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Saturday, November 1, 2014

Big Art Biz

Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange) — Rothko
While paging through yesterday’s New York Times I came upon a Sotheby’s ad for an upcoming auction.
Property from the Collection of Mrs. Paul Mellon: Masterworks
10 November 2014 | 7:00 PM EST | New York
Sotheby’s will offer a curated selection of important fine art from the collection in a dedicated evening auction on 10 November. Ranging from 17th-century still lifes through to masterpieces of 20th century, the incredible breadth and depth of Mrs. Mellon’s fine art reveals her ultimate connoisseurship, and and approach to collecting across styles and genres that is increasingly rare.
Goodness me, though she doesn't seem to have been able to afford a first name of her own (hence the need to borrow her husband's, eh?) she had quite the fab collection of art!

Diebenkorn's Ocean Park #50 will bring an estimated $7,000,000 to $9.000,000.
Ocean Park #89 — Diebenkorn
Ocean Park #89, is expected to come in anywhere from $8,000,000 to 12,000,000.
Rothko's Untitled (Yellow, Orange, Yellow, Light Orange) is predicted to clear a cool $20,000,000 to $30,000,000.

Meanwhile, René Magritte’s L'autre son de Cloche expected to fetch a mere pittance of, estimated, $300,000 to $500,000.
Giacometti’s Chenets Aux Oiseaux (Blanc) is predicted to bring a paltry, estimated, $80,000 to $120,000. And the relative unknown yet still a damn good investment John Frederick Peto’s Still Life with Market Basket, Hat and Umbrella will pay off at between $80,000 and $120,000.

It is, possibly, for this reason alone that I’m a fan of conceptual art. Now anyway.
What is Conceptual Art? Sol Lewitt explains it thusly:
I will refer to the kind of art in which I am involved as conceptual art. In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work.  When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.
The idea, the concept, is the most important aspect of the piece. Previously, I'd always looked at this sort of stuff as the product of so many hours of drunk/stoned blatherings between art chums. You know, after the fifth excruciatingly dry Sapphire martini (straight up with jalapeño stuffed olives, thenkyou veddy much!) and a dooby or two, you and your mates come up with the monster brill idea to nail 100 chairs to a wall. This represents....em....uh...something deep! Or how about we make a pair of sunglasses for a cyclops! Awesome!

Ocean Park #50 — Diebenkorn
C’mon, haven’t we all been there? *cough* OK, mebbe just me and my friends?

Mind you, I’ve come to appreciate the beauty in a lot of installation types of conceptual art. Hamburg-based Turkish-born artist Sakir Gökçebag does some amusing, lyrical stuff with rolls of toilet paper, otherwise dull mens shoes and laces, belts and such.
Rune Guneriussen’s Rural Light Installations are weird and intriguing.
Andrea Mastrovito’s Butterfly Installations are odd and smile inspiring.

Meanwhile, Wade Kavanaugh and Stephen Nguyen’s giant paper installation strikes me as texturally interesting but otherwise *shrugs*.

Here’s the thing though, these pieces will never (OK, possibly never) be at Sotheby’s waiting for the one percenter mega rich to either pick up as a bold, insightful investment OR, later, cash in on that bold, insightful investment. Rooms full of precisely positioned paper butterflies, a forest full of glowing table lamps, a wall of toilet paper rolls don’t fit into one’s home quite as tidily as that Rothko (which’ll look simply darling above the sofa in the atrium) or the Diebenkorn (which I can just envision behind the Louis XV dining room set!).

What am I saying here/getting at?
  1. YES I’m envious as all thundering hell. I wish one of my paintings would sell for anywhere in the same ballpark as these masterworks! Christ on gessoed cotton duck — OF COURSE I do!
  2. I’ve enormous respect and appreciation for the artists whose visions go far beyond the four corners of a stretched canvas, past a room's walls and beyond a sculpture pedestal's dimensions. They're opening their minds wide and showing us fresh, wild realities. And those fresh, wild realities may not look good with the new sofa OR be a multi-million dollar investment bonanza. 
L'art pour l'art!
 Cai Guo-Qiang's installation of ninety-nine lifelike replicas of wolves running Head On into a glass wall is a visual allegory for the human condition. Cai Guo-Qiang's pack of wolves, relentlessly charging forward towards a sudden end, represents the will to heroically press on. It is at the same time both tragic and beautiful. (From teachartwiki)

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