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Archive for July, 2008

29th Jul 2008

ArtHamptons – Seeing, Meeting and How I Came to Write for artnet.com

The second installment of a two part article.

The first ArtHamptons housed 55 booths in its four modular structures on the grounds of the Bridgehampton Historical Society, from July 10 through July 13, 2008. The galleries at the fair featured late 19th, 20th and 21st Century museum quality art. According to Executive Director Rick Friedman, over $100 million dollars worth of art was available and over $25 million dollars of art was sold through the fair thus far.

The great array of good to great art shown at ArtHamptons made culling the mentions down into one article difficult. When I attend an art fair I prefer to return on a second day, or at least go somewhere away from the booths and take a break. Then the works that stand out in my memory are ones I mention. So after seeing everything, with my mind overflowing glorious images of art, I left to ponder. ArtHamptons Entrance

The next day, my first stop was at the booth of the Mark Borghi Gallery, which has a branch in Bridgehampton. Thus, I am familiar with the fact that they show and sell museum quality art. Although the booth had work by Hamptons artists, a stunning sculpture by John Chamberlain (who lives and works in Shelter Island), and a De Kooning, what had captured my interest was a somewhat atypical but charming work by Chagall of a lady in a sprightly decorated dress. I revisited that work again and again. I would have asked to include the image here, but it was so finely detailed that a small image here would not have fairly shown the work.

Another stunning work that I had to pass showing here as a small image could not do it justice was a large (77 ¾ x 77 inches) work by Jim Dine, entitled Black Robe found at the Verve Gallery. During the fair and then afterwards I enjoyed meeting and conversing with Gregg Sheinbaum, who I look forward to seeing again at a fair or when I am in Fort Lauderdale where the gallery is located.

I am a great fan of Andy Warhol, who is sort of a Hamptons artist as he had a second home in Montauk. Although his work was plentiful, especially many of his iconic silk-screens. Warhol’s works never fail to delight me. My claim that his work has greatly influenced mine is difficult to see from my own initial Genesis: Sunset-Sunrise series but as I move into the Essence series, it will become clearer. So, hearty thanks for the showing wonderful Warhol’s especially to Accorsi Arts, the Contessa Gallery, DJT Fine Art and Gary Bruder Fine Art .

William Meek of the esteemed Harmon-Meek Gallery graciously sent and allowed me to use my favorite image at the fair by Will Barnet, which you can find in last week’s Part 1 of this article and in the newsletter.

One of my intentions prior to attending the fair was to see the booth of the Jerald Melberg Gallery. I had seen ads for the gallery in various art magazines, and from the quality of the art and artists represented was curious about this gallery located in Charlotte , North Carolina. I enjoyed meeting Jerald Melberg and remain impressed by the works at his gallery.

Upon entering the main pavilion to the right was the Mark Borghi Gallery and to the left John Szoke Editions. Here, I especially appreciated works by Louise Bourgeois and Julian Opie plus two very different kinds of works by Chuck Close. Inside the booth were holograms portraits by and of Chuck Close that were fascinating, but what impressed me the most was just outside the booth, a limited edition print that freely used many different colored small lines to create a self portrait. I appreciate that John Szoke kindly took the time to answer my questions about the Opie and the hologram works as the processes were new to me.

ArtHamptons had a dazzling of special fund raising events. It kicked of with a preview and special presentation to Will Barnet of the first ever Hampton ‘s Lifetime Achievement in the Arts. The admission for each day was donated to a different local charity, plus there were auctions and benefit events that raised additional funds for local charities. Other events included book signings and readings.

Of special note were the panels and lectures. Helen A Harrison, director of the Pollack-Krasner House, moderated A Passion for Collecting — Hamptons Collectors on Collecting, with panel members Ron Delsner, Henry Buhl, Larry Dubin and Michael Zenft. Christina Strassfield, curator of Guild Hall spoke on the Importance of Larry Rivers, Prelude to the Guild Hall Show. Successful Art Collecting:Insider Tips on Choice, Strategy and Value, presented by Ray Waterhouse, Chairman of Fine Art Brokers, London, Paris and New York.

