influx of new interest in the future. Supply and demand cannot be ignored. For example, there is no expectation that a large group of new young buyers will suddenly become interested in Old Masters markets, so there is not likely to be big spikes in value ahead. Conversely, there is likely to be more interest in top young artists in the future, so many will appreciate dramatically.

Some data and analysis can show when a particular artists work is trending higher than its historical levels, but overall long term value still depends on supply and demand.

9. What determines the commercial value of art?

So many factors go into this, someone like Damien Hirst or Jeff Koons are more adept at the commercial application and mass marketing than most artists. Primarily, commercial value relates to how wide of an acceptance the work can achieve. 

10. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Art fairs do allow for a greater freedom and experimentation for contemporary artists. Contemporary art dealers can use these venues to brand their business as well as promote an individual artist.

11. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

Anywhere that offers curated works that have been vetted by industry leading experts is a good place to buy with confidence. Beware of online venues that don’t let you know what works have sold for in the past. Transparency and expertise is what every buyer should demand.  Artsy and Christie’s online auctions are my favorites.

12. What do you look for in the art you collect?

My personal taste tends toward the abstract and non representational. I also like artists who have consciously rejected historical precedents and who embrace new materials or technologies.

13. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Find an expert and ask questions. Do your homework. There is no excuse for ignorance in this market.

For this sixth edition of Art World Q&A, LivWill Art is fortunate  to have Los Angeles based art appraiser and gallery owner, Michael Maloney, share his extensive knowledge of the current art market and what to look for when starting your own collection.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

There has been a dramatic shift in the manner in which people view and consume art over the past decade. Art fairs and the major New York auctions predominate and attract a large portion of contemporary art buyers. Today, viewers are more likely to scan gallery exhibitions online, make email inquiries and visit the gallery to see their new purchase. The days of spending Saturdays leisurely gallery-hopping with friends seems to be a quaint exercise from a bygone era.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

Ed Ruscha, Mark Bradford, Christopher Wool, Mark Grotjahn, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Vija Celmins, Beatriz Milhazes, Georgia O’Keefe and many others….

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

The market is an aggregate of trends and prices in the art world. Value is subjective: what does an artwork mean to you, personally.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Taste is Illusory: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Look at Sterling Ruby….!

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

$10,000:

A painting by Evan Nebitt, Samantha Thomas or Martin Basher
Or, a Picasso print

$100,000:

A sculpture by Thomas Houseago

$1,000,000:

Paintings by Mark Grotjahn, Mark Bradford, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat
Or, a good Picasso drawing

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

Galleries strive to protect their artist’s market by presenting a reasonable price structure, based on supply and demand, and maintain stability of pricing within the artist’s market.

Galleries provide in-depth expertise, education and understanding of any given artist’s work and the artist’s relevance in the current art world. Often, a viewer will come to understand the nature of an artist’s practice through studio visits arranged by the gallery and by watching the progress of any given artist’s work through sequential gallery exhibitions.

The auction house will sell to the highest bidder.

The auction process is transparent. A buyer can seek the advise of an auction house specialist, who will provide insights into the artwork on offer, procuring history of ownership, condition and insights into the relevance of the artist to the contemporary art market. A buyer will see and hear the bidding on any given artwork in the auction room and know precisely what is being paid, or not.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

For me, personally: artworks which have some personal resonance. Artworks which move me in some significant way.

For me, as an art appraiser: artworks which have a track record of sales either in commercial galleries or at auction. As an appraiser, I do not judge art, I simply place a dollar value on each work of art, based on the above criteria.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

As an art appraiser, I look at the history of sales in the recent past, both in retail commercial galleries and the auction history for artists who have a ‘secondary market.’ In the absence of auction or retail sales history, artworks are valued on “decorative merit.”

9. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

Fluctuation of auction market prices is normal. Many factors can contribute to a downturn in any given artist’s auction history. Condition issues are most commonly associated with poor sales results. Too much of an artist’s work being offered at one time can contribute to poor performance.

Long-term value can only be analyzed through the lens of time, knowing the factors which might contribute to a fluctuation of price and the ongoing stature of any given artist.

Long-term value is speculative. No one knows the future, or which artist’s work will truly stand the test of time: 2-5 decades from now. Artist’s fall in and out of favor. Tastes shift and markets evaporate for many artists. One can only determine the long-term value of an artwork by looking backward.

10. What determines the commercial value of art?

Fair Market Value is defined as the price at which an item would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.

In a gallery setting, prices are established by a discussion between the dealer and artist, both having an understanding of the market for the artist’s work, the artist’s stature in relation to his or her peers and price structure in relation to the gallery’s and the artist’s buyers.

11. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

They are where the artworld comes together. The full spectrum of the artworld is represented at any given art fair: artists, gallerists, fabricators, shippers, promoters, party planners and financial institutions. Art fairs provide one-stop shopping for buyers. To some, they are a form of entertainment. To most galleries and artists, however they are the most important place for commerce.

12. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

Artnet, Paddle8, Artsy, Christie’s online

13. What do you look for in the art you collect?

Works of art which I have a visceral response to, either because of my connection to the artist and understanding of his or her studio practice or, simply because I like it and can afford it. My personal taste tends to run toward reductive, minimal abstraction.

14. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Educate yourself:

Go to museums and galleries and enjoy the pleasure of seeing artists’ work without the pressure of the marketplace. Buy monographs on the artists that interest you, and read the essays. Go to galleries and ask questions. Go to the art fairs and ask questions.

If you do not have confidence in your own choices, seek the advice of a professional art advisor.

Join the “curator’s circle” at any given museum, which provides access to the curatorial process of artist selection and exhibition planning, artists’ studio visits, travel to museums and collections nationwide and the social advantages of experiencing art with other individuals and couples with common interests.

About Michael Maloney

Michael Maloney is a certified appraiser of 20th and 21st century art and is certified by the Appraisers Association of America. Since 1997, Michael has appraised works of art for charitable donation, equitable distribution of property and insurance purposes. The service has been used by private collectors, museums and institutions to determine the value of important works of art from modern and contemporary master paintings to prints, photographs and contemporary art installations.
A specialist in all original works of art created in the 20th & 21st century, Michael is also certified to appraise fine art prints and photographs. Michael possesses in-depth knowledge of the art market and extensive experience valuing works of art. In determining an accurate appraisal of art works, Michael not only reviews auction records but also consults with the dealers most familiar with the artists work. Michael has long standing relationships with art dealers throughout the United States and the international art trade, which provide access to private sales information that is often vital criteria for valuation.

For more information please visit http://www.maloneyfineart.com/appraisal-services

LivWill Art is fortunate to have Barcelona based contemporary art advisor and editor in chief of Contemporary Art Collectors, Vera Bertran, share her extensive knowledge of the current art market, what to look for when starting your own collection and why there is “no excuse for ignorance” in this market.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

Though the art market has changed tremendously over the last twenty years, here, I will note just a couple of the most significant points.

First and foremost, art has never been more accessible to the general public. With the invention of social media and its pervasive and increased usage, people have been able to discover and view art in a way they never have, before even stepping foot inside a gallery, art fair or museum. Secondly, there has been a notable growth in terms of art fairs and the importance attached to them. This, in conjunction with a growing interest in art in general, stemming from numerous collaborations that have occurred between the art and fashion worlds, as well as a rising interest in a variety of emerging artists – has inevitably lead to increased awareness in artists’ work and a rise in the number of online sales.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

I believe the artists that will stand the test of time are: Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Neo Rauch, Yayoi Kusama, Gerhard Richter, Julie Mehretu and Ed Ruscha. Their art is already sought after and highly valued, and having become eminent artists in their own right, their work will continue to remain in demand with prices likely to only increase over time.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

The main differences are the artist’s importance, relevance, and standing in history.  Curatorial and critical value are obviously also important factors. Sometimes all of these factors align, but oftentimes they do not. For example, some art critics and historians find Jeff Koons’ art banal and overly commercial. Nevertheless, the prices for his works remain exorbitant and constantly reach new heights. Knowing that he is popular and his exhibitions will create interest or drive high attendance, curators and museums continue to invite him and exhibit his work.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Although taste will always be a very important factor in terms of investors adding to their collections, many nowadays will only acquire a piece of art they consider
an investment.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

If I had $10k I would probably buy a Harland Miller limited edition print, or a Kimiyo Mishima ceramics, or a Richard Mosse photographic print.

