Archive for February, 2009|Monthly archive page

Dispute Over 2 Auction Lots

In New York Times on February 27, 2009 at 5:27 pm

So much attention has been given to the success of the Yves Saint Laurent auction held by Christie’s in Paris at the beginning of the week that I thought I’d give attention to a darker side of the event (I’m normally a happy-go-lucky person, but I’ve been in a mood for the past few days and it’s being reflected in the types of articles that catch my interest).  Prior to the auction, there was a dispute between China and Christie’s.  China claimed that two of the items up for auction (bronze statues of animals) belonged to the Qing dynasty, were wrongfully removed from the country years ago, and should be returned at once.  Mr. Berge (the partner of Yves Saint Laurent) absolutely refused and was quoted saying, he would give the heads to China if Beijing would “observe human rights and give liberty to the Tibetan people and welcome the Dalai Lama.” 


The sale went on and the pieces brought in nearly $40 million alone.  Chinese groups tried desperately to sue in France in an effort to stop the auction.  The Chinese Foreign Ministry launched arguments that these relics of the most importance to preserve Chinese culture and heritage.  And yet… the auction went on.  The buyers were unknown (I wouldn’t be surprised if the buyers were Chinese) and the sale was a success for Berge.  In the meantime… we all can’t help but wonder what China’s response to this lack of acknowledgement of their requests will be.

This article was found in the New York Times – there is a lot more printed there about the Christie’s auction too.. all very worth reading.

Tehching Hsieh at the MoMA

In New York Times on February 20, 2009 at 6:22 pm

MoMA has been making news lately.  Today’s article is about a review written by Roberta Smith in the New York Times a couple days ago.  I have chosen to include this in my blog because I saw the exhibit that she reviewed and was especially interested and affected by it (before it made headlines).  I came across the exhibit by accident when I got lost on my way out of MoMA (which is actually a regular occurrence on my visits to that museum).  It’s a small exhibit and is the first of a series of exhibits that document famous performance art pieces that artists have executed in the past.  

The first exhibit by Tehching Hsieh featured photographs of his first year-long piece called Cage Piece where he locked himself into a cell (which he crafted) and refrained from doing anything for an entire year.  Once a day he was brought food and his waste bucket was cleaned out and for limited hours his loft (where the cage was located) was open to the public so they may view him in the cage.  

The entire exhibit was captivating.  The most interesting part of it was the main room filled with 365, 4×6″ black and white photographs of the artist (1 photo for each day he was in the cage).  Though the only thing that changed about Hsieh was the length of his hair, it was fascinating to walk from start to finish to look at the progression of a year’s time.  


The cage was also included in the exhibit.  It was lit in a way that projected the shadows of the bars onto the walls around the room – as a viewer, I felt like I was locked into a cell.  


The exhibit will be up until March, I believe (I could be wrong so check the MoMA site), and it is absolutely something worth checking out.

MoMA in the subway

In New York Times on February 16, 2009 at 5:06 pm


The Museum of Modern Art is launching a new ad campaign that is going to take over NY underground.  Yup, that’s right, the MoMA is filling subways with large scale images of their permanent collection in an effort to appeal to the NYC crowds.  It is one of the most ambitious ad campaigns that MoMA has ever launched.  The works appear as they would in the museum: wall labels and even audio recordings.

MoMA’s six-week ad campaign is intended to both attract people to the museuem (which I think it will) as well as encourage people to purchase memberships (which I’m not so sure about because it seems like people who purchase memberships might not necessarily be the people riding in the subway… ?  I could be wrong though).  It is an interesting ad campaign, and whether it works or not, atleast NYC gets one hell of a beautiful subway station for a month and a half!

“B of the Bang” to go Bye-Bye

In BBC on February 13, 2009 at 4:38 pm

What do you do when a $2 million work of art becomes so unsteady that there’s a possibility for it to fall apart and spear an innocent passerby?  Take it down 😦  

I just read an article on BBC about an incredibly statue in Manchester by Thomas Heatherwick is going to be put into storage because it has become unstable to the point of dangerous.  The sculpture (photographed below) was unveiled in 2005 and looks like a massive, steel, firework.  The problem with it is in the steel spikes – they might fall out!  The City Council has talked about a future rebuilding of the statue but odds of this happening (for now) are slim because the city refuses to spend more public money on the project.

