Everyone knows the dirty little secret of the dog-eat-dog art market, which is that while an artist creates the artwork, the vast majority of the value of that artwork is created—and captured—by others, from the 50 percent that goes to the dealer to the multiples made by the collectors who flip if the artist gets hot. But what if there was a way for artists to protect themselves from this kind of exploitation, by banding together and pooling their art together into a fund to provide a safety net against the vicissitudes of the market, where all artists—hot and not alike—benefit from the rising values of rising stars? Well, something like that does exist, and it’s called the Artist Pension Trust, which since 2004 has enlisted hundreds of artists behind this common cause. The only catch? It is apparently too good to be true—at least if you go by the maelstrom of threats of lawsuits, recriminations, and accusations that have sprang up around the trust in recent years. So, what went wrong with the utopian project of the Artist Pension Trust? And who is behind it, anyway? To find out, Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin spoke to reporter Catherine Wagley about her recent investigation into the one art fund everyone wanted to root for. Enjoy the conversation, and for the full story, check out Catherine’s riveting two-part series on Artnet.
Altri episodi di "The Art Angle"
Want to Wear a Basquiat? Inside the Big Business of Artist Merch
39:15Today, Jean-Michel Basquiat is unquestionably one of the most recognizable and beloved artists on the planet. A native New Yorker of Haitian and Puerto Rican descent, Basquiat first attracted attention as a teenage graffiti writer in the late 1970s, before rapidly transitioning into the role of international sensation in the newly glamorous, increasingly global gallery world of the 1980s. Although the main draw was his inimitable artistic practice, which merged cryptic poetry and symbology with antic, Expressionistic figures, Basquiat quickly became a downtown celebrity of the first order, walking the runway, collaborating with musicians, and famously dating Madonna. Tragically, Basquiat died from an overdose at the age of 27. His short artistic career makes it all the more remarkable that his work and his visage seem to be everywhere in the 21st century. Of course, I’m not just talking about his actual paintings, which reliably sell for tens of millions of dollars at auction. Licensed reproductions of Basquiat’s work now fuel a wide range of products and branding opportunities, from affordable t-shirts and keychains, to an unprecedented collaboration with the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets resulting in a Basquiat-inspired home court design and team uniform. But as licensing has become a lucrative revenue stream for contemporary artists and estates, it has also intensified age-old criticisms about the corrosive powers of commercialization on creative integrity. The Basquiat estate’s approach has made Jean-Michel’s work one of the focal points of this tension, especially after the opening of “King Pleasure,” a major exhibition about the artist’s life and work now on view in Manhattan. To sort through this tangled web, Artnet News art business editor Tim Schneider spoke to market guru Katya Kazakina about her look into Basquiat and the increasingly big business of artwork licensing.
Nari Ward on How to Make a True Portrait of New York City
39:09The Jamaican-born, Harlem-based artist Nari Ward was barely out of his 20s when he exploded onto the New York art scene in 1993 with Amazing Grace, an extraordinary installation of 300 baby strollers he found abandoned around Harlem. The work, installed in a dimly lit former firehouse, resonated with audiences as a startling and humble commentary on the seemingly endless crises plaguing New York: the AIDS and crack epidemics, rampant homelessness, racial violence, and a city on edge after the Crown Heights and City Hall riots.In the nearly 30 years since, Ward has maintained his role as one of our mourners-in-chief, and his latest exhibition at Lehmann Maupin in Chelsea is no exception. The show, titled “I’ll Take You There; A Proclamation,” again taps into musical and cultural history to offer a dignified yet sobering reflection on the Covid pandemic and its devastating fallout of economic inequality, political instability, and profound loss. More than anything, the brilliant new exhibition, which continues Ward’s use of refuse and discarded objects, picked up around the streets of the city, suggests that none of us—not even Ward—knows exactly where we’re headed next.To get a sense of the show, we called in Artnet News managing editor Pac Pobric to get the artist’s take on his remarkable new work.
