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Art Basel Miami 2018: Beginner’s Guides from All Over the Web

Happy Sunday, friends! I’m currently watching snow fall outside of my window (an unseasonably early snowfall for central Virginia) and wishing I had made the trek to Art Basel in Miami! 81 degree temperatures sound like heaven right now!

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I couldn’t make the trip but I’m living vicariously through the videos I’ve seen and articles I’ve read about the event. If you too couldn’t attend, here are some of my favorite Art Basel Miami guides for this year. Enjoy!

Here’s a basic guide for those new to Art Basel:

And here is an etiquette-specific guide for newbies:

A recent article by Vox provides a great written summary of what to expect from Art Basel Miami 2018. I sometimes find it helpful to have a written guide that I can compare with audio/video information and that I can scribble on to capture additional notes.

Do you have any Art Basel guides to share? Please feel free to post them in the comments below!

 

art · hollywood glamour

Celebrity Curators – Art’s Magic Bullet?

Happy Tuesday, beloveds! I’m enjoying these glimmers of summer that will be happening this week, as I’m still a bit resistant to the beginning of fall. I’ll get on board eventually, but for now, I’ll savor whatever warm weather I can get!

In the past, I did the Collector Conundrum series, where I considered different issues regarding the world of art collecting. This is a sort of addendum to that topic: not directly related to the conundrums discussed but a little something to consider. I recently read this article on Angela Bassett curating an art show for Band of Vices Gallery in Los Angeles, CA. I thought about the appeal of a major celebrity, personally selecting artwork that she found interesting, impactful, and meaningful. It occurred to me that the celebrity curator could be a magic bullet for some of what’s ailing the art world.

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Angela Bassett, actress and first-time art curator (photo courtesy of Instagram)

There will always be art collectors, enthusiasts, dealers, etc.,. However, the inclusion and integration of younger collectors has been challenge for some art institutions, especially in this age that emphasizes minimalism and location independence. With the prominent shift away from excess and a prioritization of living with less, art ownership is still prestigious but not as alluring to many young would-be collectors.

But the celebrity curator is a fascinating draw for museums and galleries: the collaboration can be good for the institutions as well as the celebrity. Institutions get a fresh vision from an individual that is probably very similar to many potential collectors (people that probably purchase art using their personal taste and amateur-to-intermediate level knowledge); celebrities get the chance to express themselves in a new way, meet new people that share their interests, and support cultural institutions in a substantial way.

Personally, I’m excited to see what other celebrity curators arise in the upcoming years. I’d also be interested to see how many galleries and museums see a rise in sales and visitors due to these celebrity-curated exhibits. This could be a great opportunity to leverage current tastes into museum and gallery success. I hope that these institutions explore and take advantage of celebrity curator opportunities in the future.

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5 Things That Will Transform the Art Market

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As part of my personal study of the art market, I like to see if I can predict trends and spot opportunities within this realm.

I identified 5 things that are poised to cause a complete shift in the art world as we know it. Continue reading to learn about what I suspect will completely transform the art market.

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Cryptocurrency – Cryptocurrency and blockchain technology will continue to be a factor in the art market. Both the legal and black markets will thrive due to the fact that cryptocurrency makes it easier to exchange value without dealing with traditionally recognized currency. Blockchain can be repurposed to assist with provenance research and the public nature of its design will continue to transform how art is traded and sold.

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The Push for Diversity in Museum Leadership and Galleries – After the Brooklyn Museum faced tremendous backlash over hiring a White curator for its African Art department, a spotlight was shone on the lack of diversity within the museum world. Since then, there have been numerous discussions over how the art world will rise to the occasion and foster a more diverse environment. Even the New York Times has asked questions about the ethnic makeup of the world of art dealing. Obviously, there is a lot of potential here and the museums and galleries that take the lead in this regard will position themselves to stay current and relevant in these ever-changing times.

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Elimination of Section 1031 Provisions – With the implementation of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act in 2017, Section 1031 of the tax code eliminated the loophole that allowed art investors to defer the realization of capital gains for an indefinite period of time. This has sent investors scrambling to devise a new tax strategy when it comes to the sale and later purchase of art. Fortunately, there are some preliminary measures that will offer an alternative to Section 1031, though it will take some creative accounting and subject matter mastery to execute properly. It’ll be exciting to see what other innovations come along that will benefit art investors.

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Virtual Art Galleries – In this increasingly digital world, it should be no surprise that the virtual art gallery will account for a healthy portion of art sales. Virtual galleries appeal to a previously unexplored group of patrons: this virtual space combines the collectors that want to enjoy art but are too busy to go browse a gallery in person with the art lovers that may have initially been intimidated by going to a gallery in person. The flexibility and ease of purchase will continue to appeal to many art enthusiasts, and I imagine that this form of art vending will continue to grow in popularity. A few of the most popular online art vendors can be found by clicking here.