It’s a real shame that this work didn’t last longer because it really is an incredible piece and it has become part of the Manchester community.  Apparently Heatherwick is distressed at the prospect of the work’s removal and suggests drawing a line under it prohibiting viewers to come within danger would be a better solution.  I don’t know though… that’s a pretty big liability for the city to take on.  I mean, would YOU stand near one of those massive, razor-sharp, metal spikes with the possibility to be speared?!?  


Art Beijing

In Uncategorized on February 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm

This was a very hopeful article:  it is about how an “Art Beijing” brand has been developed in order to finance struggling art galleries.  Since the downhill turn of the economy, Beijing galleries have really suffered.  In fact, the article says that the economic pressure is commonly referred to as an “economic tsunami” – WOW.  Because I have never experienced a tsunami, I can only pretend to understand the effects of one – because tsunami’s in Asia are much more common and the people are aware of their destruction, the fact that they’re using the comparison here is very significant to me.  I didn’t realize the situation was that difficult. 

Anyways, the funding system that Beijing has developed is very forward-pushing and I hope that it inspires other nations to take a similar step.  Galleries have been closing and/or combining forces in an effort to remain afloat and the money from Art Beijing will be used to promote Beijing galleries, plan exhibitions, and invite/encourage primary market collectors to consider their art for purchase.  

While it is sad to hear that the economic situation is so detrimental that initiatives like this must be put in place, it is also comforting to know that when things get fall into difficult financial situations, the arts still holds enough value as a cultural institution that organization will form to provide money in an effort to stimulate commerce.  


I have never been to China and am hoping somewhere down the line to have an opportunity to go see and experience this art scene that I have read so much about!

Dallas Art Fair

In Dallas News on February 6, 2009 at 5:25 pm


Hm… even in a time of economic crisis, though not to the degree that it has been in the past 20 years, art is prevailing!  The most recent evidence of its ability to continue forward is the establishment of a new art fair in Dallas.  The fair is set to begin on Friday and will last for three days.  Over 30 galleries have registered for booths and will feature post-war and contemporary art.  

Art fairs, in the US at least, are relatively new developments and have been growing in popularity over the past decade.  Big shows like Miami Art Basel and the Armory Show in NYC have grown exponentially and turned into the “it” events that anyone and everyone want to be associated and seen at.  I think that galleries are realizing that attending art fairs, though slightly pricey, is an excellent opportunity to reach out to new audiences in different regions of the country.  As well, buyers like art fairs because it provides them with the most access to galleries’ best art, with very very little work and effort on the part of the buyer (all they have to do is show up).  

In today’s economy, it’s hard to determine the success that the fair will achieve (in financial measures).  Will people be browsing?  Or buying?  The article in the Dallas News says that galleries are optimistic – whether they actually are though, is hard to tell (I mean, OF COURSE a dealer is going to say that… it would be bad press not to!).  I’m interested to see the outcome of this new fair.

Art Lawsuits ?!

In on February 6, 2009 at 2:11 am

Since it’s possible to sue people for ANYTHING these days, I was not surprised to come across an article about an art gallery being sued by clients claiming to have been sold non-authentic art that they believed to be real.  According to the article, “The art ‘was later found by experts to either be fake or have forged signatures, or to be heavily overpriced and misrepresented as bargains and investments.'” — WOW, making a fake signature, then marketing the work for an inflated price as the real thing, is A LOT of trouble to be going through…  I’m one of those people that’s constantly amazed by the amount of effort criminals invest into their craft.

Daumier, Les Gens de Justice


I have always wondered about things like this.  I wonder how often lawsuits around “fake art” arise.  I’m sure that art vendors take strides to make sure that what they’re selling is accurate (it seems like part of the job … as advocates of the arts it seems as though they would also advocate the purity of sales) but at the same time, I can imagine the business of selling fake art (that passes as real art) could be quite lucrative.  A friend of mine is taking an Art Law class at the Sotheby’s Institute of Art and told me that they discuss this issue a lot in class.  She mentioned that auction houses, especially, are concerned with ensuring an accurate and complete provenance for their works because of how public their sales are.  The odds of hearing about fake-art scandal at Sotheby’s (because of the sheer size of the institution) is more likely to make the front page of a newspapers than a scandal at an art gallery.  

Anyways, food for thought; as an arts advocate I’ll try to resist posting dark articles and happenings like this, but sometimes you gotta throw in the ugly with the good – the lesson in all of this is:  buyer’s beware!

Oh, also, I came across a great blog all about Art Law and it’s worth looking up if you’re interested in more information about this.  The URL is: