29 October 2015 § Leave a comment
Editions are not our favourite form of art. There is the criticism – usually justified – that they are an easy way to maximise profit for both artist and dealer whilst at the same time keeping as many collectors as possible moderately happy.
Rather like Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst has made rather more of a virtue of repetition, a large part of his art involving multiplication even where the work is unique. After all there are of course his spot paintings – an endless repeating mantra of coloured spots, numerous repeated spin paintings, shelves and shelves of pharmecuticals and pills, diamonds by the score, butterflies by the thousand, and even breeding flies.
Yet even with this background, another batch of editioned works does not somehow seem to be an overt case of profiteering. Rather more it is another Hirst statement about the art world and reflects his methodology.
The latest exhibition at Paul Stolper reverts to his fascination with the pharmaceutical industry. Like being cast in to a miniature Alice in Wonderland world of giant ‘Drink me’ potions the gallery features shelves of giant pills, medicine bottles, pharmaceutical boxes, ampoules, syringes, a scalpel, and drug packaging that all play with concepts of scale – the tallest measuring nearly one and a half metres.
“Pills are a brilliant little form, better than any minimalist art. They’re all designed to make you buy them… they come out of flowers, plants, things from the ground, and they make you feel good, you know, to just have a pill, to feel beauty” Hirst says.
A three metre neon sign reading ‘Schizophrenogenesis’, each letter in a different colour, lights the space. Both a warning sign and a beacon, the work entices us into the gallery, where we are confronted by ‘The Cure’; a wall of thirty silkscreen prints, each depicting a two-colour pill set against vibrant backgrounds of pop-candy colours.
This is a playground of pharmaceuticals which further Hirst’s enduring exploration of contemporary belief systems; religion, love, art and medicine. The manipulation of scale, is just one of the techniques employed by the artist to analyse the confident aesthetic of the pharmaceutical industry.
It is all rather clever and it is immensely hard not to succumb to the temptation to touch these beautifully fabricated and highly seductive objects. With prices starting in the low thousands the prices are similarly tempting.
Hirst is an easy target but once again he has his finger on the pulse and even on cruise control has created another excellent body of work.
For more information visit the Paul Stolper Gallery
12 October 2010 § Leave a comment
This October, in what is undoubtedly the most important week in the London Contemporary Art calendar, Christie’s is taking advantage of the international interest generated by Frieze to create their own ‘Fair’ – Multiplied – showcasing Contemporary Art in Editions. Around forty dealers ranging from major dealers like White Cube down to relative tiddlers like Black Rat Projects are taking advantage of the relatively low-cost stand space to sell low to moderate-priced works that appeal to new collectors. The works will include not only prints but, for example, editioned photographs and sculptures and will reportedly start at a just a few pounds with the aim of tempting new clients in to the world of buying art.
Over thirty London galleries have temporarily dropped their objection to Christie’s muscling-in on to what is traditionally dealer territory. Christies tell us that “Multiplied will be the perfect place to scope out the vibrant contemporary editions scene, featuring young, emerging talent alongside eminent contemporary artists. With prices from £50 to £10,000, and editions in all shapes and sizes, from prints and photographs, to artist’s books and 3-D multiples, you may just spot ‘the next big thing’. An initiative of the Christie’s Prints and Contemporary departments, Multiplied aims to support contemporary publishing by providing a much needed platform to exhibit editions during this significant week; and to nurture a wider appreciation of editions amongst the art buying public.’
Multiplied is not the only effort the auction houses are using to move away from traditional auctions. Phillips de Pury are co-operating with Saatchi at his Chelsea gallery and feature selling exhibition of works in the top floor gallery – their latest is Korean Eye. Sotheby’s in New York is holding the exhibition Divine Comedy – around eighty widely varied works ranging from Cattelan to Brueghel, some for sale.