The panel , Why You Can’t Live Without Art? was moderated by artist Audrey Flack, (her statue Civitas was situated near the fair’s entrance) included panelists Klaus Kertess (curator and writer), April Gornik (artist), and David Brigham (Director, Pennsylvania Academy of Art). Most artists are collectors and in addition to art and stuff, I collect ideas and meaningful quotes. Here are two from this panel:
L to R: Klaus Kertess, April Gornik, Audrey Flack and David Brigham

Art is the purest expression of the mind’s ability to make a metaphor.” – Klaus Kertess

“The artist proffers onto the viewer an experience unto which they [the viewer] can project” – April Gornik

Another panel, Using the Internet to Build Your Collection , had my attention from the get-go since as an artist I am using the Internet to make my artwork and the Post Conceptual Art theory I am founding known. This panel was moderated by Miriam Tucker, Partner, Rago Arts+Auctions Center and Bill Fine, President, artnet.com Worldwide. Various auction and database sites were mentioned, including the comprehensive one on artnet.com, where collectors can find and research works of art. Since I have already written various articles aimed at the emerging collector, I was busy taking notes for a future blog and article.

At least several times a week, I use artnet.com, which over the past few years I have found to be an amazing resource for information on the art world. Although Bill Fine had an excellent presentation some of the resources I use were barely mentioned as the panel’s focus was on the online auctions, market trends information and price data base. At the end of the discussion, when the panel asked for questions, I raised my hand and requested that Bill mention the other resources, which I specifically mentioned. He replied he would prefer if I did it, so I took the microphone, turned to face the audience and enthusiastically but quickly told about the excellent online Magazine and articles (some of the best art writers write for artnet.com), the information available under the tabs for Artists and also the one for Galleries.

A few minutes later, after the panel ended, I mentioned to Bill Fine that although I would be mentioning the panel in my upcoming blog on ArtHamptons, I would be using the material in another article specifically aimed at collectors and would send him a link then. If I am going to mention of quote someone, I often tell them, but almost always email a link as a courtesy.

Bill turned to me and asked if I was really covering the fair and if I would like to write about it for the artnet.com newsletter. I would and it did! (Of course, I did assure him that I really do cover fairs and have been a professional entertainment journalist and editor, and did sent links and other substantiating information.) Here is the link to that article: artnet.com July Newsletter.

Since the original idea was to dealt with the ArtHamptons fair and art in the Hamptons, I hurried away to find Gavin Spanierman, at his booth as the Spanierman Gallery in East Hampton includes works by both Contemporary and Modern artists. Commenting on the fair, Gavin spoke of the excellent job by Rick Friedman and his staff. [Read more of Gavin’s comments in the artnet.com newsletter.]

The overwhelming and volunteered approval of the management of the fair first mentioned by Gavin continued strongly and unanimously throughout the next week as I contacted many galleries in relation to the artnet.com article. From that first comment and throughout the contacts to many of the galleries at the fair that then ensued through the following week on behalf on the artnet.com newsletter article. Although I never asked if any gallery would return the following year, most offered they would be back next year. Every gallery I spoke to during the following week had made at least one sale that was finalized or in the works.

Peter Marcelle, and I had agreed to mention his volunteer activities for our local artistic community, especially by giving talks on the art world and curating shows for the East End Arts Council. What I learned from Peter in those informal talks has been invaluable for me, and impacted my art and understanding of the commerce of the art world. I told Peter that I was going to write that he is a mensche. However, as the week developed and sales figures for his booth Hamptons Road Gallery/Peter Marcelle Contemporary came in, Peter had to be mentioned for his impressive sales record at the fair. Although I only give good mentions, which means I only mention good people, I am especially happy for the opportunity to write about Peter’s success for the newsletter and his contributions to the local art community in my blog article.

Months ago, when I learned of ArtHamptons (ironically through a link at artnet.com to a small banner ad), and I saw the roster on then signed galleries, I thought that having a cornucopia of museum quality art residing in the Hamptons seemed like a wonderful addition to my own birthday weekend. The opportunity to write for Bill Fine and artnet.com is the scrumptious birthday cake with ice cream (with no calories or fat!).

ArtHamptons was a resounding success for the galleries and the Hamptons community. Mark Borghi elegantly summed up the Hamptons art scene and this fair, declaring them as, “A vibrant market!”

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments 3 Comments »

18th Jul 2008

ArtHamptons – Beginnings

This is the first part of a two part blog

The first ever ArtHamptons fair took place in Bridgehampton from July 11 to 13, 2008, bringing a slew of girlhood memories home to me.

