Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Baby, I Want Your Art

Ok, there is one great article about the Lehmann VS The Project lawsuit right here (thanks to Chris Zeke for the link), that I find the be the Art World's "article du moment" because it deals with so much of the "right concerns" regarding how art is distributed through its market.

I'll comment on a few sentances, written by Christopher Mason, or quoted from the various people he interviewed:

And what dealers really don’t want to see is a work get flipped at auction.
(Christopher Mason)

I am hoping, and I think this is the case, that the big gallerists are giving privilege to museums and art institutions, and people who let pieces from their collections travel from exhibits to exhibits.

In that case I can understand that pieces are provided with "fair prices" to a special category of people, and that auctions must be feared, since than art can be accessed by big melancholists whose only good they'll ever do to art is to bury themselves with their private collections, already kept safe from world view in their sordid attics for an entire human life.

In the end I think this is what artists are seeking: dealers that will help them get their work travel constantly.

I would add that the only last detail that artists should observe, when a dealer shows interest in their work, is how gallerist attenders receive clientele, or how their work is presented at the gallery itself.

95 per cent of the time, it's very fine, but they are a few rare cases where a gallerist seem to think that putting someone in a bad mood at the front desk is the right idea. I think this job should be given to people naturally happy to discuss about the artists on show, or provide information. EVEN when an artist is so big that the work has already been sold since ages. Who cares? I think it's the events in themselves, the exhibits, that are prone to lead to interesting discussions. And that can't be bought, we are simply collecting some good times, here.

“If we started jumping our prices to match the auction market, we’d be faced with a limited group of collectors who’d be willing to buy,” says Boesky. “You never want to [then have to] lower your prices. So it’s better to have work that’s in consistent demand.” (Marianne Boesky)

And I'll add that the people who buy lots of art are probably limited in funds as art generally costs a lot. So if you want art to be in the "good hands", the prices must be reachable to them. Otherwise you end up with a company buying a big piece to flatter their offices, like Julie Mehretu's big Moma painting ending as decor for a bank.

Coming up the Lehmann case, here I'm opposing two sentances to argument
all what I just commented:

Lehmann testified that he was furious when he received a catalogue of paintings from a one-woman show by Mehretu at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis. “I was flabbergasted,” he said in court, “because I’d asked for a year and a half for a work by Julie Mehretu. And I saw that the Greenberg Rohatyns owned five, and people I’d never heard of owned them.” (Jean-Pierre Lehmann)

Than, later in the article:

Rohatyn and her husband, Nick, own a large, art-filled house on East 94th with a ground-floor gallery called Salon 94,
Rohatyn sees no reason to apologize for her Mehretus. “I showed Julie before she showed with Christian,” she says, referring to a group exhibition she helped organize in 2000. “I won’t sell pictures that I own personally. And I’m a happy lender to exhibitions. To me it makes perfect sense that I have them.”
(Jeanne Greenberg Rohatyn)

I think that pretty sums it up: if you have a gallery, or focus on lending art to major exhibits, you pass first. And I'm not yet commenting on the court issue itself, and what went wrong or not, but just wondering how in earth does Lehmann expect that he's gonna be first if he's just a private collector: did he send his own Mehretu to the Walker Art Exhibit? Maybe yes, maybe not, this is important info that the article should have provided, but from what I understand he doesn't own any gallery or salon, so I can only support that the Project would want works to be owned by those who will diffuse it.

“A client of mine was so desperate to buy a painting last week, he told me to tell the gallery he was starting a family foundation to build a private museum,”
says Amy Cappellazzo “I asked him if it was true and he said, ‘Of course not. Just tell them that so I can get the goddamned painting.’
(Amy Cappellazzo)

Oops...Well that can only come as a warning. Wait for facts, or ask for photos
of the foundation.

Ok, the case itself:

It seems that Lehmann, perhaps in all good rights (we haven't heard all details, but I'm suspicious of the fact 3 other people were sharing his privileges, and that he didn't jump on his computer and looked at photos of the Mehretu works when that first show happened at the Project....not the move of a real hard fan if you ask me..), won his case,

“unless the parties reach an agreement" (Judge Ira Gammerman)

My opinion:

Lehmann is not helping his case as a private buyer by suing a gallerist.

If I was him I would jump rightly to the agreement, and ask to be the next owner of a big Mehretu. Maybe Mehretu herself could help this case and just finish a couple canvases for once. It's kind of an urgency, Julie ? Your gallery is going bakrupt!

Another mistake from Lehmann, is that he probably should have met the artist since a great while if he was such a fan. Or just send a fan letter. Something dumb with a smiley.

It's good to sound dumb when you like an artist, they don't like it when they feel you are too brilliant for them. Caress and a "hoo, how you're so great" will do.
I'm surprised that Mehretu never asked for a list of her buyers herself,
since judging by the amount of paintings she offer, they are certainly less than 50
of them around the world.

Maybe after all The Project did something wrong? Maybe they asked for too many lenders and tried to please too many people at once, while at the same time trying to serve Mehretu's career the best possible ?

I think everyone is wrong in this affair and should make a case of serving as an example to every other dealers and buyers.

If Lehmann is too busy to attend gallery shows at first sight, than he can just contact me, and whenever I'll be in New York, for just a sleep on his couch, I'll tell him all what I saw during the day, and which button he needs to press.

I really don't think you can afford wasting time when you
have an artist in mind, because apart from some casual cases,
they don't really make art by the tons. Right? (Unless they are photographs.....but...ahem)

Also, keep in mind that they don't even need to, if they art is selling
by the big buck. One wonders what motivates Rosenquist to still paint.

Rich artists who do art only want one thing: GET THE ART SHOWN.

So simply open the tiniest spot in any garage, have it designed
by a reputated architect, publish a few accompanying books (curators
are not expensive), than maybe, you'll be first in line without ever having
to sign contracts about loaning money.


Cedric Caspesyan


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