E– JOURNAL #5- Ch 3 Art Fairs.

Read ch 3 on Art Fairs in  ‘Seven Days in the Art World’

Q: Quote a section of this chapter that made you think and explain why.  Art Basel- How many of you have gone? How many of you have gone to an Art Fair in general, what was your experience was it “horror, alienation and amusement” as stated by the author? I personally really enjoy them, but get so exhausted! It is not the ideal way to view art, but can give you a glimpse for later follow up on the artists career.

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19 Responses to E– JOURNAL #5- Ch 3 Art Fairs.

  1. Sarah Ann Showell says:

    Q: Quote a section of this chapter that made you think and explain why. Art Basel, do you all know we have an Art Basel every year here in Miami? How many of you have gone? How many of you have gone to an Art Fair in general, what was your experience was it “horror, alienation and amusement” as stated by the author? I personally really enjoy them, but get so exhausted! It is not the ideal way to view art, but can give you a glimpse for later follow up on the artists career.
    I really loved the Rubbell’s and how truly dedicated they were to collecting art. The fact that they have all the wealth in world and are able to ignore societal expectations of the rich with how they dress and act is truly impressive. What stuck out to me the most was when she said horrified following them around would be like “asking to come into [their] bedroom.” That showed what a personal and intimate experience it is for them to collect art. I also thought how great it was that they brought a child with them instead of leaving him at home like people typically would do. I have not had a chance to go to a big art fair like this but to me it sounds more real then an auction. An auction seems too tedious, without personality or connection with the work, only about the numbers. An art fair sounds like people will be able to connect more with the piece before they decide to buy; the reactions of people seem to be exuberant and passionate whereas at an auction it is cold and full of gossip. I actually really enjoyed reading this chapter and cannot wait to attend one.

  2. Natascha Vazquez says:

    Samuel Keller (director of Art Basel since 2000)- “If you go after art and quality, the money will come later…We have to make the same decisions as the artists. Do they create great art or art that sells well? With the galleries it’s the same. Are they commercial or do they believe in something? We’re in a similar situation”.

    I feel like this debate of whether art is created for the pure passion of art making or for business purposes has been brought up a lot in this class. When I read what Keller stated above, it got me thinking more about the argument in a different spectrum. This is now from the point of view of a director, rather than the artist themselves. In order for them to sell the work, it must be work that others will buy. What is one to do; pick work that appears to be “great work” or pick the work that maybe they do not connect with, but sells. It all has to do with the ultimate goal. Is it purely for business purposes or is it for the passion of loving art and celebrating the aesthetics of something that may not sell as well due to things such as size or medium. It is an ongoing debate, artists and people in the art world will continue to argue which one is more valid.

    As for me, I have been to countless art fairs, all of which I love and appreciate. If I find that I do not connect with the art on a personal level, I can still value it solely for the fact of being art, and for its artistic process. It also allows me to learn and grow as an artist myself, to find positive and negative aspects of a piece of art.

  3. Nattakun says:

    “In a world that has jettisoned craftsmanship as the dominant criterion by which to judge art, a higher premium is put on the character of the artist. If artists are seen to be creating art simply to cater to the market, it compromises their integrity and the market loses confidence in their work.” (p. 98)
    It is very interesting to see changes in the art world in the past century. The craftsmanship used to be the main factor that distinguished good art from bad art. Later we focus more on the content of the work and favor those that have an influence on our emotion, our perception, and our cultural value. Now, artist integrity seems to be the major factor that determines the value of the work. It is quite funny to think that the market no longer pays for the craftsmanship or the content of the work but for the artist. Artists who are able to stay true to their integrity seem to be rewarded with a large sum of money that collectors are willing to pay in exchange for the artist names that will be added to their collection. Personally I feel that the question of “how much will my work sell?” should not even be in the mind of artists while they are making the work. But because the art world has turn into a million-dollar industry, artists are caught between a push and pull of creating “art for art sake” and “commercial art”.
    I never really have a lot of chance to go to an art fair. I have only been to the Winter Park art festival in the past years and really enjoy it. It is always good to see what other artists are doing and get inspiration from looking at other people’s work. However, I have to agree with the author that it is not an ideal environment to view art. The crowded street and noise makes it quite difficult to appreciate the work. There are also a lot of “commercial art” and I am in no position to judge those artist but I feel that I get bored looking at their work simply because I don’t know what to look for apart from the aesthetic quality of the work and the craftsmanship.

  4. Anne Patrick says:

    “There are no prices or red dots on the wall. Such an overt gesture at commerce is considered tacky. Moreover, a prospective buyer’s query about cost is, according to Scott Wright, “an opportunity for engagement.”
    I find the etiquette of the art world pretty bizarre and the etiquette of the business art world is a foreign country to me, I can’t navigate it at all. After this particular line, Sarah Thorton goes on to give examples of people navigating through the minefield or art buying. There are certain moves that come across as neophyte-esque, offering more money than the original asking price. Also, galleries compile lists of interested buyers when a piece is in particularly high demand and then sell it to the “most prestigious home.” Stuff like this just goes over my head. It’s something that artists should try to have some knowledge of because this sort of information is prevalent to their profession, but at the same time, wow, it just sounds so mind-numbing and complicated and political. I’m not drawn to this side of things.
    I, like Natt, have gone to the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. That is about the only art fair that I’ve ever been able to attend. I’ve enjoyed it all the times I’ve gone, I think it’s fun and nice. It’s also a chance for you to get to converse with the artists and it’s accessible in a way that looking at art in a gallery or museum, a solitary experience for the most part, might not be. It’s not every day that the creator of a artwork is sitting right next to it. There were things I didn’t like at the festival, some people had detailed paintings of palm trees that I found dull and tacky, but going to the Orlando Museum of Art, there are pieces there that I also am not moved by. Seeing art in settings other than that of galleries or museums is rather refreshing.

  5. Rachel Birkentall says:

    “With young artists, you find the greatest purity. When you buy from the first or second show, you’re inside the confidence building, the identity building of an artist. It’s not just about buying a piece. It’s about buying into someone’s life and where they are going with it. It’s a mutual commitment, which is pretty intense.”

    I tend to have the pessimistic view that the art world is run entirely by money and reputation, and that artistic integrity and appreciation for the art itself is completely secondary. It was nice to be reminded that this isn’t always the case, and that collectors do appreciate art and wish to suport artists. There’s a certain warmth to the fair which the auction sorely lacks, and it’s nice to be reminded that this warmth does exist in the art world. I didn’t know about the Art Basel every year in Miami, but I’m really interested in going now. I’ve been to a lot of art fairs, as well as craft fairs, and I almost always really enjoy them. The ones I’ve been to are, however, much smaller than Art Basel, and they are almost entirely local. I usually enjoy listening to and speaking with the artists and craftspeople. Having been going to them for years in this area, however, can get repetitive with many artists creating similar pieces or new artists copycatting more successful ones. However, being able to watch those trends rise and fall within this subculture is always really interesting.

  6. Senny says:

    “There is an implied incompetence. Out of everyone in the art world, collectors are the least professional. All they have to do is write a check. — Collectors should be an earned gallery. An artist doesn’t become an artist in a day, so a collector shouldn’t become a collector in a day. It’s a life long process.”

    I never thought of art collectors to really be much of the process of art itself. I always thought of it more as artist and audience. Sure there are some middle men, dealers and what not, but I never thought of collectors to be their own category. They were pretty much lumped in with audience. To be honest an art collector doesn’t really mean much to me. i would have a difficult time defining myself as a person who is just a collector. You collect things for hobbies. If I had the money, I would definitely buy art. If I could get my hand on as many pieces from my favorite artists I would be estactic but I would not call myself a collector and my role of being a collector would not be what defines me. I would buy art because I love and support it or if I had an emotional connection to the piece. I’m sure that is some of the motivation that some collectors have. I’m not sure why Mera Rubell’s comment stuck out like that to me. It was a bit irksome. Along with how she seems horrified that Thorton could even ask to shadow them. She’s a bit pretentious in my opinion. You’re already surrounded by people for petes sake. It’s not like you have much privacy anyways.

    I did know about Art Basel nor have I been to an art fair. I think I went to one on Park Ave two years ago. It was a nice afternoon spent but I don’t recall seeing anything extraordinary. I only remember two artists. one who painting these abstracts paint drip landscapes on plywood, and another artist who painted these tiny tiles to create a larger image and then sold the tiles by groups. I definitely don’t think it’s an ideal way to view art. The only pro to it is if the artist is there at their booth and can talk to you about their work and their process.