It I grew up in New York City during the school year and in Southampton during summers, where except for my own drawing and then painting and visits to shows at the Parrish Art museum, there no art experience. Of course, I knew about the famous artists of the Hamptons, but I saw their work in the City, not in the Hamptons.

ArtHamptons began with a gala preview and a tribute presentation of the first Hampton’s Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts to Will Barnet.

Will Barnet

The Purple Robe

I suppose this began my reminiscing as Mr Barnet, as I call him, was one of my teachers at the Art Students League. He is the only art teacher after Mr. Betram Katz, who actually had any impact upon me and my work. I still have a canvas or two from his classes.Will Barnet certainly expanded my understanding of how to paint with oils and gave me more classical training. What I really appreciated was his love of art and willingness to allow his students to take risks and explore. He saw that I was struggling to find my own unique way of contributing through art and he had the grace to give the additional permission I needed to continue the struggle, even though it was obvious to both of us that I was far from any resolution.

Usually I take a walk through any entire fair I attend, not really stopping anywhere, just to get a feel for the booths and what is being shown, but as I entered the main building I was immediately drawn into the Hisrchl and Adler Modern booth that had a good display of Fairfield Porter’s work that I thoroughly enjoyed.

By the time I was studying art at the Art Student’s League Fairfield Porter, who lived and painted in Southampton was well known. Larry Rivers was in Southampton too, and my dream was to also work as an artist and live in Southampton – a dream I am now fulfilling.

I have known the original Hirschl and Adler Gallery on the Upper East Side of Manhattan since I was in seventh grade since the year when I began to attend Hunter College High School at 68th Sreet and Lexington Ave. My Dad escorted me for the first two days from our home in the 90’s on the West Side. Then I was judged competent to make the trip on my own and given a bus pass that was good for unlimited rides weekdays. Pure freedom.

I continued by quick walk through journey through ArtHamptons but before I got very far, I was in front of the booth of the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc. One of the two galleries that was important to me and my art training beginning with that original bus pass.

It took less than a week for me to discover that the bus pass allowed me to go to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. My admission was free since I was a student. I could wander the Met freely until it was time to head home due to my 5:30 pm curfew.

This was before the avenues became one way, so on Fifth Avenue, Madison, Lexington and Third Avenues the buses ran both north and south. I began to experiment with different routes as the amazing bus pass worked on all buses. As I rode along Madison, heading to the Met, I noticed the art galleries. By the beginning of the second week I began my plan of visiting a few galleries on the way to the Met every day. I had little understanding about galleries, which I thought of as mini-museums. If I saw art in the window I went inside to check it out.

That is how I discovered the Wally Findlay Gallery. I remember it as if it just happened; only now I see the memory through the understandings of an adult. It was a warm fall afternoon. I had already been to two galleries new to me one was really just a frame shop and the other did not have work that interested me, but I would go back to check it out again.

I was a gawky, young for my just turned twelve years, wearing a ridiculous pair of light blue cat’s eyes eyeglasses with dumb little rhinestones that my mother insisted on, but I was tall if only I would stand up straight. However, as I entered the gallery I was hunched over partially in perpetual embarrassment over by newly enlarging breasts, plus I was loaded down with heavy text books, a large loose leaf binder, other supplies and a large purse.

A man with a stern but cultured air was speaking with a well dressed lady. He looked up as I walked in, and I looked at him the same way I would a tour guide. I no prior experience with galleries, which I figured to be some kind of mini museums if they were not frame shops. This gallery had Impressionist paintings, which I liked, including some by artists I recognized. The man began to speak about a painting to the lady, mush like a tour guide, so I came up behind them to listen.

The man turned around, glaring at me, but politely asked, “What do you want?”

“To hear what you’re saying about the art,” I said, still thinking he was a kid of tour guide like those who dealt with groups of students on school visits.

“Well, we’re having a private conversation.”

I apologized and shuffled over to the other side of the gallery, which was a basically one large front room, with private rooms in the rear. They continued to speak, moving into a private room and I continued to look at the art. I had worked my way halfway through the gallery when the woman departed.

The man spoke to me again, “Can I help you?” It was obvious he was not thrilled with my presence. However, I knew gruff guards at the Met who were not sure about me roaming around without someone to watch me that I did not touch or treat the art inappropriately. I was easily winning them over with my smile and very good and reverent behavior.

