The Scream by Edvard Munch became two days ago the most expensive painting to be bought. It was sold at a Sotheby’s auction to a private, unknown to the public, collector for $119.5 million. This painting, which makes a part of our collective art heritage and pop culture is officially out of sight for all of us (as an original) for now and out of reach for any public institution to obtain for its collection, if not for ever, definitely for a very very long time…
There is a market side to art, there has always been one. Auction Houses these days seem to be doing pretty well even in these shaky times. I guess this means that art is still considered a safe investment. It is said that the world of Auctions is a business that may ‘make’ artists but it kills the artwork, because they generate superstars, while they deprive artworks from their ‘reflective dimension’.
Following this, here are two interesting articles that have a different standing point when it comes to the Auction House’s performance:
‘On the Market‘ by Alice Gregory.
Alice Gregory was a ‘Sotheby’s girl’ and as an insider she sheds some light into the psychology and strategy behind the operations of this world famed Auction House. It is especially interesting as to how the House locates and introduces its auction items to possible collectors and vice versa. The article was published on n+1 magazine
Quotes from the article:
‘Property often comes to auction under conditions that the specialists list with alliterative delight: death, divorce, debt. But in the end, the process by which any work of art changes hands is singular—there are as many reasons for selling a piece as there are for buying one…. Collectors are people, with insecurities and egos of varying size. It’s the specialist’s job to psychologize his clients and devise ad hoc strategies that ultimately earn him a commission.’
‘Meanwhile, the specialists have been looking for clients, listing potential bidders in an “interest list” prepared for each individual lot of the sale…. The length and seriousness of the interest list is the private metric specialists use to guess how well a lot will perform, rather than the more empirically determined estimate.’
‘This Is Why I Hate Big-Money Art Auctions‘ by Jerry Saltz
Jerry Saltz is the senior art critic for the New York magazine. In this article he comments on the selling of the Scream at the recent auction and gives us an insight on the staging of a sale. Article found at www.vulture.com
Quote from the article:
‘Auction houses inherently equate capital with value. The price of a work of art has nothing to do with what the work of art is, can do, or is worth on an existential, alchemical level.’