The Secret Codes of World-Class Art Auctions, Demystified
34:13Get your paddles ready: New York is about to kick off what may be the biggest auction season ever. Over the next two weeks, as much as $2.6 billion worth of art is expected to be sold across glitzy evening sales at Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips. The offerings include a sage-blue portrait of Marilyn Monroe by Andy Warhol that could bring in over $200 million, a billboard-size Basquiat that could fetch $70 million, and Richters, Picassos, and Rothkos galore. Auctions are the most public and visible part of the art market—but they are also among the most misunderstood. There’s a ton of behind-the-scenes preparation, psychology, and game theory that goes into pulling off a successful sale. It is a game—and to succeed as both a seller and a buyer, you need to know the rules. We called in Artnet News executive editor Julia Halperin to help us decode the complex sociology of auctions.
Is the Venice Biennale Any Good? Here’s What Three Art Critics Think
38:00At long last, this week the 59th Venice Biennale has officially thrown itself open to the world in Italy. The Biennale is always a big event for the art world. The 2022 edition may be even more anticipated than usual. Because of the pandemic, it was delayed a year—the first time that has happened since World War II. And it emerges in a moment of global turmoil and uneasiness, when everyone is wondering how art might respond to the challenges of the present. The Artnet News team was on the scene last week for the Biennale previews, cranking out news reports from around Venice you can find on the site, including reports from the many national pavilions. But as listeners of the Art Angle will know, the big event of the Biennale is the main show, curated this year by New York-based Italian art curator Cecilia Alemani. Alemani was on the podcast a few weeks ago to talk about her vision. Now we get to see whether she pulled it off. The exhibition carries the dreamy title “The Milk of Dreams,” and it is full of dream-like images, references to myth and magic, beasts and cyborgs, and mystery. It is notable in being almost entirely composed of women or gender non-nonconforming artists. This Biennale is also notable for how it rethinks the past—normally a survey of new trends in art, this year the Biennale includes 5 special mini-exhibitions, shows-within-the-show that look at how female figures from the past explored the themes of "The Milk of Dreams." In effect, Alemani is writing a new art historical timeline to insert her work into. There’s a lot to talk about in this ambitious and complex Venice Biennale. To do so, we have assembled a panel of people who were in Venice. National Art Critic Ben Davis is joined by Emmanuel Balogan and Barbara Calderon, both of who are writing about aspects of the 2022 Biennale for Artnet News.
Is Fractional Art Investing the Future of the Market? Or a Scam?
38:02So want to buy a Picasso? No, it's too expensive? Want to buy a teensy-weensy, tiny little microscopic flack of a Picasso? That sounds better, doesn't it? Believe it or not, that kind of sales pitch is actually gaining traction in a big way. In the wild world of fractional art sales, where massive new startup companies are buying up the bluest of blue chip art, think Basquiat, Joan Mitchell and Ed Ruscha, and selling what are essentially shares in these pieces to speculative investors. It's rapidly becoming a big business. But what you do you actually get if you buy a share in a painting, how does it work and what is it really worth? Artnet News, Senior Reporter, Katya Kazakina, author of the incredible Art Detective column joins this episode to talk about her new in-depth report on fractional art funds for the spring edition of the Artnet News Pro Intelligence Report, which just dropped last week.
How a Mysterious Whitney Biennial Confronts Our Moment
35:39It's biennial season in a big bi-annual year. The Toronto Biennial just opened, the Venice Biennale opens next week, and around the corner are the German heavyweights, the Berlin Biennale and documenta—which is actually a quinquennial, but who's quibbling. This would be an exciting time in any year, but in 2022, it has the added dimension of being the first time that the world's art community will be able to get together with a ton of important new work in person after these past two pandemic years, as Cecilia Alemani, the curator of this years Venice Biennale, recently discussed on this very podcast. This episode is dedicated to another sprawling show near and dear to our hearts that opened earlier this month. Of course, it's the Whitney Biennial, a signature offering of the Whitney Museum of American Art, where it tries to live up to its full name by taking a snapshot of what the country's artists have been making, thinking, and feeling. Artnet News, chief art critic, Ben Davis joins to shed some light on this very ambitious, very interesting show.
