A Rude Reflection For The Collectors At Art Basel
As the dignitaries of the world of art come together for the biggest of their gatherings at Art Basel, it was opened to especially invited collectors, and the artists attempted to hold up a mirror to the world of art. The art world’s elite, dealers, collectors, advisers, and connoisseurs were greeted by a reflection of their rituals – not quite in a flattering light.
The artists in the present day scenario work with myriad social tissue and the art market is one of the key aspects and forms of it, as stated by the curator of the Unlimited section of Art Basel, Gianni Jetzer. However, the question is – do these works of art court or critique this world that they are entwined with. The irony is in fact a part of the reality, though the artists may not like this marketplace, this is where they generate an income to make their living.
The Wall, 2016, one of the more recent works of Eric Fischl displayed on Skarstedt’s stand, depicts a couple standing with their backs to the works of art. The artist describes this particular series as the same crowd in different clothing with the same experience as always, with no one really looking directly at the works of art.
Reena Spaulings an artists’ collective has showcased a series called Advisors (2016) at Campoli Presti, comprising of 14 portraits or art advisers. This artists’ collective is particularly fond of bringing to limelight the progressively blurring lines of the market. Two of the artists from the collective head the Reena Spaulings gallery, a participant at the fair. John Kelsey, one of these two has gone on to say that the conversation today is dominated by the advisers like never before.
Secondary (2015) an installation by Elmgreen & Dragset, exhibited in Unlimited, shows two auction house lecterns and the noisy auctioneers rivalling at unbearably high volumes clashing unpleasantly. This installation was sold through Galería Helga de Alvear to a private collection in Denmark. The message is sublime, art is not about art anymore, only to be presented at the focus of an art fair, says Alberto Gallardo – a director at Galería Helga de Alvear.
The Romanian artist Ciprian Muresan’s colossal 15 – part work of art, Palimpsest (2016), also exhibited in Unlimited, consists essentially of copying 50 years of ads in Artforum magazine. Art, itself is barely recognizable, especially in the frames that represent the market’s boom years as the ads wrestle each other for space. Mihai Pop the founder of Galeria Plan B, Muresan’s European gallery talks about the art’s commercial aspect and how it is an integral aspect of the history of art. Painted Coins (2015) by Paul Sietsema is a copy in ink of Sotheby’s ad in the New York Times and is exhibited in the main fair.
A question looms however, about the appeal of such works for the collectors who are known to not favor the art fair circuits. According to Bona Montagu, a director at Skarstedt Fischel’s art fair works have found favor with connoisseurs who aren’t necessarily the insiders in the market and appreciate the sublime connection of these works with his earlier scenes of suburban America.
Interestingly enough, the art adviser’s portraits at Campoli Presti were sold for a whopping five figure through one of those that hung on the wall.