Presentation by GEORGINA ADAM
TALKING GALLERIES is the first international meeting focused on gallerism and the art market. The main objective of Talking Galleries is to discuss the current issues that affect this particular sector in an open platform where professionals can share experiences and build new effective knowledge collectively. The present publication collects the contents and most prominent lessons after the first edition in 2011.
PARTICIPANTS Ann Demeester Boris Vervoordt Carles Guerra Carlos Duran Carlos Urroz Casey Kaplan Claes Nordenhake Eduardo Brandão Emilio Álvarez Estrella de Diego Georgina Adam Gregor Podnar Guillermo Romero Parra Helga de Alvear Janelle Reiring Luise Faurschou Noah Horowitz Paul Maenz Pierre Huber Ricardo Resende Robert Tornabell Silvia Dauder Soledad Lorenzo Victor Gisler
Table of Contents INTRODUCTION LluciĂ Homs
PRESENTATION Georgina Adam
PANELS The new role of the gallerist in the art market
Dealing with the economic crisis
The future of art fairs
The gallerist as a private collector
Internationalising the gallery 103 Emerging Markets: Focus on Brazil 123
introduction By Llucià Homs * Talking Galleries was born from the radically changing artistic panorama of the past years. Already in 2011, The Art Newspaper published an alerting article: “The Gallery system is structurally weak” 1. This weakness in the gallery sphere was in stark contrast with the art market situation at the time, as reflected in Clare McAndrew’s TEFAF report, The Global Art Market in 2010: •“The global market for art and antiques showed significant signs of recovery in 2010 following two years of decline (…) • The US continued to dominate the international market with a share of 34%. • The most significant development in recent years has been the phenomenal growth of the art market in China, which nearly doubled in value since 2009. • China became the world’s second largest art market in 2010, with a global share of 23%, overtaking the UK for the first time”. 2 The report highlighted some specific details: “In 2010, art and antique dealers accounted for 51% of the global market versus 49% for auctions” 3. And it concluded somewhat alarmingly: “Dealers have expanded the channels through which they sell works in recent years. Although 45% of dealer sales were still made through galleries, there is evidence that maintaining a traditional retail shop is in decline. On average, 30% of all dealers’ sales are now via art fairs, either local or overseas”. 4 In view of this situation there was an evident need to create 1. Burns, Charlotte. “Gallery system is structurally weak”. En: The Art Newspaper / London: Issue 226, July-August 2011. -- Issn: 0960-65562. 2. McAndrew, Clare. The global art market in 2010. Crisis and recovery. Maastricht: The European Fine Art Foundation (TEFAF), 2011, p. 15. ISBN 978-90-75375-14-5. 3. Ibid.: p. 21 4. Ibid.: p. 45
a platform that would encourage reflection and debate about gallerism at an international level. Besides encounters at art fairs and vernissages, there did not exist a space for professional interaction that would foster reflection on the current realities in the gallery scene, and how this scene is affected by the global shifts of the past years. Talking Galleries thus aims to be the THINK TANK on gallerism, a space where current themes are brought into the open, that is diversified and participatory, dealing with topics that affect collectors, curators, artists, economists, directors of art institutions... Different points of view that complement and create the value of art and influence artists’ positioning withing the sphere. The present publication collects the contents and most prominent lessons of the first editing. The transcription and careful edition of the presentations and discussions have great communicative potential, not only for this reason is the publication important, but particularly also due to the relative lack of material on these topics within the gallery sector as well as in academia. This publication will hopefully contribute to strengthening Talking Galleries as a defining event in the practice of gallerism in the international art market scene.
*Llucià Homs, Director for Promoting Cultural Industries at Barcelona City Council Culture Institute (ICUB) and Director of La Virreina Centre de la Imatge. He has been a gallery director between 1993 and 2011, co-director of LOOP Video Art Fair and Festival of Barcelona and Director of La Fábrica Barcelona. He has been Vicepresident of the Spanish Association of Galleries and Board Member of the FEAGA (European Federation of Art Galleries). He is the promoter of Talking Galleries.
Presentation By Georgina Adam * The first Talking Galleries was held in Barcelona between 19 and 21 September 2011. An initiative of Llucià Homs –a gallery owner who became a cultural politician–, its aim was to provide a platform for art galleries – both emerging and more established, both Spanish and international – to debate themes and trends that were impacting on their profession. That first meeting, despite its untried and new nature, attracted an enthusiastic 225 participants, about 75% from Spain, but also from France, the UK, Switzerland, Sweden and even from as far away as Brazil, the US, India and South Africa. It is important, today, to remember what the economic situation was in 2011 as far as the art trade was concerned. After the global financial crisis of 200809, the art market was recovering, but the impact of the economic downturn was particularly severe for art institutions. US museums, which rely on private funding and their endowments, were hit by a drop in income due to poor returns on their endowments, and by less support from private sponsors. In Europe, where institutions are often state funded, budgets were (and are still) being gradually eroded. This had a bigger impact on the art trade in Spain than in some other countries, as the financial crisis was more acute, and traditionally the market was supported by museum spending and that by banks and cajas. Some of the topics at Talking Galleries – such as “Dealing with the economic crisis” were particularly relevant to the Spanish situation, but it would be true to say that all the participants felt engaged by the various issues raised during the debates, and the impact of the economic environment particularly on mid- and
smaller- sized galleries was of considerable concern. Other topics such as “The future of art fairs” and “Internationalising the gallery” looked more to how galleries could adapt to the changing environment. The issues of technology and globalisation were debated, and certainly merit further examination at the next Talking Galleries. The first edition was organized by La Fábrica Barcelona and financially supported by ICEC (Catalan Institute of Cultural Industries), ICUB (Barcelona City Council Culture Institute) and the Ministry of Culture of Spain, to whom the organisers owe a debt of gratitude. Almost two years have passed since that meeting, and the concept is now being co-ordinated and produced by Screen Projects Office. Many of the discussions held during those three days reflected the continuing preoccupations of gallerists today. Starting with The New Role of the Gallerist in the Art Market, Emilio Álvarez (Barcelona) emphasised the historic nature of art galleries. Claes Nordenhake (Berlin, Stockholm) noted: “A gallery is an eternal improvisation based on trust – and sometimes conflict - with the artists.” Overall, it was agreed that the gallery business is not like a straight commercial operation, but one in which the personal element was a key factor. However this needs to be better communicated to the press and the image of the gallery – as a sort of parasite in the art world – needs to be changed. This image should also reflect the gallery’s role as a pioneer and as a balance against the more conservative nature of museums. In Dealing with the Economic Crisis, Robert Tornabell, professor at ESADE Business School had an
encouraging message, pointing out that the financial crisis was then already three years old. He pointed to some Standard & Poor research which found that the most profitable investment for the future was art, with gold in second place. In my presentation I looked at the evolution of the market, emphasising the growing importance of China and pointing out that very few galleries had actually closed during the financial crisis and that the auction houses had played a part in restoring confidence to buyers. Soledad Lorenzo (Madrid) injected some heart into the session by pointing out that art, fortunately, remains a passion and not just an investment. As for The Future of Art Fairs, Victor Gisler (Zurich) commented the constant mushrooming of these events. “They are a good tool,” he said, “But they can’t allow an in depth presentation of an artist’s work.” And while, for some galleries, art fairs enable them to broaden their reach, the costs are very high. Pierre Huber (Geneva), pointed out the problem of a conflict of interest in selection committees, and noted “The overall issue is that organisers are not specialised in art, but in running fairs.” Also discussed was the future and use of “gallery weeks” such as abc Berlin. The Gallerist as a Private Collector brought together dealers who had moved to showing their collections in a non-profit context: Helga de Alvear (Cáceres), Paul Maenz (Berlin), Boris Vervoordt (Antwerp), and Luise Faurschou (Copenhagen, Beijing). Faurschou explained: “We want to create a living collection of contemporary art, to give artists a blank page on which to create new works.” And according to Paul Maenz: “My collection was first formed by unsold works from
the gallery, but then after it went on public display I started thinking like a collector.” “What drives us all is passion,” said Faurschou. Internationalising the Gallery saw Janelle Reiring (New York), Gregor Podnar (Berlin and Ljubljana) and Silvia Dauder (Barcelona) discuss one of the most crucial aspects of their work. For a Spanish dealer such as Dauder, “The audience for contemporary art in the city is limited, and galleries need visibility. What interests me most of internationalisation is achieving greater distribution, using the fairs. You want to put art in the best possible hands.” Finally, Focus on Brazil brought together Eduardo Brandão (São Paulo) and Ricardo Resende, director of the São Paulo Cultural Centre. Brandão was a teacher before opening his gallery, mainly to help his students live from their art. He has worked hard to encourage young people to come in to his space: “People of 25-30 find entering a gallery difficult, so we made a great effort to do something informal.” He holds debates at the gallery, and hopes this will encourage young collectors to start out in the market. What also emerged from the two days was a strong need for galleries to set aside rivalries and speak with a united voice in the international art world. The next step is to build on the 2011 session and continue the work it started, at Talking Galleries in November 2013 in Barcelona.
*Georgina Adam, Art Market Editor at Large, The Art Newspaper; Art Market Correspondent, Financial Times.
Ann Demeester Director of De Appel Arts Centre (Amsterdam). After studying Germanic Literature and Linguistics, Demeester started out in the art world as an editor and art critic for the newspapers De Morgen and De Financieel-Economische Tijd. In 2000 she worked as assistant curator to Jan Hoet, both at Ghent’s Museum of Contemporary Art (SMAK) and at the Marta Herford Museum in Germany. From 2003 to 2006, she worked as director of W139, a contemporary art production and presentation platform in Amsterdam. In 2009 she curated the Baltic Triennial of International Art in Vilnius with Kestutis Kuizinas, and shortly afterward she was designated “cultural intendant” by Amsterdam City Council. She currently sits on the editorial boards of the magazines A-Prior and FR David.
Emilio Álvarez Director of Àngels Barcelona Art Gallery and Room Service Contemporary Design Gallery. He is a co-director of the LOOP Video Art Fair and the Screen Festival. He sits on the board of Fundació Tot Raval (a platform that aims to improve quality of life in the Raval neighborhood in Barcelona), the board of directors of Orfeó Catalá – Palau de la Música Catalana, and the board of the foundation of the same name. He has a bachelor’s degree and a Master in Bussiness Administration by ESADE in Barcelona, and has taken international business courses at the Graduate School of Business Administration in New York and the École des Hautes Études Commerciales in Paris.
Claes Nordenhake opened his first gallery in the mid-1970s in Malmö, Sweden, which moved to the Royal Academy of Art building in Stockholm in 1986. His work expanded in 2000 and he opened the Nordenhake Gallery in Berlin. In 2003, he became a member of the Art Basel Committee. In 2005, he co-promoted the Gallery Weekend in Berlin, and two years later he moved his gallery in Berlin to Lufthansa’s historic central office, very close to the Jewish Museum. In 2007, the gallery in Stockholm also changed location, this time to Hudiksvallsgatan. In 2008, he and his six colleagues launched the project “abc-exhibitions” in different locations in Berlin.
Casey Kaplan is the owner of the Casey Kaplan Gallery (Chelsea, NY). Founded in March 1995, the gallery began with a single, diaphanous space on the upper floor of a building on Broadway. Today, his gallery operates on a street-level area of 1.500 square meters broken into three separate exhibition halls. The gallery exhibits regularly at international art fairs (Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze, and Artissima). In 2009, Kaplan founded the Gallery Week in New York as a way to bring the city’s gallerist community together in a non-commercial context, demonstrating that galleries can also be agents of non-profit education and promotion.
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PARTICIPANTS Emilio Ă lvarez, Casey Kaplan, Claes Nordenhake MODERATOR Ann Demeester
CONCEPTS archive, memory, programmes, debates, intuition, relationships, improvisation, informal efficiency, gallery system, business model, co-operative process, new art, continuity, auction houses, art fairs.
THE NEW ROLE OF THE GALLERIST IN THE ART MARKET ANN DEMEESTER (A.D.) When I was invited to moderate this panel, I was initially extremely nervous because I had the impression that I was going to be attending a kind of Bilderberg conference. But it became very clear in the organisersâ€™ statement issued beforehand that this historic gathering, Talking Galleries, is really meant as a think tank, a form of exchange to which both people involved in the gallery system and people from the not-for-profit sector, like myself, are welcome to contribute. As we all know, the commercial art world and the not-for-profit public sector complement each other. They are different spheres, like mammals and fish that cross and meet each other at a certain point in time and have a close bond but remain complementary, never really the same. What we are going to discuss in this panel is the new role of gallerists in the art market. The organisers have summarised it quite neatly in your programme by saying that art galleries in the 20th century were not just agencies for artists and commercial spaces, but that they also served to promote artists, put their practice into the world and foster experiments. The question that we are going to try to deal with in this panel is what the new role of the gallery in the 21st century might be. This new century is shaped by the development of new technologies, by increasing globalisation which is already being reinforced by the fostering of more networks on a global scale, and the emergence of new artistic paradigms and practices. Nor should we forget the establishment and consolidation of new art markets.
EMILIO ÁLVAREZ (E.A.) Main idea: The circuit of memory In order to speak about the new roles of the gallerist in the art market, I thought it might be interesting to review the history of galleries and talk about memory and then return to their role. The role of gallerists in the art market is based on three elements: two of them, the art market and the gallerist, are regarded as static, while the third, their new role, is considered dynamic because it implies change and innovation. I will examine each of these three elements and relate them to the notion of memory. I will also endeavour to explain briefly how this notion of memory can be the essence of the added value or the construction of value that the gallery can contribute to the art system today. When I think of my work as a gallerist, I do not see a separation between myself and the long modern tradition of the gallery. The gallery system has become an institution within an institution and I feel connected to the memory of this tradition. By this I don’t mean that the work of the gallerist is not related to the ‘new’. Instead, what I want to say is that the work of the gallery is not driven by novelty but rather, even if it may seem paradoxical, it is a certain dimension of the past and memory that gives the gallery its meaning. In fact the gallery works with novelty, but it does so by inserting it into the circuit of memory. If we were to trace the genealogical line of what we call a gallery today, we would probably all go back to the ‘amateur cabinets’ that emerged in the 17th century in Flanders. Paintings of these cabinets contained three aspects or levels: one is the collection of paintings itself; then there is a group of people discussing the paintings in the archive; and finally there is the recording of a historical fact, as such works were usually painted when somebody came to the city to see the collection or something else related to the arts. It is important to note that at that time, the collector and the exhibitor were one and the same. The same is also true of those spaces opened by collectors or museums to which private collections are consigned. It should also be mentioned that the understanding of such works was
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based on memory and erudition, on the knowledge of the past and its codes of representation. In later years, the opening of museums and the famous salons and cabinets where art was traded, defined a particular type of space more related to galleries as we know them today. Galleries played a fundamental role in the art world of the 20th century, not only in the relationship between art and the market but also in the creation of programmes and contents. Since the 17th century, the concept of public display in the private space has altered models of opinion and has shaped artistic discourse. This has brought about a radical transformation in the notions of public heritage and of memory itself. The museum as an institution developed as the legitimising structure that attributed value to artistic objects. It portrayed them as items that should form part of our public heritage since they had emerged from a particular artistic debate and so had become important in the market. The museum would gather what was happening in the market and at the same time would influence and create the market. â€œTHE ROLE OF THE GALLERY IS NOT ONLY DETERMINED BY THE MARKET BUT IS ALSO RELATED TO THE INTRODUCTION OF CULTURAL PRODUCTS INTO THE COMMERCIAL SPHEREâ€?. The process of mediation that the gallery has carried out since its origins has also changed. It has moved on from reading the established codes and narratives to creating interpretative spaces, generating codes and narratives by itself. In the classical world, the interpretation was defined, whereas modern art has opened the space to different theories, generating new codes. Art has become a personal direct experience and new interpretations are taking the place of the old ones. This journey from the early memory in the classical world to the critical memory in the modern world continues to be the main asset of a contemporary gallery project. The role of the gallery is not only determined by the market but is also related to the introduction of cultural products into the commercial
sphere, going beyond the money-making objectives that tend to be the overly simplistic perception of these spaces. A gallery is a business but not just a business. At the very least, it’s an extremely complex business. Galleries can balance the institutionalising power of the hegemonic narratives of the museum and the art market. They can do that with programmes that develop the long-term presence of a group of artists and by generating a debate with the artists and thus building up a critical memory. This counter-programming is the source of individual critical narratives for which there is no room in museum programmes and collections, which are necessarily as fragmented as those owned by private collectors. The history of art of the 20th century is related to important galleries that articulated a discourse, such as Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler, who supported Cubism, and Leo Castelli, who championed Pop art. They had a systematic programme and they had an impact on the debates similar to the role of the cabinets. Museums have only a few works by each artist. Galleries fulfil the role of the archive, they guarantee these artists are remembered and they generate an ongoing debate. The new technologies have created tools like the Internet that facilitate new ways of producing memory and the possibility of management models associated with systems of production that foster artistic development outside the guidelines of museums and biennials, thus expanding it beyond the simplest art market. It is also worth mentioning the emergence of different audiences for different spheres in the art world and its cultural markets. The cultural market is bigger than the art market, and the main question is how the cultural market will develop. Perhaps the best way to sum up my annotation to the opening title would be to come up with an alternative. I would suggest: ‘the old role of galleries in the new cultural markets’. CASEY KAPLAN (C.K.) Main idea: “It’s all about relationships, trust and confidence” On my way to the airport to come to Barcelona, sitting in traffic as you do going to J.F.K., my phone rang. It was Trisha Donnelly, one of the
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artists at the gallery, and she asked me: “What are you doing in Barcelona? Why are you going there?” And so I said: “I was asked to speak on this panel called Talking Galleries.” And she said, “Well, what are you gonna talk about? What have you prepared?” And I took a good deep breath, as I am doing now, and I said: “I’m just going to do a Sinatra.” And she said: “What’s a Sinatra?” The point of this anecdote really is that Trisha calling me on the phone is what the gallery is about. The gallery is about relationships, it’s about trust; it’s about having confidence in these artists and those artists having confidence in me as a gallery; and working collaboratively in order to develop ideas, develop exhibitions, produce works and put them out there into the world. I believe that the gallery grows organically, there isn’t a specific trajectory and it has a lot to do with what my role is. And that would certainly consist of constantly reinvesting in the gallery, whether it’s building a new space, producing a new piece or shipping something absolutely, ridiculously expensive to an art fair in order to show the ambition and the drive of that particular artist. And I think that’s really it. I’d rather answer questions. CLAES NORDENHAKE (C.N.) Main idea: No rules and the power of intuition What is the role of the gallery? I think none of us has ever really tried to define it. I’ve been running a gallery for over 30 years and for the first time in my life I’m trying to define what I do because I have never asked myself this question. A gallerist is the gallery cleaner, he is an exhibition guard, he is an interior architect, he is a carpenter, he is a shipping agent, he is a storage administrator and a storage worker, he is a graphic designer, he is a photographer at times, certainly he is a bookkeeper. He is an art historian, “A GALLERIST IS THE GALLERY CLEANER, HE IS AN EXHIBITION GUARD, HE IS AN INTERIOR ARCHITECT, HE IS A CARPENTER, HE IS A SHIPPING AGENT (...)”.
hopefully. He is a teacher and sometimes even a professor. He is, at times, a cook. He is a waiter, he is a restaurateur. He is a philosopher, at least late at night. He is a business strategist, or he should be a business strategist and sometimes he is. He is somewhat of an actor. He is very often a psychotherapist, sometimes a pimp, a marriage and more often I think a divorce councillor. A lover, it’s happened to all of us. He is a very good travel agent. Hopefully a good banker. He is a sympathetic drinking companion but afterwards he is an arrogant bastard. He is an interpreter, an arms runner and drug smuggler, at least in the Hollywood way. He is a secretary, while the bosses are probably the artists, most of whom are in conflict with each other, with the gallery’s other artists. I think that most of you people here are professionals, so you probably understand that this is a joke and it’s also the truth of the matter. There has been no education until now in this field. And I think that everything is intuitive, nobody knows how to pursue the route of an art gallery.
DISCUSSION A.D. Claes, I think your description would probably be one that every average curator would also concur with, apart from the banker and bookkeeper part. A lot of curators are not very good at banking and bookkeeping. But I think it’s interesting that both of you sketch the informal efficiency of the gallery system, that you stress that it’s about having this multitude of roles which are both formal and informal and that it’s also about trust and belief and confidence. Emilio, you were slightly more abstract but you also put the relationship with the artist at the core. And there is also your sense that you are also the archivist or the person that has the closest connection with the artist’s practice and that tries to keep that heritage alive. But is that something you think will continue to be a core feature? I call it informal efficiency—I’m sure I nicked that from somebody—but there is this idea that it’s a business but actually a business that runs on immaterial notions like trust, belief, intimacy, confidence and therefore is very difficult to categorise. Do you think that the galleries in the future will become more businesslike? Or will that still be its driving force?
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C.N. I think that there will be a development and we’ve already seen that development where there are brand galleries which work on a sort of franchising level. There are the famous big galleries, I don’t need to mention Gagosian, Hauser & Wirth, White Cube, etc., which are defining their role as brands, whereas the midlevel activity which we represent or the young gallery level will have to continue with this struggle to define their own realm and their own world as they go along. C.K. I think that my business sense comes much more from fear, a fear that I can’t do anything else, so I have to make this thing work. A.D. But you didn’t know that when you started? C.K. I was 24 when I started, I didn’t know anything. But that’s what I think. I make what would be called ‘business decisions’ in order to make sure that the gallery survives and also, as the gallery has gotten older, I have a responsibility to the artists, a lot of them have families, they have children, their healthcare, their rent, their mortgages, their holiday homes, their second homes, their cars, they’re all under my tutelage or watch. So I do feel responsible for them too. A.D. But that sounds like an oppressive responsibility, not a challenge for the future. C.N. This is America. A.D. I wonder if you Emilio, with your background in business administration, have a slightly different perspective on the evolution of gallery practice, if you see it as another type of development as a business model. E.A. Well I’m the one with the least experience around the table but I have experience in other fields, and I can tell you this field surprises me every
day. There are no rules, as far as I can make out. However much you try to apply a rule, it doesn’t work. I think the main asset of a gallery is the personal view for creating a context and there are all these challenges of how to deal with the artists and there are no solutions. It’s like a passion. You become totally perplexed as you frequently don’t know how to run the gallery as a business. That’s the challenge. The product we deal with is very open, but the circuits are kind of narrow, closed. A.D. But you don’t see any comparison with another type of company? Coming from the not-for-profit sector, I have to say the part that we are absolutely not good at is making it work as a business. E.A. Yeah, but I think its one of the few business fields where you don’t deal with a structure and a transparent market. Because even in the fashion world, in which you have to deal with artists’ egos as well, there is a structured market: you know what people are selling, you know what the circuits are and it’s all very open. Here you can have your small field and your collectors or your museums… all your context. And it may work. And it generates an added value because of that independent position. A.D. So informed intuition and sort of wizardry would be the main tools. E.A. Absolutely. C.N. I think a big danger for the art world is the art fair, although it is obviously useful for communicating with a larger audience. Now if I may go back to this collective ambition that I was a part of in Berlin, five or six years ago we started what is now a rather important event in Europe, which we call the Gallery Weekend. It immediately proved to be a very strong initiative. I think, perhaps because I’m Swedish, that if you do not belong to the brand galleries I mentioned earlier, the co-operative process is a very good route to pursue. I think I have seen proof of that.