  7. Briana Angelo says:

    There were two that stood out to me, which are related. “In the art world, gossip is never idle. It is a vital form of market intelligence” and “A collection is a personal vision. No one can steal your vision”. These statements really irk me. The vision of people rushing into the art show to pay millions of dollars for a work of art seems so absurd. It’s almost like the artist is just along for the ride and the collectors create the fame for them. Art is so hyped up and I don’t really understand why. I feel like someone can create basically anything as long as collectors make a big deal about it. It also seems like the collectors are doing more work than the artists are (or at least that’s what the collectors think). The fact that they think a collection of art is a work of art in itself is so absurd. It’s like people are competing to have the best taste in art. The whole idea is so stupid to me.

    I’ve never been to an art show, but I’ve been to plenty of arts and craft fairs. These works are definitely craft with not a lot of technical proficiency. I think its funny what some people bring to the fairs to sell. I’ve never been proud enough of something to sell it, so to see other people selling things is strange to me. Either that or I just really like what I made so I want to keep it for myself. So I guess my reaction to art shows is horror, but in the sense of how collectors treat them, like its the collectors time to shine. The fact that artists have shows to get their name out does not bother me.

  8. Morgan Conroy says:

    “Poe believes that an art fair can be a tough environment for the artist . “If they are any good they make art because they have to,” he says. “They don’t do it to please the market. So for some artists hanging out here can mess with their heads. Also let’s face it this is not the optimum place to exhibit work. The subtle notes of the artwork are drowned out by the cacophony…It’s like a free jazz concert with money working the mixing board.” (98)

    I have been to art Basel in Miami, however I don’t remember it being as insane as it is described in this chapter… however that was in high school with an art history teacher and I think she may have “censored” our visit a bit (LOL). I personally agree with the above sentiments: that an art fair is not the ideal place to show work- that it can effect an artist’s work and change their reason for creating- and lastly and perhaps most importantly the comparison Poe makes of Basel to a free jazz concert with money working the mixing board… It’s a bit frightening that art can be so insanely priced … I’m thinking to myself as I read this… would art be this expensive (12 million)… if people didn’t have such insane amounts of money to burn…(literally to burn the average fuel costs to fly a G series private plane is upwards of $30,000) would the prices be lower or would there be a price cap (for ex $5,000,000) if the richest men only had a 5 billion instead of 60… it made me upset to think about the way art has become a way for people to express to others their superiority just like a mega yacht or helicopter. The setting that Thornton describes resembles the NYSE where commodities are tossed around and franticly swooped up and sold off minute by minute –second by second even!

  9. Leandra Lima says:

    Q: Quote a section of this chapter that made you think and explain why. Art Basel, do you all know we have an Art Basel every year here in Miami? How many of you have gone? How many of you have gone to an Art Fair in general, what was your experience was it “horror, alienation and amusement” as stated by the author? I personally really enjoy them, but get so exhausted! It is not the ideal way to view art, but can give you a glimpse for later follow up on the artists career.

    “Artists tend to view art fairs with a mixture of horror, alienation, and amusement. They feel uneasy when all the hard work of the studio is reduced to supplying the voracious demand, and they wince at the sight of so much art accompanied by so little substantive conversation.”

    It is probably quite obvious why I chose this quote, with our own small art show that just recently went up, and the entire process of establishing a strong idea and being able to explain it quickly and hope that the viewers understand your work. It is all very stressful, and although we are still in the art making process, it is important to remember that if we are trying to get our work and ideas out there, we have to also know how to express ourselves. All the work these artists have put into their work is now out of their studio, and open to the fair. They can not change anything, and they probably feel rather exposed. However, this is an art fair, and not a gallery exhibition. which means that people are mostly considering whether or not they want to add your work to their collections. It is far different than showing your work in a museum or art gallery where people are not immediately wondering the worth and whether or not they could make a profit off of your work.
    I myself have never been to the Miami art Basel, but I have been to the art show down park. the one here in winter park I feel has more craft oriented work, and it is very exhausting to look at each booth and try to be as unbiased as possible and appreciate the work for what it is. Also, it is a different experience seeing a price tag next to a piece, vs. seeing the title of the work. I do however like that it is interactive and that the artists themselves are there to explain their work to you. It is definitely something I would like to make be a part of, just for the experience of it.

