Shruti Barton MA Creative Economy
On the Rocks with Anders Petterson, Managing Director, ArtTactic
Forget bestseller EH Gombrich’s The Story of Art (first published 1950) or Clement Greenberg’s essay Avant-Garde and Kitsch (1939) promoting the American Abstract Expressionist movement (in particularl Jackson Pollock), the art world and its contents have certainly developed on a global scale and across various forms of media since I last took a peek in 2001.
Last month’s Frieze Art Fair was a slick, sophisticated art space set up within the refined enclosure that is Regent’s Park, exhibiting the world’s coolest, glossiest and most contemporary artworks from our current day.
The buzz surrounding this event was, to me at least, somewhat reminiscent of Saatchi’s Sensations exhibition at the Royal Academy of Art, 1997. Or perhaps this is the last time I recall attending an expansive art exhibition of such kudos, bursting with modern, or indeed one may argue, post-modern visually stimulating statements. After what feels like so many years in hiding from this world, I felt a real affinity with the work and what the artists were trying to achieve.
Our mentor and guest lecturer in question, unbiased expert and Managing Director of ArtTactic, Anders Petterson, has been submerged in the art world ever since I’ve been marooned on the dry patch of the Square Mile. Whilst his investment clients may well be based in my old territory, and he modestly boasts a past career as City Analyst at JP Morgan, Anders now provides up to date global art market intelligence to them, through quantitative and qualitative analytical research. I can see his career in the City stands him in good stead for this kind of work and no doubt provides the integrity and professionalism his clients demand. Well, art is arguably as much of an investment as silver, gold and iron ore is these days. Knowledge of the commodity derivatives market was bound to come in use.
What is surprising to learn, is just how global this market has become in the last 10 years. Of course I’ve visited the British Museum on a rainy day and revelled in some of the 8 million cultural artefacts The British Empire proudly display as if belonging to their own (with controversy at times). But to witness galleries exhibiting at Frieze from cities across the world, Mumbai, Madrid, Shanghai, Sao Paolo and Tel Aviv , with the knowledge that there are now over 150 international art fairs and festivals in the world today really awakened and inspired the once inquisitive art aficionado in me. The Saatchi Gallery may wish to offer its franchise to other countries as the canvas shifts to that of a multiple-national gallery model and the art gallery (such as The White Cube, Gagosian and Pace) becomes a brand unto its own.
I did question why, as Petterson pointed out, 70-80% of the industry’s revenue mainly comes from 15 artists, to include Gerard Richter, Andy Warhol (who has lost his top spot as best-selling artist to Gerard Richter, ArtTactic September 2012), Jeff Koons, Roy Lichtenstein, Sir Francis Bacon, Damien Hirst, Cindy Sherman, Louise Bourgeois, Jean-Michel Basquiat. Strikingly, Eric Clapton last month sold Gerard Richter’s Abstraktes Bild for £21 million by auction at Sotheby’s. What adds another dimension to these extortionate numbers is the fact that the value is reported to have increased by 20% due to Clapton owning the masterpiece (http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/eric-clapton-plays-art-market-to-the-tune-of-30-million/article4624966/ October 2012). Coupled with the fact that this figure and all the other ‘sold by auction’ prices listed are based on the auction hammer price, irrespective of whether the balance is paid and the masterpiece is actually handed over, is what leaves me with a slightly distorted view of how much an artwork is actually worth and sold for at auction versus its Fair Market Value. Petterson’s answer is like honey to a bee – the artist is validated by the art market ecosystem of dealers, curators, galleries, auction houses, investors. The auction system itself creates a self-perpetuating prophecy in these uncertain times. Better the devil you know and all of that.
Interestingly, Tracey Emin, Maidstone College of Art and Royal College of Art MA graduate sits pretty low in this pecking order even though her self-PR machine and friendship with Dame Vivienne Westwood keeps her on the frontline of the art scene. Perhaps her unmade bed was not such a money spinner after all and laundering them may now reap higher returns? So, just as fellow Goldsmithian, Damien Hirst’s The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living (or shark in formaldehyde to you and me), ignited my interest in 1991 (commissioned by Saatchi for £50,000) and the YBA’s a.k.a Britartists were born, perhaps we are now living in a world of the Worldartist and there’s so much more to discover. Thanks to Anders Petterson and Frieze Art Fair 2012, I have reignited my love for modern art and all that it stands for. I’ve also indulged in all things virtual to keep up with this ever changing landscape. I would definitely recommend checking out www.art.sy.com, www.artstack.com and www.artcyclopedia.com.
Below are some of the works which caught my eye at this year’s Frieze Art Fair:
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