For $100k, I would buy a painting by either Matthias Weischer, Luiz Zerbini, or David Schnell.

If I had $1M I would buy a painting by Marlene Dumas, Neo Rauch, Adrian Ghenie.  The price, naturally, also depends of the size of work, year it was produced, etc., so the answers I have given are slightly more generalised.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

The advantages of buying at galleries are as follows:

One of the advantages is the direct sale from gallery to buyer. Another is that some galleries have fixed prices on works and some (not all) can offer a discounted price.  Contrastingly, auction houses have presale estimates, which means the price often will increase considerably during the bidding process.

Advantages of buying at auctions:

Auction houses have a big selection of artists from every genre and, therefore, also a large inventory database. There is also a public previewing of the artworks before the auction. Furthermore, auction houses always reveal prices before the auction begins, so it is possible to find the prices on their websites, as opposed to galleries’ websites where the prices remain hidden.

7. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

The art market model is based not only on supply and demand, but it is also a mix of history and prediction, in terms of the fact that artwork is bought and sold based on its past value as well as its predicted future price.

Fluctuations, therefore, are normal and can sometimes affect the market when the sale of one artist’s work impacts upon a similar or related artist. Long-term value is hypothetical, and thus particularly difficult to predict. We can assume that in 30-50 years time, modern artists such as, Picasso, Miro, Dali, etc., or the impressionists will have a more stable value in the market. But with contemporary artists it’s far more difficult to say, as they still need time to become consolidated in the art market.

8. What determines the commercial value of art?

The artist ́s price is determined by numerous factors: exhibition history, career level, sales records, etc. Fashion also plays a part in determining the value of art. Artists who are being talked about or exhibiting in well-known galleries, for example, with big coverage in media, are more likely to sell for a high price. In the current market, people are more interested in what’s new and in vogue. Basically, the upcoming artists who are going to become the next recognised set of eminent artists.

9. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

For both buyers and art collectors art fairs offer a “one-stop-shopping” experience.  At Mayor Art Fairs, for instance, you can get an overview of a global art market and find galleries from across the world under the same roof. Some of the participating galleries make up to 50-60 percent of their annual sales at these
fairs.

10. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I look for works that visually or conceptually resonate or speak to me on a personal level.

11. What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

I would suggest seeing as much art as you can: either viewing it online, or by going to exhibitions, art fairs, etc. Ion addition I would also recommend reading about the piece you are interested in, as doing a little research can often go a long way. If you have a fixed budget to spend you can start with limited edition prints; there are also lots of amazing emerging artists and their works are not expensive. Also with good research you can find a work that fits your budget and can make an excellent return as an investment in future.

12. What do you look for in the art you collect?

My personal taste tends toward the abstract and non representational. I also like artists who have consciously rejected historical precedents and who embrace new materials or technologies.

13. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Find an expert and ask questions. Do your homework. There is no excuse for ignorance in this market.

About Vera Bertran

Vera Bertran is an art advisor based in Barcelona specializing in Contemporary Art. With experience in art advisory, events and marketing in Europe and the Middle East, Vera provides her clients with expert advice on building, growing valuing and managing their collections. Vera is also editor-in-chief of Contemporary Art Collectors, an online contemporary art magazine covering the visual arts. As one of the top online contemporary art magazines, Contemporary Art Collectors has established its name by curating the best contemporary art from all around the world.

For more information, please visit:

http://verabertran.com

http://www.contemporary-art-collectors.com

For this edition of Art World Q&A, Los Angeles based gallery owner and collector, Niels Kantor, shares his knowledge of the art market and what venues are best for buying work online.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

The Internet! Facebook, gallery websites, Instagram (notably my presence i.e @nielskantor/#nielskantor), Twitter.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

Alex Israel – He’s smart, slow to produce, educated and understands the art market.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

One is real, one is false.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

99% eye, 1% luck.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

$10k -Walter Price, $100k -Peter Halley,$1 million-Yayoi Kusama/Yoshimoto Nara

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

Buying from an auction that has positioned itself in the art world for decades has the advantage. The price is more established!

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

My eye!

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

Price is determined by current auctions or past sales of auctions. Off the bat, young stuff and art of upcoming artists should start around $1,000 and $10,000.

9. What is long – term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long – term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

That is where the 1% luck comes in. It’s evolutionary.

10. What determines the commercial value of art?

Supply and demand!

11. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Fairs introduce new artists to the world, more so the younger fairs such as NADA.

12. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

Paddle8, Sotheby’s, Christies, Phillips–It all depends on what art is available.

13. What do you look for in the art you collect?

Color and something I love, after that it needs to follow in the footsteps of our existing collection.

14. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Start slow and buy editions until you get your feet wet.

About Niels Kantor

Kantor Gallery was first founded in Los Angeles in the 1940’s by Paul Kantor, a renowned art dealer often credited with discovering and nurturing the talent of Richard Diebenkorn. Niels Kantor has been continuing the legacy begun by his father since 1994 when he reopened Kantor Gallery as a venue to showcase emerging talent as well as established artists. Since that time he has shown artists ranging from blue chip artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Andy Warhol to emerging, mid-career artists including Kenny Scharf, Pheobe Washburn, Simone Shubuck, Yumiko Kayukawa and many others.

Between 2005-2007, Niels Kantor partnered with Chelsea gallerist Zach Feuer on Kantor/Feuer–a joint venture that allowed each to bring new and interesting artists to the Los Angeles area. After ending the brief but successful partnership, Kantor focused on art advising and building his personal collection. He is happy, however, to be back in the thriving Los Angeles art scene.

Niels Kantor is proud to reopen Kantor Gallery at 7025 Melrose Avenue. This exhibition space, with nearly 2,000 square feet, is proud to continue fostering the talents of young artists and allow them to showcase their works in the vibrant city of Los Angeles. Kantor Gallery also promises thought provoking group shows and the brightest of young talent.

To learn more about Kantor Gallery, please visit:  kantorgallery.com

For this edition of Art World Q&A, NYC based private art advisor, Todd Levin, provides an in depth look into the art world and shares his extensive knowledge of the current art market.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

There are many different Art markets.

In terms of the smaller local and regional Art markets, the internet has offered Artists who otherwise had no way to establish a public presence outside their state or region the ability to erect a billboard on the information highway, although I don’t know in reality how much career opportunity or financial benefit that has created for Artists in those smaller markets.

In terms of the larger national and international Art markets, the populist growth in the audience for Art has wrought a deep change on Art itself, and therefore, on how one advises and collects. Today, the most popular Art magazines and websites have turned into simple picture sheets, charting the shifting micro-fashions of the newest Art and Artists. The avant-garde has fallen away because, as in the fashion industry, there is now the desperate expectation of novelty – but no longer of development. The shift from seeing Art as an intellectual pursuit (and, therefore, advising or collecting as an intellectual pursuit) to one that is seen as a lifestyle/financial issue is a profound one.

Finally, an increasing professionalization of the cultural production system has taken place in the past two decades, and therefore a marked translation of culture into consumer product, or the commodification of culture. The increasing economic rewards for cultural production mean that Artists, in the broadest sense, have become well aware of the potential to transform their symbolic capital into an income.

2. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

Art’s value is fundamentally about generating new ideas and new forms through the creation of the Artist’s personal language. As a creator of language (rather than a packager of language), Artists do not belong to a social group already molded by culture, but to a culture which they are themselves building up here and now, at this very present moment in time. In order to create a personal language, every great Artist continually breaks with the past by refracting the entire historical and cultural range of earlier ideas and forms.

The Art market, on the other hand, is only about the packaging of the Artist’s personal language, and the marketplace where that language can be branded, bought, and sold. The Art market, therefore, is simply an apparatus through which the Artist is threaded into the Art world.

3. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

How does a consumer form their idea of taste? If cultural and artistic success is so unpredictable, who is most important in creating a more certain chance of success? The great mystery is why does a certain person buy a certain thing?

The cultural economy, and how we evaluate Art aesthetically and as an investment, is about taste, not performance, and so, unlike a kitchen appliance or computer or car, there is no methodology to evaluate it. Consumption of creative goods depends on taste and not performance, but for creative goods those tastes emerge from distinctive processes. Success in cultural industry ultimately relies on a skilled network – certain people and institutions have enormous power over consumption – they virtually define taste and create status. Creative producers must work fervently to catch the their attention, as their livelihood depends significantly on that skilled network’s approval.

4. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

When one buys at auction, one is not establishing an intellectual rapport with the Artist or the Artist’s gallery. And that is a thumping, epic disadvantage.

The lack of centralization in the Art world today means that many collectors seemingly go to galleries less and less these days. They just go from auction season to auction season. Because of this, auctions have come to constitute their own mini-economy in and of themselves, and an understanding of their internal logic and means of operation is also applicable to our understanding of Art and its value in general. Auctions have become ‘tournaments of value,’ or status contests. At stake in such auction ‘tournaments’ is not only a simple economic transaction, but the establishment of the perceived rank of Artists’ importance, as well as the status and fame of the collectors who can afford the most desirable Art work on sale. Therefore, it is impossible to see/interact with Art in any meaningful way via auction. Auctions are not places where aesthetic or intellectual fields of value are created. Auctions are competitive fields where the destruction of aesthetic and intellectual values takes place for the benefit of consumptive value.

5. What criteria do you use in judging art?

The Artist’s role is not to lead us out of the havoc that we find ourselves in the midst of everyday. Nor is the role of the Artist and their imagination to comfort us while we are constantly barraged with an onslaught of information from myriad sources. I think that the role of the Artist is to make their imagination ours, to gradually watch their imagination spark in our mind. The role of the Artist, in short, is to help us live our lives. The Artist does this by creating a world to which we can turn to, again and again, so that we eventually are unable to conceive of our lives without that Artist’s imagination and feeling. Art is the crucial interface between the imagination and reality, the thing that makes life deeper and broader than what it might be without such insight.

6. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

It is impossible to interact with Art in any meaningful way – aesthetically or monetarily – if the only discussions taking place are about its price. The value of Art collapses under the brute weight of pure quantification of data, without the requisite education and real world experience to qualify that information meaningfully. And if the value of Art collapses, so will its price – sooner or later. Art is not a growth industry.

7. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

What drives long-term market value is not supply – it is not the sheer availability of more contemporary Art than ever before that sustains the seemingly infinitely expanding number of galleries, auctions, and Art fairs worldwide. And there is more exhibition space world-wide in institutions, galleries, auction houses, and Art fairs than there is good Art that actually deserves to be exhibited. Nor is it quality. Art today is no better or worse than it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago, the number of historically important Artists in any given decade or generation is no larger or smaller than it was 10, 20, or 30 years ago, and gallerists and collectors are no smarter or dumber than they were 10, 20, or 30 years ago, when I began working in the Art market. The force behind all of this, quite simply, is increasing demand.

8. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

One only has to open a lifestyle or fashion magazine to find articles on Art fairs such as Art|Basel Miami Beach, the attendant parties and dinners, and what the Artists are wearing. Art fairs are now staged as purely theatrical events, despite their poor attempt at window dressing them selves as ‘intellectually serious’ with a few panel discussions thrown into the mix. Art fairs have become an extension of our ‘experience economy’ – an ad-hoc mixture of show business, Hollywood, and Wall Street.

This results in “Art fair Art” – a proliferation of meretricious Art called into being by market demands – Art that has what one might call ‘wall power,’ a kind of immediacy, a style of ingratiating effect, many times a jumbo economy-sized scale; in short, the ability to stand out amongst so many other artworks in a crowded salon like setting where everything is clamoring for your attention in the midst of a total visual/sensory overload. At places like Art fairs, Art and money exchange roles: money becomes ‘divine’ by being translated into Art, and Art becomes commonplace by being translated into money.

If, however, we take an alternative look at Art fairs and their effect on the Art market, we find a different, but partially hopeful story. Art can take us into new worlds, new countries, new kinds of culture, new sets of priorities, new social systems, and new impetus to society and its commerce. Art Fairs can open different kinds of windows for us into societal culture and its values.

9. What do you look for in the art you collect?

A compelling concept that is manifested as a compelling object.

10. What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Keep your wallet shut.

Build a reservoir of connoisseurship.

People love to offer the pablum “collect what you love.” It’s utter nonsense. Educate yourself as much as possible. What one ‘loves’ today may bore one of tomorrow, and what one does not understand today might be deeply appreciated next week.

Ask questions and listen aggressively.

And when asking questions, always be aware if the advice being offered is fully objective, or compromised by a conflict of interest. This leads me to the next point…

Know who the client is.

Remember that while gallerists want to be helpful, the collector not the gallerist’s client – the Artists are the gallerist’s clients – it is the Artist’s best interests that gallerists have to look after. That means that your best interests as a collector are a lower priority, so you must have enough education to represent yourself wisely when dealing with a gallerists (or auction house, or dealer, etc.).

About Levin Art Group

In the past quarter century, Levin AG has carefully reviewed over 15,000 artworks for acquisition from primary gallerists, secondary dealers, and auction houses. We have been responsible for the purchase of over 1,000 artworks with a cumulative value in the mid-nine figures. This enormity of statistical data provides us with massive quantitative knowledge in a market where concepts of price and value constantly shift.

Many art advisors working today were not involved in the 1980’s art world when the largest historical art market boom ground to a screeching halt in 1990.  The true measure of an experienced advisor occurs when the market suddenly stops or severely reverses.  Our direct experience with art market cycles over the past quarter century provides us with qualitative wisdom to envision where opportunities are located in the midst of confusion, and how to turn a major market reversal into a collector’s advantage to capitalize on others’ lack of confidence.

For more information visit www.levinartgroup.com

For this edition of Art World Q&A, I reached out to Marc Hajjar, Associate Director of Business Development at Winston Art Group, the leading independent art appraisal and advisory firm. Marc shares his insight and experience with the current art market and the value of an appraisal.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

There has clearly been a heavy shift in the market towards Contemporary art. We have had a substantial number of clients become interested in more Contemporary artists than ever before. One way that we’ve been able to educate our clients is to take them around art fairs or auction previews. If they find something they like, we will negotiate for them directly with the dealers or bid on their behalf at auction.

On the sales side, we have noticed an increasing amount in Modern and Impressionist art come to market. This is mostly caused by a change in taste; newer generations favor different styles and decide to sell family collections. Further to this, we have seen many more stamp and coin collections come up for sale. We have been asked to advise several large transactions over the last 3 years of sizable and important numismatic or philatelic collections. Simply put, younger generations often have different collecting tastes and styles than their parents and grandparents.

2. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

As independent and objective appraisers, Winston Art Group often gets asked these types of questions. There are many different types of values: Fair Market Value, Retail Replacement Value, or Marketable Cash Value which have their own uses from accounting, to insurance, to collateral loans, respectively. Inevitably, the importance of artwork, collectibles, or jewelry should not depend on its value or cost, but the enjoyment you get from it. Nonetheless, it is still important to consider these objects as tangible assets that should be monitored and cared for with yearly reviews and condition checks which we regularly perform for some of our largest clients.

3. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

Whenever we are asked to buy for clients, we normally start with identifying artists that they like from a stylistic perspective, and then locate the best pieces by those artists on the market, whether offered by a gallery or in an upcoming auction. Galleries are great for clients who have a particular artist in mind but auctions let clients discover a whole range of artwork available. For us, we do not have a preference when advising. It mostly depends on the type of art and its availability on the market.

4. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

I think it would be useful to differentiate between pricing art and appraising it. While the methodology behind both is fairly similar, pricing suggests an interest in selling it while appraising provides solutions to issues. These solutions could be providing clients with a donation valuation, a loss in value after damage, or suggested insurance amounts to mitigate risk. In both instances, we rely heavy on market comparables and past public sales records.

5. What do you look for in the art you collect?

Personally, I’m a fan of smaller-scale pieces; works that my graduate school professor would proclaim as, “great for a New York apartment!” I stick mostly to contemporary art and design and have found it enjoyable to meet the artist and get to know him or her if that is possible. The price has to be right too, of course!

6. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

It’s hard and intimidating to start collecting especially if you don’t have any formal background in art. We have had many clients like this over the last few years and we take the time to really figure out what they like. The best advice is to team up with an advisor who can help you get a foothold in the art scene and can guide decisions. No matter the price point, it is always good to have a seasoned professional by your side when you want to buy or sell any collectible.

For this edition of Art World Q & A, Adam Yokell, Founder and CEO of Foundwork, a new artist platform for the contemporary art community, shares his insight on the current art climate and how galleries and collectors are shifting their approach to buying art.

About Adam Yokell

Adam Yokell is the Founder and CEO of Foundwork, a new artist platform for the contemporary art community connecting artists with curators, gallerists, and other prospective collaborators. Before Foundwork, Adam was the owner and director of Hometown, a Brooklyn-based gallery where he exhibited and collaborated with emerging artists from the US and abroad. Adam is also a lawyer by training and previously served for several years as Counsel to the online platform Artsy where he managed legal affairs and provided operational and strategic counsel across the company. Adam is a member of industry groups and organizations including the SculptureCenter Ambassadors, the Independent Curators International (ICI) Independents, and the Art Law Committee of the New York City Bar Association, where he is a member of the Subcommittee on Artists’ Rights.

Foundwork is located at www.foundwork.art.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

At least at the more emerging level (which is what I’m more familiar with firsthand), there are considerably more galleries out there now than there were in the late nineties, especially in big industry cities like New York or London. Collectors are also better informed in recent years up and down the market (or at least they have more access to information), so generally speaking there may also be less deference to the dealer when it comes to assessing demand or setting the price of an artist’s work.

While these changes may amount to a more competitive landscape for dealers, the overall size of the collecting population has also grown significantly during this same period—caused in important part by the internet creating unprecedented access for new collectors who might have been shy or reluctant to enter a gallery or auction house before but who can now be introduced to galleries or participate in auctions more conveniently online. This growth in the collecting population is also due to focused efforts by dealers to reach new segments of the population (for example, collectors working in the tech industry), as well as to what appears to be a generally increasing mainstream interest in the art world, although that’s harder to quantify. This increase in overall demand helps to meet the larger supply out there in the market, at least in theory.

Another important if obvious development is that the market has become much more globalized, art fairs and the internet being two big contributing factors. Even at the emerging level, dealers frequently work with collector clients in other cities or countries—and more collectors are looking and purchasing work from galleries outside of the collector’s hometown. It’s encouraging to see this long distance contact between dealers and collectors, as reaching a wider collector base is probably necessary for the smaller and mid-sized galleries to sustain themselves and grow in a crowded market—and the health of smaller galleries is critical, as they are the ones who normally collaborate with emerging artists to provide those early shows that can bring an artist’s work into the public discussion.

Some artists have also been taking matters more into their own hands commercially, starting their own galleries and acting as dealers in their own right. While I can’t think offhand of any artist-run galleries that have turned into major businesses (although some may exist), artist-run spaces certainly help emerging artists to gain visibility which can lead to future opportunities, for instance, opportunities to work with larger galleries. There are also some innovative artist or curator run exhibitions out there functioning as quasi art fairs—Spring/Break Art Show in New York and Satellite Art Show in Miami are two that immediately come to mind—that provide significant visibility for artists who may not have gallery representation, and that support projects which are bolder or more experimental than the work you might see at the larger commercial fairs. Satellite was hands down the most rewarding art experience I had during the recent Miami art fair week—granted I wasn’t down there to buy or sell six figure paintings.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

Impossible to say. But historically—and this is obvious but I think worth mentioning—the artists who’ve stood the test of time were all extremely dedicated to their practice as a lifelong pursuit. Some great artists may start creating later in life, and some may even claim (with varying degrees of irony) to have retired, but the artists who are remembered after their time have usually practiced more or less continuously throughout their lives, whether from a sense of compulsion, discipline, or some combination of the two.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

Market is about how readily and at what price something can be bought or sold. Value is a broader idea that goes beyond the market and includes the critical, cultural, and conceptual meaning of a work or an artist’s practice. If value is defined more as cultural significance, then of course it isn’t limited to tradeable artwork and can be used equally to describe an exhibition, a performance, a piece of critical writing, etc. Value—or the perception of value—is often a primary factor determining an artist’s market. That said, as you know, there are other influences in the market so value isn’t always the main concern.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Taste is of course one of the most important and common factors in collecting decisions up and down the market, whether we’re talking about new or established collectors. That said, the role of taste in the decisions of established collectors naturally depends on the situation and on the collector. Are we talking about someone who likes to acquire as much work as possible by a given artist in order to affect their market? In that case taste probably matters less for any individual work. Maybe a similar dynamic exists with collectors looking to build a comprehensive collection across a range of artists or types of art, where they may be willing to purchase something they don’t personally love in order to acquire an object that fills a representative gap, which is of course a perfectly valid motivation and may help to account for some of the more encyclopedic collections out there. For instance, I recently visited the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena—which is just an incredible collection spanning Eastern antiquities through post-war Western art—and even though most of the objects are very beautiful, the collection is so diverse that it’s hard to imagine taste playing an equal role in the decisions Mr. Simon made across the different collecting categories.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

10k – Work by my friends.

100k – More work by my friends, and probably some work by other artists towards the start of their exhibiting careers. Collecting emerging art is one of the best—and definitely one of the most direct—ways to support emerging artists.

1m – I wouldn’t spend it all in one place. But if I had to, something by Richard Diebenkorn.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

Not reinventing the wheel here, but if we’re talking about work by living artists, collecting through a gallery usually offers a nice chance to speak with someone who knows the artist personally and can offer some fairly direct insight into their practice. If you go to a gallery opening, you may have a chance to meet the artist. If you go to an auction, you normally won’t see an artist in the room. That said, auction house specialists are of course extremely knowledgeable as well and have plenty of information to share. For my time, it’s an advantage when you can establish a personal link back to the artist.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

Am I responding to it physically? How was it made? What are its material or visual qualities? Am I responding to it conceptually or emotionally? Am I enjoying myself when I engage with it? Is it making me uncomfortable? Why or why not? Where does it fit into the artist’s practice as a whole? What meaning does it have in a broader artistic context (i.e. relative to the artist’s peers and other artists who are more or less senior)? What meaning does it have relative to the larger social/political/etc. situation in which it was made? I suppose there’s a fair amount of subjectivity in all of those!

8. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Art fairs make everyone busier. For artists and galleries, fairs are of course an invaluable opportunity to reach new clients and audiences, but there are the related risks and pressure of participating. For gallerists, fairs mean a more intense operating schedule and additional overhead. For artists, fairs can mean additional studio deadlines that force artists to work faster than they might have otherwise.