  10. Drew Berger says:

    The quote, “If you go after art and quality, the money will come later . . . We have to make the same decisions as the artists. Do they create great art or art that sells well? With the galleries, it’s the same. Are they commercial or do they believe in something? We’re in a similar situation,” directly relates to our discussions in class about keeping your integrity as an artist. I found this quote interesting because it shows the side of the collector and the gallery, or the art market, which we haven’t had a chance to see yet. It shows us that the market is looking to buy artists that have integrity and aren’t making pieces just to sell them. So, if your an artist that is doing a specific kind of art in order to make some money, the real collectors and galleries probably won’t want your work. This is inspiring to me because it shows that even what could be considered, “The Man,” of the art world, still puts a heavy importance on an artist keeping their integrity and vision. I have never been to Art Basel but I plan on going this year with a friend who has a good connection there. The last art fair I went to would be the one they have in Winter Park every year. I really enjoy the atmosphere at these types of events because you are surrounded by people who all have an appreciation for art. I also enjoy seeing the wide variety of works coming out of art fairs. It’s also nice to see other working artists who can come to the fair and sell their works in order to keep making art.

  11. Caty Coplin says:

    There were so many quotes that rang true for me in this reading, but above all this one provoked me: “If you go after art and quality, the money will come later…We have to make the same decisions as the artists. Do they create great art or art that sells well? With the galleries it’s the same. Are they commercial or do they believe in something? We’re in a similar situation.”

    As we discussed in our last E-Journal, the questions of “art vs. business” and “money vs. integrity” are constant battles for modern day artists. All of us would love produce what we want to and get paid a fair amount for it, but in today’s society, that’s just not the way it works most of the time. I personally accepted this fact three years ago, deciding that as long as I was making art, I was happy. It didn’t always have to be about what I wanted to create; it could be commercial, I could get paid a lot to do it, and then in my free time, I could produce what I wanted. What’s so bad about that?
    I still don’t have to sit at a desk 10 hours a day, sell my soul to crunch numbers, or give up my passion for art. Am I really “losing my integrity as an artist” by coming to an artistic compromise to better suit my client? Is that really “selling out?” In a business sense, I still don’t see the end-all-be-all mentality. But at the same time, I understand the merit of Thornton’s statement in a gallery setting.

    Showcasing work in a gallery is about creating work that speaks to you. That’s what the viewers want to see—your voice, your experience. However, it’s hard to sit here and completely criticize artists for shifting their work to appeal more to the masses. If your artwork is good and your vision is wholly your own, but your execution is slightly altered to appeal more to a buying client, is that really selling out? What about if you show at art fairs year after year, but your passion is creating prints of dead animals that no one wants to buy (cough, cough Kiki Smith)? Is there a point of showcasing your work then? And how are you going to afford the materials to make the next series of works if selling the last set is what you’re depending on for income? How are you going to pay the monthly bills?

    Call it selling out, but artists are just humans like the rest of us, trying to make it by. And sometimes, as in every other area of life, we have to make sacrifices for a greater overall reward. ENOUGH about this quote though. I’m hopping off my soapbox. Good. NESS.

    To answer the next question:
    No, I’ve never been to the Art Basel in Miami, but I hear it’s the “Olympics of the Art World,” and chaoticly horrifying or not, I’m dying to go. I’ve experienced a few art fairs before and always come back with mixed reviews, but very rarely to I feel “horrified” by them. Inspired? Yes. Exhausted? Yes. Frustrated? Most definitely. Embarrassed? Sometimes. Horrified or alienated? Never. Maybe Art Basel will be a whole new experience for me. We’ll seeeeeeee!

  12. Roxanne Bates says:

    A couple of sections really stood out to me. The first quote that made me think was “Gladstone enjoys having in-depth discussions about artists’ work, but here at the fair… “It’s like being a whore in Amsterdam… you’re trapped in these little rooms and there is no privacy whatsoever.” I think it’s interesting that these respected curators come to these events and become sales people forced to barter with people treat artists work as a simple commodity. The meaning, which Gladstone says she enjoys discussing, is stripped from the art fair. The collectors have no time to discuss and ponder over artist’s intentions or the deeper reading of the work. It sounds more like black Friday sales than a place for artists to sell their work.