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A.D. And you’ve seen in the Gallery Weekend that it actually can go hand in hand with competition, that collaboration is not necessarily an enemy of competition. C.N. Yeah. A.D. Casey, do you think that the Gallery Weekend that you set up in New York is as successful? Has it become such a key event? “HOWEVER SOMEHOW THE MESSAGE ABOUT WHAT WE WERE DOING GOT SCREWED UP AND JUMBLED, THAT WE WERE ONLY A PLACE OF COMMERCE AND IF YOU NO LONGER HAD MONEY YOU DIDN’T VISIT A GALLERY”. C.K. The Gallery Week in New York has only happened twice. Its future is morphing into something that is still not defined. I can’t speak for Claes but I admire the Berlin Gallery Weekend very much. I think it’s quite successful. The reason that myself and David Zwirner and Friedrich Petzel began New York Gallery Week was not in a reaction to other gallery weekends. It was really, in my view, a response to a misunderstanding of the work that we do as galleries in New York and because during the height of the financial crisis, the galleries became quiet. And that made no sense to me because we gallerists are still doing the same job that we have always done. However somehow the message about what we were doing got screwed up and jumbled, that we were only a place of commerce and if you no longer had money you didn’t visit a gallery. It made no sense to me. So our effort was to change that discussion, to create a lot of free programming, invite curators to speak in the galleries, to have performances, to hold lectures, to have artists available to the general public and to initiate a change of discussion on our terms rather than on the terms that were perceived either by the media or by other people, and I’m not faulting the media: if the media was perceiving us incorrectly then we as galleries were presenting ourselves incorrectly in the first place.
The Gallery Week happened a second time, and to some degree I don’t feel that it’s ultimately necessary for it to repeat and repeat. To my mind, we accomplished a lot of our initial goals. I think that we got people’s attention. Galleries, as Claes was saying, banded together, which was magical. When I started the gallery, I never had the opportunity to be associated with somebody like Marian Goodman. And one of the great things that happened through the Gallery Weekend that we had was precisely that: a gallery on Lower East Side that had existed for two years was suddenly in context, in dialogue, with a gallery of 40 years, and that was beautiful. So I’m not convinced that we need to do anything more. It’s been done. A.D. But, actually, the main things that you achieved were an exchange of knowledge and a re-marketing of the galleries as being active and vital. Neither of you saw it as a response to the dominance of the art fair? C.K. No. C.N. No. A.D. 51% of sales are made outside of auctions and 30% of those are made at art fairs. So a good percentage of gallery sales are made at fairs, which would prove something that is repeated in the media over and over again but without evidence, which is that the art fair is actually annihilating individual art practice. You are involved in the running of the LOOP Fair. How would you see that, is it a cliché that the art fair is becoming dominant? Is that something we all say but which is not grounded in reality or do you see a future for alternative art fairs like yours? E.A. Well, the LOOP Fair is a very small and specialist fair. It brings to Barcelona many people related to and interested in video, not only galleries but other distributors and other agents. So I think it helps our position, it’s like a fair in the city and it’s a big event and has established its place on the calendar.
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A.D. And it started because you felt that there was not enough attention for the media of video and film within regular art fairs, that they needed their own platform? E.A. There were two reasons. That’s one of them and the other was the idea of putting Barcelona on the map, on the calendar and the map of international and contemporary art. In addition, the fair is an active place where people pay more attention and it brings people not only to share but also to buy. And, yes, I think there is room for these small specialist fairs because they bring together the people that are interested in the same thing. A.D. What you said just now is that LOOP is also an art fair that fosters a certain kind of community and that’s something that I think we haven’t really discussed extensively. How does a gallery create a community? And is that community also open to a larger audience that can see art for free? And how does it become a place of free education, as Casey mentioned? How do you see the audience in galleries now and in, let’s say, 2020? C.N. The last ten years were certainly the years of the art fairs. But as we go along, it is obviously not enough. An art fair is a one-week event where there is really no depth to the artwork shown or to the ambition of a particular gallery. Everything is fast, 60,000 people come through. I am now talking about the general art fair, not this very ambitious and highly defined art fair that you are championing. After ten years of doing three art fairs a year, you lack something. You lack the crucial depth of the work in the gallery. In an art fair at most you show three works by each artist. You have three days to do a group show at which the cost of participating is so high that you also have to make sure that you can peddle the stuff. I think that that was the reason why this group of galleries in Berlin started questioning things. New art should be shown first in galleries, it should not be shown in Kunsthallen or in museums. That’s where people should have at least three of four weeks to experience it. And then it can be taken to the art fair or the museum or the Kunsthalle.
A.D. In a previous statement, I think for a Spanish newspaper, you mentioned precisely that. I think you have probably all leafed through that coffee-table book published by Dumont Buchverlag that describes the history of galleries from the post-war era to the new millennium. In the introduction, Raimar Strange stresses what for me is a very romantic approach to galleries. He says that yes, the gallery is the first to show new work by new artists, it has this pioneering role, and then the public sector takes over. But weâ€™ve seen a lot of shifts in that in the past decade, with Kunsthallen or Kunstvereine or experimental spaces showing an artist first, resulting in almost a fight for young artists. Do you think that that ambition to be a pioneer is something that we should take with us in the future? Is that the main, pivotal role? C.K. We always take the risks. We do the research, the development, show the artist, find them in their studio, produce the pieces, place the work in context with the other works from an exhibition and make it all make sense. Everyone else follows that. A.D. But do you think that is the priority that you want to maintain? If you think of China, you have these hybrid spaces, like Vitamin Creative Space, that are both commercial and not-for-profit, and that decide to put a lot of their money and time into impossible projects by their artists and say that is their main role, nobody else is going to do that. Is this pioneering, is that the priority? C.N. I believe that every institution, be it galleries, be it Kunstvereine, be it off spaces, are only as good as the people that work there. It always comes down to one person who is very much involved in the effort. A.D. With private passion and dedication. C.N. Passion!
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E.A. I think that it also has to do with continuity: a gallery can present an artist many times, while an institution presents only part of the artist. You don’t see an institution that presents three exhibitions of work by one artist. It would seem odd. Continuity, this fact of knowing the artist well, is what the gallery offers. I think this vision, this context, this kind of way of preserving memory, that is a key aspect of the gallery. “THE GALLERY IS THE FIRST TO SHOW NEW WORK BY NEW ARTISTS, IT HAS THIS PIONEERING ROLE, AND THEN THE PUBLIC SECTOR TAKES OVER”. A.D. What I gather, then, from this panel is that in 2020 the main priorities would still be this pioneering role and the fostering of continuity, of long-term relationships with artists and I presume collectors as well, even if new models are developed for galleries here in Western Europe or elsewhere. C.N. I can see no other development. I think that most institutions are lazy, and that they have an attitude towards galleries that stems from the leftwing politics of the late 1960s and 70s. They regard galleries as profiteering, as sharks that profit from the poor artists. I believe that view is also a sort of a self-defence because in my view most institutions are lazy and there is no room for laziness if you run a gallery. C.K. I absolutely agree. A.D. So my introduction was in fact wrong. It is not the case that the commercial and the not-for-profit sectors are in the same boat. Instead, the idea is that we are enemies. We in Western Europe at least live in what was previously quite a well-funded art sector, where governments invested in contemporary art. Now they are retreating and leaving it to the markets. In a very neo-liberal impulse, their view is that there is no need for them to invest in art and that they should leave that up to galleries, which gives
galleries a predominant and extremely primary role. My own view, however, is that the relationship between the public sector and the market is a vital one and is an umbilical cord. I also believe that the development of the economic and social climate, I am talking especially about Europe, will have a considerable influence.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND QUESTIONS (C/Q) FROM THE AUDIENCE Q. What do you think is the future of video in the market? There is tremendous disorder in the field of video fairs. The people who buy video works are collectors and museums and artists give their video pieces free for exhibition. So their works are not traded in the same way as photographs or paintings. Do you think video can continue like this without better regulation? E.A. I think there are two issues here. One is the general issue of the trend that encompasses the bourgeois object, the consumption, the buying, the consumption of culture in a broader sense. And video is a part of that. I think that in society the market for consumption has grown, but I donâ€™t know whether the buying of objects has increased or not. Artists work with video, so video is a way in which they express themselves. Consequently, that is what we deal with. In fact, this is why we started this project: we thought a debate was needed and that a meeting point would bring added value to all the community. I think video is here to stay and the way it is traded is a separate matter. Itâ€™s a big issue and nobody has the answers. A.D. To go back to the original question, do we need stricter protocols in dealing with video? C.N. Everything can be faked, a photograph can be faked, a painting can be forged, but I think every gallery of this genre nowadays deals with one
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or more video artists. Some of these artists are successful, some videos have a trading value which is considerable. There is a democratic aspect, which is that it can be shown as a cultural identity without being traded, which I think is wonderful. It’s a democratic form of commodity. C.K. I think it’s fascinating that the video that we may present as an iconic artwork in a gallery can be on YouTube as well. I think it’s great, it’s just evolution. A.D. Is there no need to protect the monetary value of that work by making it more exclusive? C.K. I don’t believe so. I think it’s how society moves forward in the way they communicate and in freedom of information. It’s sharing. C/Q. Today artists sell video art for between 10,000 and 300,000 dollars and the gallery invests a lot of money in producing the video with the artist. I understand the notion of the cultural idea and don’t disagree with it, but our business is selling art and protecting the collector and the people who spend a lot of money on this art. We must also create the conditions for this art to be treated like any other artwork. To my mind, a video has the same stature as any painting or other work of art. One day there must be a real discussion about protecting the work of the gallery that spends a lot of money enabling the video project to go ahead. In addition, this is a market. Put yourself in the shoes of the collector who has a large collection of video art. I myself have 150 videos in storage in a little box. In 30 years, no-one has asked me to loan a video for a show in a museum. So that is the death of video collections. I’m very happy to talk about the cultural side of art, that is the role of the Kunsthallen and museums. All they have to do is ask galleries for a copy of the video to show it, whereas what we as galleries have to do is spend all this money and keep all this heritage. Our responsibility as galleries is to consider the future of this medium. My question to gallerists is whether they think this is a business.
C.N. There is an entire art fair dealing solely with video, I mean the market is already there. C/Q. I think we sell a video with more security than a photograph because the artist gives a copy that he himself has made and it is better protected by a document that says exactly what can be done with this video. We sell photographs more simply, giving just a certificate and without obliging the collector not to do certain things. Video is the only medium for which we are able to stipulate what the collector can and cannot do. That gives significant protection that photography, for instance, doesn’t benefit from. Q. If gallerists are able to multitask and are also successful businessmen, why don’t we have the ability and the intelligence to invest in our own galleries and why do we invest a fortune in art fairs? If you took all the cost of your art fairs during the whole year and you invested the money in advertising and in events in your gallery it would make an enormous difference. It’s a straight investment. Why don’t we associate with each other and why aren’t we more active in investing in our streets and our communities rather than defending art fairs, which are businesses run by others? C.K. I spend about 2% on art fairs and 98% on my gallery. What it costs to run my gallery every month and put on shows is much more than what I spend on fairs, but I think the money that goes into shipping and paying fees to participate in fairs is incredibly valuable. Going back to this idea of community, I love the fact that at Art Basel I’m across from Toby Webster from Glasgow, Eva Presenhuber from Zurich, Sean Kelly from Los Angeles. These are colleagues, people I respect and believe in, and we get to spend nearly a week together, exchanging ideas, talking about exhibitions, having drinks, communicating with each other. We’re all from different cities, we’re all different ages, our galleries have existed for different periods and we’re all there together, presenting artworks that we believe in and that we want to present to a general public in Basel, whether it’s to sell that work or whether it’s for a museum curator to see it and consider placing it in an institutional context. So that’s the
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fascination with art fairs. I think your math is incorrect. We as galleries spend vastly more money on our gallery exhibitions and building up the programmes than we do in travelling and being salesmen. A.D. And do you think that goes not only for yourself but for a large majority of gallerists? C.K. I can only speak for myself but I would think so. A.D. Basically, then, your response is that being part of the international community that gathers at an art fair doesn’t mean that you don’t invest locally and you don’t invest in local cohesion as well. C.K. Absolutely. In New York we have a very special situation because there is a tradition of people wandering around, going to galleries, especially in Chelsea where you can see so many galleries in such close proximity to each other and it’s free. On a given Saturday, if the weather is good, we might have between 400 and 500 people in the gallery, and the gallery then has a responsibility to put on a quality exhibition for that public who is eager to see these things. So there is an educational factor and so of course we are investing in our own communities and believing in our own neighbourhoods. C/Q. I am Helga de Alvear. I wanted to come back to the question of video. I work a lot with videos. I think every gallerist has to learn that when dealing with videos, we have to work together. When I mount an exhibition of work by Isaac Julien, as I did three months ago, featuring about nine screens, I work together with Metro Pictures, the gallery from New York, and with Victoria Miró. We work together, we handle the production together and each gallery has one piece to sell. It’s much easier to work together and with video, in fact, it’s the only way. I agree that it tends not to be private collectors who buy these works, but there are some that do. I think for the future it’s very important for galleries to work together.
E.A. I think you have made a good point in relation to video: not only does it provide galleries with an opportunity to collaborate with each other but also to reach a bigger audience. Young people are all used to seeing audiovisual works, so I believe video and the audiences for it will have a significant bearing on the future of galleries. The production is sometimes very complicated, as is the work you produce, so you require a lot of finance and energy, so that brings the galleries together to work. As far as other collaboration goes, I think galleries need to work with others, to share programmes, to share artists, because all of our initiatives, including producing a good exhibition, are very expensive. I think this is something we will see more of in the future. C.N. An art fair is a collaborative endeavour. You can not get 250 galleries together in one space without collaboration. A.D. Itâ€™s friendly collaborative competition. C.N. Not always very friendly, but... Q. I would like to ask about the continuous role that Emilio mentioned. We donâ€™t just engage with an artist for one show, as a curator might do; we continue over the long-term not only with the artist but also with people who want to come in and see art, whether to buy or just to appreciate it and be informed. Nevertheless, within the art scene as a whole, I feel that the gallerist is seen as more of a shark, whereas the curator or other parts of the art world are regarded as elevated, as something more. Is there a way that we can change that to inform people about this much wider cultural role that we play at the same time as being very special and commercial? C.N. I refuse to be a parasite living off the artist, and I refuse to be seen as a parasite. I think some people are good at organising things and usually that is the role the gallery takes, it may not be the role of the artist. I think this view is a legacy from before, from my generation: it politicises
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the differences in the market and the art object as merchandise and the producer of the first part of that chain, namely the artist. A.D. But don’t you think that is changing? There is now an increasing realisation that we’re a joint venture, that the public sector and the private sector are interdependent because we both serve the audience and the artist. And my view, maybe it’s naïve, romantic and almost utopian, is that among the upcoming generations that kind of tension will diminish. Or am I being too optimistic? C.K. It’s very hard to know whether I’m doing something correctly or right and one of the ways that I can have my work validated is if the Museum of Modern Art comes to my gallery and acquires a work from an exhibition and puts it on view on West 53rd St. That is important, it’s taking a work by an artist that I believe in, that I’ve helped exhibit, and placing it in a separate context, in a historical context out of the market and into a history. It’s evolved, it’s a depository and a depository of ideas. A.D. You don’t experience that duality, then. C.K. I think the complications between the galleries and the institutions are very severe at this moment, especially in the States, where money has always been from a private source. So if a museum comes to the gallery and says they want to make a show with an artist and the gallery, the museum has certain given expectations that we will help fundraise, we will support the exhibition, buy paint to produce new works, maybe even ship or crate things, buy so many catalogues. So that makes that relationship very complicated. Because that transparency, that kind of exchange, isn’t necessarily known to the outside world, and if it is, the institution would also look somewhat compromised too, they would appear beholden to specific dealers or galleries. And I need the museums, and I want to have relationships with curators and museum directors and the kinds of collectors who give their collections to museums and who help make those museums free or open to the public.
A.D. I think it’s interesting to compare that with the approach in Europe, where I think those unwritten expectations do not exist to the same degree. C.N. There are museums that you respect more than others. But basically it comes down to the person who defines the work by acquiring it, there’s probably a board but there is always one spokesman who is again one individual who stands behind it and is the interpreter of that work and I think that’s our way. Q. How can we remedy the view that art has to be in a particular museum for it to be valued, because if it’s in a particular gallery and it’s doing very well in that gallery, oughtn’t that to be enough? E.A. I think there is also an issue here of the prestige of gallerists because sometimes in the press the only news on galleries is about Gagosian, for example, so the audience might have a distorted view. I think that we non-branded galleries can do something to participate more in the debate. For instance, you never see a gallerist’s column in the newspapers, at least not in Spain. A.D. That’s an interesting response because you are actually proposing that the gallerist should become more of a public figure and also take up that role in the public realm. E.A. Yes, I think so. Plus, if you were to ask people in the street or even in museums which galleries they know of and what they think about that, you’d find their views are totally distorted. In addition, there is no debate in the media either. There is only a description and no real debate. Q. Perhaps you could touch on the subject of auction houses. I think it’s such a major issue touching on galleries’ identity that I am surprised that you have discussed video five times and this has not come up. Maybe you
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have an opinion on that, because if you discuss art fairs, how can you not discuss the auction houses? C.K. They are an inevitability, they’re there, you have to deal with them. As a gallery that represents artists and builds careers, you have to expect that at some point in time a work is going to go to auction. It’s part of the landscape, you can’t say whether it’s good, bad or indifferent, I think it just is what it is. It’s a fair, open market for people to trade in. A.D. So you take a laissez-faire, laissez-aller attitude, it’s an obstacle you basically deal with. C.N. What you are talking about is the active role of trespassing in the sphere of galleries. The three big auction houses are present to my knowledge particularly at Art Basel through large groups of representatives trying to interfere with this event. And that is obviously trespassing. If anybody could be described as a parasite on the art world, it would be the auction houses.
Carlos Urroz Director of ARCOmadrid. Having graduated with a degree in Business Consulting from the Pontifical University of Comillas, he completed the Business Analysis programme at Harvard University and obtained a Certificate in Arts Administration from New York University. Urroz was deputy director of ARCOmadrid from 1994 to 1998. Also in 1998, he took over leadership of the Helga de Alvear Gallery, where he actively participated in selecting artists and managing projects until 2000. Since 2008 he has been Plastic Arts Advisor to the Community of Madrid and since 2010 he holds his current position as the director of the International Contemporary Art Fair of the Community of Madrid.
Robert Tornabell Professor of International Banking and Finance at the ESADE Business School. He has been the dean of ESADE; a professor at the World Bank, the Nijenrode Business School (Breukelen, Netherlands) and the International Banking Institute (United States); a member of the Advisory Council at “la Caixa” (Barcelona), of the European Financial Association and the European Foundation for Management Development (Paris and Brussels); president of the Independent Expert Panel on Catalan Savings Banks; and the author of 34 books on banking and finance, including “El Día Después de la Crisis” (The day after the Crisis), published by Ariel, in addition to around 1.500 articles.
Georgina Adam Art Market Editor at Large, The Art Newspaper; art market correspondent, Financial Times. Adam has spent more than 25 years writing about the art market and the arts in general. She began in Paris, where she studied Islamic Art at the Ecole du Louvre. She spent five years in London, where she worked for The Antique Collector, The Daily Telegraph and other publications dealing with art sales before moving to Japan, where she lived and worked for five years. Upon leaving Tokyo, she joined The Art Newspaper as editor of the Art Market section, and later, starting in 2008, as its chief editor. She writes a weekly column every Saturday for The Financial Times. Adam is particularly interested in emerging cultural centres, a subject she teaches classes on at the Sotheby’s and Christie’s institutes in London.
Soledad Lorenzo began working in the art world in the 1970s at the Fernando Guereta Gallery. In 1972 she joined the Theo Gallery for seven years. When she left, the Spanish Ministry of Culture selected her to coordinate the exhibitions of Europalia 1985, a job she held for two years until 1986, when she opened the gallery that bears her name and where she currently works. Internationally, the gallery collaborates with key contemporary artists in fields like painting, sculpture, photography, video and conceptual art. Soledad Lorenzo received the 2006 Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes and received the F.E.A.G.A. European Gallery Award in June 2009.
DEALING WITH THE ECONOMIC CRISIS
PARTICIPANTS Robert Tornabell, Georgina Adam, Soledad Lorenzo MODERATOR Carlos Urroz
CONCEPTS art market, auction houses, polarisation, mega and medium-sized galleries, emerging markets, China, Russia, the Middle East, India, Brazil, sales figures, creative industry.
DEALING WITH THE ECONOMIC CRISIS CARLOS URROZ (C.U.) I am the director of the ARCO Art Fair, which has been running for 30 years in Madrid. When I was approached by the Talking Galleries organisers to participate, I thought that it was a wonderful project that certainly ought to be supported by ARCO, as the fair was founded by the gallerist Juana de Aizpuru. She was the one who convinced the Madrid institutions to create an art fair in what was then, during the 1980s, an emerging country. Over the course of these 30 years, there has been a lot of talk between gallerists at ARCO, sometimes gossip but also the sharing of ideas, sometimes even therapy as they talk about whether they have made sales or not. However, ARCO Madrid is not only about talking but about something else, which is enabling galleries to sell. Sometimes ARCO has succeeded in this and at times it has done very well, such as in the euphoria of the late 80s or in early 2000. Sometimes, however, we have not done so well and on occasions we have even struggled to attract collectors.