Apart from the basic commercial aspect of the fairs, it’s been exciting to see more fairs producing supplemental programming, panel discussions, special exhibitions, even charitable prizes or collaborations with institutions—for instance, the recent NADA Acquisition Gift for PAMM where NADA allocates funds from its Miami tickets sales to support an acquisition by Miami’s Perez Art Museum from one of the fair’s exhibitors. Fairs are playing a very prominent role in the contemporary discussion, so it’s encouraging to see some of them showing a sense of reciprocity and also an increased focus on geographical diversity and curation in their selection process and floor plans—as opposed to more of a curatorially agnostic, transactional format (granted, the primary purpose of fairs remains to help connect galleries with collectors, which is of course a critical function in its own right).

9. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

The only time I’ve ever bought art online was bidding in a benefit auction for the Brooklyn Academy of Music a couple of years back on Paddle8. That said, for those who want to collect work from galleries, Artsy is a very helpful platform that features literally thousands of galleries from all over the world and is a great place to discover work for sale and connect with dealers. Artsy also features a growing auction platform where they host sales by commercial auction houses and also host benefit auctions for non-profits (I worked at Artsy for several years as their legal counsel and it was great to be a part of those projects).

There are also some platforms out there selling limited edition prints in collaboration with artists, which is a nice format that lets you collect work by talented and sometimes fairly well-known artists, just at a more modest price point. Sugarlift, for instance, is a service you can access online that has produced some great collaborative prints with artists, but that also provides collectors with custom advisory services to help them find original works by a range of artists that Sugarlift knows personally. The idea there, as I understand it, is to help emerging collectors discover work by emerging artists, which I’m all for.

That said, I’m no longer so focused on online sale platforms—and I’ve actually spent the past year developing a new platform, Foundwork, whose purpose isn’t to sell work to collectors, but rather to help create more visibility and connections between artists, curators, and gallerists, i.e. the people who play a key role in collaborating with artists, organizing shows, and advocating artists’ work to the public. For every artist and gallerist who have the chance to meet and decide to work together, there are of course others out there looking for new opportunities, including opportunities to collaborate with people who don’t necessarily live nearby or share the same network. It seems like a lot of potential opportunities are missed due to a basic lack of access or visibility across this group (both locally and at longer distances), and that’s what Foundwork is designed to help address. This dynamic applies equally to curators and educators who want to research or connect with new artists for shows or other projects. In terms of the market, this sort of connective platform ultimately enables more artists to show and sell their work through galleries—and enables galleries to promote and partner with a wider population of artists. In the end, more work makes it out into the market and into the broader art arena, and more people have a chance to participate.

10. What do you look for in the art you collect?

The handful of works I’ve collected have all been objects I wanted to live with aesthetically, but—as my dad sometimes says about plays or films that he likes—they also have something on their mind, which in this case means work that gets me thinking about something other than its appearance. Guess I’m keeping my options fairly open there.

11. What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

This advice is cliché for a reason (it’s critical): make a habit out of seeing a lot of art. Get to you know yourself better in that context. If you live near galleries, visit them often and don’t be shy to talk with gallerists and ask them to tell you about the work—that’s what they love to do. Also, do some reading about the artist before you purchase their work (even just a quick online search will often tell you a lot). If we’re talking about collecting work by young or emerging artists, you probably shouldn’t start your collection with a profit motive. At the same time, in you’re going to invest in someone’s work at any level, you do want to know that they have a dedicated practice which they’re likely to continue pursuing into the future.

For this first Art World Q&A of 2018, I’ve invited the Resident Art Advisor for the Sagamore Hotel in South Beach, Sébastien Laboureau, to provide his expert opinion on how to approach the ever changing art market this year and the importance of Urban Art when beginning your own collection.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

The art market has changed drastically over the past 20 years… First in terms of size and overall value, for example the size of the contemporary art market has at least multiplied 20 times in terms of total revenues at auction globally over the course of the last 20 years… Values for many artists have increased ten or twenty-fold, like for example artworks from Jean-Michel Basquiat, or Keith Haring, and many others… Second in terms of market structure, the market today is more transparent and liquid that it has ever been, with easy access to all auction sales through online databases, and numerous new sales platforms, making the buying process more consumer-friendly and approachable. This incredible growth is notably driven by a massive entry of new collectors from all over the world and at all market levels (both lower end and higher end), it is a global phenomenon, the strong development of art fairs globally, the construction of new museums, the growth of online sales platforms. Of course, the art market is also much more publicized today than it was then when it was more reserved to an “elite”, nowadays, social media platforms, the numerous museum shows dedicated to well-known artists, are driving new buyers at all levels.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

This is the right question… there are so many artists nowadays, so many art fairs, so many online platforms, it is more and more difficult to differentiate those artists who will stand the test of time from others… The reality is that nobody truly knows in the complex and rapid world into which we operate, but this is the absolute question for a collector who is willing to collect on the long-term.

There are no simple rules, but rather a set of circumstances… Is the artist represented by a well-established gallery, is the artist motivated and committed to his work, is the artist creating a set of work that can be qualified as innovative and impactful, is the artist art-educated and well aware of where his works stand in place of art history, is the artist already involved with the secondary market, and collected by savvy collectors…

Many artists are knowing extended notoriety through social media platforms, outside of the “traditional” gallery platform, I am not sure those artists, who are sometimes already selling their works at high prices, will stand the test of time…

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

All value and pricing related questions are very tricky in the art world… Pricing does not always meet the basic economic equation that consists in balancing demand with offer… there are many parameters involved and multiple platforms that still make the art market quite inefficient in terms of pricing. Let’s say the market value is whatever a buyer is willing to pay for an artwork, this number is still highly dependent on the sales platform (auction, market, private market, online, art fairs, galleries,). The value is, to my point of view, a more theoretical concept attached to more objective matters, whether it is replacement value, fair market value, insurance value, it can only be attached to artworks from artists that pertain to the secondary market, with a strong track record at auctions. This question is more tricky for artists who are only present in the primary market, in that case, the galleries are fixing the prices, and sometimes in a very erratic manner, the key parameter here is the reputation of the galleries themselves and their ability to drive their artists’ careers.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

TASTE IS THE MOST IMPORTANT MATTER FOR REAL AND TRUE COLLECTORS. Of course, value is an important matter that goes hand to hand with taste, but in my experience, real collectors and serious buyers are always driven by what they truly love and by their personal taste. Important and true collectors are buyers and not sellers, and they are chasing the works that will enrich their collection in a cohesive matter.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

My current advice to all collectors is to educate themselves with the “urban art” movement, that to my point of view, is one of the most relevant movements right now in the art world, it is global, it is linked to our modern societies, and it is extremely dynamic. Out of the 10 most sold artists at auctions in 2016, by number of lots, there are no less than 4 urban artists, including Keith Haring, Shepard Fairey, Kaws, and Banksy. Those artists, and many others already, have a very dynamic and active auction market. They are collected widely, and will with no doubt increase in value tremendously over the course of the 10 next years.