    In contrast, a collector said another quote I thought was interesting. “I’m an atheist, but I believe in art. I go to galleries like my mother went to church. It helps me understand the way I live.” That is the type of passion artists want to excite in the viewer. I wonder, if the art fair was filled with people that felt this way about art, if it would be a more manageable experience for the artist. Those collectors do not just buy work like it’s a new handbag but treat the work with the respect it deserves. I have never been to art basal and I have only been to a couple of art fairs but I really enjoy them. It can be overwhelming at times but they are a great way to see lots of different types of work.

  13. Alexis Csenger says:

    A quote that stood out to me was “Art world insiders take a hard line on collecting for the ‘right’ reasons. Acceptable motives include a love of art and a philanthropic desire to support artists.” I guess it connected with me because I know very little about the “art world”, at least the money-making side of it-collector, dealer, consultant, and auction house are all foreign terms to me and I never really realized how social this side of the art world was- so it was reassuring to hear that for most, collecting art is still grounded in integrity and not solely an excuse for rich people to spend money. Despite the unappealing shallowness of the art fair, it seemed that most of the collectors Thornton spoke with were interested in art because it enhanced their souls, not just their financial portfolios. For instance, I was surprised and impressed by the response of Mera Rubell when Thornton asked if she could shadow her and her husband through the fair: “Absolutely not! That’s like asking to come into our bedroom.” I was happy to learn that, at least for many, art collecting is a very personal endeavor to be taken very seriously. If this is the case, I feel reassured that one can survive and be successful as an artist while still maintaining one’s personal artistic integrity. As Thornton puts it, “If artists are seen to be creating art simply to cater to the market, it compromises their integrity and the market loses confidence in their work.”

  14. Nikki Crewe says:

    “An artist doesn’t become an artist in a day, so a collector shouldn’t become a collector in a day. It’s a lifetime process.”
    This quote from Mera Rubell on page 83 is completely true. To be an artist is something that takes years of experience, practice, and struggles with your art. This is true with practically any profession; you can’t just one day say “I’m a singer,” without practicing and expect people to take you seriously. It’s also true that some occupations fall into our laps out of luck, but then you become experienced in that field when you put in the effort to become successful. I’ve been to a couple of art fairs before, and I can’t say that I didn’t not enjoy them. There were some interesting pieces, but there were just too many crowds and I felt I couldn’t fully enjoy myself. It’s great when you can talk to an artist about their work personally without being in that gallery atmosphere.

  15. Airam Dato-on says:

    Q: Quote a section of this chapter that made you think and explain why. Art Basel- How many of you have gone? How many of you have gone to an Art Fair in general, what was your experience was it “horror, alienation and amusement” as stated by the author? I personally really enjoy them, but get so exhausted! It is not the ideal way to view art, but can give you a glimpse for later follow up on the artists career.

    “The amount of art is a bit depressing. The worst of it looks like art, but it’s not. it is stuff cynically made for a certain kind of collector.”
    Deller’s quote wonderfully summarizes the Art Basel fair. I felt the same way while reading the chapter. It also relates to all of the other conversations we discussed regarding artists who are making art for money. The works in Art Basel exemplifies the same notion, they are created to lure collectors. This prestigious art fair has a pretentious aura that diminishes the meaning of art into business. It is depressing and deceptive.
    I have been to a couple of art fairs and they are overwhelming. A mountain of people plus a sea of art did not bring enjoyment. Even though I was able to talk to artists and see a couple of inspiring pieces, it was too much. The funnel cakes and other fair food becomes the highlight of my day instead of the art.

  16. Julia McInnis says:

    “When gallerists are confident about demand for an artist’s work, they wouldn’t dream of surrendering it to the first comer or the highest bidder. They compile a list of interested parties so they can place the work in the most prestigious home. It’s an essential part of managing the perception of their artists.”

    This really struck me because I always thought about businesses selling products for the highest price. The art business is unlike other businesses because it cares about the prestige of their artists which may at first compromise profits. I find it rather strange that having the work sold to a person with a well known and impressive collection may be more important than selling it for the best price but I guess that it does make sense. It seems like if you make the best offer you should be able to purchase the work but in the elite art world this is not so. This passage really made me think about the art business in a different way.