In recent years of course the two main auction houses have ventured in to dealership – Christies has bought Haunch of Venison, while Sotheby’s choice was the Old Master dealer Robert Noortman. But there is more – New York Sotheby’s opened a wine retailer in New York and also offers retail diamonds and jewellery in New York, Hong Kong and London. What next – groceries and insurance!?
Exhibition Viewing Times:
15-18 October 2010, 10am-5pm
- Art market news for Frieze week (telegraph.co.uk)
- Inside Art: ‘Divine Comedy’ Exhibition At Sotheby’s (huffingtonpost.com)
- UK’s Frieze fair puts art market recovery to test (reuters.com)
- Frieze Art Fair 2010: Get ready for British art’s biggest week (independent.co.uk)
26 July 2010 § 1 Comment
With the recent opening of the fascinating – if often incomplete –exhibition at the National Gallery in London entitled Close Examination; Fakes, Mistakes and Discoveries, it seems like a good idea to run through some key points to consider when buying, collecting or investing in art.
Please note that these are however just a few of the main guiding ‘rules’. Although all are brief many could be expanded to fill a book, for every rule listed there is another that could be added and for each unbreakable ‘law’ there will be many notable exceptions. Please use as basic guidance and in future I will expand and expound.
1. Specialise. Find something you really like and try and find out all you know about it. Be your own ‘expert’ – enjoy researching and discovering all you can about the artist and their work.
2. Buy art you like. Better still, that you are passionate about. Don’t be tempted with something you don’t like but think is cheap or a good investment. A recipe for disaster!
3. Buy trademark works. Stick to the artists key styles, types of work. If an artists is famous for street scenes, don’t buy a nude. If his oils are world-renowned, don’t buy a watercolour. Fancy a Warhol gouache? I thought not.
3. Buy quality. Never buy second best. Even in a poor market the best will always resell – there will always be a collector who wants the best. It will keep its value better, and increase more than anything inferior. Cheap works are a false economy.
4. Use an expert & build a relationship. Would you buy a car off a kerbside trader? Yes? Then don’t invest in art! Use a consultant or stick to a gallery (or two) that you really trust. Find a specialist in your preferred style. Collections formed using the expertise of dealers, experts and consultants are always the best – look at any great collection of any visual arts or antiques and they are all done with a long-term relationship with an expert.
5. Be patient. The right works will not come along just like that. You may have to wait, build contacts, persuade, wheedle and charm. It is not always easy to get what you want!
6. Avoid editions. Unless you are using an expert try to avoid them. Not only are editions a minefield of over-priced and over hyped work – from Salvador Dali to Thomas Kinkade – but fakes abound. If you want something that will appreciate in value it is tougher when there may anything from 5 to 5,000 of them to appreciate – and that is just your particular edition. ‘Limited’ is hardly the way to describe them! ‘Signed’ – well, I should damn well hope so! Generally why not stick to unique works or, if you have to, very small editions.
7. Provenance. A difficult one. Provenance authenticates the work and can increase the value if it shows that it has been in important collections, with well-respected owners or featured in important auctions. Unfortunately much is faked. Ideally see original sales/auction receipts, gallery stickers, get the view of a recognised expert. Never buy without provenance and beware ‘Certificates of Authenticity’, most of which are not worth the paper they are written on.
8. Market hype. If everyone is talking about an artist and they are splashed around the papers, then you have probably missed the point to invest. If you have a work – it is the time to sell!
9. Watch trends. If, for example, India and Brazil are on everyone’s lips think very carefully about buying a Canadian artist (actually unless you live in Canada always think carefully about it!). If conceptual art is fashionable should you be buying a realist painting? Even if realism or Canadian artists start to get more recognition, your works were probably not significant when made and may never ‘catch up’ or be ‘relevant’.
10. Condition. Buy in the very best condition, and keep it like that! Display and store the work properly – and of course insure it.
There is so much more to say – but for more you will have to wait – other than for this one golden tip (do I really need to say it?) DON’T buy on Ebay!
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