ROBERT TORNABELL (R.T.) Main idea: The crisis is potentially good for the art business Before the crisis, Standard & Poor’s published research showing that in the previous 25 years, the most profitable investments were shares, public debt, real estate and, in fourth and fifth position, paintings and art in general. Today, this ranking is reversed, as the most profitable investment for the future is now art. I believe that for you it’s good news that interest rates are going down because where can wealthy people invest their money? In shares? In debt, which doesn’t pay a big enough return? In gold, which is at its ceiling? In silver? For the time being—and for the medium and the long term in my view—art is the best investment because it gains value. Art doesn’t pay dividends, but more importantly it maintains its worth as an asset and rises in value. The president of the European galleries association taught me something. He told me that there are two types of investment in art, one of which is the first time you buy a painting. The second type is when you recognise its value, which occurs when you become more knowledgeable and you keep your investment because of the value you see in it. At my age, I know that things are not so clear-cut, but I do believe that after falls of 20% in all the stock exchanges in Europe, after public debt losses amounting to billions of dollars (except in some countries’ bonds), and after all the money lost by real estate developers in the United States, Ireland, the United Kingdom and Spain, I do believe in art as an investment. Every gallery or expert can select the best pieces to invest in. But remember, according to the Standard & Poor’s ranking we considered earlier, the situation was reversed just before this great recession. GEORGINA ADAM (G.A.) Main idea: A polarised market I’m going to put a bit of flesh on the bones of what you discussed earlier and give you some figures and some ideas of how I see the current situation of the art market and where it’s heading at the moment. Let’s have
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a look at some figures:
The figure for the overall art market is made up of two different figures: the first is the auction market; and the second â€”which is slightly largerâ€”is through dealers. We know the auction house figures because they are recorded. The dealer figure is completely vague and is collated by Clare McAndrew, who produces a regular report for TEFAF. Apparently, there are more than 400,000 dealers around the world, but the top 2-5% account for more than half of all sales and, as we have seen, a good portion of that goes through art fairs.
There is lots of good news as well as bad news. The good news is the evolution of the art market. The graph shows auction figures because we do not have dealer figures going back to 1976, which is when this index was started. It includes contemporary art as well as old masters, no decorative art, just paintings, sculpture and prints. The great crisis we had after the 90s is noticeable: you can see the huge boom between 1987 and 1990,
which ends very suddenly because of the invasion of Kuwait and the collapse of the real estate market. After that we bumped along, up and down, and then we have this extraordinary boom that started in about 2004-2006 and ended in September 2008. It is important to remember that the day Lehman Brothers went down was also the day that Damien Hirst’s sale at Sotheby’s made a colossal amount of money. So let’s not totally despair here. You can see the drop, but I would also like to draw your attention to the fact that the art market has rebounded extremely strongly from the crisis.
This chart shows another extremely important and interesting issue, the share of the global art market in 2006. Here we have our champion, the USA, a pretty strong Britain, and France with 6%. France was the strongest market in the world in the 1950s, now long ago unfortunately for France. And here we have China, a young adolescent, perhaps even a babe in arms.
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“CHINESE FIGURES ARE NOT 100% RELIABLE. THERE IS OVER-REPORTING OF THE CHINESE ECONOMY IN GENERAL AND OF ART FIGURES AS WELL”. If we look now at the same figures for last year, you can see that the USA and UK have shrunk, but that China has gone up to 23%. According to the data, China is possibly the biggest art market in the world today, certainly the second biggest based on auction data. Does this mean that China is sweeping across the world? No. It has a huge population and a growing economy and a good part of the figure, which includes Hong Kong and Taiwan, is made up of Chinese people buying Chinese art from Chinese auction houses in China, so it is a largely internal market at the moment. The thing that’s important to say is that Chinese figures are not 100% reliable. There is over-reporting of the Chinese economy in general and of art figures as well. But when we consider the biggest auction houses—Christie’s, Sotheby’s, Phillips de Pury and Bonhams—the fact is that eleven of the top 20 auction houses today are Chinese. And remember, Chinese auction houses did not exist a decade ago, whereas Sotheby’s and Christie’s have been in existence since the 18th century. It is important to take all of this into account when talking about the future of galleries.
The main trend that I have been looking at is polarisation, the branded galleries, as a number of speakers have called them and which I would term the mega galleries. Polarisation is happening not just in the art market but everywhere: the gap between the rich and the poor is wid-
ening in the art market and elsewhere. It means there are mega dealers and there are mega auction houses, Sotheby’s, Christie’s and now the Chinese, particularly Poly and China Guardian, which are the two biggest. We also have art fairs, which used to be very personal and small. Each art fair was run by a person or by a town like Basel. But Basel has now got three fairs, Art Basel Miami Beach, Hong Kong and of course, Basel Basel. Frieze has now extended, adding another two fairs. So this polarisation is happening across the market. The rich lost money during the global financial crisis but on the whole, if you look at the statistics, you can see that most of them have regained their wealth. So we have this trend towards polarisation and strong collectors and as a result the middle galleries are being squeezed. The mega galleries have the financial strength to compete with auction houses but it is tougher for smaller galleries, particularly those in the secondary market, where there is more competition. The trend we have seen in England is that they are abandoning ground-floor galleries and are moving to offices because they deal with art fairs a lot. The art fair debate has been good in that it has enabled galleries to have a broader scope. But, at the same time, they have slightly shot themselves in the foot (as we say in England), they have committed a sort of suicide. What is disappearing is the tiered market, the one in which you have a market at every level. You had a market for rich people, for not so rich people, for the connoisseurs and all the way down. Now there is still a good market at the lower end of young, small galleries that make discoveries and find young artists. But the problem is in the middle, the middle collectors, the ones who are probably being squeezed by taxes and by rising costs, energy, mortgages, etc. This is also affecting the galleries. The other big issue we really need to talk about is the threat to galleries from auction houses because they are also becoming dealers. Noortman’s, a Dutch old master paintings dealer, has been bought by Sotheby’s, who has also just opened an exhibition space in their New York headquarters. Haunch of Venison belongs to Christie’s. This is a danger. Before 1980 the auction houses were not in competition with contemporary art galleries. They didn’t sell contemporary art. Now they are doing so in a big way, successfully. They are also selling directly from artists, so there again they are cutting into the dealers’ market. Auction houses are even organising fairs. For example during Frieze week in London, Christie’s is organising an art fair called Multiples, which is just for prints at the moment, but it shows this is a real problem for galleries.
DEALING WITH THE ECONOMIC CRISIS
In addition, galleries are threatened by cuts in museum budgets. The economic situation is impacting on endowments. American museums, which are privately funded, have endowments and they use the income from that to pay for their running costs and for acquisitions. And obviously with stock exchanges completely slumping, endowments are down. In Europe, government cuts everywhere are impacting on acquisition budgets. There is some good news in all of this. The global financial crisis did not really have a major impact on big galleries, as very few actually went out of business. “THIS CRISIS IS DIFFERENT TO THE EARLIER ONES: TODAY THE MONEY IS THERE, OUR CLIENTS HAVE IT BUT THEY DO NOT WANT TO SPEND IT”. The 1990 crisis, when sales stopped completely, was dramatic for art galleries. But sales have continued after the global financial crisis and, as we saw in the figures, they have now taken off very well. Let’s be fair to the auction houses, they did manage the situation well. They reduced their sales and their estimates. They produced sales that were smaller but quite successful, and confidence is terribly important in the art market. So I think we need to acknowledge that auction houses did actually help during the global financial crisis and the aftermath. Art is a tangible asset and the returns on shares and so on are very poor. There is a lot of interest in art as a tangible asset and I think this is good news for gallerists. A lot of very rich people now want to have their own private art space and this has been a motor for the art market. SOLEDAD LORENZO (S.L.) Main idea: Galleries and crises I think that in Spain at least things are still very quiet, but I am convinced that recovery is going to happen. Economic data is like science fiction in my view. What is indisputable is that we had very serious crises in
the 70s, the 90s and again now. In the 70s, I did not have a gallery but during the 90s I was running my own gallery and the crisis then was as severe as it is now. If you look back at situations once they are over, they always seemed much longer at the time than they really were because society doesn’t notice when recovery begins, only the experts. Even though Spain may have additional problems, as the papers report, I am convinced these things come in cycles. For gallery owners here (and perhaps in other countries as well), this crisis is different to the earlier ones: today the money is there, our clients have it but they do not want to spend it: spending money at present is seen as stupid, and this is deterring people. Normally a collector is someone who likes buying. Now they come, they enjoy the works, but they buy much less than before.
DISCUSSION C.U. What can we do then in order to convince collectors and financial experts to invest in art? What can we tell them from the financial point of view and what should we explain to them about investing in art? S.L. I have never tried to convince my clients from the economic point of view because they have to like art, appreciate it. The collectors to whom we sell artworks are people who believe in art, just like those of us who sell it. We don’t have to convince them; we have to present them with things they like. It is a matter of passion, not of value. They know in their own minds that art is a good investment, as demonstrated by the history of art and as stated by economists. There is far too much talk about money and art and I believe that it ought to be the other way round: we must love art; passion ought to be the guiding principle. If you love an artwork and cannot sell it, you keep it; you’ll be able to sell it a few years later when the economy is stable. R.T. We’re in a new economy but at the same time we are embarking on a new way of life, a new society, because people are afraid of spending; they prefer to save because of remarks that the welfare state is collapsing.
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A very clear economic formula was published in The New York Times by the Nobel Prize winner Paul Krugman: if you don’t invest, if you don’t spend and if you don’t export, you cannot pay pensions, for public health services and so on. Our problem is that we don’t spend, we don’t invest and we don’t export enough. This is new, it’s unprecedented. S.L. The difference now is that those who buy do so because they enjoy art, not because they see it as an investment. In the past, people invested in art because they thought it was a secure asset, but not now; now they buy because they want to. C.U. Which of the emerging markets is developing most quickly? Is it China, eastern countries or the Middle East? Which market would a European gallery find it easier to move into? G.A. Firstly, I think that you can’t talk about the emerging markets as one block. All of them perform extremely differently. Russian buyers will buy international contemporary art outside Russia, as there is not a big developed art market in the country. In Russia the great fortunes were made based on energy supplies. In the early days they bought Aivazovsky, Kustodiev, those Russian 19th-century artists they knew about from their own art history. But they very quickly moved on to international brand names such as Hirst or Freud. “THE DIFFERENCE NOW IS THAT THOSE WHO BUY DO SO BECAUSE THEY ENJOY ART, NOT BECAUSE THEY SEE IT AS AN INVESTMENT”. In China there is a domestic art market for the moment. But have no doubt, China is going to change everything. In the West we tend to think Renaissance art is a sort of pinnacle. Very little of it is on the market so you can’t evaluate its value. But the world record for a work on paper is now held by a Chinese artist, not by a Western Renaissance artist: 63 million dollars were paid for a work on paper in Beijing. This is inevitably going to modify tastes.
The Middle East is very interesting, but again it’s a very different market. At the moment galleries are developing in Dubai, which is quite good, but there are enormous restrictions. One of the parallels with China, in fact, is censorship. Anything sexual or political is difficult to sell and even to show. Things that we would not consider in the least bit provocative are unsellable in Dubai. The auctions have not been a great success. Just recently Christie’s, who held sales there, has downed the amount of their lower estimates and Bonhams has pulled out. On the other hand, there are immense museum projects in the Gulf, and this should be gold, though the projects in Abu Dhabi have slowed down with the global financial crisis. India is potentially huge but it has not happened yet. And then of course there is Brazil which, I think, has got an enormous amount of potential and it’s linked to resources as well. Brazil has huge resources.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND QUESTIONS (C/Q) FROM THE AUDIENCE Q. Is art the new currency now for rich people? And when they buy, do they buy for the love of art or for the economic value of the asset? And who determines that value? Is it the auction house, is it the museum world? Who will it be in the future? G.A. I will take the second question first. I think that museums put a value on a work that is not necessarily a monetary value, they put an aesthetic value on it. They endorse an artist. But, of course, this does spill over into the monetary value of the work as well. Concerning the auction houses, something that really needs to be discussed is their publicity machines. Speaking as a journalist, I receive press releases every day that say, for example, we have made an incredible price for a Jeff Koons, we have made this amazing price for something. If you look closely at the results, they had one fantastic result, but maybe they only sold 50% of the sale. Unfortunately there aren’t very many journalists around who are specialists in the art market and who know how to look at those results and see that actually it was not that super-successful a sale: the auction house
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made one great price because, as we all know, masterpieces are always exceptional and they will always make a great price. Regarding the first question, I think that to an extent art is used for hedging against currency fluctuations. But everyone benefits in a way. C/Q. You know that private money is behind the new museums coming into existence, like in China and Qatar for example. Culture is being bought for all kinds of different reasons. These people are spending billions with the so-called mega sellers like the auction houses and a couple of our colleagues. I think there is going to be a huge change when it comes down to value. G.A. I totally agree with you. A lot of it is to do with where money comes from today. Money is no longer inherited, it’s made. And that means that people who are buying art do not necessarily have a background in connoisseurship, they don’t have a knowledge of art history, that memory, that archive. And that too is changing everything. S.L. When you hear that a piece has reached a huge figure, I don’t think it reflects our reality, everyday life, our contact with collectors or society. C.U. I think there is an issue here considering figures. It would be very helpful if there was a figure for the gallery market. We at ARCO have tried to assess this and have asked the galleries to give us a figure. They have always been very approximate estimated figures that were very useful for the press release on the last day, but they weren’t real figures. I think it would be very helpful for journalists, the art market and for galleries themselves if you could somehow establish your sales figures for the year in a very transparent, public way. It would help even to value your artists and the work galleries are doing for the art market. G.A. Speaking as a journalist, what catches my attention is a big figure. If I could say “ARCO produced €50 million of sales”, that is a good headline for me. We don’t get that at the moment. So gallerists need to speak with a strong and more united voice in order to do better, in order to fight.
C/Q. Sentiment and emotion play a huge role in the ups-and-downs of the stock market. I think that kind of emotional factor plays a gigantic role in the art market as well. Auction houses may be a problem but they create confidence in the art market. Is there a way to calculate that factor? R.T. Many experts in stock exchanges around the world evaluate that sentiment minute by minute using the Volatility Index quoted on the Chicago Board Options Exchange. When the index stands at around twelve, it means the world is at peace. When Lehman Brothers crashed, the index jumped to 200; in March 2009 it dropped back to 20-25 and we saw how shares went up significantly. When we suffered the debt crisis of Greece, Portugal and Ireland, the index rose to 80-85, while gold jumped from $400 to its current price of $2,000. In Chicago they call it the fear gauge. Q. How do we deal with this economic crisis? What will the future of the art market be like in the next year or two? S.L. I believe that we have survived many crises and that weâ€™re going to survive this one as well. We used to think that banks were a safe place to put our money, but not any more. We do not believe in the economy or the banks. An artistic object can increase in value, that is the reality of art. I believe that the art market is going to continue, that people will go on buying but not at certain price levels. C.U. I believe that we are a creative industry, and perhaps this is the answer, be creative, work hard and this is what the majority of the gallery owners are doing: new things and new projects. I believe that this is the only way to keep the market moving continuously ahead, keeping it attractive for collectors and artists as well.
Carles Guerra Chief Curator of the MACBA (Barcelona) from 2011 to 2013; before that he was Director of La Virreina Centre de la Imatge since 2009. Guerra holds a PhD in Fine Arts from the University of Barcelona (UB) and the New School for Social Research in New York. He works as an associate professor at Pompeu Fabra Univeristy (UPF) in Barcelona, and has been a visiting professor in New York and Stockholm. Some of his notable publications include “N de Negri. Una conversación con Antonio Negri” (2000) and “Allan Sekula habla con Carles Guerra” (2005), in addition to articles in different media. Since 2009 he has been a member of the scientific committee at the Lieven Gevaert Research Centre for Photography, in Belgium. That same year, he won the City of Barcelona Award in the category of visual arts.
Noah Horowitz Director of VIP Art Fair (New York). He is an art historian and expert in the international art market. He has collaborated with many publications on contemporary art and economics for institutions such as the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Astrup Fearnley Museum of Modern Art in Oslo and the United Kingdom’s Intellectual Property Office. He obtained his PhD at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London and is author of the book Art of the Deal: Contemporary Art in a Global Financial Market, published in 2011 by the University of Princeton, in which he examines and studies in detail how the current art market is structured and where it is going. He is a faculty member at Sotheby’s Institute of Art.
Victor Gisler has a background in economics and business. He founded the flagship space for his Mai 36 Gallery in Lucerne in 1987, which would move six years later to its current location in Zurich, in 1993. Gisler sat on the Art Basel Committee for 12 years, resigning in 2009. For more than 20 years, Mai 36 Gallery has regularly participated in the main international art fairs of the world: Art Basel, Art Basel Miami Beach, Frieze (London), FIAC (Paris), Armory (New York) and ARCOmadrid (Madrid), among others.
Pierre Huber began his foray into the world of art in the 1970s when he founded a restaurant-art gallery called L’Escapade in Cartagena, Colombia. In 1984 he opened his first gallery in Geneva, exhibiting work by some of the most important artists of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. In 1992 he was appointed to the Art Basel working committee to reorganise and create a new concept for the fair. That same year, he opened his new gallery, Art & Public, focused on discovering and promoting young international artists. He was President of the Association of Art Galleries in Switzerland and in 2000, he was both admitted into France’s Order of Arts and Letters and appointed Councillor of the City of Geneva. In 2007, he was art director of the SH Contemporary fair in Shanghai.
THE FUTURE OF ART FAIRS
PARTICIPANTS Noah Horowitz, Victor Gisler, Pierre Huber MODERATOR Carles Guerra
CONCEPTS contemporary art, art fairs, auction houses, e-commerce model, online fair, gallery website, globalisation, alliances, fair system, art business, big dealers, collectors, people-to-people business, homogenisation.
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CARLES GUERRA (C.G.) The goal for this panel is to shed some light on the future of art fairs, which are often described as stressful events. We face a difficult economic situation in which it is becoming ever more costly to participate in art fairs. Moreover, the existing art world is ceding ground to emerging markets. Art fairs will therefore have to be rethought in the light of these new circumstances.
NOAH HOROWITZ (N.H) Main idea: The rise of the Internet I think the first and most important thing is that the huge upsurge in contemporary art as a collecting phenomenon is the fundamental reason why art fairs have risen to centre stage as a mode of business and commerce and as a way of bringing people together. The statistics of the rise in the value of the global art market as a whole (see page 47) show the ups-and-downs related to contemporary art sales at auction over the last ten years or so. Contemporary art is here defined as art made by artists born after 1945, which is not necessarily how auction houses categorise it, but it does provide a simple and very clear picture of the massive upward rise from sales of less than 50 million dollars in the late 90s to over 1.3 billion dollars at the peak of the boom. Another thing you can see is how contemporary art has been a phenomenon in the recent boom.
The second major point is that the art world has become very event driven. Auction houses have shifted from what was essentially wholesale trade as late as the 1970s into much more of a retail trade. Many people would describe the 90s as the decade of biennials and hence of globalisation, of those expansive temporary events or exhibitions that are not commercially driven, and then of course we have the rise of the art fairs. About a third of gallery sales are art-fair driven. That is a generalisation and I would guess that for many galleries, 75% or more of their sales are made at art fairs. So there are now a lot of fantastic galleries that exist almost totally nowadays by making their revenue and gaining their market at art fairs. That is a very new shift as well. What I’ll be looking at as part of what we do at the VIP Art Fair is the rise of the Internet and the way it is a connective mechanism and a tool for our industry that has really changed how business is done today. Very simply, the Internet has expanded access to artworks, to galleries and to auction sales prices, as well, which, by the way, is hugely important. Prior to the advent of Artnet, in the 90s it was very difficult to get a categorical sense of past sale prices unless you were a highly professional person in the industry. That huge increase in knowledge and information has been absolutely crucial. And, of course, the Internet has aided the ways galleries, museums and collectors present information about their work and artists as well. Art sales online have had a very tricky and chequered history. There have been a lot of ventures that have failed. The e-commerce model has never really made its way to the top end of the market and has had very scattered success. It’s crept in at the bottom end for edition prints and photographs and multiples. Clare McAndrew estimates that somewhere between 3% and 8% of last year’s art market was driven by art sales online. I’m not really sure if that is true or not, but in any case it’s indicative of pretty low penetration. That being said, the major auction houses are making huge investments in their online presence. Almost a third of bids are placed online nowadays. So that’s a huge shift. In India, Saffronart had quite a bit of success selling art online. Artnet has re-started their own online sales and they have seen
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prices rising over the last few years. The price point has increased and sales do occur in the six and even low seven figures for some work. So what we do with the VIP art fair is we take this model of the fairs and of galleries extending their presence online and stream it into a weeklong event. The fair was founded by James Cohan, a dealer in New York. The fair started last year and had a very large international mix of 138 galleries participating in the event and 40,000 visitors from 196 countries, most of them from the U.S.—the largest single group was from the States—but we had huge traffic from Germany, the Far East and South America. “OUR FAIR IS AN ONLINE FAIR, BUT IT’S NOT A VIRTUAL FAIR, WE DON’T REALLY TRY TO GET INTO THIS FEELING OF NAVIGATING A SECOND-LIFE ENVIRONMENT”. We take the model of the bricks and mortar fair and put it online. We’re not an e-commerce platform. As with fairs, dealers pay us a fee, and any business that’s done is conducted between the buyer and seller off of our website. So we don’t charge commissions on sales and in that sense our business model is very different from a lot of other online businesses. We really target the very high end of the market. Our belief is that at that level the market is most international, and it is most necessary to try to extend the presence of these galleries vis-à-vis collectors and collectors vis-à-vis galleries using the Internet as a tool. Our fair is an online fair, but it’s not a virtual fair, we don’t really try to get into this feeling of navigating a second-life environment. You can search the fair really rigorously by price, medium or artist, which is a useful tool for curators, collectors, advisors, curiosity seekers. And that is probably the most valuable aspect of the Internet, as it can press the boundaries of how commerce can be done. On average, our visitors were in their mid-40s, and in that way we were able to gain access to a collector base that is very much in line with the types of collectors that are going to the Basels and ARCOs of the world.