  17. Countess Payne says:

    “There are no prices or red dots on the wall. Such an overt gesture at commerce is considered tacky. Moreover, a prospective buyer’s query about cost is, according to Scott Wright, ‘an opportunity for engagement.”
    This quote struck me because at the art gallery that I used to work for we did not post prices. I was given a low price that I could not go below (or it would cut into my commission – heaven forbid!). I was to size up what people would be willing to pay while talking up the art to the potential client, that would be the opportunity for engagement part. Some people would come in the gallery and get really upset that there were not prices posted and some enjoyed the haggling aspect. I personally would rather just put up the prices, it seems more honest to me. Just one of the reasons I no longer work there.
    I was able to attend Art Basel in Miami last year but found it unimpressive after all the hype I had heard. We ended up recruiting a couple of artist for the gallery, but I wasn’t really that impressed with their work. This negative attitude could be a product of not enjoying the job at that point; I left early from the weekend trip.
    I had a more positive experience at Documenta in Kassel, Germany this summer. At this art fair I was able to just relax and enjoy the art, though it is tiring and I don’t see how it would be possible to take it all in just a couple of days. Here the art is not for sale, the I think some of that pressure is off. I must say though that I found that the contemporary art shown there was sometimes (for me, at least) leaning a bit too much on content and not on craft but that is another discussion.

  18. Kelly B says:

    The quote that stuck out to me throughout this chapter was “You have to make the new work to sell the old work.” (page 95) To me, it’s representative of how old work becomes inevitable less valuable to an artist as they progress through their concepts and ideas. For me, I feel cluttered by my old things and just become kind of desperate to get rid of it after a while.

    I have never been to Art Basel, unfortunately, but I actually have plans to try and attend this next time around. I feel like it would be very hard to give each artist the proper respect and attention that they deserve, however. It would kind of be like the environment equivalent of having ADHD.

    Living in Florida, I have had my fair share of art fairs/festivals. When I was really young I thought that this would be the end-all solution to making a living as an artist. I thought that’s how people really “made” it. Now that I am much older, I realize how untrue that really is. To me, art fairs now represent a completely different demographic than the people that I am trying to get my art to appeal to. It is enjoyable to a certain extent, but there is a sort of ready-made sameness to most of the exhibits on display at a fair. It is always really fascinatingly wonderful, however, when you actually stumble upon something unique or inspiring among the crowd of whatever-art. It makes me appreciate it a lot more.

    I think art fairs just sort of cater into the belief by the public that art is strictly craft. Most of the art made for fairs are just so similar; they don’t seem to push the boundaries, but rather just fit a particular formula. So I guess I enjoy them, but I also see the negative side of it as well.

  19. Julia Lanfersieck says:

    I really enjoyed reading about the theory of collecting a ‘young artist’s’ first works.

    On page 84 from Mera Rubell:

    “With young artists, you find the greatest purity. When you buy from the first or second show, you’re inside the confidence-building, the identity-building of an artist. It’s not just about buying a piece. It’s about buying into someone’s life and where they are going with it. It’s a mutual commitment, which is pretty intense.”

    Mera Rubell explains how the process behind buying ‘young’ art, stating that it is a very pure and rewarding experience because the art is still personal to the artist. By collecting something that is not yet, known in the world or popular- you(the collector) are sort of trend-setting and also almost serve as an advocate for the young artist and their work. Traditionally, this hypothetical young artist is still making art that is based on what they are interested in and not totally influenced by the public’s needs/wants- they aren’t artists like Kinkaid which we have talked about who started created his art more for the buyer versus himself. I really liked the way Mera categorizes ‘young art’ as pure, I never thought about it that way before but is very appropriate.

    I actually have not been to an art fair like Art Basel, I have been to the Winter Park Art Fair, and can assume the similarities include the booths filled with various artist’s works. I hope to go to a major art fair like Art Basel in Miami so that I can have that experience. I mentioned this in class last week about the Bravo show, “Gallery Girls” featured Art Basel in Miami, so I got to see a glimpse of what it is like on television but of course I’m sure it’s a totally different experience in person.

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