The Whole Bored Ape Yacht Club Phenomenon, Explained
37:25Just around one year ago, two literary bros from Miami decided to launch a business venture. It was a couple weeks after Beeple’s Everydays had sold for $69 million at Christie’s and NFTs were taking the art world by storm. Still, few could have guessed at the time that their little company, called Yuga Labs, would produce a series of cartoon apes that would become some of the most successful—and divisive—characters in the entire NFT universe. "It's hard to justify that a Bored Ape NFT is worth $300,000 based on the art... they're cartoon apes" says crypto journalist Amy Castor. "They're cute, you know, but is it worth that kind of money?" For many regular people, and a whole host of celebrities, the answer is yes. Today, Yuga Labs has more than 60 employees and more than $2 billion in total sales. Over the past few weeks, it has gone on a tear announcing new initiatives, from the acquisition of CryptoPunks and Meebits, arguably the two other most popular NFT series, to the launch of Apecoin, its own brand of cryptocurrency. Larva Labs now hopes to create what is essentially a Marvel universe from all this intellectual property—and make a lot of money along the way. But Castor, for one, says that Yuga Labs's recent acquisitions are antithetical to the core tenets that NFT evangelists tout. "The whole idea about NFTs is that they're supposed to be decentralized. It's not supposed to be one outfit having control of the top three most expensive NFT projects" she says. "They've created a perceived value out of thin air so that they can then monetize that brand." Its strategy shows us what the future of the NFT space might look like. But it remains unclear whether this future will benefit everyday NFT collectors and enthusiasts as much as the big investors and founders of companies like Yuga Labs. To unpack the wild and winding story of Yuga Labs and the Bored Ape Yacht Club, executive editor Julia Halperin spoke with Amy Castor, who chronicled the rise of this phenomenon on Artnet News.
Special Preview: Toyin Ojih Odutola on Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso
21:42We're sharing a special preview of a podcast I’ve been enjoying, Talk Easy with Sam Fragoso, from Pushkin Industries. Talk Easy is a weekly interview podcast, where writer Sam Fragoso invites actors, writers, activists, and politicians to come to the table and speak from the heart in ways you probably haven't heard from them before. Driven by curiosity, he’s had revealing conversations with everyone from George Saunders and Cate Blanchett to Ocean Vuong and Gloria Steinem. In this preview, Sam talks with visual artist Toyin Ojih Odutola about visiting Nigeria, creating the subjects in her new book, and feeling alive. You can listen to Talk Easy at https://podcasts.pushkin.fm/talkeasyangle.
Cecilia Alemani on Her Venice Biennale for an Anxious Era
43:45This April, after a punishing two years apart during the pandemic, the whole art community will gather together on the magical watery isle of Venice for its periodic ritual assessment of what the world's finest artists have been thinking about and making to grapple with our changing world. They call this climactic event, the Venice Biennale and each time it has presided over by a visionary figure whose role it has been to transmute the work of all these artists into a coherent statement about our time. This year, that exalted figure is named Cecilia Alemani. Cecilia is a professional art curator, whose day job is curating art for New York's Highline. The Venice Biennale is just a big exhibition, but the show always has an aura of the religious about it, where we get to commune with the biggest and best ideas floating around the globe. This time around, the globe is in rare and urgent need of big ideas with existential crises, raging all around us that need to be understood and reckoned with now. So can this year's edition of the Venice Biennale help? To find out, we welcome Cecilia Alemani to the show to talk about her big exhibition, which is beautifully titled the Milk of Dreams.
How Afghanistan’s Artists Are Making Their Way in Exile
52:37In August 2021, the world watched in horror as U.S. troops withdrew, and the Taliban retook control of Afghanistan, with over 600,000 displaced people fleeing the country since last January, according to the U.N. Refugee Agency. Among the many groups threatened by the Taliban's rule are artists, with the fundamentalist government viewing freedom of artistic expression as a threat to the Islamic faith. Fearing for their lives, some artists have felt compelled to destroy or censor their own work, or to seek asylum outside Afghanistan. For curators Barbara Pollack and Anne Verhallen, the crisis provided an opportunity for their arts organization, Art at a Time Like This, to help raise awareness of the plight of Afghan artists. The two had started the platform in March, 2020 as a way of staging both online and in-person exhibitions in response to lockdown restrictions following the outbreak of COVID-19. To organize the virtual show "Before Silence: Afghan Artists In Exile," the two partnered with the PEN America affiliated non-profit Artists at Risk Connection to bring together the work of nine Afghan artists now dispersed around the world. To learn more about the situation faced by these brave creatives, Artnet News senior writer Sarah Cascone spoke with Julie Trebault, director of the Artists at Risk Connection at PEN America; Alexandra Xanthaki, the UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights; and Shamayel Shalizi, an Afghan artist currently living in Berlin. https://artatatimelikethis.com/before-silence