As we move forward, I think it is important to bear in mind what the Internet can be, not only to a younger generation but to a generation that’s been around for some time. VICTOR GISLER (V.G.) Main idea: Galleries reach out I’m going to give you a bit of a summary from the position of galleries. What you do in terms of the financial aspects is first you show, next you tell and then you sell. In the past, we had the gallery space, which brought together interested people at a local and a national level. They came, they met at the gallery, there was an exchange, there was curiosity and galleries rose from the local scene to the national scene. This was after the war. But with globalisation, with the new situation that developed in the 1980s, our sources of revenue changed. Art fairs consolidated their presence, and in order to get new clients you began to think about maybe going to an art fair to find new people for your artists. A few fairs were already very powerful and as a young gallery, you couldn’t get in straightaway. So I began my experience with fairs with a new one, Frankfurt, and a classic art fair, ARCO. To give you an example of what I mean by show, tell and sell, I met overseas clients in 1989 at ARCO and I am still selling to them. So you could expand through an art fair and broaden your scope. The Internet has recently become a much bigger tool for getting information out, for bringing clients to the gallery, and now we have an online fair offered. I have worked with Pierre for Art Basel on many occasions and we even talked about the possibility of the use of the Internet. The Basel people couldn’t do it because it costs a lot of money and technically it’s not very easy, but these VIP guys have managed it. This tool is very powerful if it functions. Because the reality of the situation is that the younger generation looks everything up. As an international gallerist, I have to use that tool for my artists. Plus, in order to penetrate new markets, you have to accept that your clients don’t live around the block anymore, they live in a different part of the world. So you have to go out. I recently did ABC in Berlin, a gallery weekend that’s trying to establish itself as an
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event. It’s trying to create an energy for the city, for the galleries, for the openings they have. It’s a great idea and is run by galleries, not by some organisation. This brings me to something which is rather problematic in terms of the art fairs. They are run by organisations, some are real enterprises. With regards to ARCO, it’s kind of a mixture between a politically driven and a less entrepreneurial company, but that is as a consequence of Spain’s history. The situation now is that art fairs have become essential except for people such as Casey Kaplan in New York, who would probably say he doesn’t have to do art fairs because he has 400 people come in over a weekend. But for me and others like me, it’s essential to go out and do these art fairs. These art fairs have now become so important, so pressure-driven, that I have to staff them. I have to have travel budgets and do many things besides my gallery work. I allocate money to set up the show in the gallery and every second month I have to pay a certain amount to an organisation for a week. Good galleries do that, and as a consequence we have made these art fairs strong. As a result, the price suddenly goes up and it becomes more and more expensive. Some fairs have become so strong that they have even become a stamp, endorsing the quality of the art and galleries. If you are not at Art Basel, a lot of people think that your artist is not important. Art fairs shouldn’t be judging what is good or bad. That’s ridiculous and it’s wrong, but the system has completely taken over. Art fairs are starting to proliferate and strangle themselves. There are art fairs all over the place and of course they are important for us today and they will be in the future. But if you don’t have sufficient staff, you can’t manage all of them. You can’t get the material, you can’t staff these fairs and you just have to make a decision. “WE ARE PROBABLY AT THE CRUNCH POINT AS REGARDS WHICH FAIRS WILL WORK IN THE FUTURE AND HOW SELECTIVE GALLERIES WILL BE”.
We are probably at the crunch point as regards which fairs will work in the future and how selective galleries will be. But in terms of finding new people, for showing new art and for introducing galleries simply on a communication level, fairs have been very important and a useful tool over the last 25 years. What they do not do is present an artist in depth. I started participating in fairs in 1989. I did solo shows every second day. I showed art that is now super important. I couldn’t sell a piece. So it didn’t work. The fair was so noisy that people just didn’t see the art. I had it up for two days and then I took it down again. I really struggled and felt under pressure to introduce my artists and to be very creative. I really wanted to show the power of the art but it didn’t work, because it’s just too much and you can’t expect to be able to work well for your artist by running a booth. At the same time, however, it is a bad idea to think art fairs are only a commercial place, art fairs are not for introducing an artist or for finding new people. That I think is very old-fashioned and romantic idea. I agree that fairs are very business driven and that they are not the best place, but once you are aware of that, you have to act accordingly. You have to forge alliances with others and make the most of the event. PIERRE HUBER (P.H.) Main idea: The evolution of art fairs I would like to speak about fairs without going into details. I know that the first art fair was held in Cologne and that the fair system has developed over the last 30 to 35 years. I remember that when I first began working as a gallerist, it was the fairs that enabled us to become passionate about art. When I went into a gallery at that time—in those days, on the Rue de Seine in Paris—I was not a potential buyer because I didn’t have any money. There would be a woman behind her desk and I wouldn’t even dare to ask her about the painting, how much it cost, etc. So, I was an active spectator but passive with regard to the art business. And art fairs gave me an opportunity to pay for my entrance ticket and to have 200 curators who were there and galleries that were passionate about art. I was able to ask everything I wanted to know, I had the wealth and knowledge of all the galleries at my disposal and I
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was able to become passionate about art and to take up the career that I have pursued. There are outstanding galleries and outstanding artists, and the gallerists work passionately like ants, and every month they pay their rent, their employees, and their artists, and sometimes their expenses are so great that, if there is anything left at the end of the month, they might even manage to pay themselves a small salary. There is talk today about the art business, but all the galleries around the world, which do the most to promote art, who are the ones that discover new talent, they are not a part of that system. We don’t know their turnover figures. What we do know is that they are the ones who bring to the big fairs all the people who are passionate about art. To go back to the first Basel fair I went to, there were only local galleries there and it was possible, for someone like me with no money, to buy a piece for a hundred, 200, 500, 4,000, 5,000, up to 10,000 francs, and for someone like me it was fantastic. So what is different today? And why do fairs need to be very careful? It’s because when a collector like that returns to the Basel fair, he finds a queue of people who throw themselves at the stands. Plus, a person who is not known as a big collector and who does not have a privileged relationship with the galleries goes to fairs and cannot buy anything. The fair does our work for us, because we go to the fairs to meet a new public, but this public leaves the event frustrated because they cannot have excellence. That’s my first point. “WE GO TO THE FAIRS TO MEET A NEW PUBLIC, BUT THIS PUBLIC LEAVES THE EVENT FRUSTRATED BECAUSE THEY CANNOT HAVE EXCELLENCE”. My second point is the evolution of the fairs. I went recently to the fair in Mexico. I was very disappointed because it was the same fair that you find everywhere. I don’t expect to fly 10,000 kilometres in the hope of discovering South America, only to find the same works that didn’t sell in Basel or elsewhere. The other thing is the conversion of fairs into shopping centres. My rec-
ommendation to fairs would be that they should find their own identity if they want the system to survive. And I believe this is very important, as I had the pleasure to see at ARCO, because ARCO is the first fair this year where I was able to buy things that are different. And the collector likes to challenge himself because he wants to make his own discoveries. And if he goes to fairs and he can’t buy because he can’t find things that are different, then you find yourself with a tourist system that is just the same as McDonalds, Vuitton, Coca-Cola, Guggenheim. Those of us who are on this quest of collecting have to thank all the small structures who, even though they face enormous difficulties, enable us to have the happiness of finding new things. And if this can evolve, we will have fairs; if it doesn’t evolve, they will be limited to just a certain number of people or you will be able to start the discourse of art and money.
DISCUSSION C.G. Well, here we have three positions from our speakers, who have been presenting a passionate defence of art fairs and the future of these events, no matter how problematic or troublesome they might sometimes seem. I would say that the three of you were basically pointing to a future in which a certain diversity is necessary but that you all acknowledge that art fairs in one shape or another are crucial. V.G. We are all entrepreneurs who wear numerous different hats. Our world is a people-to-people business in which belief, confidence, truth are essential. Pierre and I understood that an art fair has to have a face to personalise it. So we gave the people in Basel Sam Keller’s name. He was an absolute nobody, he was just a clerk. But the guy had passion and was a great communicator. This nobody got the job, invented himself and made what is now the mega fair. That tells you that one guy can change the game, just like ARCO. It really can happen: some small fairs, some special fairs that these guys put on, suddenly become a success. C.G. So Noah, how would you compare that personality-driven event with
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your particular event, the VIP fair? N.H. Our world is based on the premise, as Victor said, that you buy art from people. You don’t buy art from robots and machines. The most interesting and important thing about our industry, in comparison with other advanced industries, is that personalised, individualistic, driven relationship. What we do and what we see ourselves doing is really empowering that through technology rather than effacing it. I think from the business-model perspective, that it’s absolutely integral. “OUR WORLD IS A PEOPLE-TO-PEOPLE BUSINESS IN WHICH BELIEF, CONFIDENCE, TRUTH ARE ESSENTIAL”. I’d like to address the issue of the role of video art and this idea of some video migrating online. I think we are trending in a direction where the art world has become a more hybrid place in which you have real world interactions and online extensions. Video is an interesting example of that, as you have some artists who are more and more engaged in putting work on YouTube and hitting a mass audience. The video market in the early days was very politicised and very anti-commercial, but it has trended more and more to institutionalised ideas, which is where it is today. So that market, not unlike what we are doing with the online fair, is a very hybrid market. And it’s really important to be alert to those developments. And I’d say the last and the biggest bear in the room is the hybridisation between the local and the global art market. You have these global and international contemporary art fairs, and then you have fairs like ARCO and Artissima in Italy that are reinventing the idea of what a fair can be. Looking ahead to the future, I think we are going to see a few of the major fairs that are the McDonaldisation of the art market, and hopefully some very interesting fairs that present fascinating local inflections or medium-specific inflections or some mixture thereof. C.G. You defend the need for particularity, specificity, but how are we going
to combine this kind of homogenisation of the art market with this specificity? P.H. Personally, I have decided to take another approach. I believe it’s a question of passion and I think what bothers me about fairs today is the way they have become industrial. Artists I find interesting and artists who were radical in the pieces I regarded as interesting are beginning to produce works for fairs in order to satisfy the new collectors, who often have a lot of money but not much culture. People are throwing themselves at these artists and are willing to pay any price for those artists who have made a name for themselves, but the fact is that the artists are destroying their own reputation. To my mind, the solutions for the future are to work harder as galleries, to find artists of indisputable quality in your own minds, to mount specific projects with them, and to get your collectors to support your project. I do no more than three or four exhibitions a year and I am extremely pleased to be able to make not only my collectors happy but also myself, because contrary to the view expressed by some, a gallerist can be a collector in his own right. I want to enjoy everything that art can give us and to convey it in my own way to my collectors; I don’t want to be subject to the pressure of fairs. I’m gradually getting to an age when, after a long day, I’m no longer capable of absorbing what I’m looking at. Whereas, working with an artist, having a project and having clients who are happy to buy the work, that is the future, I think there is an interesting future for this task. We need to tell artists to go back to your galleries, think about your work. And I regard that as crucial for saving contemporary art. V.G. You’re talking about the long battle between context and content, and the responsibility for that lies with the galleries that attend fairs. We do everything. If we decide it’s more about content, then all the context stuff you just talked about wouldn’t happen. But it’s our fault. In the past, as in any kind of trade fair, when an art fair was set up it was not a very high-end event, and then it would grow and grow. Fairs today are out of control and they’re very expensive but we do them because they’re selling energy, they’re trying to get everything possible for their event. It’s the gallerists who are ultimately making what is happening possible.
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What we should be focusing on is content, but I have to say that unfortunately nowadays the demand for content is not so strong. In Berlin, we have a smart group of people who are trying to control these things for themselves. And now there is this debate about killing the fair and stuff like that, and ABC is moving a bit in that direction. They set up this show which was more about content, they gave it a theme and they’re trying to create new forms. We will see which direction it takes in the future. But it too is problematic as regards the financial aspect because you still have to pay, even though it’s not a big sum. N.H. Did galleries sell art? V.G. Yes, I talked to a few people and some of them said they got a fair amount of people at the start of September in their galleries and that they had sold half of their show. There were others who told me they had made some contact with people they hadn’t seen for a while but who came for ABC. And of course other people said it was boring. But if you expect that this is going to be an art fair like Frieze, then you’ve got the event completely wrong. I always think that from a business point of view, you have to analyse who has invited you, which parties you will go to and what you can expect. You have a role to play there and you can change certain things. The ideal thing would be for art fairs to be run by the gallerists who invented them, but it’s the other way around. “THE PROBLEM WITH ART FAIRS IS THAT THEY ARE AN ORGANISATION. THE ORGANISERS ARE NOT SPECIALISTS IN ART, THEY ARE SPECIALISTS IN FAIRS”. P.H. There’s just one point that I want to make that’s related to what Victor said earlier: the problem with art fairs is that they are an organisation. The organisers are not specialists in art, they are specialists in fairs, and they create a fair package, just like you have a television channel package. To give you an example, I did a contemporary art exhibition
in China organised by a company that runs agricultural fairs, beauty shows, etc. They were interested in having another fair in Asia in the bag because this is a commercial set-up. Then you have the gallerists, and gallerists’ interests are very often not the same as those of the fair organisers. That was my situation in Shanghai. The organisers don’t care about the quality of the fair, all that matters to them is setting up the fair in order to sell it. And we had considerable arguments over this because I had a clear idea of what I wanted to do with this new fair and how to make it completely different. Then you have another problem and that’s the committee. When it comes to the fair committee, you have to watch out for conflicts of interest, for example, if you have an artist who is represented by one gallery and along comes another gallery with the same artist. This is a big problem, which I will illustrate with just one example. When we were making the selection for Basel art fair, we had a gallery who worked with Fontana and another gallery with Fontana applied from Italy. We spent hours arguing about the Fontana galleries, as the first gallery didn’t want the other one in and claimed that he was the Fontana specialist. Eventually I decided to stop the meeting and arranged to meet again the following week. I took the first train to Milan and visited the Italian gallery. When I got back, I said it had to be in the fair. This kind of conflict of interests affects a lot of galleries and younger galleries, who discover artists, advance these artists and then one day are excluded from the fair because this is a competitive business. And in this competitive business, a conflict of interests exists today between the fair organisers, the committee and the galleries. Our work is to protect every gallery, without prejudice, and this is something we really ought to think about.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND QUESTIONS (C/Q) FROM THE AUDIENCE Q. I would like to ask the three members of the panel what they think of a new Internet-based project called Art.sy, which is supported by Larry Gagosian.
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N.H. Carter Cleveland, a guy from Princeton who’s in his mid-twenties and is a computer engineer, created this idea of a semantic system that understands and codes artworks. Cleveland has come up with the idea of a company where we can create a genome for art: we put in Picasso and it tells us ten different derivatives and a whole permutation of other ideas and computations. He has raised funding, apparently, from Gagosian, Wendi Murdoch and a number of other high profile investors. The idea is that galleries will contribute work and other institutions will begin to do this as well, and the team at Art.sy will basically create a genetic code for your artwork and try to put it in a broader context. As an idea, I think it’s a brilliant. From an economic perspective, we look at these numbers and graphs of how artworks have performed historically and we’re limited by the data from the auction market and usually repeat sales at auction or painting sales at auctions. The idea of a genome or something that can go beyond that in terms of understanding the cyclical nature of the art market is a really important thing. And it’s incredibly important as a concept for connecting ideas. Art.sy’s angle, of course, is to present this all together and then to broker sales with collectors who are interested in approaching the gallery. Gagosian’s involvement is perceived as quite problematic and controversial because if sales are made, Gagosian in theory now has access to a database of the records of those sales. However, I’m sure there are some Chinese walls and legal instruments that would block that. Vis-à-vis what we do with the VIP art fair, we’re very transparent in putting forward exactly what we do. We charge galleries to list work and we remove ourselves from the sales process. Art.sy is very different. They say everybody can join for free but then they take a 15% commission when things are sold. Someone asked about galleries being more and more transparent. My two cents on that, and I’m sure the guys behind Art.sy must understand this, is that most dealers are never going to declare any sales or they’d only declare a small percentage of them, if that. So from a business perspective there are a lot of question marks. I think Art.sy as an idea is brilliant and perhaps, from an Internet perspective and the way that businesses work online these days, you don’t even need to make any money. Instead, you need to sell an idea and Google or somebody like that will buy it because it will revolutionise some aspect of how we come in touch with artworks and what we see and learn
and understand about them and then they can figure out how to make money later. What I would say is really important is the issue of buying art from people. This gets back to what Victor was saying, it’s something I believe in and I think most people here probably believe in very deeply. Art. sy takes the person out of the process. The way that artworks are listed on the site has no affiliation with a dealer or anybody selling it. And I think, and certainly Victor and Pierre would agree, that the dealer’s own personality and what the gallery stands for make up a huge quotient of what makes that art valuable and why a certain artist can be seen in connection with another artist. And the idea that some abstract coding can somehow come up with these permutations is not necessarily running in line with how collectors’ tastes have built up over time and the curiosity and strange complexities of why you like something and don’t like something. Q. I just wanted to ask the three of you what it is in your view that makes a good art fair. And what is your opinion of the so-called satellite fairs? V.G. A good art fair, for me, is small and high quality, which as I perceive it means the quality of the pieces shown, the dealers, the galleries who are there and the attendance. That for me is a good art fair. No matter where it is, what it’s called or anything like that. The art I see there, the people who present the art and the people who go to that art fair. It’s as simple as that. With regard to your second question about the satellite fairs, when you talk about globalisation, it’s unavoidable because you will always find somebody who has the same idea. We’ve just heard that about the Internet, you know it happens all the time. A satellite VIP will maybe happen tomorrow, it’s just a question of the tool, the guys behind it, the business idea he has. Basel became successful and developed into a mega fair. And then they went through Miami, and in Cologne we had satellite fairs. The reason for this was not because it was more commercial but because it was counter to the structure of Cologne, which was too big, too bourgeois at a time when there were a lot of young rising galleries.
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That was a completely different situation. Now satellite fairs are purely business-driven for galleries who do not have the possibility of attending the big fairs held at the same time. It’s just gigantic and they will strangle themselves. Some will survive because again there is one individual who has a great idea and can sell it to get people to come to him and because there are people who will follow. It’s as simple as that. Whether it’s 15, 20 or five, they will still exist in the future because it’s global. P.H. First of all, I agree that a good art fair shouldn’t be too big, because we are incapable of appreciating so many artworks. Maybe the issue is to do with competition. If so, there are two alternatives. One option is the classic art fair, which is competing with the art sales at auction houses. When I was in Basel, I asked at the beginning of the fair if I could go with the photographer to photograph how many pieces of art we had in the fair. It’s not just about showing pieces. If we were in competition with Sotheby’s, Christie’s and Phillips’, did we have the material in this big fair to compete with these people? That was one thing. Secondly, when I go to an art fair I expect the selection of galleries and artists to be very good. My intention in Shanghai was to put the artist at the centre. I was like a curator: I approached all the artists and asked them to go to their galleries, and then we invited them to the fair in order to make the fair interesting for the collector looking for art or for new art. We should be showing projects and new artists rather than people who come with bags full of things that all look the same. We should also be showing artists we don’t see any more, great artists who are not in the market but are nevertheless important. As a collector, if I go to a fair and I buy nothing, I have wasted my time. I will travel 10,000 kilometres to see or buy even small things. Our passion is to discover something. In part we are competing with auction houses, the rest is business. C.G. Victor, will you believe there are artists that can’t be properly contextualised in the context of an art fair? V.G. Absolutely. As an example, I am now managing to sell Lawrence Weiner.
This is probably the toughest thing you can do because he is one of the last real, true artists. There is no object, though there is an object. He is all about material; he is a real materialist man by the way. I have been presenting Weiner for 25 years, ever since I was asked by a bookkeeper “Where is the art?” He couldn’t understand that I had bought the Lawrence Weiner because there is nothing there. So he told me I was crazy. Today people think Weiner’s a cool guy, but maybe that has changed because we are living in a different time and he has gained his reputation. Maybe people buy it because of the context, because he is cool, it’s the context not the content. Q. I would like to do just a little crystal ball glazing: what will art fairs look like in 20 years, say? We’re seeing groups like Basel becoming bigger. We are seeing such a proliferation of fairs that many fairs cannot find a slot in the calendar to mount their event. What do you think the future holds? N.H. I think that fairs like Basel Basel will be around in 20 years. What becomes of Miami and Hong Kong is a little less clear. What will become of Frieze, which is making a big effort to rise to that level in the contemporary sector, is also unclear, but they have done a fantastic job and have the trust and passion of a lot of galleries and collectors. I think that there will be a few major fairs that will probably mirror in some way the ebbs and flows of the auction market, where you have selected seasonal events. We’re already going in that direction. So I can see three or four major events in 20 years and below that, as I talked about before, I think there is an immense opportunity for fairs in different regions, in different environments, with very specific focuses and agendas that will bring together excellent groups of galleries in many different ways that will provide a level of interest and curiosity. I think we’ll see more and more of that in the future. I think that what Basel did is really take a curatorial model and bring it into the commercial context and that is Basel’s brilliant coup. In my opinion, Basel is very much where it is today because of that: firstly by never letting down the quality and secondly by embracing this trend in museum practice. And we’re seeing that
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in some other fairs. I spoke about Artissima before, its current director is a curator and critic. That’s very interesting if you think of what that means historically. So I think we’ll have more curatorial-focused and interesting things. ABC is another extension of that. For them to exist in the long run, they will need to find their commercial footing and find a way to generate sales, but I think that it is a very exciting place. I suppose my last point as an advocate of the Internet is that, with or without VIP Art Fair, I think it’s absolutely inevitable in the future that the major fairs and fairs of all shapes and sizes will embrace the Internet much more fully and comprehensively than they have done to date. It’s very surprising to me how far behind the curve the big fairs are in embracing the technology. It’s a money thing but I think that they are also scared of having a market that’s not on site, and I think that you need to embrace that. I think people will always come to Basel whether or not you have an online extension of Basel. P.H. We have a slightly different vision of things. I was in Mexico at a restaurant and I saw Marc Spiegel, the director of Art Basel, talking very excitedly on the phone. And I learned at that moment, though it wasn’t yet official, that Basel art fair had just bought the Hong Kong fair. I went up to him and I asked “Marc, is it good news or bad?” And I told him it’s bad news. I was quite clear about it because I agree with your analysis that the Basel fair will continue because its financial potential and its structure are very important. However, I believe it is bad news for art and it’s bad news for artists because we’re getting into the system that I call shopping centres, and shopping centres kill art. So we are now in a situation of art and money. I believe that the salvation of art fairs will come from the periphery, and by that I mean all the emerging countries, all the countries that can bring out with their cultural wealth. What I would recommend is that they put on fairs at home that are perhaps smaller and less important, not to let themselves get gobbled up by organisations like the Basel fair, to remain independent and allow us to see a different art, and not to go in the direction of fairs like Mexico, where I saw all the same galleries as usual, who were showing works that I had already seen 10,000 kilometres away in Basel and above all works that were already intended for new collectors.