What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

A collector nowadays should purchase through all channels, at galleries, at auctions, online, depending on what she/he is looking for. The auction market is very liquid, there are numerous auctions everyday all over the world, it sometimes allows collectors to purchase vetted artworks at a very reasonable price, depending on the competition in the auction room or online. Buying from a reputable auction house gives you some guarantees on the quality and the authenticity of the artwork, but still any collector should carefully do their own due diligence, notably in terms of authenticity and condition of the work. Buying through a commercial gallery is also critical to the good health of the art market, it allows for a more direct contact with the artist, and the person who represents him and supports him. Building a long-term relationship with a credible and serious gallery also allows to follow the career of the artist, allows to buy and potentially resell, and supports a strong cultural local ecosystem.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

We are not here to judge art. It is a highly subjective matter, subject to cultural differences, art education, and personal taste. I would rather come back to more basic language linked to liking or not liking art, it is about taste education. Any form of artistic expression is relevant if it finds its public, and purchasing any artwork, depending on the context, can provide infinite pleasure and personal satisfaction. However, depending on taste and purchasing strategy, I do use many parameters to identify artworks for my clients, studying in details the artist’s resume, its overall portfolio, and the credentials of the gallery that represents the artist.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

There are many criteria to be used to price artworks, the most important one being to understand which art markets the artist pertains to… Does the artist have a well-established secondary market? If so the best way is to check comparable artworks that previously sold at auction. If not, the market is organized by the artist’s galleries, and it is mostly about knowing what sells and for how much. There is no easy rule, nor rules that do not involve a matter of subjectivity, ultimately the price is the price that any buyer is willing to pay for a given artwork…

9. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

One needs to be cautious about market fluctuations… The reality is that there is not “daily” price fixing in the art world, and by nature, prices are volatile and changing between platforms. One cannot say that prices fluctuations are seasonal, the reality is that no artwork is exactly comparable to another artwork. Even prints from the same edition, and different numbers never have the same provenance history, nor condition issues, hence the fluctuations and prices. All the more than the market is not perfect; a very comparable print can sell at much higher price within an auction sale where there is a bidding competition for such lot. It is quite clear however, that over the long-term, well established artists with deep secondary market tend to increase in value, driven by an overall increase in demand globally…

10. What determines the commercial value of art?

This question is a bit redundant, most of concepts attached to value have been addressed in previous questions.

11. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Art fairs are now a critical sales platform for the art world. There are numerous art fairs happening all year-long and all over the world, opening market windows for thousands of galleries, artists and artworks. They are extremely important in the way the art market works today, and even more for buyers to be able to purchase artworks within market windows where dealers are motivated to sell, and compete against each other. It brings fluidity to the market, and I strongly advise my clients to buy at art fairs as they have a unique opportunity to compare, to speak with dealers, and to purchase artworks at competitive prices from motivated sellers.

12. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

The online market platforms have been developing strongly for the past few years. On top of the “traditional” platforms that mostly sell online like artnet and artsy for example, most “brick-and-mortar” art institutions also have online platforms, including many commercial galleries and auction houses that regularly sell part of their inventories online. I advise only experienced buyers to use those platforms as it is always more complicated to “apprehend” an artwork online, and to make the right purchase at the right price.

13. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I mostly buy what I love from artists and dealers I know personally.

14. What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

My best advice is first to attend as many art events as possible, art openings in galleries, art fairs, but also go to museums and try to understand better one’s taste and objectives in starting a collection. Then, I must say that the best collectors are often the ones who work with the best art advisors. The art world is so vast, that one must be very involved to build an expertise. The art world is also misleading in the way that it seems very approachable, but the reality is that there are a lot of rules and codes that one can only learn with time and relationships. As a consequence, hiring an art advisor can allow any buyer to gain considerable time and will allow a beginner collector to acquire more knowledge and experience in a limited time and often save money in purchases. It is mostly about understanding one’s tastes and adapting the budgets to various objectives that are not always cohesive, in a constantly changing world, which is not as easy as it may seem. However, collecting can provide infinite pleasure, can be shared with friends and family, and can also in some instances result in wealth expansion.

About Sébastien Laboureau

Sébastien Laboureau holds a degree in Civil Engineering from Ecole des Mines de Paris and a Master of Science in Accounting and Finance from the London School of Economics.  He benefits from an international experience in Management Control (at AXA Group) and Investment Banking (Mergers and Acquisitions at Goldman Sachs). Long-time, art enthusiast and experienced art collector, he is an art consultant located both in Miami and Paris, with partners in Latin-America and Asia, trusted advisor of private collectors, and various institutions all over the world. He speaks English, French, and Spanish. Sebastien Laboureau is a certified appraiser for the IFAA, International Fine Arts Appraisers.

He is Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Arts and business Council in Miami (Americans for the Arts, 501c3) and sits on the Creative and Design committee of the Beacon Council, and an art consultant for URBAN ART FAIR and leading art galleries in Miami, NYC, LA, and BOGOTA, a global ambassador for STREET ART FOR MANKIND.

Sebastien Laboureau has been recently chosen as Resident Art Advisor to the Sagamore Hotel, the ART HOTEL in South Beach for over 16 years, leading, in partnership with new ownership an ambitious artistic program including art exhibits, music, dance, and various performing arts experiences.

As a respected and independent expert on the art market, he is a keynote speaker to various private banks, family offices, art fairs and public institutions to give lectures and conferences on the art market and on selected art history topics. He specializes in the topics of Art & Finance, Art investment, Pop Art, Urban Art, and any topics related to the secondary market. Sebastien Laboureau, as a street art expert, was most recently featured in USA Today for his selection of the “10 Best: Cities to see Street Art”. He has been interviewed by many major international press outlets such as The NY Times, the Wall Street Journal, Le Figaro, BBC News, CBS 4, ARTE.

For more information, visit:   www.sebastienlaboureau.com

For this edition of Art World Q&A, collectors Nadia Palon and Roberto Toscano whose impressive collection includes work by James Turrell, Dan Graham, Larry Bell and Sterling Ruby share their insight on collecting and the art market. 

1. What was the first piece of art you bought and do you still own it?

Roberto Toscano: My first work was an etching by Richard Serra – I’ve since added quite a few more etchings by Serra into the collection, so, this body of work was certainly important to the development of my collection and my ideas about collecting more generally. I’ve never sold a work and have no plans to ever sell anything.

Nadia Palon: My first piece was a set of skate decks by Marilyn Minter, of course I still have them!

2. What medium are you interested in and why?

Roberto Toscano: Sculpture, by far. Most of the work I acquire is either by sculptors or plans and preparatory drawings for sculpture.

Nadia Palon: I really love the light and space movement – I’ve always been fascinated with James Turrell’s use of light as a sculptural medium. Roberto and I are about to make the trip up to Massachusetts to see Into The Light at MASS MoCA.

3. Have you bought works from artists you discovered on Instagram?

Roberto Toscano: Yes. IG has been very useful in finding new artists and keeping up to date with what is happening in the field.

Nadia Palon: I’ve bought work directly ON Instagram! I wanted to surprise Roberto for his birthday and so I direct messaged Elias Hansen to secretly make a piece for him which I surprised him with on his birthday.

4. How did your enthusiasm for art come about?

Roberto Toscano: I’m a composer and musician, in a sense, the collecting was a means to an end – finding solutions to analogous problems in aesthetics by looking at the visual arts as opposed to just music.

Nadia Palon: I’ve been exposed to art since I was a small child; my mother would regularly take me to museums and I really fell in love with the whole experience.

5. What is your most treasured artwork?

Roberto Toscano: I have a soft spot for much of the work I’ve collected – hard to pick among them.

Nadia Palon: A red hologram by James Turrell, Roberto gave it to me as a gift and we installed it in our room! I look at it every day.

6. Who inspires you in the art world?

Roberto Toscano: Daniel Turner, Sterling Ruby, Oscar Tuazon are the three who come to mind immediately; I collect their work in depth.

Nadia Palon: Gerhard Richter and his ability to work through so many styles and idealogical positions while still refraining from becoming dogmatic, as a writer I especially admire that position.

7. How important is it for you to meet the artists you collect in person?

Roberto Toscano: Important but not vital – I don’t mind if artists want their space and rather not engage in a more formal dialogue on their work and my view on their work.

Nadia Palon: I love meeting them! Studio visits are incredibly important and really inspire me. I always look around at every detail and try to catch a glimpse of how they work, what they read, how they live, etc. We just came back from Los Angeles and we had the honor of having a three hour tour of Paul McCarthy’s studio. It was one of the most disturbing and thought provoking experiences of my life. Paul spoke in depth about his ideas and really took his time to explain his positions – he was incredibly friendly and I was extremely impressed by how involved he was with every stage of the development of every piece in that gigantic space. It’s the largest studio I’ve ever seen – and we also had a tour of Sterling Ruby’s studio this same trip, which many people know is gigantic in itself! So this gives an idea of just how large Paul’s studio is! Another highlight was meeting Larry Bell and spending time with him and Pinky (his dog and the clear boss of the studio). Larry invited us to visit him in New Mexico to see the production of the larger cubes and glass pieces, I can’t wait for that.   

