Guides - May 8th, 2018

Art: The Casino of Culture Inside the Art World: AN INTRODUCTION

Art is currently in its Golden Age!
People love and appreciate it more than ever before.
Contemporary Art is making Headline News everyday for one reason; MONEY.
Its astonishing to many that something with no intrinsic value has such a high monetary value.
The Art Market is almost a religion; you really have to believe in it to justify the extortionate figures currently flying around.

“Art is for anyone. It just isn’t for everyone.”
Jerry Saltz


The Lehman Brothers disaster in September 2008 was the worst financial collapse since the Great Depression.
24 hours later on 16.09.2008 Damien Hirst’s show, “Beautiful Inside my Head Forever” at Sotheby’s set a record for one-artist auction (of £111m).
Through this, the Art Market showed absolute oblivion to what was happening in the Financial Market.


Currently, there is a lot of noise in the art world. But looking back at history we learn that Art has in fact  been traded for a very long time: Patrons of the art and Commissioning of art existed since the ancient world.

Most of us have the 19th century image of art, which is that art is about beauty.
Somewhere in the 20th century it became contemporary and abstract: it was not necessarily beautiful and you had to work out your own meaning.

Paintings, Drawings, Videos, Photographs, Prints: the lines that define and segregate these mediums have been blurred – they essentially all fall under the bracket of Contemporary Art.

Why Collect?

We live in a commodity driven world: people acquire commodities and that is applicable to the art world.
– Some Collectors truly love and appreciate art.
– Others collect driven by the social and competitive aspect ie bragging rights / trophy hunting.
All this combined sets the market on fire.
Since there are more people buying art with no true knowledge about it – they stick to brand/household names that offer a sense of security and comfort.


The key thing that any Artist wants is validation, which comes in many different ways.
The 1st Stamp of approval being Art School ie coming from UCLA, CAL Arts, the Royal College in London. A provincial art school is unlikely to have the same impact as one with an Art World nearby.
The 2nd Stamp: being picked up by a credible dealer, often a younger, smaller dealer known for having a good eye for emerging talent. Also, being put in a group show by a reputable curator, or being in a bi-annual eg “Made in LA” which is the Hammer Museums bi-annual. Working up the ranks this would then follow with a solo show, day auction and then finally becoming a regular at the evening auctions.
One of the most crucial parts of an artists career is knowing when to stop and how to die; it’s almost as important as LIVING!


Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons

Their art is celebratory of the big sloshing money pit that the art market has become. Each of them are “production” artists – rather than work alone in a studio and limiting their production with what they can master with their own hands, they have teams of people that make things for them.

“I want to be a rock star, not a gallery mascot,”
Jean-Michel Basquiat


Dealers have the responsibility to take on an artist and make a success of their career.
They have to please Museums, top Collectors that support their Gallery, as well as Top Collectors that support their Artists.
The Dealer is still the one who is holding the key at the primary level to the artist.

“Buying Art from the Primary Market”

This refers to a painting being bought for the first time, which is probably the most opaque method of buying. This is because it allows Dealers to control the price to ensure prices never go down. Therefore, no one really knows what anything is bought for. Dealers are also very mindful of who buys the art as the owner can work to enhance or detract from the reputation and glory of the artist.

The whole success of the Art Enterprise relies on the aura, glamour, mystique and the apparent inaccessibility of the Art World.

No one ever really knows what art is worth, namely when you have an emerging artist – if the price goes down everyone worries that the market for that artist will collapse and so dealers will go to great lengths to manipulate it.
Also if a dealer feels an artist’s work needs a price bump, it gets taken to auction to build up the price amongst insiders and then bought by them.

Many an artist has been burnt by prices that go up too rapidly. They may wake up to find one day that their market has disappeared.

The discussion is Endless…
Until next time

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