It was like going to a fair and coming across the unsold leftovers from other fairs. We need to stick to creation, the bedrock of our calling. We have to instil more reasonable notions in collectors and we need to get these gallerists to do their job properly. Q. I would like to ask about the situation of galleries when, as Victor remarked, we promote an artist for many years and this artist finally becomes a big success, so he gets into these art fairs where, much as we might want to, we cannot gain admission. Our artists are in and we are out. How does this work? V.G. Again it’s to do with context. The context of a London gallery may be more interesting for an artist than that of a Madrid gallery. That’s what we talked about when we were in Basel on the committee. We were trying to defend our profession, to defend these galleries who build up an artist’s career. We wanted to ensure that we had the primary dealer there. Of course you can’t do everything. I would plead for small or medium-sized fairs or I would think about satellites or other fairs or events where it is still possible to find a way to present that artist through the gallery or through other ideas. Just to go back to the crystal ball, I deplore the current situation in which we have mega fairs that endorse quality and which travel to the other side of the world. This only works for mega events. Now they’ve sent me the invitation to go to Hong Kong and I should go to Miami. I have six people in the gallery and I have 20 artists, I don’t have the quality, nor do I have the people. How can I do this and still look at myself in the mirror and say I believe in what I do, that I’m not a commercial gallery? Quality is going down and you can imagine the next generation, they understand the Chinese, the Indians... They google it right away. And if you’re not on there, you’re no good, and that’s very bad. Plus fairs cost a lot of money. If they become successful, they can demand more. Even we couldn’t get a freeze on the price of a booth at Basel. Every year they wanted more, we fought like crazy with them, they never revealed the figures. And that’s the problem. We as galleries should make ourselves more independent: we have to use fairs but we should be the bosses. We are their clients, we have to be very
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strong with them. We decide where we want to go and why we want to go. I will give you an example: the nicest art fair I ever attended was San SebastiĂĄn because of the quality of the time I had there. All the great relationships I have today with some of the Spanish galleries came from there because we had a quality time. It was perfect. So you see there are many, many possibilities where art fairs could go in the future. It should not lead only to these mega areas. P.H. This is a point that seems crucial to me: an artist is discovered by a gallery but it is not admitted in fairs, but that is the same situation that galleries from other countries face. I will give you an example: you represent an artist, you are the first and the only one to show his work in your country; you represent him when he is unknown; you find it very difficult to sell his work because his art at that time is very difficult. By the time that artist becomes more important, you have invested your capital and effort in him. Now you face a big problem, and that is the fair committee. We need to establish the system of a professional committee. A gallerist who sits on a committee has invested 120% of his effort in his own gallery, so how can he be expected to abandon it? When I did Shanghai, I ignored my gallery and spent a year travelling all over the place in an attempt to see everything. How can a gallerist do that nowadays? For us to go to fairs and represent that artist, you need a system that means you can be sure that people will come to you, and that you can trust in that systemâ€™s integrity. Nowadays, important artists are bought and sold just like football players. So, you have worked hard over many years and suddenly along comes a big gallery and gives the artist $30 million. Now you have one of two things, eyes with which to cry or work that you bought at the time when it only cost $2,000 to provide you with at least some salvation in this situation. I insist, we need sweeping reform in fairs to ensure that they have honest people familiar with art who have the time to come to you and learn about you and what you do.
Estrella de Diego Curator, essayist and professor of Contemporary Art at the Complutense University of Madrid (UCM). She has worked as a visiting professor at many Spanish and international universities, holding the King Juan Carlos I of Spain Chair of Spanish Culture and Civilization at New York University during the years 1998 and 1999. Her research focuses on gender theory, visual and postcolonial studies and the origins of modernity. She has curated exhibitions for La Caixa (Barcelona), Casa de América (Madrid), and La Casa Encendida (Madrid), and represented Spain at the 22nd São Paulo Biennial and at the 49th Venice Biennale. She is also the author of several books, a regular columnist for the newspaper El País and the director of the Azul Mínima series (Ed. Siruela).
Helga de Alvear after several years of experience in the art world, she opened a gallery under her own name in 1995, committed to international art and disciplines such as photography, video and installations. While pursuing her professional activities, de Alvear dedicated a lot of time to her greatest passion: art collecting. June 2010 was the beginning of the first phase of the Helga de Alvear Foundation, in Cáceres, which houses the gallerist’s entire collection (more than 2,500 pieces). Helga de Alvear received the Medalla de Extremadura in 2007 and the Medalla de Oro al Mérito en las Bellas Artes, awarded by the Spanish Ministry of Culture in 2008. She was also Ambassador of Spain at the 2011 Art Basel fair.
Paul Maenz studied at the Essen Design School, worked in advertising and founded the Paul Maenz Gallery in Cologne in 1970 with Gerd de Vries, putting special emphasis on conceptual art and arte povera. In the 1980s, he pioneered the exhibition of paintings from the Italian Transavantgarde and New German Art. In 1990 he closed the gallery and handed his archive over to the Getty Foundation in Los Angeles. Since 1993 his private collection has been at the Neues Museum in Weimar. He has published books on 20th-century art history and has made large donations to German museums, including the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin, the Neues Museum in Weimar and the Museum of Modern Art in Frankfurt.
Luise Faurschou graduated in Film and Communication Arts from the University of Copenhagen, and later specialised in Modern Culture and Cultural Communication. Along with her brother Jens she established her first gallery, the Galleri Faurschou, in Copenhagen in 1986, and ten years later she cofounded the DCA Gallery in New York. She has been a member of the Danish Gallery Association and the Danish Art Council since 2006. In 2007 she opened a new branch of her gallery in Beijing, China. Later, she opened her own foundation in Copenhagen as well as Beijing: the Faurschou Foundation. Since 2010, she has also been president of the Danish Gallery Association and a prominent member of the Federation of European Art Galleries Association (FEAGA).
Boris Vervoordt after studying in London and working several years as a head of customer relations, Vervoordt’s started directing the Axel Vervoordt Company in 2007 and had a great momentum in 2008, years marked by the first two exhibitions of the Vervoordt Foundation’s trilogy: Artempo and Academia. Boris played a decisive role in the fundamental transformations that changed the face of the company while strengthening ties with artists. All this work gave rise to the opening of the Axel Vervoordt Gallery in January 2011, which would serve as a platform for presenting solo artist exhibitions. Vervoordt has also been a member of the Chamber of Belgian Antiquarians since 2005.
THE GALLERIST AS A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
PARTICIPANTS Helga de Alvear, Paul Maenz, Luise Faurschou, Boris Vervoordt MODERATOR Estrella de Diego
CONCEPTS gallerist, collector, gallery programme, platform for new artists, exhibiting or selling?, foundation, donation.
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ESTRELLA DE DIEGO (E. de D.) Today we will be looking at the problem of the private and the public, one of the main issues currently discussed when talking about galleries versus other institutions such as museums, foundations, etc. Around this table, we are going to focus on this tension between the private and public and the way the private can turn into a public or a not-for-profit institution, something that happens when a collection turns into a museum or a foundation. The interesting thing about the people participating in this round table is that they are both gallerists and collectors, but they have different models of collecting, which will probably turn into different models of foundations as well, and are also at different stages.
HELGA DE ALVEAR (H. de A.) Main idea: The difficulty of being a gallerist and a collector at the same time I put together an exhibition in Madrid in the 1990s but didn’t sell a thing. As gallerists, you all know that when you don’t make a sale at an exhibition, you ponder on the possibility of keeping two or three pieces for yourself. That’s how gallerists’ collections begin and grow. But it is difficult to be a gallerist and a collector at the same time. People think you want to buy something in order to sell it later on and that has made things extremely problematic for me. At fairs such as Basel and in Cologne and Berlin, people don’t trust you till they realise that you have a considerable collection. At the start, it’s very difficult. But there is one advantage if you are a gallerist; you are there first. You have to put up with the fair and the process of setting it up, but it gives you the opportunity to come across a good piece because the same thing can happen to you as when you find an important work: ahead of you are the major collectors and institutions, for whom everything is reserved. Even so, collectors fall in love with works of art at art fairs, not over the Internet. It’s different if you are already familiar with an artist, in which case you simply say you want the work and you buy it. But ordinarily you have to go to art fairs and see works for yourself. A real collector is not an adviser; they’re not like someone who buys for investment funds or the very wealthy, because, as Manolo Borja, the Director of the Reina Sofía, said, such purchases are demonstrations of power. Big businesses need to demonstrate their power, but I am a collector. For example, I have many works on paper, as I like to collect pieces of this kind. It would be impossible to buy this type of work over the Internet. That is why art fair directors should realise that an art fair is very different to a computer trade exhibition, a car show or whatever. With regard to video pieces, if you are a private collector purchasing to view at home, you must buy a single-channel video or something you can watch on television. And there are collectors who do that and who have a collection of that kind of work. More complex pieces, such as one I own by Stan Douglas, are for a foundation or museum or can be loaned. Obviously, you don’t need to look at the works every day.
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In my collection there are two artworks that exemplify why I regard collecting art as important and why I believe the choice of a home for that collection is key: “IT IS DIFFICULT TO BE A GALLERIST AND A COLLECTOR AT THE SAME TIME. PEOPLE THINK YOU WANT TO BUY SOMETHING IN ORDER TO SELL IT LATER ON”. Four years ago, Mary Boone phoned me and said, “Helga, I have a piece by Ai Weiwei in the gallery that you have to see because I know you are familiar with his work, plus I want it to end up in a collection and stay there, never to return to the market again. I told her I couldn’t afford it because I am just a private collector and don’t have corporate support. She sent me all the information and I fell in love with the work but I couldn’t pay for it. Mary told me she would give me a 50% discount, but I still couldn’t pay for the transport so she said she would send it free of charge. Then I met Ai Weiwei, and he told me he wanted to be present when the work was assembled. We are now waiting for the foundation building in Cáceres to be completed. For Ai Weiwei, this piece symbolises the fall of Chinese Communism and obviously the work had to be got out of America quickly because he was already beginning to face problems. He is an artist who is incapable of keeping quiet, but if there were no people like Ai Weiwei in the world, things would be even worse. We collectors have to support artists like him. Among the many pieces in my collection is one by Thomas Hirschhorn, which is a tribute to loggers, the people who struggled for freedom in Switzerland. This piece was shown in the museum in Wolfsburg (where Volkswagen is based), a town that nobody could place on the map, but today everyone involved in the world of art knows where it is because it has an important museum. That is the work that we gallerists should be doing today: something important even if it is with just one piece. For me, Wolfsburg has always been the symbol of what I want to do. That is why I have had the good fortune that the building to house my foundation is being fitted out and extended in Cáceres, a small town in the south-west of Spain near Portugal. Spain deserves a project like this.
E. de D. I think Helga has pointed to some interesting questions. How can you be a gallerist and a collector at the same time? Does the gallerist turn into a new category when he or she becomes a collector? PAUL MAENZ (P. M.) Main idea: “Once in art, always in art” It seems that galleries, to a certain extent, see themselves as victims, which in a way they are: slaves of the artists and victims of the collectors at the same time. I stopped my gallery activity in 1990; the turning point was back in 1980, when art became a public issue. My collection is for the most part the residue and the result of my gallery work. The gallery opened with a show by Hans Haacke. Then, of course, we were in the conceptual era: Joseph Kosuth, Robert Barry, Art & Language, Hanne Daboven, Daniel Buren. Parallel to this there was Arte Povera (even if we don’t like those devils, they helped): Paolini, Penone, Anselmo, Luciano Fabro, etc. And then we had the feeling that towards the second half of the 1970s there was a certain academism: if we mounted a Daniel Buren show in February, we knew we weren’t going to sell anything; and if we put on a show of Hanne Daboven in March, we would get numbers. Somehow the message had been understood, but it would not carry the life and the fire of a gallery which claimed to be a gallery for the international Avant-garde. International in those days meant Europe; and Europe meant Germany, a bit of France, Italy and that was about it, a little of the UK plus New York, not even America. That has changed, as we all know. There was something that really intrigued me when I went to Italy: I kept seeing things that I really did not understand. They went against everything I believed in: they were figurative and painted, and not part of the kind of progression we were used to, with one ism after the other: the minimalist had to ‘kill’ somebody and then the conceptualists had to ‘kill’ everybody. And all of a sudden there was what Bonito Oliva called the concept of the Transavantgarde, a word that did not exist in the beginning, there were just strange works by Francesco Clemente, by Sandro Chia, Paladino and Enzo Cucci. Of these artists, Chia was an
THE GALLERIST AS A PRIVATE COLLECTOR
extraordinary painter in those days. I took 19 small paintings back with me in my car and, even though my partner was initially reluctant, we gave these artists their first show outside Italy. Then of course, very soon afterwards, we had the so called ‘wild painters’ from Germany. It was a short-lived but very intense situation, shared by other galleries like Art & Project in Amsterdam, Yvon Lambert in Paris and a number of others. “IT SEEMS THAT GALLERIES, TO A CERTAIN EXTENT, SEE THEMSELVES AS VICTIMS, WHICH IN A WAY THEY ARE: SLAVES OF THE ARTISTS AND VICTIMS OF THE COLLECTORS AT THE SAME TIME”. Around 1980 there was a big bang because the idea of the Avant-garde was over. We had a postmodernist situation and my gallery programme really reflected that, because galleries were a patchwork of artistic concepts and one was equal to another. Critics said: artists do not seem to be against something; they are somewhere else, and that was what you could see in the gallery programme. Since the idea of the gallery was to follow the art and the artists, we had Anish Kapoor (always the first shows and always the only gallery in Germany for him); in 1984 it was the turn for Anselm Kiefer, whom we represented for about ten years until 1990, when the gallery closed; Keith Haring, who had his first solo show in Germany. And of course this was also the time when artists became stars and exhibitions became events; for example, Kiefer flew in a helicopter for his opening and expected a limousine at the airport (which we sent). In the early years we usually had 16 people on average for every opening. The last exhibition had a guard at the door allowing no more than 200 people in because we were afraid the pieces might get damaged. In 1989 the Berlin Wall came down and Germany was united; for the first time we had one capital city. That wasn’t the reason, but it was a good moment for me to move on. When the gallery was over, I moved to Berlin as a free man: I was no longer a gallerist, but once in art, always in art; this is something you don’t get out of your blood. After that, I was on the beach in the
Canary Islands (Tenerife) where I have a house, and I was reading in the newspaper about the museum in Weimar, a city located in the former Socialist part of the country that is to Germany what Florence is to Italy. The newspaper had an interview with the director, who said that nine painting by Lucas Cranach had been stolen, and not only had those paintings been stolen but an entire century was missing because the Nazis removed everything from the Bauhaus and anything modern, and they were followed by the Communists, who did not know what contemporary art looked like outside our borders. I wrote him a letter and told him that I could not help him with an entire century, but concerning the last 30 years I had a couple of good things. We got together and in 1993 my collection, which I had never seen as a collection but just things that had stayed with me, gave Weimar a reason to rebuild a very good building, one of the first buildings constructed as a museum back in the 19th century. As a gallerist, I talked to my artists and they were very generous. Sol LeWitt gave the entire foyer and Daniel Buren made the hall, representing the two Germanies. Now my life is not within the white cube anymore; the collection partly belongs to the museum and partly went back. E. de D. I think you raised some issues that underlie the idea of being a gallerist and how there are some works you do not sell because nobody really appreciates them. Leo Castelli said he got lots of Jasper Johnsâ€™ works because nobody really understood them, so his collection was very interesting in that respect. LUISE FAURSCHOU (L. F.) Main idea: Highlighting the pieces and the artist I started 25 years ago as a gallerist together with my partner, Jens Faurschou. We started in Copenhagen in 1986 and then we opened in Beijing in 2007. Then in 2009 we decided to take a new step and a year from now [September 2012] we will be opening the foundationâ€™s first space. Each of the shows we will be mounting in our space in Copenhagen will
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be open to the public even though they will be privately funded. What we want to do is to realise a dream. I think there is a collector inside most gallerists, and it is great to be able to focus on two things: 1) building up and developing a living collection of increasingly contemporary art; 2) mounting new exhibitions, creating platforms that offer the artists a blank page, so to speak, so they can produce new work. This makes us part of the ongoing dialogue in the world of art. What is art doing to all of us? It is really a language that questions who we are, either as individuals or as a society; how do we develop and how do we interact? That is why we have chosen this business. “I REACHED A POINT WHERE I NEEDED TO GET BACK TO CONTEMPLATION AND EXHIBITION ISSUES RATHER THAN GETTING THE PIECES FOR THE NEXT FAIR”. The decision to set up a foundation was prompted by two main factors. Firstly, I believe we are now at a time when the structure of our business is dramatically changing. We have spoken a lot about the mega galleries, which I respect, but I just chose to go in a different direction. We have been discussing art fairs as great meeting places, but I reached a point where I needed to get back to contemplation and exhibition issues rather than getting the pieces for the next fair. I felt the need to focus more on highlighting the pieces and the artist. That is really the reason why I do this and have chosen to focus more on collecting than on selling in the future. I have great admiration for those who have done it in a bigger scale and I hope to take small steps in that direction. The objectives, then, are two: to provide a good house for art and what I regard as masterpieces; and to offer a platform where artists can create new works. To me it is interesting to bind together both Scandinavia [Copenhagen] and China [Beijing], where a lot of new things are going on. Another thing is the many hats and hands you need to have in order to be a gallerist, although basically most of the hands and the hats are the same. In the future I will show my commitment more through exhibiting and collecting rather than selling the artists’ works. Overall, I think that what unites all of us in this room is probably passion.
E. de D. I think you have singled out a couple of very important points. One is the changing structure, with the Internet and China, for example. Vitamin [Creative Space] has shown itself to be an interesting example of both private and public; and maybe we have to rethink our whole approach, as the relations between private and public are much more open. BORIS VERVOORDT (B. V.) Main idea: The old and the new Compared to the rest of the panellists, I am the junior as I have been working in the art business for only 15 years with my family. But what I really share with them and with all of you is a passion for art. I remember my first connection with art was through purchasing a piece and that started my family’s determination to become antique and contemporary art dealers. When my father was 60 years old, he felt that he needed to pay homage to that by providing a place where art and time could meet; that was why the exhibition was called “Artempo” (Palazzo Fortuny, Venice, 2007). The idea was to show what the past can teach us about the future, as that is an anchor to our collection. We commissioned a work from El Anatsui to open the space using just bubble caps and waste, out of which he could create jobs for an entire village and distribute money for that work, turning trash into gold in an alchemistic way. It was such a fascinating experience that the exhibition became a trilogy: after “Artempo” came “Academia” and “Infinitum”. We had important examples of history gathered together there with one question: how can we create a dialogue between these pieces and contemporary artists? If you want to become an artist, you need to learn from other art masters, something which gives the person a very interesting dynamic that could let him/her be more authentic and free. After the “Academia” show in Paris, held in the Chapelle of the École des Beaux-Arts, we decided to become a foundation. We felt that we needed to be one in order to operate. This foundation will hold the family’s collection and this engagement is going to continue. All the good initiatives in life come from some drive and you just start doing them.
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My father never wanted to be a dealer with a shop, so he decided to live in his own home in an old monastery from the 15th century and which we have now given over to the gallery. Back then, however, there were artists who also lived on that street and had their studios there, and many of them became friends for life. It was really through the artists that my parents discovered contemporary art. We have always searched for a place for both the old and the new, an example being the display of two Chinese sculptures (the symbol of the Earth, which is archaic Chinese and about 6,000 years old, and a symbol of heaven) along with a Fontana, the latter working as some sort of ladder connecting to the void. “MY FATHER NEVER WANTED TO BE A DEALER WITH A SHOP, SO HE DECIDED TO LIVE IN HIS OWN HOME IN AN OLD MONASTERY FROM THE 15TH CENTURY AND WHICH WE HAVE NOW GIVEN OVER TO THE GALLERY”. Living with art has been key for us. In 1999 we moved our collection to a bigger space that would let us pursue new activities and invite people to join us. In addition, this space will also accommodate the public part of the collection. We will occupy the buildings located in the centre, covering about 6,000 m2, which is enough space for the foundation. Our company will be there and we are inviting 100 families to join us in this adventure. We are trying to make a dream happen, a big dream that looks like it’s about to start happening. We began the construction process in September 2011; the first step will include 50,000 m2, of which we will own about 20,000 m2.
DISCUSSION E. de D. It would be interesting for me to hear when you realised you had become a collector and whether it was a conscious decision. I suppose some of your clients go to the gallery and they know they are collectors; you may have to help them in order to make a decision or guide them through the process of buying a specific art work, etc., but they are aware they are collecting. H. de A. For me it’s never planned. I see a thing, I fall in love with it and then I have to buy it. It’s my way. E. de D. When did you realise you were a collector? H. de A. I started in 1967 with my husband; we were friends with many artists. Then I met Juana Mordó but I was like everybody and I bought awful things. But one day in Basel, a long time ago, a friend of mine approached my booth and told me: “If you bring the shit you brought to Cologne ever again, we’ll throw you out of here”. I was furious, but that was the best thing that happened to me. I asked him for advice and he said, “Look, in every house, from time to time you have to clean; begin by cleaning the gallery; there is a lot of dust.” And I began to clean. P. M. It was because of this new type of gallery around 1970. Today it seems normal, but it wasn’t like it at that time. Before that, the art dealer would visit the studio of an artist and choose what to show. During the late 1960s it was the other way around: the artist came, the flight ticket was paid and that was it. The gallery became like a studio, physically and mentally, and the gallerist became a creative partner of the artist he was involved with. If you had the feeling that this sort of symbiosis worked, you would stick together until maybe someone offered him a bigger cheque and then you would part, though this didn’t always happen. But when it comes to buying, some of the best things I have, it was because I couldn’t sell them; they stayed with me for years until I arrived
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at the point where I said that the piece was so important that I was going to buy it to keep it out of the market. Then you have some young artists like Hans-Peter Feldmann: his work was really cheap (€2 or maybe €20 if it was a big piece); it was a shame and I bought everything. He offered a show to the National Gallery in Berlin, a huge show like a retrospective, at a very low price. You must remember that Feldmann never produces unique pieces nor does he produce editions: when he feels like it, he re-does something. But the museum couldn’t make up their mind so I blackmailed them and I told them “If you buy this show entirely, I will give you as a present the same quantity of works by Feldmann.” Now they have the most complete collection of Feldmann in the world. “WHEN YOU HAVE A GALLERY, YOU ARE NOT PRIVATE; YOU HAVE THE CONTEXT, THE ART SYSTEM AND THE NETWORK IN MIND”. Regarding donation, there is a story about the Städel Museum in Frankfurt, a highly important European museum for its painting collection: they are now creating a huge space for art after 1945. When I saw the model, I realised that they did not have what really should be exhibited in that kind of museum or space. So I told them I could offer to make a list of works from my collection that they could have as a gift or as a permanent loan; there was only one condition: they had to show them. When I inherit the estate or the archive of an artist, I give it to a museum because I have to consider its care beyond my own time. And this is another subject: what happens to a collection when the owner eventually dies? Although that is how my collaboration started, I have to admit my collection started just as possession. There are also several issues concerning a collection that goes public, as you have to be very precise and responsible about the way you show artworks. You turn into a curator. If in that public situation you have good partners, then you can let it go. In most cases, you don’t have good partners, as people tend to be lazy. Working with art means a lot of work; you cannot work a little bit and feel good. You have to really be behind it. When you have a gallery, you are not private; you have the context, the art system and the network in mind. But when the project goes public, there is an enormous distance between you and the work.
