Market Monday: Scattershot
Because sometimes a clear theme emerges from the week's events, and sometimes the industry sprays itself in all directions...
Let's start with the most talked-about story of the week: On Monday, Sotheby's announced that it had acquired blue-chip art advisory firm Art Agency, Partners, whose unnecessary comma has been triggering fits of punctuation rage in me for years. AAP's principals will reportedly oversee a reorganization of the auction house's 20th and 21st century departments, as well as take charge of its private sales division and develop its Sotheby's-branded art advisory services. However, some observers have speculated that this plan is no more than a placeholder, and that Sotheby's essentially just paid $50-85M (depending on performance incentives over the next four years) to bring AAP's principals in house with no firm blueprint. Even if that's the case, though, I would argue that it's a rare case of the house doing what good companies tend to do: Acquire great talent and figure out its exact fit afterward. Time will tell whether that's indeed true of the AAP acquisition. But either way, it means that the house should look very different on this day in 2017, let alone 2020, than today. [Blouin ArtInfo]
Enlightened videogame vertical Kill Screen announced this week that they are collaborating with NEW INC, the New Museum's arts and technology incubator, to produce "the first-ever virtual reality festival focused on creativity." Titled "Versions," the event will explore high-concept questions about the new technology's possibilities beyond gadgets and traditional games, in an attempt to show how VR "will be equally invented by artists as well as engineers." To me, the festival sounds like a valuable step toward what I believe is digital art's most exciting and innovative potential: creating immersive, interactive experiences rather than images or videos meant to be passively stared at on a traditional screen. [Kill Screen]
Charlotte Burns profiled trailblazing New York gallerist Paula Cooper, now age 77. To me, the most interesting aspect of the piece is that it's structured around the notion that Cooper is an old-school connoisseur happily deviating from the standards of an industry now driven by social-climbing and investment-seeking... and yet, Cooper acknowledges near the profile's end that those same two forces were also driving the industry 30-40 years ago. Hmm, something about that idea sounds familiar... [The Art Newspaper]
Ben Davis dove deep into the question of whether starting off wealthy is now an artist's best chance of success. I have to admit that I scoffed at the premise at first because... I mean, obviously. But his exploration of examples throughout the 20th century, from Jacob Lawrence to Rachel Rose, adds valuable texture to the answer. And I couldn't agree more with his big takeaway from his research: Despite a growing awareness of the industry's entrenched biases regarding gender and race, class remains the most untouchable taboo of all. [artnet News]
And on that note, here's a link to the Guerrilla Girls, the Sugarhill Gang of masked feminist art collectives, being interviewed on Stephen Colbert's "Late Show" last Wednesday. The unlikely pairing is a great reminder that, in most cases, nothing is better for getting the message out about a serious topic than wrapping it in a layer of humor. [ArtFCity]
That's all for this edition. Til next time, hope your aim is true.