LAUSANNE.- The exhibition presents a selection of masterpieces from the history of photography, part of the collection of Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla. Based in New York, it includes over 1500 original prints by some of the greatest photographers of the 20th and 21st centuries. Through visual confrontations, the visitor is invited to experience the power of the photographic line through these sublime works. The photographs by Berenice Abbott, Robert Adams, Walker Evans, Rineke Dijkstra, Man Ray and Lee Friedlander, among others, thus resonate, beyond their historical temporality and geographic considerations, by their formal correspondences.
Throughout history, photographers have always oscillated between two extremes: the mimetic illusion of reality and the enhancement of the esthetic qualities of the image. Whether it be “instantaneous lines”, according to the expression of Henri Cartier-Bresson, rational lines inspired from New Topographics, or the diversity of the curved lines of the human body, the line structures and sometimes reinvents the real – to the point of abstraction.
In the case of photography, spectators, even the most discriminating, often first observe the world that they are presented with. They scrutinize the face or the landscape, they marvel at the details, the fashionable clothes, the expressions on the children’s faces. In other words, they can forget that they are actually looking at a piece of paper, as flat as a page in a book or a drawing. Fascinated by the mimetic illusion, they might not even see the lines – straight, curved, oblique – that actually form the basis of the photographic composition.
Straight lines From the controlled to the spontaneous line
By confronting works by artists such as Stéphane Couturier, Hiroshi Sugimoto, Lewis Baltz and Robert Adams, this section emphasizes the importance of the lines of force of the image and of the feelings that emerge when they are strictly parallel or, instead, at least in appearance, more spontaneous.
Curved lines The essence of bodies and of the line
With works by Edward Weston, Bill Brandt, André Kertész, Robert Mapplethorpe, Léon Levinstein and Berenice Abbott, among others, this section shows that the curve defines all male and female bodies, photographed as a whole or in detail.
Abstractions The line in its purest form
This section encompasses the photographs of Aaron Siskind, Minor White, Ray K. Metzker and Harry Callahan, whose reference to the real world disappears, initially revealing the lines of abstraction of the image.
The Sondra Gilman and Celso Gonzalez-Falla collection first reveals the pleasure of the collectors who buy, above all, by personal preference and who maintain an everyday and private relationship with the images in their collection. In the same way, the exhibition invites the visitor to take an esthetic journey: formal confrontations are freed from their cultural and historic context to allow the visitor to experience his or her own personal and sensitive relationship to the photographic image.
LONDON — How big is the art market? Is it getting bigger or smaller? This is the time of year the art world’s number-crunchers release reports that try to answer these tricky questions, and a whole lot more.
According to the latest Tefaf art market report released by the European Fine Art Foundation in the Netherlands, the world’s auction and private sales in 2016 raised more than $45 billion, up 1.7 percent from the previous year. A new report commissioned by Art Basel and UBS estimated these same sales at $56.6 billion, down 11 percent from 2015.
Calculating worldwide fine art auction sales alone, the French website Artprice, working with the Chinese state-owned database Art Market Monitor of Artron, arrived at a figure of $12.45 billion for fine art auction sales alone in 2016, down 23 percent from the previous year. The Tefaf report estimated auction sales of art and antiques at $16.9 billion, while Art Basel and UBS released a figure of $22.1 billion.
Why are there such wide discrepancies in these reports, all of which aim to be regarded as industry standards?
The devil is, of course, in the data. The three reports used different sources for the auction results, and Art Basel and Tefaf, which released their figures this month to coincide with their fairs in Hong Kong and in Maastricht, the Netherlands, faced the challenge of trying to estimate the art and antique trade’s private sales. This shadowy realm is thought to represent more than half of the total value of the art market.
“These reports are useful to read, but the data is very incomplete,” said Hugo Nathan, a partner at Beaumont Nathan, an art advisory company based in London, who was in Hong Kong this week for the Art Baselfair. “They only see half the market. They collate the public auctions very well, but rely on self-reports from dealers, which are notoriously inaccurate.”
Rachel Pownall, an art economist at Maastricht University who prepared the revamped Tefaf report and whose new methodology reduced by almost a third its estimate of global art market sales, agreed that “the size of the dealer market is a contentious issue.”
“We are never going to get a perfect number for how big it is,” she added.
The Tefaf report, drawing on national statistics, company databases and dealer responses, estimated that there were at least $28 billion in private sales of art and antiques in 2016, overshadowing auction sales, estimated by Artnet to total $16.9 billion.