So I smiled and said, “No thank you, I’m fine. How are you?”

I a not sure if he answered, but I knew he was not pleased with my presence. However, having no idea that such a gallery was not a museum I continued to be polite and returned to my business of looking at the art.

The next time I entered the gallery, a couple of weeks later, I was glad that the man was busy with other people, who were always well dressed adults. It seemed strange to me that the art had changed and there were new paintings hung now as that did not happen in the Met’s basic rooms, and these were the days before Thomas Hoving began the blockbuster shows.

Jean Dufy

Jean Dufy

Venise vers la Place St. Marc, 1945

I continued to frequent the Wally Findlay Gallery on a bi-weekly basis. Sometime in November I came into the gallery on a cold and rainy day, when no one but the man was there, probably since the weather was so dreadful. By now, he knew that I was a respectful girl with a genuine interest in art. Even though I was unable to get any of my friends to join me on my rounds to the galleries and visits to the Met, it never dawned on me that my avid interest was unusual. Possibly, as I was too busy looking at the art or because it seemed so important to me.

This day the man came and stood beside me and kindly spoke to me asking me my opinion of the painting we were looking at. Of course, I liked it, but showed him another in the gallery I liked better, I think it was a Cezanne.

As I recall it now I understand that he was playfully teasing me, but his question and reply surprised me as much as mine did him. “Would you like to own it?” he asked.

When he told me the price I was startled, and relied,”You mean it’s for sale?! People can buy it?”

I never made it to the Met that day. Mr. Findley explained to me what a gallery was we began what was my first education about art that was not self taught. When he was no busy with people he would discuss the recent art he had acquired.

Until that day I had absolutely no one in my life, not even teachers to speak to about art and ask questions, although my Dad would go to the museums with me and enjoyed seeing art.

Wally Findley truly loved the paintings and was full of information about the artists. When no collectors were in the gallery, he would invite me into his office and give me cookies and he would show me the art in his office, which was often the best he had. Sometimes, if he was with collectors he would ask me to wait. Once they left he would proudly show me a new work and ask for my opinion. He never let me off the hook about my opinion as we would discuss a painting’s merits, its colors and perspective, the scene, etc. He knew I was regularly visiting the Met, too.

I especially recall waiting for people to leave and having him usher me into his office where he proudly introduced me to Jean Dufy. I have always been fascinated with brush strokes and Dufy’s strokes were a revelation to me, free like van Gogh’s but playful. It took me a while to warm up to the idea that Dufy did not fill his canvas with strokes. To a degree his influence can be seen in my own initial Essence portraits, but as I move into that series and others the freedom I learned from Wally Findlay via the Dufy’s will become more apparent.

Although Mr. Findlay knew I liked to draw, at that time my schools so far did not have art classes of any kind and the only classes I had outside of school were more about making crafts. He asked to see a drawing so I brought him one and he looked pleased. However, what Mr. Findlay was teaching me was how to look at art, and some of the history of Modern Art. He was my dear adopted art uncle.

It never dawned on me to tell anyone about this perfectly innocent relationship, which was really one of teacher and student so as a schoolgirl it seemed fitting to me. The relationship was casual, I dropped in when I dropped in, which became slightly less when I switched to the more distant High School of Music and Art. Even then, our teachers focused on museums, never discussing galleries, so again it never came up. During all of this time I had no idea that the Wally Findlay Gallery was an important gallery, or even that one gallery could be more significant than another in the art world.

I moved on in life, marrying and moving to Los Angeles, raising children and having careers other than as an artist, as I did not feel that I had anything new to add or say as an artist until a few years ago. That is when I began to recall the six school years from seventh through twelfth grade when I spent so much time during afternoons and weekends in the great museums and galleries of New York. I saw an advertisement in the New York Times for the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc., which is on 57th Street now, recognized the name and my relationship with Mr. Findlay came flooding back to me. A brief bit of Internet research showed that the gallery had indeed been located on Madison Avenue where I remembered it. Last winter I stopped in reminisced and enjoyed the art.

ArtHamptons brought to the Hamptons what had always seemed almost unimaginable to me when I was a teenager enjoying summers in the Hamptons. Although I was busy riding my bike, swimming and painting and drawing on my own but missing the museums and galleries and art classes I enjoyed back in the city. Although the Hamptons now has good Modern and Contemporary galleries and the museums, especially the Parrish and Guild Hall, bringing Hirschl and Adler, Will Barnet and the Wally Findlay Gallery under one roof was a bit like bringing my artistic girlhood to the Hamptons.