Barack Obama  as painted by Kehinde Wiley; Michelle Obama as painted by Amy Sherald

Renewed Interest in Artists of Color – Artists of color are not unpopular but have largely been ignored or relegated to “supporting” roles in art museums and galleries. However, there has been a renewed interest in artists of color, especially since these artists have many influential fans and collectors. Barack and Michelle Obama both chose Black artist to create their official Presidential and First Lady portraits. High profile collectors are seeking to carve a space for these artists that will allow the artwork to shine in its own right. Pamela Joyner has graciously allowed her personal collection to be exhibited nationwide in the Solidary and Solitary exhibition. In a recent article on Artnet, Tina Knowles Lawson gives a tour of her art collection. Collectors aren’t the only ones bringing artists of color into the spotlight. Within the past 10 years, there have been more retrospectives featuring artists of color than ever before. A retrospective of Howardena Pindell’s work is slated to exhibit at Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and it’s already gathering lots of buzz.

 

Those are my predictions for the changes that will transform the art market. Do you have any predictions that you think may affect the art world as we know it? Let me know in the comments below: I’d love to hear your thoughts!

 

art · luxury

Art Collectors Conundrum: Unpredictability

In the Art Collectors Conundrum series, we continue to explore some of the topics of interest for inexperienced art collectors/appreciators or aspiring art world professionals. Instead of simply noting the issue at hand, we ponder some ways to mitigate some of the invisible barriers of the art world.

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(all photos by James Van Der Zee)

One of the biggest stumbling blocks on the road to art connoisseurship is unpredictability within the art market. Many would-be collectors are unnerved at the thought of investing significant amounts of money into art, only for that art to potentially never appreciate in value.

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Here’s the problem with that logic: it assumes that art is purely an investment, when, in fact, art, is a tangible item that can be enjoyed now while also possibly growing in monetary value in the future. Let’s face it: we choose to invest in different things all of the time. We invest in our homes, our cars, our personal appearance, our careers, and our families. Many of these things are depreciable assets (cars will lose value, we won’t look 22 forever). However, art is one of the few investments that can be potentially monetized at a future date, though you can enjoy it right now, while you own it.

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The key to weathering the unpredictability of the art resale market? Only purchase art that you completely enjoy NOW. As a new collector, there’s no need to speculate about how much the art will be worth in the future if you’re enjoying the art right now, as it hangs on your wall or stands in your living space (in the case of sculptures).

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There’s no concern over how a piece will appreciate if you’re “appreciating” the piece right now, as it holds space in your collection. Focus on purchasing the art that moves you, the art that lights you up or makes you stop and think. Only buy the art that invokes feelings in you. Then, no matter what the art is worth today or tomorrow, you will have enjoyed it and you will have gotten immeasurable value from it right NOW.

(all photos courtesy of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts digital exhibit, The Black Photographer’s Annual, Volume 1)

 

art · luxury

Art Collectors Conundrum: Culture Clash

As explained in previous posts, Art Collectors Conundrum explores the current issues surrounding art collecting. There are a lot of different issues that impact new collectors as they journey into the art world, and one of those big issues is the dissonance that exists between aesthetic indulgences and minimalist ideals.

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Betye Saar, Blow Top Blues, The Fire Next Time (1998)

The thing is, the culture of today’s wealthy – especially wealthy millenials – leans more toward minimalism and less toward acquisition of material goods. Any time spent on social media will confirm the “shift” from a culture of excess to one of spartan decorating practices. Many millenials favor the bare walls and monochrome decor that makes for clear, appealing Instagram photos. And, if they select art, the art often lacks the color, texture and excitement that used to be favored by collectors.

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Betye Saar, Indigo Mercy (1975)

In short, this cultural clash results in fewer “new” big spenders. Bloomberg wrote about the “new elite” and their artistic tastes. The article points out that location has much to do with the cultural difference, too: East Coast “new money” tends to buy art in the more traditional fashion, while West Coast “new money” isn’t as interested in purchasing pricey art “for arts’ sake”.

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Betye Saar, Twilight Awakening (1978)

The key to luring in these potential art investors isn’t as simple as one would think. The most important thing to remember about the new wealthy is that they are earning their fortunes much earlier than the wealthy of previous generations. They just aren’t as likely to be focused on art collecting if they are buying their first homes and starting families.

An interesting way to get the new wealthy interested in collecting could be an art loan program, which allows them to enjoy works for a fixed period of time and then they can purchase the work if they want, or turn it back over to the gallery to “try out” something different. It isn’t a perfect solution but it would provide them with some exposure to fine art and would help them hone in on their personal tastes and preferences.

Those are some of my thoughts on overcoming the dissonance between minimalist goals and owning art. What are your thoughts? Feel free to share your comments below!