E. de D. Luise, how are these sorts of decisions made? Do you just say I want to keep on selling now and/or I want to show more than selling this time? L.F. I started when I was 20 years old, so for many years I had to sell the art pieces for two reasons: primarily because as a gallerist you need to place your artists’ works in the best possible collections; and secondly because you also have to pay the bills. I have tried from the beginning to collect some things from our own exhibitions, but it wasn’t always possible. It’s mainly in the last ten years that I started deliberately collecting. But it really has to do with being able to do it, even though the wish has been there all the time. E. de D. Boris, it sounds like you became a collector as an offshoot of the family business. B.V. Absolutely. As a foundation, we want people to open their eyes to the different ways of collecting and the different ways that exist for sharing the passion for the arts. That is really our main drive. Personally, I also like being a dealer, whereas my father is much more involved with the foundation. I enjoy placing works in good collections, but I couldn’t imagine not having an artist we represent in our family collection! It always starts there; it’s that kind of love Helga has described. It almost always starts by purchasing something for ourselves; then the relationship starts to build and after that we represent him/her in the gallery. E. de D. The idea of having someone in the gallery that you have in your collection is part of what you all love. But what if you have a piece that you love and one of your collectors wants it as well: who wins in that conflict? P.M. The better collector has to win. That is your responsibility towards the artist. I would not refuse to sell a piece just because I love it. But it’s not a situation that arises very often. B.V. I couldn’t agree more. The art comes first and some collections are better ambassadors than others for the work.
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E. de D. But when should a collection become public? I mean, you became collectors little by little, sometimes keeping the works, sometimes buying pieces you love. But then at some point you need the collection to be seen by everybody. You also mentioned storage issues; preferring keeping the works stored by yourselves than in a museum… P. M. When you have a work of art that you think is important, wonderful and significant because it represents a moment of thinking and creation in our era, it’s a funny feeling when the piece has been stored in a museum for 20 years and the chances are you may not see that work again. It is possible to incorporate works from your collection into a museum’s by donating it or by founding your own museum or institution, a private space. But there are many aspects to that, primarily money. I flirted with the idea at one point but I cannot entertain it seriously because in order to keep the presentation going and make it really interesting for more than two months, I would have to invest money I don’t have. So I would depend on a partnership with a public collection and that depends on the person. H. de D. I went all over Spain. Everybody wanted to provide me with a building but I was expected to rent it so I said no. All I need is a roof, I don’t need Zaha Hadid or Frank Gehry. I have found two young architects and the money is coming from Europe. E. de D. There is a transformation taking place in the field. The older generations faced difficulties that the younger ones have overcome to a certain extent, or at least there are different solutions. We are probably becoming more business oriented, but on the other hand we may have found different solutions that did not exist in the past.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND QUESTIONS (C/Q) FROM THE AUDIENCE Q. When a gallerist buys a work from a particular artist after a failed exhibition, does the gallerist want to stimulate the artist or to serve as an example to other collectors? H. de A. That is why I don’t work with relatives or friends, only with artists I believe I would like to have in my own collection. Otherwise, you will end up in trouble. P.M. It’s a merciless field. You should not build a bridge unless you are sure the engineer knows how to do it. Otherwise you will fall. C/Q. I was a collector too, trying to find the best piece and so on, but it proved impossible to purchase excellence so I stopped. Every collector buys thinking he or she has the best collection. When you have a lot of works, you have to start thinking about what you should do with these works and that is when the nightmare starts. Now, with the development of the market, it’s going to be interesting to see what happens with all these collectors thinking they have the best collections. There is so much art now stored in warehouses. What is going to happen to all this art? P.M. It’s a very serious question. There are thousands of collections that might be considered important but which in fact are not that significant. Time will tell and I think a degree of modesty is necessary. I find it disturbing to see so many American collectors walking around Basel: you can observe a mixture of greed, envy... I will give you an example: in my old days, I sold a painting to an American collector in Basel; five minutes later, another American woman came to me and said: “I know she has bought a painting. Would you have something else but just a bit bigger?” And she considers herself a serious collector. Collecting is something that needs time; and time tells you as a collector whether you have been right or not. It’s an endless topic. I could mention as well the topic of tax in Germany when you have a private collection. That’s another story.
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There are many aspects about collecting and we always talk about love and excitement, but there are very practical issues; it’s like having child who gives you 90% trouble and 10% pleasure, and even then you don’t know what the outcome will be. L.F. Some of the works should stay in the warehouses. But hopefully those who had good eyes and did build good collections can support some of the institutions that didn’t have a chance to follow through. P.M. A collection is just a group of works, some good, some less so. Collecting has become like a profession, like being a carpenter. It is very nice to own works of art, but let’s not overrate collectors. They are art owners, art lovers. There is a long way to go before you have a collection, and it’s not just a matter of owning art. Q. Helga, how do you acquire works of art as a gallerist if they don’t come from your own gallery practice? You said that you walk around art fairs and see work you would like to buy, but that there would be some kind of problems related to trust and confidence from the gallerists you wanted to buy from, as they maybe distrusted you and thought you might put the works up for sale yourself. H. de A. It was a big issue for several years. Now I don’t have that problem anymore as people recognise me and know that when I buy an artwork, it’s going straight to Cáceres. P.M. During ARCO 2011 I went to a young gallery’s booth, asked about a painting, and the gallerist said: “Helga has bought it!” It was like a seal of quality. On the other hand, I was in Basel two years ago and in three of the big gallery booths, American or British, they didn’t know me but even if they had it would have been the same: they wouldn’t even give me the price of the works. As mentioned earlier, even if you can get the money together for a work that costs a million and are able to put it in a context where it really deserves to be but don’t get it, you end up feeling disillusioned. If you want to buy something
as a collector or as a dealer, if you are a good dealer, it shouldn’t be so difficult if it’s young art, because ultimately we are talking more about money than art in that case. C/Q. We have to consider that a collector is firstly a person passionate about buying art. Setting up a museum is very complicated. When I was a collector, I offered my collection to the city of Geneva and they didn’t want it. The director of the museum advised me to build my own museum, but I told him I don’t want to own a museum. My passion is buying art and renting a museum is a nightmare. This is a problem for collectors: even if you have a very good collection, you have to work hard to find a good place to put this collection. Those who receive these collections are not aware of how much passion and energy has been invested in them: it’s a lifetime’s work that ends up in storage. H. de A. Some of the museums start with the roof, without any collection, and then they build their collection in a matter of two years, so you can imagine what they collect. And there are lots of museums like that. P.M. This is why auction houses will live forever. E. de D. As an art historian, it’s difficult to understand why a museum wouldn’t want a good collection, and why there are empty museums while there are orphan collections at the same time. Why don’t they meet each other’s needs? It would be even a good solution from an economic point of view.
Guillermo Romero Parra is a specialist in Modern and Contemporary Art at Christie’s in London, the city where he began his professional career in galleries like White Cube and Victoria Miro. Since 2004 he has led the Parra & Romero Gallery, founded by his mother, Pilar Parra, in 1993. His work at the helm of the gallery can be situated between the boundaries of minimalist art and conceptual art, committed to internationalization and often to young artists, with a special focus on curating exhibitions. Romero Parra is also a member of the board of ArteMadrid Gallery Association.
Janelle Reiring graduated from the University of California-Berkeley, she then moved to New York where she worked at the prestigious Leo Castelli Gallery between 1975 and 1980. In that year she opened the Metro Pictures Gallery with Helene Winer in a small space in Soho, representing a group of young artists all putting on their first show in New York. The gallery grew quickly, going from a small, low-level floor space to a larger location in the same neighborhood, adding new international artists to its list. In 1997, the gallery moved to its current location in Chelsea, with important exhibitions and a commitment to new artists.
Gregor Podnar obtained a degree in Art History, Ethnology and Eastern European History from the University of Cologne. He has worked as an independent curator since 1993. From 1996 to 2003, he was the art director of the SKUC Gallery, in Ljubljana. He has been curator of the Triennial of Contemporary Art in Slovenia, co-curator of the “Information/ Disinformation” project as part of the 24th Biennial of Graphic Arts in Ljubljana and co-curator of the exhibition “September Horse” at the Künstlerhaus Bethanien in Berlin. In July 2003, he opened his first gallery in his hometown, Kranj, which moved to Ljubljana two years later. In October 2007, he opened a second gallery in Berlin. Podnar also represents artists of international renown mostly established in Eastern Europe.
Silvia Dauder is the founder and director of the ProjecteSD Gallery, which opened in Barcelona in 2003. Despite its short career, ProjecteSD has already been recognised as housing a new concept of gallery within the Spanish contemporary art gallery scene. Its consistent programme and its appropriate selection of artists (which is not solely based on commercial concerns, but always goes a step ahead of market, trends and demands), as well as its personal outlook, have contributed towards the gallery´s notoriety and uniqueness, which has helped it to participate actively in the most prestigious art fairs in the world. ProjecteSD also pays special attention to publishing and distributing art books.
INTERNATIONALISING THE GALLERY
PARTICIPANTS Janelle Reiring, Gregor Podnar, Silvia Dauder MODERATOR Guillermo Romero Parra
CONCEPTS identity, freelance curators, big international shows, art market, Eastern European art, networking, Barcelona, contemporary art, new art fairs, audiences, distribution channels.
INTERNATIONALISING THE GALLERY
GUILLERMO ROMERO PARRA (G.R.P.) The first issue I wanted to raise is that internationalising a gallery is a very open question. Ever since modern times began, all galleries have been representing artists of many nationalities, as well as different generations, so we are actually engaged in the same context. There’s no doubt that what makes a gallery different is its identity. So, I’d like to ask you about the identity of your galleries. For example, Janelle, you’ve been in the business for many years, how was it when you opened your gallery? What was your idea of your identity?
JANELLE REIRING (J.R.) Main idea: Europe, the first step When we opened the gallery, we were working with a group of young artists, not one of whom had ever had a one-person show in a gallery. They were local, they all lived in New York and we opened in a very small space. International then meant essentially Europe and New York. So, we looked to Europe because we thought we would get more support there because of what we were showing. I guess this was informed by my experience at Castelli’s gallery: the last generation of artists that he had taken on were video artists and conceptual artists and they received no support whatsoever in New York, it was really from Europe, from curators, a few collectors, not many…
I think that that was our focus from the very beginning, even though it was a very small local gallery. We worked to get information out, of course. We wrote people letters, I think we put a little ad in Artforum magazine and in Flash Art, the international magazine at that time. I have a partner and we both just relied on people that we knew and wrote them letters, asking them to come and see the gallery and the artists. Unbeknownst to us, we were very, very lucky because in New York there was suddenly a focus on contemporary art and young artists in particular. It started in the media and very quickly a market built up in New York. I mean, it was the 80s and everyone knows about the art boom, but we did not foresee it. We expected really tough times and very little support in the beginning. And then, as far internationalising the gallery goes, when we were doing well enough, we could afford to show artists primarily from Europe, because before that we couldn’t even afford to bring them over or ship their work over or anything. We showed some Martin Kippenberger and some other German artists, a Dutch artist, etc. From that time on, we’ve tried to continue. Right now in the gallery we have two shows up, one is by the young British artist Tris Vonna-Michell, who actually lives in Stockholm, and the other one is the Swiss artist Olaf Breuning, who lives in New York. Now, of course, international means the whole world, and I think it’s very hard to keep up with everything that’s going on all over the world, I can’t go to a city and suddenly start looking at artists. I don’t know anything about the culture. So, I think we have to rely on the many freelance curators who are now keeping up and a lot of big international shows. G.R.P. With regard to art fairs at that time, I suppose it was also financially difficult to be away from home at the beginning. J.R. Art fairs weren’t so important then, particularly, for young galleries and new artists. Basel didn’t have an art statement section. It was a different fair. The first fair that we ever participated in was the Chicago fair, which had made an effort at the time to have international galleries. We came to ARCO because they invited us, I remember. And then, we started doing Basel in 1995 maybe.
INTERNATIONALISING THE GALLERY
“INTERNATIONAL MEANS THE WHOLE WORLD, AND I THINK IT’S VERY HARD TO KEEP UP WITH EVERYTHING THAT’S GOING ON ALL OVER THE WORLD”.
GREGOR PODNAR (G.P.) Main idea: From Slovenia to Berlin First of all, I’d like to say something about the term ‘identity’. An artist of mine once said that something which is connected to people barely has anything that you could call identity. Objects have an identity because they don’t change. People change. So, it’s hard to speak about the identity of the programme, but maybe we could discuss its development. I started on a curatorial basis and Ljubljana was actually, in the 90s, quite active at the curatorial level. What was interesting was that the dialogue was not always with Western countries. The focus was also on itself, southern and Eastern Europe and old Europe, as well. And that’s where I had my first experience. Coming from the periphery of Europe, I definitely saw a niche and I realised there were some artistic positions, some artists that I really wanted to work with and who were not yet part of the commercial system. That was the beginning. Out of that came the brand of curator, a gallerist who is actually a gallery owner who focuses on East European art which, in fact, was not my primary interest. I just saw a niche in my local environment and also beyond in other countries in Eastern or northern Europe, for example, I started to work with Swedish artists. I realised that it would initially be from a curatorial point of view but then, of course, it started to become a business that I wanted to continue. G.R.P. You were a curator, so why did you make that decision? G.P. I felt that as a curator, I was a bit trapped. I was interested in content
but I was not that good at networking. I really like working with artists, having an exchange, delving into their ideas. But, I have to confess that this preoccupation with a strong strategic view on links and networks which move you forward in your career… with my programme, I thought it wouldn’t be a good idea. So, I had to change professions or maybe my focus, and I thought I might have more freedom as a gallery owner who has his own realm. Bills are not dependent on public money. This was a very naïve idea, but it led me to start the gallery. G.R.P. And then you opened a second space in Berlin. Was this because you wanted to get more international attention as well? G.P. I was not happy with the political situation in Slovenia. From the outside, it’s a wonderful small state close to the Alps. I initially intended to go a bit further south, but I ended up in Berlin. And that’s the situation now. There is a lot of competition and we have to face the fact that I have to continue to go to art fairs. G.R.P. Art fairs for you are a key aspect of your programme because you get the attention that you need for your artists as well. G.P. Also, I make my living out of that. If I may use an analogy between jazz and pop, if you’re more on the jazz side, it’s difficult to meet the financial needs of the gallery. SILVIA DAUDER (S.D.) Main idea: When lack of experience helps I completely agree with this definition or non-definition of identity. It’s something that doesn’t stay the same forever, it changes over time. With regard to my identity, I think I started to think about this, not knowing exactly what I wanted to do, but knowing what I did not want to do. I started the gallery in 2003 with a total lack of experience. In my previous professional life or background, I had no connection whatsoever with
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any discipline that had anything to do with art. I was an art lover. I studied in the US for two years in the mid-80s and I was completely immersed in different cultures, very different educational systems, and that had a big impact on me. After two years, I decided to quit what I was doing there. I came back to Barcelona and from scratch I looked for a job. I was ready to do anything. I was offered a very good job because I could speak very good English. This may sound very simplistic but I think this was crucial to the way I developed until I reached the position of running a gallery in Barcelona. During the years I was there and later, it was totally natural for me to communicate with foreigners about books and exhibitions that were not Spanish. And that’s how everything developed, I think. I worked in various fields for many years and, before opening the gallery, the only thing I could do was just teach myself by spending all my free time seeing shows, exhibitions, art fairs, galleries, etc. Not studio artists because, of course, I was not yet practising as a professional. But, when I finally decided to open the gallery and this question of being international or defining an identity came up, it was very natural for me to interact with international artworks and artists. What I did not want to do in Barcelona was to work just with local artists or young artists. Nor did I want to work with international artists who were already big names and were immediately recognised in Spain. I just wanted to be different, do things differently, because there were many colleagues already doing things well and I did not want to do the same as them. “I THINK THAT MY LACK OF EXPERIENCE HELPED ME A GREAT DEAL IN DEFINING WHAT THIS PROJECT IS NOW, OR THE WAY IT’S SEEN”. So, that is maybe a definition of identity or maybe a non-definition of identity. But I think that my lack of experience helped me a great deal in defining what this project is now, or the way it’s seen. If I’d been working in a gallery, it would have been fantastic in relation to many of the difficult issues that I have had to face, that I am still facing now. But I was free to do whatever I decided.
DISCUSSION G.R.P. What about the visibility of being in Barcelona, a great city visited by lots of people coming from abroad? Perhaps Barcelona also needs to concentrate more on the art world. What are your ideas for raising your visibility? As you said, it is quite important for you to attend art fairs. S.D. It is, definitely. In 2003 those young art fairs were already there. So, for someone who was very naïve when they started, the idea or dream of being shown or participating in an art fair was something that we were all thinking about from day one. I had been to Basel many years before I opened the gallery, even before I knew that I was going to open a gallery. So, it looked like it would be possible, but it wasn’t that easy. Many foreigners come to Barcelona but it’s not an international place for someone who has a contemporary art gallery or someone who has an unpredictable programme. The contemporary art audience in the city is very small. The people are not very open and not very adventurous in wanting to see news things and making new discoveries. The collectors are small. We have good and important institutions in the city, but they’re now facing difficult times. So, yes, we need visibility. At the same time, it is not so easy to get people to come to Barcelona on a regular basis and really see our work where it is produced. The LOOP Fair is an international event but I don’t think, very honestly, that we can say that Barcelona is on the map. We are not on the map of international contemporary art and neither is Spain. We have been shown all these sales figures and we have seen Switzerland, France a little bit, Germany, the U.S. of course, China and then the rest. We are in with the rest. G.R.P. How do you choose art fairs? S.D. Everything for me, and I imagine for everyone, is about learning by doing. In the beginning you are very small and you feel very small so you are shy. You cannot apply to Art Basel as your first fair. I didn’t even dare
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to apply to ARCO. I think that the first art fair I did was in Seville, and it was an international art fair. There were international galleries showing there and it was fantastic for me to be there. You see good galleries and super galleries. You see good artists and bad artists and you want to be with the good ones. You choose the art fairs where you see the good ones. And that is how I chose them. Whether you can achieve it or not is a question of luck, hard work, and maybe a little bit of context. “THE IDEA OR DREAM OF BEING SHOWN OR PARTICIPATING IN AN ART FAIR WAS SOMETHING THAT WE WERE ALL THINKING ABOUT FROM DAY ONE”. G.P. In my case, coming from another context, my reaction towards the institutional world is positive. But then, after a while, you realise, particularly after the global economic crisis, that everything is getting a bit tighter and we have even started to collaborate closely. You have to find a path that connects you to power structures but that does not make you lose your vision or the way you would like to continue. If you have a certain brand or presence or if you have a special programme, then you are more readily noticed than if you’re doing your first presentation. G.R.P. Metro Pictures Gallery is a well established gallery. So the strategies for choosing an art fair or raising visibility are very different. How do you choose art fairs? J.R. There are so many it is difficult. We are definitely committed to Basel and, as a result, to Miami Basel too. So once you’ve covered those two, you’re talking about smaller fairs. We quite like FIAC. We’ve been happier there than at Frieze. It’s much smaller. There is a nice kind of audience. They don’t rush into the opening to buy something but come back in the week again and again. We do a very small fair in New York organized by the Art Dealers Association of America. It is a strictly New York fair that’s on at the same time as the Armory Show. We will be doing Frieze in New York this year, at least we’ll try it once. We started
doing the Armory Show when it was in the hotel and I thought it was a great fair then, and then we kept doing it just to be supportive. Most art fairs, when they start up in a city, they feel like they really need the support of the local galleries. Then it got big and we haven’t done it for about five years. I think now our decisions about new art fairs would probably be about reaching other audiences like Hong Kong or Dubai, there is a lot of talk about them. That’s where we would go next. G.R.P. In one of our earlier conversations, you mentioned how important the gallery space is now. That’s another question I would like to put to the three of you. Casey Kaplan said that there were fewer collectors coming to the galleries in New York now and so they had to invent something to bring people in. So, fairs are the place where you really sell now. Where does that leave the gallery space? J.R. Well, Casey was talking about New York. We still have a huge audience. And we really need the spaces due to the competition for artists. You definitely need a good space to show the art. I think every artist wants someone who supports the most recent body of work that they have done and who presents it very well in a space where they feel good about an audience. That is our one role that neither art fairs nor auction houses can replace. G.R.P. I think the world goes by so fast. How do you deal with time? G.P. I have had to reduce the number of shows over the whole year. Then you can concentrate better on the shows that you have in the gallery and you can connect with the travelling and with the fairs. I think you can concentrate better if you are a small gallery or company. S.D. Yes, I don’t want to be a big gallery. I think that it’s good to be small in terms of space and it is also good to use time and not be in a rush. But everything is going very fast. You organise a show where you have an
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opening and you think that the people from institutions, curators and the city will be seeing the show. But they will not because they are travelling all the time. So, you have to be very intelligent. Now, I am trying to find distribution channels. Distribution is very important. I like books a lot and I’ve also done shows with books. The key thing in most cases is to put that beautiful object in the right hands. This is distribution, and the only way to do it is to find the right channel. But it’s so difficult to reach everyone, especially if you want to be international because then you are competing with everyone. On my street I have another gallery but when I go to an art fair I have tons of galleries and I’m competing with all of them. “WE CANNOT REACH EVERYONE OR MAYBE WE SHOULDN’T BE TRYING TO REACH EVERYONE, JUST THE ONES WHO ARE TRULY SUPPORTERS OF YOUR PROGRAMME AND WHAT YOU DO”. So, maybe, in the end, internationalising the gallery is what I am most interested in now, finding the right distribution channels, using the tools, using the art fairs, using all of these beautiful technologies that we have in our hands. But maybe we cannot reach everyone or maybe we shouldn’t be trying to reach everyone, just the ones who are truly supporters of your programme and what you do. People you already know and want to know. It’s a question of where you want to be in the long run.Everything goes fast, everyone wants to sell fast and to do everything fast, and there is nothing more frustrating for a gallerist than having to explain your programme to a curator in ten minutes. Sometimes SEACEX organises visits by international curators coming to Spain. They have ten minutes in this gallery and ten minutes in that gallery. How do you tell them about your artists in ten minutes? It’s impossible to deal with this. So, yes, let’s be small. I did not open the gallery to become rich. G.R.P. How do you deal with finance if you want to go outside your city? It is difficult when you can’t find the finance in your home town.