So, as I rounded the corner at ArtHamptons and discovered the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc., including Impressionist paintings and Dufy, I knew that for me personally this ArtHampton is an especially wonderful event. I had no idea how very special.

Thanks to Stephanie Borynack, V.P.. International Director and Patricia Attoe, Assistant to the Director of the Wally Findlay Galleries International, Inc., for the use of the Jean Dufy image. Thanks to William Meek of the Harmon-Meek Gallery for the use of the Will Barnet image.

[Note 07/24/08 : My newsletter article for artnet.com on ArtHamptons went live midweek, so I am postponing uploading the next installment to this blog for a few days. It will be more on ArtHamptons, and how I came to write for art.netcom. Here is the link to the newsletter article July artnet.com newsletter]

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments 1 Comment »

10th Jul 2008

Acoustics Findings Point to Added Significance of Ancient Cave Paintings

Researcher Iegor Reznikoff, a specialist in ancient music at the University of Paris X in Nanterre has discovered a connection between ancient cave paintings and acoustics. In the caves with ancient art the most acoustically resonant places — where sounds linger or reverberate the most — were often the places where the pictures were densest.

The study included various caves in at least ten locations. Wherever there were drawings of horses, bison, and mammoths, the acoustics in the cave best served to amplify and even transform the sounds of human voices and musical instruments such as bone flutes, have been found in decorated caves.

For me, as an artist founding the Post Conceptual UnGraven Image theory of art that can be considered simultaneously both secular and religious, Reznikoff’s discovery of the acoustical significance of the specific caves where the prominent art is located is riveting information. This discovery opens many possibilities, even probabilities about the art found in the caves of Europe, especially France and including Lascaux. Are the paintings symbolic representations of ancient mythologies? Are the strange geometric symbols a kind of notation and writing? Were the shaman-artists the leaders of the tribes?

Like many discoveries, this one was somewhat accidental. Reznikoff first noticed the strategic placement of cave art while visiting Le Portel, a Paleolithic cave in France, in 1983. As an expert in the acoustics of 11th- and 12th-century European churches, Reznikoff often hums to himself when entering a room for the first time so he can “feel its sounds.” His humming quickly pointed to the exceptional acoustical properties of the cave. Research has followed and Reznikoff will present his latest findings this week at the annual meeting of the Acoustics Society of America in Paris.

An article in the National Geographic News cites Paul Pettitt, who is a Paleolithic rock art expert at the University of Sheffield in the U.K. According to Pettitt, who was not involved in the study, “In a number of decorated caves the images cluster in certain areas,” Pettitt said. “They are not randomly distributed but seem deliberately placed, with areas of perfectly ‘paintable’ walls ignored, and in a number of cases the paintings cluster in areas of resonance.”

When the most-resonant spot in a cave was located in a very narrow passageway too difficult for painting, red marks are often found, as if the resonance maximum had to be signified in some way. This correlation of paintings and music, Reznikoff says, provides “the best evidence for the ritualistic meanings of the paintings and of the use of the adorned caves.”

I agree with Reznikoff that some kind of ritualistic event(s) seems to have been taking place in the caves. Clearly the better acoustics and instruments found nearby point to music. For all of humankind, from primitive or aboriginal tribes to the most sophisticated churches, temples and Mosques, spiritual ritual that involves music almost always involves chanting or singing.

Ritual music also involves organizing a group. While there may be spontaneous moments, there is much to be organized and learned.

The ability of a group, or groups (as there are many caves) of people in locating the best acoustical places within caves indicates a sophistication that would also allow for a passing down of important data from generation to generation. Ritual singing indicates the ability to learn and memorize information and symbols as notes are aural symbols. If a person can learn and use a sophisticated sound symbol, such as a tune or chant, then they can use equally sophisticated visual symbol.

Unlike the work of a lone artists or shaman-artists who found their way into various caves and painted their visions, much the way an artist like Fra Angelico painted in the cells of his monastery. No, these cave paintings were the concerted effort of a group of people possibly an entire tribe, who worked together to locate the best acoustical caves within a complex. This was more like the work Italian Renaissance masters creating commissioned works for the great churches. They had assistants and they were paid (supported) as they worked.