(all art by Betye Saar and in the National Gallery of Arts collections)

art · luxury

Art Collector Conundrum: Insecurity

In this series about issues surrounding inexperienced art enthusiasts, I want to explore another problematic aspect of art collecting. Namely, many new collectors and aspiring art professionals have a great deal of insecurity when entering into the world of art.

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The Holy Family with Saints Francis and Anne and the Infant Saint John the Baptist by Peter Paul Rubens

Like many other prestigious and exclusive arenas, new entrants find themselves overwhelmed and, ultimately, insecure about their knowledge, their ability to find their niche, and their own personal tastes and judgment. How many of us can relate to being the neophyte with a differing opinion that is promptly “put in place” by the resident expert? The more elite the group, the more devastating these interactions can be to the novice.

The point of this discussion isn’t to blast the experts that offer a different perspective to newcomers. Every subject needs experts that are willing to share their knowledge and guide their predecessors. This guidance can help new entrants avoid making costly mistakes on their journeys.

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A Forest at Dawn with a Deer Hunt

This also isn’t a criticism of the new entrants that will ultimately need to grow their confidence in their own tastes and knowledge in the art arena. There’s something to be said for discerning when to take the advice of someone else and when to stick with your stance, however unpopular. There are many experts that had to go against the grain at different points in order to establish themselves.

Ultimately, this is a consideration of what can be done to reduce insecurity when entering the art world. Knowledge, on its own, isn’t enough. The art world is the intersection of business and aesthetic tastes. The business portion can be taught and modeled for new entrants. To some degree, even the aesthetic part of art collecting can be “taught”, via exposure to many works in different media, from different periods of time and movements, and from various countries and global regions.

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Venus and Adonis

So what does reduce insecurity? In a word, experience. The novices have to embrace the experiences that they must have, and they have to be ready to have MANY experiences outside of their comfort zones. Experience will teach a novice who to listen to and who to disregard; it will also help a novice learn when to listen to “gut nudges” and when those “nudges” are more fear-based (and generally inaccurate) than intuitive knowledge (which is usually spot-on).

To all of the newcomers to the art world: gain all of the experience that you can, remember that you BELONG wherever you’re going, and take comfort in the fact that you don’t have to know everything to be skilled, competent and worthy of your space in the art world.

(all art from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, photos from Archive.org and )

art · luxury

Art Collector Conundrum: Accessibility

As I learn more about the art world, I see, not only the beauty and complexity of it, but the problems surrounding it.

Here’s the thing: every industry is plagued with its own problems. As a result, the professionals within each industry are tasked with serving current needs as well as creatively attempting to solve existing and potential problems. This presents a bit of a conundrum for both the problem solvers (who are trying their best but may be limited in what they can do) and those awaiting a solution (that feel excluded and frustrated).

There are several big issues within the art industry, which I’ll attempt to explore over several posts. I’m no art expert, but I love the thought of toying around with solutions to existing issues, because, at the heart of it, I’m a problem solver.View of Children placing poppies on the grave stone of the Unknown soldier

(Courtesy of the War Museum in Ottawa)

One of the biggest issues I see within the art world is the issue of accessibility. Like many subjects and areas associated with the elite/wealthy/exclusive groups, there is no definitive path for entry. Those that want to make sense of this world are overwhelmed by the options but really don’t have any clear directions on how they can make art and the art world a part of their lives.

That’s both great and confusing.

The upside to lacking a defined path of “entry” is that the barriers aren’t clearly defined, either. If those desiring entry want to find a way “in”, they can probably ease in through many different paths and still eventually “arrive” at their desired destination. Let’s be clear: there are ALWAYS barriers in every realm. But these can often be navigated in unconventional ways so long as the person desiring entry is willing to explore the options available and be creative.

The confusing part is figuring out where to start. Unlike college or the corporate world, there is no simple, straightforward way to enter the world of art collecting/patronage.

This undefined path presents an amazing opportunity for art galleries, auction houses and museums. For the huge names in the art world, there may not be an urgent need to reach out to novice or aspiring collectors: after all, these entities aren’t hurting for sales! But for the entities that are interested in undertaking the challenge of opening the art world to a new kind of patron and clientele, there are several ways to accomplish this. The Guggenheim Museum is leading the way with their Young Collectors Council, a subgroup of museum membership that allows millenials and other inexperienced collectors under the age of 40 to have a more active role in museum acquisitions.

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Young visitor touring Metropolitan Museum of Art in 1969

Other museums, art galleries and auction houses can modify the structure pioneered by the Guggenheim and create their own Collectors Councils to help nurture and develop interest in the art world among those that are inexperienced. Setting aside two or three annual events to be organized by councils and offering mentoring opportunities from senior individuals involved in the organization would be great for collectors that are trying to find their way on the art scene.

Do you all think there are some other ways to increase accessibility in the art world? Let me know in the comments below!