S.D. I get a little here and a little there. I live a very modest life. I do sell some artworks, of course, and more and more all the time. G.R.P. What about you, Gregor? G.P. What I’ve already tried to explain is that in my experience the world of the institutions is not that of the art market. I have a growing family and growing expenses in the gallery and I have to spend. Plus, there’s also this issue of networking to share the artists who are appreciated by the institutional world. They also have to make a living and that means finding a strategy and a way to work with other colleagues on my artists. G.R.P. It is also difficult to finance the production of works. It depends on the artist but it must be difficult in general. J.R. I do think that there has been a lot of emphasis on how difficult it is to be a gallerist. We play all these roles and it can be really difficult, but it is a great job. And we all do it by choice and because we really love dealing with the art and the art world. I think very few people go into this thinking: “I am going to make money, I am going to become an art dealer”. Even Gagosian started out really small and he saw a different path and he expanded immensely. But you can stay small. I really do think that the basis of it is that we love working with art and artists. G.R.P. What advice about the programme would you give to young people who want to open a gallery? J.R. It seems to me that there are real key differences: the people who open a gallery because they have a group of artists whose work they really like and they want to show that work and expose it to the public, as opposed to people who think they want to have an art gallery and they open it and go around trying to figure out who would be the best artist to show
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and what they could sell. It is very hard to predict what art will sell. I have been around for a long time and I could not do it. I just show the art that I think is best. We talk about the mega galleries that are getting huge but there is always room for every kind. I think there can be a reaction against that and a respect for very small galleries. We can draw an analogy with restaurants: there is a movement all over the world about eating locally, and the places you hear the most about are small, with locally grown products… G.R. Do you think it’s important to create a strong community in your local town? J.R. Yes, absolutely. G.P. I think so. Actually, on the scale of Berlin there’s a lot of things to do. We have to network more closely. It’s not only about ABC and the Gallery Weekend. It’s just the start, I would say. There are a lot of people who live in Berlin whose business is international and there is a lot of potential. Regarding the economic situation, if you are somewhere in the middle rank, you also have to find other ways to overcome certain things that are connected only with dealing. S.D. I totally agree. Barcelona is a great city, it’s extremely pretty, everyone loves it, good food, good weather, but we have to offer something more. G.P. How difficult is it, do you think, to create a community? S.D. It is difficult. Running a gallery is beautiful, but it’s difficult; creating a community is very difficult, but we just have to do it, we have to want to do it. I think it’s crucial. Having one good gallery in one city doesn’t mean anything.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND QUESTIONS (C/Q) FROM THE AUDIENCE Q. Apart from art fairs are there other ways you see of internationalising galleries? And secondly, do you see internationalising your galleries as also finding artists from other regions and bringing them in? J.R. I think it is really important to have an international roster, it’s not like imposing your galleries or your local artists on the rest of the world, I think you have to have an exchange which also involves networking with other galleries and exchanging artists. G.P. I agree. Art fairs have far too strong a role, but it’s up to us to find ways to strengthen our position as galleries. S.D. I think it’s a first step when you communicate with international artists, known or otherwise. This is the first step for starting an international network because this artist will know someone and you will interact with this person and at some point you will be exchanging ideas with international galleries. It’s the beginning. C/Q. I have a gallery in Malmö (Sweden), so in one way not in a capital or in a big city like Barcelona, but I’d be interested if you could distinguish between local and international artists. To my way of thinking and in the way I work, I don’t consider artists living in Malmö as local artists. They are all international artists. Is this idea of a local artist only about place? Because if they are to survive in this new globalised and international situation, all artists have to be international, so in some way this contradicts the idea of internationalising galleries because you are doing that through the practice of your artists: they meet curators in other places, they meet journalists, they go to shows, to residencies. You’re talking about the origin of an artist and that’s something that I think is quite important in different ways. Maybe that was not really a question, but I would like to ask Gregor
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about ABC and the Gallery Weekend. ABC is like a fair and I think the Gallery Weekend is almost a disguised fair, because if you told collectors that we are going to have a new fair in April in Berlin every year, they would never come because they don’t have the time, but if you tell them that we have this gallery weekend, you can go to the artist’s studio, we have some dinners, it’s a kind of an informal fair in a way. It’s a way to counteract the power of the fairs. So I would like to hear your thoughts about that. G.P. If there are some well-established galleries and we mount a venture like this together, we can each of us bring our own context into play. I guess that is a part, even a major part, of the success of Gallery Weekend. Of course, this is just one approach; I think there are others and maybe not only in this kind of ‘power structure’. For example, the collaboration between galleries in the city would be much closer if they had, let’s say, a similar vision. But the issue is not only to do with an event that resembles a fair. Another thing that’s missing in Berlin is a place that is neither a museum nor a gallery but maybe a kind of a Kunsthalle or something that it is more open for artists, and this could be the role of galleries and curators. Moreover, rather than introducing groups of curators or groups of galleries, the event could be more theme-driven. G.R.P. Education is also essential in small cities, say Barcelona or Ljubljana. Do you think it is necessary to support Kunsthallen or similar places that are necessary but which sometimes we don’t have? S.D. Yes, of course it is. Education is very important for people who want to become artists and for culture in general. It’s not that long ago that we didn’t have a museum of contemporary art in Barcelona, it’s not that long in Spain since all these contemporary museums started opening their doors, so education is totally necessary, it’s the future, it’s the first step to a better future… I’m not sure if your question was whether we galleries ought to support educators. We are part of one system and we are interacting. It’s very important to have a good school in order to develop an art scene, so generally in places where someone recognises a good art scene, it’s because there is a strong art school or a strong group of artists that all started studying there and they just stick together and support each other.
G.R.P. We were talking about creating a community and I think it’s very important for young people to be connected to galleries, to culture, openings, gallerists, artists, schools, to talk and to discover and to look for new things. J.R. Well, I think Berlin is an interesting example that could be a lesson for smaller places because the dealers really do get together and co-operate and try to figure out ways of bringing people into the city. I think that no matter how small the space is, you can get a community of people together. Someone talked about Sam Keller reinventing the Basel Art Fair. You can reinvent a little wherever the art scene is, whatever the city is. And I think it really does take dealers working together and co-operating to do it. Even in New York, we are all lemmings: we love to be in the same neighbourhood; we are all very close together in our spaces and not spread out because I think nobody operates on their own. Ok, it’s competition but it also brings more interest, and I think a really important way of getting attention and of invigorating an art scene is to try and get the press to write about it. People love to see things they’ve read about, it’s all about perception, like “Oh that’s the thing to do, go to galleries on a particular night or day or whatever”. G.R.P. And that gets much more attention internationally as well. How did it all begin? J.R. I think we were lucky in terms of the artists that we showed in New York. There’d been a long period of performance art and video, and we were dealing with a generation of artists that started using recognisable images—they have since become known as a ‘pictures generation’—but it was very photogenic, and I think magazines and newspapers like to publish images and that helped immensely. It might be a superficial hook to get people involved but it worked. G.R.P. And now you have an art fair coming up, so it will create more attention. Do you think this is going to be good for New York? J.R. I don’t know… I think it does more for people coming to New York.
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G.R.P. You told me yesterday that since September 11, everything has changed a lot in terms of people coming. J.R. The art world has got much more international too. I would say we used to have collectors who would come from Europe once a month, and that kind of changed people’s habits, they started going elsewhere. We still have a great deal of people and I still think the advantages are probably greater for galleries coming to Frieze than for those of us who are already there. Frieze coincides with the auctions, which are a big draw in New York, and there’s no doubt about it, there’ll be more people coming. G.R.P. One of the good things about being in such a fantastic community, for example in New York, is that it is easier to have more frequent dialogues with creators in order to promote your own artists and those artists can appear in other museums, in other towns, countries. That’s why I said it’s very difficult sometimes to have a gallery in a small city because to get that attention is rather difficult, so we have to use every possible tool, like art fairs or a network, which are quite essential, in order to get that visibility. What do you do to promote your artists from your own gallery? G.P. I had my experience as a curator, which gave me time to go through a process of working with artists, and when I was running a kind of art association, my idea was to build up an international platform, and when I asked somebody who was in the local context to be part of that platform, I considered this as already being a competitive international position, if only due to its quality. J.R. I’m curious… neither one of you has mentioned the Internet, technology as a means to reach out beyond the small place you are from and I would think that that would be very important. S.D. It is, it’s essential, but it’s a new technology and I think it is in the process of refining itself. You really have to communicate well, not just use it. If you think about the amount of e-mails or information about exhibitions in all the galleries around the world that one individual creator gets every day, where is the focus? I am worried about this because I haven’t found the right approach yet, but of course it’s essential. We would be dead without the Internet now. Maybe it seems that it’s about interna-
tional artists and art fairs, but that’s not the only way to internationalise a gallery: you have to travel all the time, meet people face to face, go to shows all the time, shows where you have your artists or not, etc. All of this is essential but in this discussion here we have heard words like ‘people’, ‘faces’, ‘content’, ‘context’, ‘family’. This is it. You can use the tools, you can communicate via the Internet, but at some point you want to know the face of that person, and when you see a show or a small exhibition of a group of artists, you think “This is interesting, I want to know more about these artists”. You have to see the artist, see his studio, his place, not a portfolio that he sends in a PDF. Times have changed, but in 1967, when Konrad Fischer opened his gallery, there were no art magazines, no fax, no mobiles, no e-mails, no Internet, and he was very international. Of course he was in Düsseldorf at a precise point in history, when a lot of things were happening, but it was small. C/Q. It sounds from everything we have been talking about in this session as if everybody wants to be international. But I think that some of us here from places further away know that there are still certain small ways in which being from far away can work against us. I wanted to ask Gregor if he can explain or elaborate on this experience of going to Berlin, opening up there and showing art from outside Berlin, and whether there were any negative responses or if there was a lot of extra work involved in convincing people that this should be part of the mainstream. G.P. First of all, the distances are very short, just eight or nine hours by car or short flights, so we are really speaking about distances that in the States or Canada might be regarded as around the corner. Somehow, certain people knew me in Berlin already, as I was already working internationally. I went there but there was no competition, no conflict of interest, as I’m the only gallery that represents most of the artists I work with. Moreover, as we all know, it’s important to collaborate, to share… Even so, competition is really hard and if you go to Berlin, you have to get out of the city. You cannot survive off anything set up in Berlin at this time and the city is getting more expensive, but at the same time of course you have links, you are closer to other centres, that’s one of Berlin’s advantages, but there are other cities that play a more important role, Brussels for example. C/Q. I’ve been running a gallery for seven years in the south of Sweden and,
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as Gregor says, it’s about identifying your own possibilities, finding out about yourself. In my case, as I found out, it’s been beneficial not being in Stockholm. For instance, the first time we were accepted at the NADA art fair in Miami, I know that one reason they took us was because we were a Swedish gallery that was not in Stockholm. The same was true of MACO in Mexico City, where we were the Swedish gallery that was not in the capital, and that was to my benefit. I think there are specifics in every location and you have to try to find a way to use that. Plus, in Mexico you meet people from Berlin, from the Basel committee or the Frieze committee, so people are circulating, and that’s the kind of logistic, finding a place for your own city. I found it by thinking about where we could go and deciding we shouldn’t go to the fairs where all the Stockholm galleries go because then you stand out as a gallery from a certain country. That’s my experience. C/Q. This is a question for Janelle. We have been talking a lot about, let’s say ‘peripheral countries’, but what about New York? You have your big market there, you are the centre of the art world… there have been very few galleries from New York that have opened spaces in other places apart from the brands we talked. Are you considering opening a space in another big market like China and, if so, isn’t that a distraction from your programme, because how do you deal seriously with more than one gallery? J.R. I think it’s really important to have local roots: you can’t just open a gallery somewhere and not be there, so you either have to find a local person who’s really involved with the community to run it for you or you have to move there. The primary reason why New York dealers open in other cities is for artists. Every artist wants to show in Los Angeles at least once, for example, because that’s where Hollywood is. So if you have a gallery in New York, maybe a lot of the artists you would like to show that have other New York galleries would show with you in Los Angeles, and I sincerely believe that’s the reason why most New York galleries open other spaces in other locations. Personally I am not thinking about opening anywhere else. I would rather find galleries that are local there and co-operate with them and have them show your artists in Hong Kong or wherever.
Carlos Duran graduated in geography and history from the University of Barcelona. He has been Director of Senda and Espacio 2NUEVO2 galleries since 1991 and is Co-Director of Loop art fair and The Screen From Barcelona festival. Since 2003 he has been president of Art Barcelona, the first association of art galleries in Spain, and has formed part of the selection committees for art fairs such as ARCO, Art Brussels, Art Forum Berlin, Pulse Miami, Pulse New York, and Pulse London. He has been a member of Barcelona City Council’s Board of Culture and has taught at different master’s and postgraduate courses at Universitat Internacional de Catalunya (UIC), Elisava Design School and the University of Barcelona.
Ricardo Resende Director of Centro Cultural São Paulo (São Paulo). Professor of Art History at the University of São Paulo’s (USP) School of Communication and the Arts, he has focused his career on the field of museography. From 1988 to 2002, he worked at the University of São Paulo’s Museum of Contemporary Art, working as an art educator, exhibition producer, museographer, assistant curator and finally, exhibition curator. Since 1996 he has curated the Leonilson Project, devoted to the Brazilian artist José Leonilson. He has participated as a guest critic in the artistin-residence programme “Lugar a Dudas” in Cali, Colombia, and has been the director of the National Foundation for the Arts’ (FUNARTE) Visual Arts Centre, under the Brazilian Ministry of Culture.
Eduardo Brandão studied photography at the Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara, California. From 1991 to 2004 he worked as a Photography and Art Editor at the newspaper Folha de São Paulo. Between 1989 and 1992, he gave photography classes at the EAV Parque Lage in Rio de Janeiro, and from 1995 to 2007 he taught at the Armando Álvares Penteado Foundation (FAAP) in São Paulo. As an independent curator he has curated projects for the São Paulo Museum of Modern Art (MAM), the Centro Cultural Light (São Paulo), the Curitiba Metropolitan Art Museum (MUMA), the Claudia Andujar Jewish Cultural Centre in São Paulo, among others. Since 2002 he has been an owning partner at the Vermelho Gallery.
EMERGING MARKETS: FOCUS ON BRAZIL
PARTICIPANTS Ricardo Resende, Eduardo Brand達o MODERATOR Carlos Duran CONCEPTS heritage, collective wealth, control, ArtRio, public, chain of production, S達o Paulo, commercialisation, internationalisation, tax incentive, concentration of wealth, import and export legislation, help society, young generation, Rio de Janeiro, creative industries.
EMERGING MARKETS: FOCUS ON BRAZIL CARLOS DURAN (CD) Is the art market in Brazil real or is it just a trump card that we play to avoid the pressure of the moment? We are here to listen to two of the main Brazilian players give us some ideas to help us understand the exciting times they are living in, and some ideas on the particular characteristics of the market and the situation. They will also give us their views on the short and medium-term outlook for their country, which is bucking the economic trends of the rest of the market. We will be discussing whether this miracle also affects the art world. Brazil has enormous natural resources. I’ve just heard that a huge amount of gas has been found in the Rio area, which is about to become like Saudi Arabia. And of course it’s a country with a huge cultural tradition: from Niemeyer to the samba; from its 30 biennials to stars like Vik Muniz, Cildo Meireles and Beatriz Milhazes, as well as curators such as Adriano Pedrosa. Just around the corner are two huge events, the 2014 World Cup and the Olympic Games. You all know it’s a country with a population of around 200 million and that it has two major cities, São Paulo (with a population of 24 million) and Rio (around 15 million). It has a young and booming if restricted art market, a small group of collectors and a growing middle class. With its protectionist measures, however, its attitude is not yet as open as is claimed.
RICARDO RESENDE (R.R.) Main idea: The growth of the Brazilian art market My professional training took place in an institutional environment and so my critical vision of art and the market is a reflection of my experience stretching over more than 25 years in museums and cultural institutions. Consequently, my contribution will differ from others at this gathering. Even though an artwork can be regarded as a financial asset, I still see it as heritage. To my mind, important works should remain in museums and in private museological institutions set up by collectors to meet public needs today and tomorrow. As the American art critic Robert Storr remarked in an interview with Sara Thornton for the book Seven Days in the Art World, the purpose of museums is to give art a new value. They remove art from the market and put it in a place where it is transformed into part of our collective wealth. A great work does not come out of the blue and make its appearance, already consecrated, in museums. There is a set of circumstances, situations and people that bring this about. Major works of art are not just made by artists and their assistants but also by curators, critics, journalists, editors, dealers, collectors who buy the works and, of course, gallerists. The world of art is not related to power but control. Control is more intelligent, more concentrated, and begins with artists. Nevertheless, artists need an honest dialogue with their co-conspirators, art critics, curators, museum directors and gallerists. Silent control, mediated by trust and confidence, is the essence of the art world. Art as a product has a high symbolic recognition, it takes time to develop. It is not that decisions are made slowly but that the art market and fairs are too fast. This market recognition is reinforced by reviews, comments and debates by authors who fan the desire for possession and determine financial values (as volatile as the intensity of the material and immaterial greed for art). One of the biggest collectors of contemporary art in Brazil and the director of Credit Suisse in São Paulo, José Olympio Pereira, who has more than a thousand works in his collection, does not recommend art as an investment, as the market, in his view, is very complex. “The reason for collecting art ought to be pleasure, with the possibility that it might rise in value” he says.
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An article from a newspaper illustrates my comments on this expectation of effervescence in the art market in Brazil. Written by the journalist Roberta Pennafort, from Rio, and published in the paper O Estado de São Paulo on 26 August 2011, the article describes the financial status of art today in Brazil and the expectations of this market, and gives some of the figures for ArtRio, an art fair that is hoping to become one of the biggest: 83 galleries, half of them from abroad from the United States, South America, Europe and even Australia, and 700 artists, many presenting works made especially for the occasion, and sales expected to reach a hundred million reales. These figures for ArtRio, an international contemporary art fair, do not seem to be those of an event in its first year. The fair, which was held between September 8 and 11, was strengthened by the state government’s authorisation exempting business done at the fair from state tax. “It’s a step forward”, wrote the journalist. “SÃO PAULO WAS RECENTLY MENTIONED AS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT CREATIVE CITIES ACROSS THE GLOBE”. But what is really going on in the Brazilian art market, which grew dramatically in the last ten years? The Brazilian art market is produced prior to its commercialisation in fairs at an earlier stage by artists, dealers, auction houses, collectors, investors and so on. It is an irrefutable fact that no artist can make a living from his works unless he sells them. It is an intrinsic relationship that has important ramifications for institutions and the market alike. It creates a chain of production that involves jobs and investments and without doubt results in culture. The public does not play a part in this business, although the exception is New York. São Paulo was recently mentioned as one of the most important creative cities across the globe, alongside New York, London, Barcelona and Berlin. The creative economy already moves around $30 million in the city, around 10% of its GDP (Gross domestic product). The city has a climate that favours a flourishing art market, with young liberal professionals who welcome all kinds of manifestations of culture. These are educated people who may become potential art collectors. It is a fact then, that the arts are drawing closer to the interests of the market and are merging and transforming into money. That is dangerous if, as a result, the artist’s work is turned into a simple ‘commodity’. With the commercialisation
of art comes the profusion and importance of art fairs, and you can see artists who are producing works with this market in mind. In Brazil, we already have three fairs, though they are small: São Paulo Arte (the oldest), São Paulo Foto and now ArtRio. Art needs better reasons than profit to maintain its distinctiveness and its superiority over other forms of culture. Money is a by-product of art and must not be the prime goal of an artist, a curator or an art critic. But the existence of art today is dependent upon that process of buying and selling. This concept of art as a product or as a market fetish strips the artwork of its most profound intangible meaning. Ever since paintings by the Brazilian artist Beatriz Milhazes were sold for more than a million dollars on at least two recent occasions in leading auction houses around the world, the global circuit of the art market has been in a kind of feverish state over Brazilian contemporary art, affecting Milhazes herself and other figures in Brazilian modern and contemporary art. This phenomenon is also the result of the exhibitions policy of important institutions such as Tate Modern, the Reina Sofía, the New Museum and the MoMA in New York, which have all mounted shows of work by Brazilian artists in the last five years. These museums are following the same path as the museum of art in Houston, which in 2007 purchased 300 works from the major collection of concrete and non-concrete art owned by the Brazilian collector Adolpho Leirner to complete its holdings of Latin American art. This acquisition kindled the market for art from this period, the 1950s and 60s, and interest in it is now running high. Another factor to be borne in mind is the policy of some Brazilian museums, such as the Pinacoteca, the state-owned picture gallery in São Paulo, which in recent years has put on a series of exhibitions of work by middle-ranking and renowned artists, resulting in these artists being taken up by the market at home and abroad. Then there’s the São Paulo Biennial and the more recent Merco Sur Biennial, which draws an audience for art, informs them and at the same time legitimises Brazilian contemporary art. After China, which saw its artists take their place in the main art markets around the world in the late 1990s and early in the new century, it looks like it’s now Brazil’s turn. This financial ferment is also demonstrated by the number of new galleries that have opened in recent years in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, the leading art markets in the country. In São
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Paulo alone, according to Mapa das Artes, there are 59 art galleries and centres now open to the public. This number is likely to increase, according to the Brazilian Contemporary Art Association, a not-for-profit association set up in 2007 by 28 galleries from six Brazilian states. In an attempt to better understand this cultural chain of production, between January 2009 and June 2010, when I was director of the FUNARTE Visual Arts Centre, I was appointed to supervise research into the visual arts chain of production. The study did not, unfortunately, meet the government’s expectations but I gleaned information that has enabled me to better understand the Brazilian market. The world art market is concentrated in a few places such as New York, London, Paris, Hong Kong and Basel. It so happens that these are important centres of finance. There is nothing in Brazil that comes close to these cities, but conversely that is also to its advantage, as it can only grow. Brazil’s market is almost insignificant, accounting overall for less than 1% of the global market. It has been calculated that sales reached approximately $600 million in 2011. This is a recent estimate and cannot be regarded as the true figure given the informality that attends sales in Brazil. “BRAZILIAN ART IS THRIVING AT THE MOMENT, NOT ONLY DUE TO RECENT EVENTS IN THE ECONOMY BUT ALSO THANKS TO TAX BREAKS IN PLACE SINCE THE 1980s”. The boom in Brazil’s market, albeit small, began in the 1990s when the country solved the problem of its external debt. Brazil was then able to use much of its foreign trade balance to build up international reserves in dollars. This was one of the keys to the success of the general plan that managed to stabilise the economy between 1993 and 1998. In 2010, foreign investment amounted to more than $48,000 million. In 2011, direct foreign investment totalled $17,000 million in the first three months alone, more than three times the $5,000 million invested in the first quarter of 2010, as the Brazilian Central Bank reported in the last half-year. The Brazilian public coffers may continue to grow, having reached the record of $300,000 million in the first six months and may hit $350,000 million by the end of 2011 and $400,000 million in 2012. Brazil is making
financial history: from being a debtor, it has gone to being a creditor in recent years. However, despite this change in the economy, there are still many outstanding social and political issues and the reality is very different to what people may imagine. Once the spectre of inflation had been dispelled and the economy had opened up, certain galleries began to internationalise, turning their attention to art fairs abroad, and a new generation of gallerists emerged that looked towards the global scene. Brazilian art is thriving at the moment, not only due to recent events in the economy but also thanks to tax breaks in place since the 1980s. The Sarney Law was enacted in 1986, a tax incentive that resulted in the proliferation of not-for-profit contemporary art museums and centres around the country. The Rouanet Law, a tax incentive created in 1991 that updated the Sarney Law, proved crucial to the change in the countryâ€™s institutional position. However, the greatest hindrance to the growth of art in Brazil is the concentration of wealth and the extremely high and inexplicable taxes on art that still exist. Insurance and transport costs double the price of the work in its place of origin. Any attempt to export works is liable to be thwarted by excessive taxes on works and customs bureaucracy. A Brazilian businessman bought Alberto Guignard painting Flower Vase for $759,000 at auction in New York. He then discovered that he had to pay another $200,000 just to bring it back into Brazil. This is nonsensical and of course leads people to look for illegal ways to achieve their desire. Brazilian import and export legislation complicates the lives of even people who want to repatriate some asset of national heritage. The Brazilian Contemporary Art Association is, therefore, working with the Brazilian government to improve the paperwork procedures and to reduce transaction costs. I donâ€™t know how things stand at the moment, but when I worked at the ministry I acted to facilitate these negotiations. However, there were changes in the government this year and I think some of these policies were also altered. Nevertheless, the Ministry of Culture and the Ministry of Export and Foreign Affairs have both worked hard to facilitate the import and export of art. A Brazilian educator made a comment at a recent talk that seems apt as I come to the end of my presentation. He said â€œIn the late
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19th century and the first half of the 20th century, artists showed work for art salons. After the post-war years, for art critics and historians. Now they show for the market.” So there has been a change in relations. I will close with the words of an artist from Fortaleza who said, during a debate on public policies, “I want to see a contemporary art museum in every capital of the 26 states of Brazil, and I want these institutions to have policies that will enable them to buy works of art for their collections”. That would represent a revolution in the Brazilian art market because these institutions suffer from serious shortfalls as far as acquisitions are concerned. For the art market to be strong, the institutions must be strong too. EDUARDO BRANDÃO (E.B.) Main idea: Art and young generations I’m going to present my experience of running my gallery in Brazil for the past ten years, which was born out of frustration. I taught in the University of Arts in São Paulo for 12 or 13 years and I felt that the students on arts courses—photography and video—were unable to enter their profession because they had to feed their families. It was fine for the painters because there was a market for them. But there was no market for those who employed other techniques such as photography. Being a teacher is like being a parent, because you put a lot of effort into students’ knowledge, but then they are not able to do what they studied to do. In a class of 30 students, you never know how many of them are going to be able to continue in the profession in the future. Very few, but in my view there would have been almost none at that time. Even fantastic students would end up doing something else, graphic design or whatever. “WE STARTED THE GALLERY IN 2002 AND 99% OF THE ARTISTS WERE MY STUDENTS. WE HAD A VERY NICE SPACE AND A LOT OF ENERGY”.
Our institutions then were very weak, the museums were not able to keep up with that kind of production either. The idea of the gallery came from one of my students, Eliana, my partner in the gallery, who suggested it to me. I had never thought about it because I’m a terrible salesman, so we came to an agreement: I would handle the intellectual side of the gallery and she would sell. It went well, though in a way, I treated the gallery as if it were my class, as I had no knowledge of how to be a gallerist. I started the gallery in 2002 and 99% of the artists were my students. We had a very nice space and a lot of energy. We had the shows and openings with music or, rather, what we’d call some research into sound that other kids were doing. A little bit of fashion, design…a bit of everything. In the beginning, we would have around 500, 700, 800 people in the place at the openings. And that changed the feeling there a lot because art in those days was seen as being something for very few people. We started to do performances and filled the space with people, and things were happening. In our second show, we opened the gallery without anything and we invited 15 artists to work there for 30 or 40 days. The show ended up with double that. Thirty people worked there and we held the show on the last day. So, the whole process was about doing art with open doors. People would go to the gallery almost every day, so in this way I brought the university to it, which was very, very important for me. We were located very close to the university, so people would leave the university and spend time in the gallery. What did that mean for us at that time? Well, we started to sell, not very much though. First, we got the attention of the public. People started to talk about contemporary art: video, photography, performance… People saw that we were not just a place to buy but a place to visit, like a little museum. The only problem I had was to finance the little museum. But we managed, and I think we did it because of a particular set of circumstances in Brazil. We started at the same time that President Lula began his term of office, and this represented new possibilities for a new society. We started trying to build a new market. I knew that I was not going to sell to the kind of collector that we had, indeed still have, in Brazil, the collector who has a big farm and cattle or crops. It would take him a year to buy something. He is going to invest a lot of money in art but it takes a lot of time, and
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he is going to buy an older artist’s work. At that time, we got attention from youngsters, who were beginning to make money on the financial markets, from design, stores, sports… from all the new businesses that were starting to flourish in the city. And we started selling to 25-yearold, 30-year-old collectors. I was amazed. I still have that kind of market, clients aged 28 to 32 years old. For me, it’s like a gift because the artists who are producing the works that the collectors are buying are the same age as them. And somehow, the collectors understand, maybe not what that art piece represents in history, but they know what the artists are talking about. They are the same generation and they know how to do their homework. If you give them the catalogue, they call two days later to share their views with you. This was new for me, I didn’t know we were going to have that. That was quite a surprise but it has helped me to grow the gallery. Since we started—it’s been nine years now—every year we have sold more than the year before. We haven’t had a crisis yet. Sixty per cent of our sales were from outside Brazil and in 2008 I thought we were going to have a problem because of the crisis, but no, it just changed. We sell much less of course in Europe, where we used to sell more.
DISCUSSION C.D. Are the figures we read in the papers correct? They say that Brazilian galleries are growing 50% on a yearly basis. And that even 70% was sold by a gallery in São Paulo last year. If so, the market is really growing. E.B. I’m not very good at figures. We have to build something up for the benefit of the whole of society. Brazil has money and natural resources, but we are still a poor country, we have a very unfair society, and we have to work on that. Art, for me, is about helping society to move forward. I have to answer to art. The money we make we invest in the gallery and in artworks. We take salaries, that’s it. We invest in being a gallery in São Paulo. We go to fairs, we do twelve a year, that’s a lot… but we invest
mostly in the 30 exhibitions we hold in the gallery every year. We have three different spaces in the gallery and we use all of them. And we use them to communicate with São Paulo. C.D. I would like to highlight this fact because Emilio Álvarez, my partner in the LOOP Festival, and I were invited to go to Rio and São Paulo. We were there just last week to see if we could do something with LOOP there and we very shocked by the reality and the contrasts there. The director of Metro Pictures mentioned this idea of reinforcing the local market, playing in the local market and by playing strongly there, it allows you to operate everywhere. In your case, you participate in the top fairs, all the while aware of your influence in your own environment, in your own community. E.B. I think this is our responsibility. We have the museums but they don’t support the artists. I disagree here with Ricardo because, in a way, museums use artists. They organise a show but they don’t pay anything for it. I produce for the artist the things they are going to put in the museum. The museums have very little money for production. It’s one show every five or ten years and then what? Here in Spain you have institutions and you have museums, and how many do we have in Brazil? Very few. Behind the museums, there’s us. That’s why I left the university. I was 43 years old; I wanted to be more effective in a country that has poverty on the streets. C.D. The way you run the gallery is very interesting, the whole concept and your multidisciplinarity: the performance festival that has become very big and the Jardim Míriam Art Club project, which has a significant social aspect. As a matter of fact, you run the gallery as if it were an institution. E.B. We were very well accepted in Europe and that helped us there in Brazil. Because in Brazil the market initially thought that we weren’t serious. We had a performance festival, but they didn’t know what a perfor-
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mance festival was. Sometimes artists would put on a performance but it was very costly for me. So I told artists I’d put all the performances together. But then I’d have to rent lights and they’d only be needed once. I didn’t want to do that every month so I decided to call a halt. We began in São Paulo and then in a bit of the rest of Brazil. I think we showed performance from at least 25 or 30 different countries. We have the help of some of the consulates, but everything else is done by the gallery. “BRAZIL HAS MONEY AND NATURAL RESOURCES, BUT WE ARE STILL A POOR COUNTRY, WE HAVE A VERY UNFAIR SOCIETY, AND WE HAVE TO WORK ON THAT. ART, FOR ME, IS ABOUT HELPING SOCIETY TO MOVE FORWARD”. C.D. About the consulates, I’ve learnt that they play a strong role, much stronger than anywhere else. It’s incredible how deeply engaged they are with the community. Even so, we love museums, we need them. R.R. When I’m running exhibitions in museums, I ask for money for the artists, but the idea of the people who work in the museums is that their only mission is exhibiting the works of the artists. And this is a mistake, they should contribute to production as well. C.D. In your presentation, you raised this idea of having a museum, a strong institution you said, in every main city. Have you seen the big mistakes we have made in Europe? R.R. Someone was telling me that they have a problem in United States, they are opening lots of museums. Wherever you go, there are huge museums of art history. Well, it’s the same in Brazil, but there has been some change. For example, there is a new museum in Porto Alegre that has been built with a collection from the Fundaçao Iberê Camargo. But of course crazy things happen: we have seen some museums that have been
built without knowing what was going to be put into them, as in Brasilia. We have a very new museum, opened in 2010, a project by Oscar Niemeyer, that should have been the Museum of a Modern Art of Brasilia. But when they finished the building, they had to decide what to put in it. They finally decided to name it the National Museum of the Republic. I visited it but there’s nothing there, I mean, there are some exhibitions but it doesn’t have an internal cultural policy. I was in Fortaleza for two years and ran the city’s Museum of Contemporary Art from 2005 to 2007. It opened in 1990 and there was no collection at that time, but when I got there in 2005, there were 55 art works. I had a very low budget and I had to be very creative in order to run the museum as the city is very poor and there is no awareness of museology. C.D. Turning to practical matters, you come from the ministry so you have an overview of what’s going on in the country. It’s a country with two or three big biennials, as well as a number of important festivals of photography and the Video Brazil Festival, with which we have collaborated on many occasions. Video Brazil opened 26 years ago. Imagine that! In a way, Brazil has been a country that has opened new and risky paths, so you can see all these contrasts. Now I’d like to compare two cities, Rio and São Paulo, that might be future destinations for people sitting here. In their strategic plans, they both have culture as a main goal for growth, but they are totally different. São Paulo is huge: it has a bigger structure of galleries and museums, it’s more aristocratic and has more tourist appeal. You can’t build that without having some kind of understanding. I understand the biennial there is the second biggest source of income for the city after Formula 1. We were told that to open a fair in Rio would be suicide because nothing happens there. There are no collectors and people from São Paulo don’t get along with people from Rio and vice versa. But suddenly the Rio fair was full. It was a complete success. They reported sales of $120 million and now plan to double their space. They regard the situation as perfect, but for visitors like us, it was a bit contradictory and there was a considerable lack of sophistication in some of the things sold, for example, Botero’s work was a hit but it would never have been included in the fair in São Paulo. How would you describe these two cities and the opportunities they offer?
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E.B. Well, we have a big problem with customs and taxes. For 20 years we had a dictatorship that taught us very well how not to communicate with the rest of the world. We are trying to get rid of this legacy, but it takes time. During the military years, everything we had was made in Brazil: the cars, food, clothes, the literature…This made us self-sufficient, but we were isolated from the world. So now, I think, we are learning not to be so isolated but we don’t know how to go about it. People that were part of the dictatorship are still there. Things haven’t changed yet. It’s going to take some time. I think the older collectors that were buying at that time are not as yet buying outside Brazil or international artists. The younger generation will do it. These collectors go to buy at fairs in New York, London…I don’t see why they wouldn’t buy at fairs in Brazil. But I do understand that you have to open your eyes in order to see them. They don’t turn up wearing a suit. There is an approach to get them, but it’s not the traditional one. “WE HAVE SEEN SOME MUSEUMS THAT HAVE BEEN BUILT WITHOUT KNOWING WHAT WAS GOING TO BE PUT INTO THEM, AS IN BRASILIA”. C.D. There are many exhibitors from different fairs here and all of them are satisfied with their experience in Brazilian fairs, but they also say that it’s really tough. Not only due to the taxes but also because of the costs. For example, shipping from Europe to the airport costs less than from the airport to the fair. This is a paradox for us. E.B. Yes, I know. What we do is we help each other. We’re like the mafia. But it’s no different for us here in Europe. I’ve been to ARCO, I came for four or five years, but we’ve only sold once or twice to Spanish people. It’s not easy for us to sell here, but here we are. C.D. But would you put your money on an art fair in Rio or in São Paulo?
E.D. I am part of the board in Rio. People from Rio came to ask me to help them because the gallerists in São Paulo thought that the fair in Rio was not going to work because Rio is completely unprofessional. So I helped them by going to other countries like Portugal, Colombia, all over, to invite people to come. Like I said at the beginning, it’s a matter of work and you have to do it. Two days before the fair, I was there, receiving people and trying to see everything. I mean the fair wasn’t mine but it was my responsibility. Two days later, when I saw that the fair was a success, I left. I had other things to do and the fair was a fact. Thinking in terms of Brazil, we do have room for both fairs. One happens during the first half of the year, the other during the second half. The collectors at one are not the same as the collectors at the other. I made good sales and I didn’t sell to a single customer that I already had. I could see that they were different and from all over Brazil. In terms of going to Brazil from Europe, you have to see what Brazilian taste is about. I think this is very important, to look at what you can take from Europe to Brazil. For instance, we are greyer in São Paulo, very black and white and somehow political. Rio is different: it’s more like people imagine Brazil to be: colours, more body-conscious… So I think some galleries would be better located in Rio and others in São Paulo.
CONTRIBUTIONS AND QUESTIONS (C/Q) FROM THE AUDIENCE Q. I would like to know a bit more about how the tax was reduced at the fair. Tax is such a major problem for Brazil, so how did that work? E.B. There is a state tax that you have to pay. The fair got a state law whereby if you made a sale during the fair, you didn’t have to pay this tax. So, all the sales that galleries made that month were done at the fair. C.D. Does this tax apply even if you sell to locals?
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E.B. Yes, even if you sell to locals. I think it amounts to 17% of the sale. C/Q. I would like to ask Eduardo Brandão about something he brought up that is very interesting, which is how there are some very young collectors in Brazil. I think this is a very interesting market, both in these socalled emerging markets and the more established market. The reality is, I suppose, in a lot of countries that older collectors tend to stay within their own country. I don’t know whether there is anything that you, or galleries in general, could do specifically to try and encourage interest from that younger group. E.B. The first issue is the art works you show. Plus, I think in our milieu, we can be a little arrogant, and to go into a gallery can be difficult for a young 24 or 25-year-old customer. I know they feel uptight. So, in the gallery we try to be casual in order to make the people that come in feel comfortable sitting down beside you in front of the computer as you go through artists’ portfolios together. I try to bring more than just art discourse into the discourse of the gallery. We have sound, we’ve had a few shows of fashion by university students. I will never sell clothes but you are upping the number of people that are interested in your place, and then when they are in the gallery, they can see art. I know now that most of those young collectors, they came not to buy art but to do something else, to see a show... The possibility of buying came second. The big collectors in Brazil, the older ones, they go to the gallery to buy art. They don’t go to openings or performances, they go early in the morning or late at night, they don’t want to socialise. Today, however, the largest proportion of people who buy at the gallery come to socialise in the gallery and they bring someone else because they feel comfortable. It’s all related to art, of course, I’m not running a nightclub. C/Q. I feel that sometimes there is a kind of paradox in the world of art, as there is an elitism around art. Some big collectors and people involved in it think of art as being elite and would like to maintain that elitism, and then there are other people who would like to open things up because art does talk about real issues and they would like it bring in a more general public to enjoy art and perhaps own it. As someone who runs a gallery, are you aware of that paradox?
E.B. Very much and I would support the second group you describe. It’s not only about buying art but seeing it. We didn’t have museums ten years ago and we didn’t have a public for them. People started going to museums ten years ago. São Paulo has the third or fourth largest museum-going public in the world. Why is that? They go because they can afford the bus ticket. These are the people you have to talk to. You do what you know how to do. I started in art as a student, then a teacher and I don’t know how to do things any other way. I try to use what I know profitably. Like a teacher, I try to open up the possibility of seeing and living art. I left the institution because students shouldn’t have to pay $2,000 dollars a month for their education. When I left, I had this knowledge to put to use. I am not against those who buy art in order to feel privileged, but I think there are other ways of experiencing and having art. I’ve learned a lot about how this young generation perceives art, how they live with it and what it means to own art for them. I come from an older generation and I’m learning. Q. Ricardo said that there is a visual arts chain of production in São Paulo. This concept suggests that there is a kind of inventory or catalogue, a means of detailing the output, the marketing and sales and the consumer. If this is indeed the case, I can understand how it is public knowledge that 10% of São Paulo’s GDP comes from business related to this chain of production. These figures are so precise that they drew my attention. I would like to ask how this evaluation method developed in Brazil, who makes the calculations and if there is an approximate value for the black economy that is also found in this model of production? R.R. I was referring to a creative chain of production that is different to that of the visual arts. São Paulo was an industrial city up until the 1970s. A change occurred in the 80s and 90s and it became a city of services. Industry left for other cities around the country such as Bahia and Paraná. So, when we speak of services, I mean the chain of production of the creative industry, which could be many things: São Paulo fashion week, digital information and software companies… they’re all part of the market I referred to. But to give an idea of the vast size of the city, there might be 150 theatre performances on in a single day. Shows, festivals, fairs of assorted
EMERGING MARKETS: FOCUS ON BRAZIL
kinds, they all create jobs. I couldn’t tell you why this change in sector in the city took place, whether it was due to demographic changes or was political in nature. I do, however, think that the law on tax breaks made a major contribution to the city’s growth. The use of the Rouanet Law in Brazil is concentrated in São Paulo and Rio, but especially in Rio. Approximately 70-80% of the tax-empted $700 million are divided between the two cities, with almost $500 million in São Paulo. Under this law, 100% of everything donated is deducted, thereby creating this public incentive. Q. What has most surprised me during my experience as a gallerist keen to penetrate emerging markets such as Shanghai or Brazil is how difficult it is if you don’t have a permanent base in these countries. With just one visit a year and no ability to follow things up afterwards, I don’t know whether the effort required to attend a five-day fair is worth it or not. E.B. I try to go to fairs where my artists have already been in one fair or another or through institutions. As Ana Tomé of the Spanish Cultural Centre in Brazil said, I think it’s easier once you’ve been through a number of exhibitions. When I first had a foreign artist in the gallery, I sold nothing or almost nothing at either the first or the second exhibition, but at the third I began to sell. I think that happens to all of us. I don’t go to a fair if I think I’m only going to go once. The first time I went to Art Basel Miami, I sold a small piece, but everything began afterwards. You can’t make plans just for a single visit; you have to treat your stand as if it were a gallery, get people used to your presence and to the things you are showing. Q. What about the Tijuana space in your gallery? Is it intended as a place for inviting people to appreciate art even if they’re young and they are not going to buy? E.B. Well, looking at the production of the artists I work with, I could see they had books or publications they had started but which were hidden away for long time. In the beginning, I tried to bring these productions into the exhibition, but it was difficult. So I thought about having a space where this might continue, not like a show but a place where people could go and look at things whenever they wanted.
The name is quite strategic: Tijuana is a city on the border between the United States and Mexico. For us Latin Americans, Tijuana is very important because you can see the difference, but it is there right up against Big Brother, somehow. I felt Tijuana could be a good name because this production is apart, somehow. And it’s a place where you can spend time in a different way than in the white cube. You can sit down and check out a book with no rush, and buy it as well. I didn’t know when I started but there is a market for this kind of publication, it’s commercial. I sold out the editions of 20 or 30 copies that we’ve done. C.D. While we were there, we heard people say that the São Paulo fair is solidly established and that it is of interest to Brazilian collectors. And when they look to the future, they say that Rio, which has tremendous tourist appeal, could really turn the centre of Latin America to its advantage, to the extent that it could do some damage to Art Basel Miami. Do you think that’s feasible or something people from Rio dream about? R.R. What’s happening is that the city of Rio is changing. We have the football World Cup and the Olympics coming. But more important still in the region is the discovery of oil in the states of Rio de Janeiro and Espíritu Santo. The impact is such that Vitoria, a small city with a population of 500,000, has the highest GDP per head in Brazil, amounting to some $27,000, a figure comparable to that of European cities. The money emerging from this business and industrial environment might enable Rio to become a commercial centre. A lot is now being invested, particularly in the creative industries.
EDITING Conrado Uribe with the assistance of Cristina Gรณmez COPY EDITING & TRANSLATIONS Sue Brownbridge Pilar Santillรกn Maya Byskov Julia Keller ART DIRECTION Inoutsiel Studio PHOTOGRAPHY Ada Sbriccoli
SCREEN PROJECTS DIRECTION Emilio รlvarez Carlos Durรกn
Printed in 2013
Published on Oct 25, 2013
TALKING GALLERIES is the first international meeting focused on gallerism and the art market. The main objective of Talking Galleries is to...