Reznikoff’s findings point to an ongoing use of the caves, rather than a spontaneous artistic painting or musical concert. Just as it does today, a cooperative group effort occurs when that group shares a purpose along with goals that support it. It seems likely, at least to me, that those cave painters were illustrating their spiritual theologies. This would explain why there are paintings of animals that we think were not hunted or rarely seen. Plus, it would explain some of the strange, but common deliberate abstraction and proportional mistakes. What if the animals depicted were symbolic representations of the gods of the Upper Paleolithic peoples?

The mythology of other ancient and primitive peoples often uses animals, or invented beings with combinations of animal characteristics to represent their gods. Using a visual image to represent something is one step away from writing. The earliest writing, such as cuneiform and hieroglyphics used specific symbols to stand for concepts and their combinations became specific words. Chinese and Japanese use a form of this today as the symbols create a kind of pictogram equaling specific words.

In the Origin of Humankind, noted fossil hunter Richard Leakey notes that in addition to depiction of the animals, the cave paintings also include dots, grids, chevrons, curves, zig zags, nestled curves, and rectangles. Are these symbols? Is this a very primitive and elementary form of writing concepts or numbers? Whatever it is, it seems to have meaning that a group of people understood, beyond the visionary work of an artist shaman.

It would have been possible just to find good acoustical spots, even outdoors, to make music and tell stories. The need to find the best acoustical caves in which to create the paintings points to the importance of the paintings to an entire group of people. They do not just “happen” to be there. Given the cold and wet weather outside of the caves at the time, painting in the caves indicates that the works were meant to be preserved. It is possible that these people painted outside the caves, at least at some point. How else would they know of the importance of preserving their works away from the elements?

A group effort that supported the work of an artist, an possibly artist assistants makes more sense to me than the notion of the lone artists working in dark caves. Having others help create torch light, find the materials and mix the paints and sticks or brushes makes the endeavors more feasible, especially considering the paint and supplies and torches and perhaps provisions, including water all hade to be carries into each painted cave.

As a group effort the painted caves point to a level of communal wealth for the tribe as there had to be ample food to supply the artists and possibly the musicians. Perhaps the chief artist was also the tribe’s shaman. The new discovery indicates appreciation and support for artistic talent. Another study also reported in Science Daily, indicates that most people can carry a tune. We know that most people cannot paint or draw at the level of the cave painters. Were these ancient painters in ritual leadership roles, or even leading the community?

“Why would the Paleolithic tribes choose preferably resonant locations for painting,” Reznikoff is reported as saying in the article, “if it were not for making sounds and singing in some kind of ritual celebrations related with the pictures?”

Suggested further reading on Reznikoff’s findings can be found at these links: Science Digest and Live Science and National Geographic News

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments 6 Comments »

04th Jul 2008

Finding and Collecting Good Emerging Art

Collecting art, especially the work of emerging artists can be a savvy investment – or like any investment it can be a somewhat costly mistake.

Somewhat, because if the collector enjoys the art and it enhances their home or place of business, even if the price for the artist’s works decreases, at least one has the art! If a stock, bond or other type of investment looses value all one has are the statements.

Jim Kramer hosts an entertaining and popular program and has written various books about how to invest in the stock market. Kramer stresses that an investor must do her homework on a weekly basis. The days when one bought a stock, especially a blue chip one and just held onto it are over. Investors buy and sell and trade, often daily.

Although collectors also do homework that involves learning about art and artists, the majority of art investments are held for years, possibly decades. This is especially true when collecting the work of an emerging artist as the artist’s career takes time to build. Of course the trick is to find an emerging artist whose work will become more valuable over time.

The Art Market, especially for Contemporary art currently outperforms the stocks, bonds and real estate markets, according to Michael Moses of the Mei Moses family of fine art indices at Beautiful Asset Advisors..

A few weeks ago Lyn Bishop posted a good basic article for new collectors on the blog called “Sharing Secrets”. I previously left a previous comment on Bishop’s blog post with condensed tips for new collectors. Instead of reiterating the information, I include this link: tips to beginning your art collection

We can look back over the history of modern art through living contemporary artists whose work is granted shows in top museums and galleries while the price for their works continues to rise at auction to find commonalities that seem to hold true for today.