The Art Basel-UBS report, giving greater emphasis to contemporary art, said that there was an increase of 3 percent in dealer sales in 2016, for an estimated $32.5 billion. It said auction sales had fallen 26 percent from the previous year, reflecting the much-reported contraction of supply of Western artworks valued at more than $10 million.
“The market at the high end is dictated by the perceptions of a narrow band of players,” said Clare McAndrew, founder of the Dublin-based research and consultancy firm Arts Economics and author of the Art Basel-UBS report. “Sometimes they think that it’s a risky time to sell.”
She added, “The behavior of a small group can affect the aggregate figures a lot.”
Though Ms. McAndrew, who had compiled the Tefaf report from 2008 to 2016, acknowledged the approximate nature of estimates for private sales, she said she was encouraged by a response rate of 17 percent for the anonymous online survey of 6,500 dealers worldwide that she conducted for the new report. The equivalent survey of 7,000 dealers conducted by Tefaf drew a response rate of 5 percent.
But others remain skeptical that these reports accurately reflect the top end of the dealer market, particularly for powerhouse contemporary galleries such as Gagosian, Pace, David Zwirner and Hauser & Wirth, whose international sales figures remain undisclosed. The so-called Big Four are among the 242 exhibitors at Art Basel Hong Kong, which opened to the public on Thursday. Gagosian is offering a 2010 John Currin nude, “The Collaborator,” at $4.5 million, and Pace has a 1986 Robert Rauschenberg metal sculpture, “Carnival (Glut),” at $2 million.
“There’s still a huge research gap,” said Magnus Resch, the New York-based author of the “Global Art Gallery Report,” a survey of 8,000 galleries in the United States, Britain and Germany, that was published this month. “What is difficult is that the market is dominated by a handful of players and we don’t know what they’re making.”
Using findings from an anonymous online survey of 8,000 galleries, 16 percent of which responded, Mr. Resch’s report estimates that there are about 19,000 galleries worldwide. Of those that responded, 16 percent registered more than $1 million of annual sales, but 30 percent said they did not make a profit. A remarkable 49 percent of the galleries were founded since 2000, according to the report, which — tellingly — does not estimate total sales in the sector.
“If people knew the real numbers, then maybe they wouldn’t start a gallery,” Mr. Resch said.
Certain findings from the reports stand out. Detailed research by Ms. McAndrew for the Art Basel-UBS report estimated that about 33,000 high-net-worth Americans spent more than $1 million on art and antiques in the last two years. This explains, in part, why the United States remains the biggest regional market, generating 40 percent of all global sales, according to the Art Basel report. Tefaf said that an estimated 1.2 million artworks are being held in the “offshore” storage of Geneva Free Ports — billions of dollars in art hidden from tax inspectors and market surveys. In addition, auction sales of Andy Warhol in 2016 fell 68 percent.
There is general agreement that China was the biggest-grossing region for auction sales in 2016, though the reliability of the figures, which differ in the three reports, remains open to question. Data on auctions in Asia continues to be undermined by problems of nonpayment. The February overview from Artprice and Art Market Monitor of Artron ranked the Chinese artist Zhang Daqian (1899-1983) as the world’s biggest-seller at auction in 2016, with sales totaling $354.8 million.
“The wealth dynamics will play out,” said Ms. McAndrew, whose report noted that the most rapid growth in wealth was in Asia, where a billionaire is created every three days, according to UBS. “I think the market will become more dominated by Asian taste.”
Last year, five of the 10 most expensive auction lots sold at Sotheby’s were bought by Asian clients. This month, again at Christie’s in New York, we were reminded of the exceptional prices Asian buyers were prepared to pay — or at least to bid — for top-quality historic Chinese artifacts: The 13th-century scroll painting “Six Dragons,” by Chen Rong, raised $49 million, an auction high for a Chinese painting sold outside Asia. Consigned for sale by the Fujita Museum in Japan, it had been expected to sell for $1.2 million to $1.8 million.
The Art Basel art market report noted that the Chinese government had halved the import tax on artworks to 3 percent, effective Jan. 1 this year, to encourage the repatriation of Chinese artworks and to stimulate cross-border trade. In 2012, the tax was levied at 12 percent.
