Market Monday: Motion Studies
This week, a series of stories tracking people, works, and organizations on the move...
For starters, a business step of my own: I've recently begun consulting on a project-specific basis for blue-chip LA gallery Kayne Griffin Corcoran. I can't disclose the details, other than to say that it's a non-exclusive arrangement that will allow me to actualize some of my ideas––while also continuing to write and, increasingly, work with other clients in the industry as well. Looking forward to including more updates like this under the Gray Market banner soon.
OK, on to the other players streaking across the landscape...
Pace announced that it will be trading its nearly two year-old pop-up space in Menlo Park for a permanent location in Palo Alto. However, the move itself is less noteworthy to me than the programming now being discussed. Despite (finally) setting down roots in Silicon Valley and, just three months ago, establishing an Art + Technology initiative, Pace Palo Alto will follow its inaugural exhibition of James Turrell light works with "a Stieglitz-O'Keefe show and maybe a classic Surrealist photography show," per president Marc Glimcher. The location will also maintain a space exclusively reserved for works from the estates of early postwar legends like Alexander Calder, Mark Rothko, and Kenneth Noland. To me, the overall strategy suggests that Pace's experience in Menlo Park either convinced the brass it would be wiser to: A) target the old tech money rather than the new tech money, B) entirely dismiss the widely-held misconception that tech-based collectors automatically prefer tech-based artwork, or C) both. Let's see how it develops. [The New York Times]
Earlier this month, news broke that The European Fine Art Fair (TEFAF) would be expanding beyond its annual Maastricht event by adding two New York-based fairs: one dedicated to works from antiquity to the 20th century, debuting this October; and the other dedicated to modern/contemporary art and design, opening in May 2017. This week, Brian Boucher and Eileen Kinsella used the new TEFAF triangle to examine whether art fair organizers, like galleries, must grow to survive in today's high-stakes art market. Generally speaking, I think the answer is probably "yes." But I also think it's a trickier question. When galleries expand, they do so entirely by spending their own money. But for fairs to expand, they need a slew of dealers to add the significant costs of delivering yet another booth into their annual budgets. And if the market does contract this year, as expected, this need for broad-based exhibitor buy-in puts TEFAF and other growth-minded fair organizers in a more precarious position. [artnet News]
In a piece notably titled "A Blockbuster Deal Reassures the Art World," Scott Reyburn parsed the details of a $500M private sale brokered between Chicago hedge-fund billionaire Kenneth C. Griffin and record-industry legend David Geffen last fall. Griffin acquired two Abstract Expressionist masterpieces in the deal: Willem de Kooning's "Interchange" for $300M, and Jackson Pollock's "Number 17A" for $200M. However, I bring up the story's title as a reminder of why terms like "the art world" are often too reductive to be useful. No doubt the Griffin/Geffen deal makes elite dealers sleep more soundly amid the anxiety festering in the market over the past few months. But as evidenced by a sarcastic tweet from Postmasters Gallery founder Magda Sawon, it has little to no impact––and possibly even a chilling effect––on sellers and artists living below the industry's misty mountaintops, since extreme wealth in the industry tends to stay lodged at the peaks rather than cascading down. [The New York Times]
And finally, Cait Munro reported on the seven artists selected for the first-ever Container Artist Residency, which grants each winner an expenses-paid sea journey of their choice, studio and living space aboard the necessary ships en route, related production funding, and an honorarium. While it sounds like a compelling and legitimate package, my real interest here lies in the fact that we've now moved beyond a stage where the only brands chasing the cool through fine-art partnerships were fashion houses, luxury carmakers, and liquor companies. The Container residency is sponsored by ZIM Integrated Shipping Services, a nautical cargo carrier––AKA a member of about the least sexy industry in the world outside of medical-waste disposal and meatpacking. Here's hoping that 21st-century artists can leverage this new explosion of corporate-funded opportunities without being demonized as "sell-outs" simply for cashing an unorthodox check in exchange for their work. After all, contrary to the Romantic misconception, career-long poverty prevents or destroys more great art than it creates. [artnet News]
That's all for this edition. Til next time, keep fearlessly pushing ahead.