Talent and determination are key shared factors. Successful artists, once they decide to be artists just do not give up. For his time, Vincent van Gogh became an artist later in his life, after several failed careers. However, once he began to paint, the fact that his work was not selling never deterred him. It wasn’t that failure was not an option – quitting was not an option. The same can be said for certainly every great artists, such as Rembrandt and Vermeer, but also others whose works continue to appreciate in value.

Passion indicates determination, not necessity. Many people appear to have passion but the true test of passion is the person’s determination to continue no matter what.

Although galleries and dealers that sell works by emerging artists tout degrees from good art schools, especially new MFAs, as it lends credibility to an artist whose resume is scant for achievements. The fact is that many people finish school in one discipline, but eventually have a career in another. I know people who used to be lawyers and doctors who switched careers to work in entertainment, open restaurants or other businesses, etc. Most people with MFAs in fine art are not full time artists, although many may be associated with art as teachers, designers, gallery owners, etc. A mountain of educational debt does not insure an artist, or anyone will continue down the career path they were trained for.

True, a truly determined artist will find a way to obtain artistic education, however this may not be an MFA.

The determined artists seem to have a driving need to communicate. Visually they have something that they are bent on communicating, it is their preferred “idea” to communicate, and frankly, if they were not creative artists we would think of them as obsessive. So without meaning it as a clinical diagnosis let’s look at the “obsessions” of some artists: van Gogh – Showing emotion through painting; Monet – showing the ever changing aspects of light through painting; Warhol- the de humanizing mechanical nature of our popular culture; Cindy Sherman – identity through roles; and the list could go on and on. It’s not about exploring or expressing one’ self, these determined artists have something that again and in many ways they are determined to communicate.

If you are familiar with the work of any of the great artists, especially Modern and Contemporary artists who could choose their subjects and paths, there is a demarcation point somewhere in their career when suddenly the artist becomes inspired with what becomes their “idea” and their style somewhat changes and then there is just no stopping them. Sometimes this artistic Aha! change involves a change on locale, as it did for Georgia O’Keeffe and Gauguin. Sometimes an artist develops a theoretical idea as Picasso and Braque did with cubism and Seurat with Pointillism.

The almost obsessive determination to communicate an idea seems to result in a unique style. Monet and Renoir, both Impressionists would often paint en plein air together yet their canvases are easily distinguished. Their messages, although enjoying the Impressionist understandings are different. Their styles are unique due to their unique visions.

The new collector who has been researching by attending the top notch galleries and fairs and museums, reading the art magazines and newspapers will be acquainted with the work of the contemporary and living artists whose works are in the biennials and special museum shows. In other words, the work of these artists is established.

Look for the up and coming artist whose work can be understood as a next step from the newest but established art. What is the next step to Pop, Minimalism, Conceptualism, or Neo-Expressionism? What is the next step from Chuck Close, Damian Hirst, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons or Lawrence Weiner? When you see the work of an emerging artist ask yourself, how is this a next step?

There is a delightful book, a kind of journal really by Michael Corbin entitled The Art Of Everyday Joe: A Collector’s Journal. It is a rather large paperback that is perfect summer reading with chapters that are short, lively and personal, a bit like reading someone’s diary. Corbin interweaves good information for the new collector with champagne taste but a beer budget into his entries.

Michael Corbin exclusively collects emerging artists, at least by my definition. I define an emerging artist as one who is not yet in the collections of major museums, or been in the Whitney Biennial, or whose prices for even a large piece, 6 foot by at least 4 feet are well under $100, 000. Personally, after reaching any of those milestones, one has emerged!

Corbin is much more of a collector than investor as he buys what he appreciates, without looking at the purchase as an investment and collects eclectically the works of many artists in many styles. There is one chapter where he is describing his problem of finding space, even storage space for the newest works that have just been delivered. As an artist, with an ever growing “collection” of completed paintings and prints, plus blank canvases and other materials, I laughed with appreciation.

To Recap:

  • 1. Do your homework and research (see Lyn Bishop’s blog)
  • 2.. Find passionate and determined artists with unique vision whose work takes the next step in the progression of art.
  • 3. Do not buy anything unless you personally like or appreciate it.
  • 4. With a nod to Michael K. Corbin, enjoy the adventure of collecting.

Posted by Posted by Judy Rey under Filed under Art Theory and Show Reviews Comments 2 Comments »