Despite the reports’ shortcomings, we at least have a general sense of what the global art market was worth in 2016. Splitting the difference between the Tefaf’s more conservative estimate of $45 billion and Art Basel’s more comprehensive $56.6 billion (which includes more data on auction sales of Chinese ceramics and works of art), we might say that last year about $50 billion of art was sold worldwide.
As for the details of what dealers contributed to this total, that remains any statistician’s guess.
David Zwirner Opens in Hong Kong’s New Art Market Epicenter
By Sarah Forman
Jan 26, 2018 5:17 pm
Rendering of HQueen’s. Courtesy of Sutton.
International galleries have flocked to Hong Kong over the past decade, beginning in earnest with Ben Brown Fine Arts in 2009 and intensifying following the purchase of the Art HK fair by Art Basel in 2011. Thanks to this influx, the city, which has long been the region’s financial hub, has become the center of the art trade in Asia. However, densely populated Hong Kong’s historic buildings, with their low ceilings, compact floor plans, and high rents, have put substantial limitations on all but a few major galleries’ ambitions of what they can show in Hong Kong—and on the ultimate aspirations of the city’s art scene as a result.
A new addition to the Hong Kong skyline, H Queen’s, is out to change that. Eleven of the building’s 24 floors have so-far been purpose-built for seven galleries and one auction house; the structure features open floor plans, UV coated glass walls, high ceilings, and a gondola system to lift large crates of works. Hong Kongers got a sneak peak into the H Queen’s offering in December with the opening of Tang Contemporary Art.
Installation view of Tang Contemporary’s “Theater of the World.” Courtesy of Tang Contemporary.
On Saturday, David Zwirner becomes the first of several international mega-galleries to open outposts in H Queen’s, to be followed by the likes of Hauser & Wirth, Pearl Lam Galleries, and Pace Gallery, all opening just ahead of Art Basel in Hong Kong in late March. Jennifer Yum, who left Christie’s to direct Zwirner’s new outpost alongside former Shanghai dealer Leo Xu, said the dealer began looking to open a space in Hong Kong years ago but hadn’t found a suitable location until seeing the plans for H Queen’s.
“What drew the us to this particular space were the open ceilings, open air, and the opportunity to make Central Hong Kong more of an arts district,” she said.
The inaugural show, which coincides with Zwirner’s 25th anniversary celebrations in New York, features the work of Michaël Borremans: unsettling depictions of bloodstained cherub-like children, some of whom have been partially dismembered, set sparsely against taupe cloth-like backdrops as if being photographed in a studio. Borremans describes them as a metaphor for the human condition.
H Queen’s was inspired by architect William Lim’s personal experiences as a collector in Hong Kong, spending Saturdays walking up and down the hills of Central to attend exhibitions and openings. “It was an awful experience to go to galleries, especially the ones in office buildings,” he said. “I saw an opportunity with the growth of Art Basel and the scene in Hong Kong, that there was actually this need.”
Lim’s team took cues from the growing association of contemporary art in Greater China as being part of a larger lifestyle and decided to fill its remaining floors not with office space but with other activities demanded by gallery goers. That includes restaurants such as Écriture by celebrated Hong Kong restaurant group Le Comptoir and luxury brands like Audemars Piguet.
“From the beginning we realized it was essential to have more than just art,” said Kristine Li, Deputy General Manager of Portfolio Leasing at H Queen’s developers Henderson Land Development Company Limited.
The idea is to allow people to wander off the highly trafficked Queen’s Road, make their way into a gallery, head downstairs for a cup of coffee or a bite to eat, then jump back on the elevator to continue their gallery hop.
Shot of the street from inside HQueen’s. Photo by Sarah Forman.
Rendering of HQueen’s. Courtesy of Sutton.
The benefits of the improved viewing conditions at H Queen’s are ample for collectors but Lim also hopes the building can engage and educate a wider public about art. “Galleries shouldn’t be intimidating. They should welcome visitors, bring schools in; this is how you’ll encourage the development of art by having people see more art,” he said, echoing hopes Zwirner director Xu articulated when he announced the closure of his Shanghai gallery and move to Hong Kong.
H Queen’s is far from the only location set to take on such a role in Hong Kong. The city’s major museum for visual culture, M+, is scheduled to open in 2019, and renovations continue at the former Central Police Station, or Tai Kwun, which is being transformed into a cultural and arts hub. But by the time the international art world descends on Hong Kong for Art Basel this Spring, the city’s art market epicenter will be H Queen’s.