8. What is your advice to young collectors working with a budget?

Roberto Toscano: Find artists in your own generation who are pushing the envelope – try to start by collecting the work of your peers.

Nadia Palon: I agree with Roberto.

9. What artwork would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

Roberto Toscano: I don’t usually think about price at all (or markets) – if I become obsessed with it and I can afford it, I will try to acquire it ASAP. The body of work I’m currently most interested in that is above my current budget and which is hard to source are the resin sculptures from the KANDORS series by Mike Kelley.

Nadia Palon: I’ve had a life long obsession with Richter, if I could I would definitely buy a major work of his.

10. Do you have any favorite online venues for buying art?

Roberto Toscano: I’m on many of them – if work appears that I care about, I try to at least get a bid in! I’ve used PADDLE 8, Artsy, and all the main art auction houses as well.

Nadia Palon: That seems to be Roberto’s domain 😉

About Nadia Palon and Roberto Toscano

Nadia Palon is a writer and  an aspiring cat lady, currently working on her debut novel. Originally from Moscow, she moved to New York for New York University.

Roberto Toscano, Dean’s Fellow at Columbia University in the City of New York,  is a composer and researcher who incorporates interdisciplinary concerns into a personal compositional aesthetic. In 2010, Toscano was awarded the Toru Takemitsu Prize in Music Composition in Tokyo, Japan. Toscano is also Founder & CEO of Arbor-Borlem and Co-Founder of Species Prototype, LLC – these projects look to combine and leverage interests in industrial design, aesthetics, art curation, and research into multidisciplinary projects. Toscano also serves on the Acquisitions Board of the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami.

I am thrilled to share this edition of Art World Q&A with you. Jamie Goldblatt Manné, Deputy Director of the Marciano Art Foundation in Los Angeles, took time out of her busy schedule to thoughtfully give us her insight into the contemporary art market.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

So much has changed. 20 years ago I was 14 years old, so I wasn’t exactly privy to the art world at that time, but in just the last 10 years, so much has changed. The ability to access images is overwhelming– you can see artworks around the world via the internet and social media, whereas 15/20 years ago you had to physically go to a gallery or museum to view something. I still strongly believe in seeing works in person when possible, but I will admit I’ve bought many artworks via jpeg! Artist’s markets are sharply affected by this shift in access to information. We have witnessed young artists works reach record level auction prices within the first few years of their emergence and then seemingly drop off from the market. The speed with which the business now moves is hard to keep up with and can be disheartening for young artists.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

There are the obvious ones of course, but I think the artists who are using their medium and voice to support social justice issues through their work will be the ones who stand the test of time and ultimately guide our society forward. A few examples include Rirkrit Tiravanija, Andrea Bowers, Theaster Gates, Sam Durant, Goshka Macuga, Barbara Kruger, Ai Weiwei and the Guerilla Girls.

3. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Taste is very important and is usually what initially determines the direction of a collection and the early purchases. You have to like what you are buying – there is so much out there and so many reasons to invest and support different artists. Taste is usually intrinsic and should be utilized to guide your collecting.

4. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

$10K – a Naotaka Hiro painting or drawing or a Mimi Lauter work on paper

$100K – Rodney McMillian carpet painting or Andrea Bowers cardboard painting

$1M – David Hammons tarp painting or a Felix Gonzales-Torres last light sculpture (from the larger edition)

5. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

The benefits of buying through the galleries, particularly primary galleries, is endless. By doing so, you can create a real and lasting relationship with the gallery and with their roster of artists. You can also rest assured that your hard-earned cash is going to the artist and not to a collector or auction house trying to make a profit. Of course, auctions are very useful for sourcing specific or historical objects and for gaging the secondary market, but I always prefer to buy from the galleries.

6. What criteria do you use in judging art?

I try not to “judge” art but rather experience and understand it and use it to educate myself. There is so much out there to see and I think after a while, you start to develop an inner eye that you can really trust and depend on. I usually have an instinctual response to artworks; whether it’s positive or negative, I try to really pay attention to that response and understand why it is manifesting itself as such. The works that I have strong negative reactions to are often the ones that I end up thinking about the most and interestingly, usually circle back around to loving, if only for the reason that it challenged me in a profound way.

7. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Art fairs are tricky – they are incredibly seductive and exciting, but I don’t like to buy art at fairs. It always feels rushed and chaotic and it’s not an ideal setting for taking the time to really understand a work and its varied nuances. I prefer to use art fairs as a tool for research and to connect with dealers outside of Los Angeles, rather than as a source for acquisitions. There are of course, always exceptions!

8. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

Artspace and Tappan.

9. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I look for many things including the artist’s mastery of their concepts and media, curatorial support for the work, market support for the work and probably most importantly, is seeing that the artist continues to push him/herself in new directions and takes risks. For me, the best part of collecting and supporting artists is watching them and their career take shape and change over time. It’s so exciting to see how one series informs the next. When an artist surprises you, it can be the best feeling.

10. What is the best advise you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Go slowly and do your homework. The contemporary art world and market can be very overwhelming. It’s constantly growing and changing, which is what makes it so exciting but also daunting at the same time. There is always more to learn and more to understand. Get to know your inner eye and what makes you excited and really trust your gut. Befriending experienced collectors or curators doesn’t hurt either! Their expertise and knowledge is priceless! This business is all about relationships and trust, play the game fairly and transparently, and usually you’ll win.

About Jamie Goldblatt Manné

Jamie Goldblatt Manné was born and raised in Los Angeles. She completed her undergraduate and graduate studies at The George Washington University in Washington, DC where she received a Masters in Art Therapy. Upon graduation, Jamie worked in NYC galleries, including three years at Paula Cooper Gallery, where she worked in sales and served as an artist liaison. In 2010, Jamie relocated back to Los Angeles and since then has been managing the Marciano Art Collection. With over 10 years of experience working in the professional art world, she is currently the Director of the Maurice and Paul Marciano Art Foundation, which opened to the public in May 2017. Jamie lives in Los Angeles with her husband and 3 rescue dogs.

For this edition of Art World Q&A, I ask ArtMuse Founder Natasha Schlesinger to share her perspective on the current art market.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

The market is a lot bigger now with more artists, more galleries and more collectors. It has become harder for beginning collectors to navigate and even for seasoned ones to keep up with. The galleries are also experiencing a very big shift in the way they operate, with many smaller ones closing their doors, moving, joining forces or reinventing themselves.  It will be a different art world five years from now.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

There are too many to list here really but it will be those that either reflect upon the time with poignancy and relevance like Kerry James Marshall, George Condo or Mark Bradford or those who are also very strong in who they are as artists, exploring ideas and techniques, materials and art itself such as Teressita Fernandez and Frank Stella.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

Value is determined by the market. It is tested and can change based on the demands and mores of the market.  The value is set initially and will fluctuate depending on supply and demand but also on taste and fashion.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Taste plays a role up to a point and that point is a price point. In the certain stratospheric point brackets, it is not about taste but only about investment value of the works.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

 For $10k I would buy emerging artists’ works and there are many I have seen in recent months that I would readily buy.  Works by artists such as Sissi Farassat or Lala Abbadon. For $100k my first purchase would be an artist like Zaria Forman and on a different angle, a tondo by Nick Cave or a neon by Ivan Navarro.  For $1 million, I would look at Mark Bradford, Yayoi Kusama, Rudolf Stingel, Anish Kapoor. The list is too long.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

At auction there is not as much of a personal relationship with either the dealer or the artist that can develop if you are buying from a gallery. You are also buying on the secondary market and not from the studio and for many collectors, it doesn’t have the same value. But it also depends on what it is that you are buying. If you collect Old Masters or Impressionist paintings, then I would recommend doing both. If you collect contemporary, I would opt for developing a relationship with galleries and artists and buying from them directly.  With an auction there is less certainty that you will get the work, it is more of a risk that one takes when buying from an auction.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

I use aesthetics, integrity, quality, content, where the artist is going and where the artist stands at the present time, what gallery he/she is with, what shows she/he has been in.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

The entire body of work of that artist and what it was a year or two ago versus what it is now.

9. What determines the commercial value of art?

The gallery sets the prices together with the artist and that depends on time put into the work, materials, production, artist’s career as a whole and how much has already been sold and what that demand has been like.  There are many factors and they can change over time.

10. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Art fairs have dramatically changed the way the art world operates not always for the positive.  Many galleries have suffered because of the fairs and there is a fair fatigue happening now. We will see what happens but I believe there will be a reduction in the number of fairs, while at the same time there will be new ones in smaller cities.  Galleries have had to compete with the fairs so there is pressure on the commercial gallery world because of them. At the same time, it has enabled some artists and galleries to show in cities where they don’t have a presence so it has benefited collectors to an extent.

11. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

I don’t believe in buying art online unless it is inexpensive. I believe in only buying what you see or know in person.  I believe in using technology, such as the one I created via my App called Discover Galleries and Beyond by Artmuse, to guide you to the art but I think its imperative to keep the brick and mortar operations alive and well.

12. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I look for impact on the eye and the mind, it can be composition or the effect of color or the narrative but it has to speak to the viewer.

13. What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Try to see as much as you can at galleries and museum shows.  Educate your eye.  Try to get professional advice as well to narrow down your choices, to give you a better sense of where to look taking into consideration the budget, taste, space and the intent of collecting in general. Don’t be afraid to be bold in your choices!

About Natasha Schlesinger:

Natasha Schlesinger is an award-winning art historian and art advisor who has worked in the art field for over 25 years. Schlesinger began her career working at art galleries in New York and London. She continued as a specialist in European Furniture and Decorative arts at Christie’s auction house in New York before co-founding an international consulting firm, Meridienne LLC. She has lectured both at Christie’s and Sotheby’s and taught at the graduate program for the Study of Decorative Arts, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and New School. More recently, Schlesinger was appointed to serve as the Art Curator of The Surrey Hotel where she conceived and curated three successful exhibitions connecting The Surrey’s own permanent art collection to the most relevant themes in contemporary art today.

Schlesinger holds a Master’s degree in Decorative Arts and Design from the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Culture and Design. In 2005, Schlesinger received the Future Leaders of the Art World award from ArtTable, a national nonprofit membership organization for professional women in leadership positions in the visual arts. In 2017, she launched the Discover Galleries app to bring collectors and galleries together through a unique technology platform offering advice and consultation services.

Schlesinger speaks regularly at leading industry events, and is available for select panel and keynote engagements.

 

About ArtMuse:

ArtMuse is an international art consultation firm with over 25 years of experience. We provide art consultation, curation, education and brand collaboration services for corporate and private clients. With her extensive experience and knowledge of art history and the art market, ArtMuse founder, Natasha Schlesinger, guides, advises and facilitates the purchase and sale of artworks by leveraging her extensive network of established and emerging artists, galleries and dealers.

For more information please visit: http://artmuseny.com

For the first Art World Q&A of 2019, I ask Lauren Dobrin Klumak, Associate Director of Robin Rosenberg Fine Art, to share her insight on collecting art and what artists are on her radar this year.

1. What was the first piece of art you bought and do you still own it?

A large Sam Francis print that I still have. I love it and I think I always will!

2. What medium are you interested in and why?

I find woodblock fascinating. Prints and multiples are sometimes deemed a lesser medium, but when you learn about the production process you understand the labour and the skill that is involved. I remember seeing images of Polly Apfelbaum’s woodblock prints in the making and witnessing the dynamic process of individually carved and inked woodblocks being arranged into a complex puzzle to form the final image. Everything was meticulously hand-made and the artist’s hand was so close to the finished product.

3. Have you bought works from artists you discovered on Instagram?

While I have not yet purchased any art discovered on Instagram, I have definitely come across new artists that are of interest to both me and my clients. I anticipate I will one day!

4. How did your enthusiasm for art come about?

My love for art developed at a young age. I grew up in a family of collectors, including my grandparents and my parents. Being exposed to quality art at as a young girl fostered in me a great appreciation for visual culture. This early connection with the arts was further bolstered when studying Art History in high school and throughout my graduate and post-graduate studies.

5. What is your most treasured artwork?

My most treasured artwork is a large black and white Tom Wesselmann print I bought with my husband. We started a tradition to purchase one artwork every year for our anniversary. The Wesselmann was our first purchase together.

6. Who inspires you in the art world?

My grandparents are definitely a big inspiration for me. As esteemed collectors, they bought what they loved but they also bought wisely. They had an uncanny ability to collect artwork of an artist before his or her market strengthened tremendously. They had an enviable artistic sixth sense.

7. How important is it for you to meet the artists you collect in person?

It is not necessarily important to me to meet the artists I am collecting. If an opportunity arose to meet the artist of a prospective artwork for purchase at a gallery or at a fair, it would certainly be an added bonus!

8. What is your advice to young collectors working with a budget?

Simply buy what you love and what you can afford. And when looking for what you love, try not to get overly influenced by what is hot and trendy. Investing in artwork with any budget is a commitment and it is important to consider longevity. A good question to ask yourself when pondering a piece is, “would I want this hanging on my wall ten years from now?”

9. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

In a vast sea of contemporary artists, I believe the few who will endure are the ones who are able to develop a unique, instantly-recognizable and appealing aesthetic that is cohesive throughout their body of work. With most big successes, you are able to discern the artist by merely looking at the artwork. I also believe it is necessary to receive promotion by a reputable gallery or museum. At the end of day, however, there is undoubtedly a considerable amount of luck involved!

10. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

Auction often offers good buying opportunities, however, purchasing through a gallery or a private dealer eliminates many of the risks associated with auction. There is a lot of uncertainty when it comes to auction, as price estimates are not necessarily indicative of what selling prices will ultimately be. And in a fast-paced, high pressure environment, buyers can unwittingly enter into bidding wars and end up paying significantly more than anticipated. Purchasing through a gallery or dealer alleviates pressure and allows buyers to sit in the driver’s seat. Additionally, there are no exorbitant premiums that auction houses collect.

11. What would artwork would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

Tough question!

$10k – A series of small Jacob Hashimoto prints

$100k –Al Held black and white canvas

$1 million – Richard Prince text painting

12. Do you have any favorite online venues for buying art?

Artsy is a great website where I browse through artists, galleries and fairs. It has been a very helpful tool when researching artwork for my clients. It has also enabled me to establish connections with many galleries and dealers across the globe.

About Lauren Dobrin Klumak

Growing up in family of art collectors, I developed an appreciation for the arts very early on. I would often find myself buried in art books and visiting museums at home and abroad whenever I travelled. My love for the field led me to pursue my studies in Art History at McGill University. During my time as an undergraduate, I had the privilege of interning at Christie’s auction house in New York City, as well as working part-time for Robin Rosenberg Fine Art. These opportunities provided me glimpses of what it is like to work in the arts and truly enhanced my academic experience.

After graduation, I went on to complete a Master’s degree in Art History at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London. My thesis specialized in the intersectionality of fashion and art with a particular focus on documentary photography.

Upon my return from England, I began working for Robin Rosenberg Fine Art full-time as an Associate Director. I feel passionate about my clients and enjoy helping them take the steps to build a quality collection they love and appreciate.