Gutai: Tsuruko Yamazaki

“Tsuruko Yamazaki endorsed a distinctly non-humanist view of agency by emphasizing the interface between material properties themselves”

Joan Kee, Professor, History of Art, University of Michigan, introduction to “Artist’s Portfolio: Tsuruko Yamazaki,” Artforum, February 2013

A founding member of the Japanese Gutai Art Association, Tsuruko Yamazaki (山崎 つる子) was the only woman artist who remained with the group from its beginning in 1954 to its disbanding in 1972.  

Tsuruko Yamazaki, “Work” (acrylic on canvas,  mounted on board, 1967). Take Ninegawa and Almine Rech.

Tsuruko Yamazaki joined Gutai’s major exhibitions, including the Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibition at Ashiya Park in 1956; the sixth Gutai Art Exhibition held in September 1958 at the Martha Jackson Gallery at 32 East 69th Street, New York (in the same townhouse now occupied by Hauser & Wirth) ; and the international group show “Nul 1965” at the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam (see discussion in “Zero: Let Us Explore the Stars,” 4 July – 7 November 2015, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam). 

Tsuruko Yamazaki, “Red (Shape of Mosquito Net)” (vinyl, wood, metal fixtures, wires, bolts, light bulbs, 1956). Installation view at  the “Outdoor Gutai Art Exhibition”,  Ashiya Park, along the banks of the Ashiya River, Hyogo, Japan, 1956. Image courtesy of Work” (Red Cube)“, the work was exhibited at the Guggenheim’s “Gutai: Splendid Playground”.

Tsuruko Yamazaki: Beyond GutaÏ,” the first solo exhibition of Tsuruko Yamazaki’s work outside of Japan, was held in 2010 by Almine Rech, Paris, organized in collaboration with Midori Nishisawa and Olivier Renaud-Clément (13 March – 30 April). 

Tsuruko Yamazaki’s work has been exhibited in major surveys of Japanese modern and contemporary arts. Examples include “Japon des Avant-Gardes 1910–1970” at the Centre Pompidou, Paris (1986); “Japanese Art after 1945: Scream Against the Sky,” curated by Alexandra Munroe, at the Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan, the Guggenheim SoHo,New York, and the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (1994–95); and “Gutai: Splendid Playground” at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York (2013).

She participated in the Forty-Fifth (1993) and Fifty-Third (2009) Venice Biennales.

Tsuruko Yamazaki is represented by the Tokyo gallery Take Ninagawa. Take Ninagawa exhibited “Work” (1967) at Art Basel in Hong Kong in 2017.

See:

TsurukoYamazaki at Take Ninagawa

TsurukoYamazaki (1925-2019), Artforum, 13 June 2019

Tsuruko Yamazaki, Art Basel

Joan Kee, introduction to “Artist’s Portfolio: Tsuruko Yamazaki,” Artforum, February 2013

Joan Kee, Professor, History of Art, University of Michigan; to be Clark Professor at Williams College, GradArt, spring 2021

Hilton Als, Joan Kee, Anne Lafont, Kobena Mercer to Join GradArt as Clark Visiting Professors,” Williams College / Clark Art Institute, 24 February 2020

Tsuruko Yamazaki: Beyond GutaÏ,” Almine Rech, Paris 13 March – 30 April 2010

Japanese Art After 1945: Scream Against the Sky,” curated by Alexandra Munroe,  Samsung Senior Curator, Asian Art, and Senior Advisor, Global Arts, at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York

Zero: Let Us Explore the Stars,” 4 July – 7 November 2015, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam 

A Visual Essay on Gutai at 32 East 69th Street,” Hauser & Wirth, 12 September – 27 October 2012

Tsuruko Yamazaki, WikiArt

art, philanthropy, energy: in transition (los angeles)

Clear water in Venice. Blue skies over Beijing. Air monitors in the city of Houston recording less ozone than normal. Clearer and crisper Austin skyline. The cleanest air ever recorded in Los Angeles.

“I think contemporary art changes how you look at the world. And that’s huge for everybody who comes into the situation.”

“Art as responsibility, art as a civic engagement, art has to be a force in society, art has to be courageous, unafraid, ecological, ecological. That was Joseph Beuys talking to my art teacher.”

“As a museum, you have a civic responsibility, you have a role in society, you have to be courageous, you have to open up your doors to allow for dialogue.”

“after 10 years of working for and with [MoMA PS1 board chair; president emerita & trustee, MoMA] Agnes Gund, I follow one very important principle in decision-making: ‘It’s not about you, it’s about the difference you can make.

・Klaus Biesenbach, Director, Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), Los Angeles (Deborah Vankin, “New MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach embarks on a’civic-minded’ mission to steady the museum,” Los Angeles Times, 8 November 2018)

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA), established in 1979, is the only artist-founded museum in Los Angeles. As of late 2018 its endowment amounted to more than $134 million.

Klaus Biesenbach is MOCA’s sixth director, beginning work with the museum on 23 October 2018. He “’loves fundraising’” and sees his role at MOCA “as strictly administrative, focused on fundraising and growing the museum’s attendance, programming, endowment and board.”

Larry Bell, “Bill and Coo at MOCA’s nest” (site-specific installation, laminated glass, 2019), in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Accession number: 2019-19. Purchase with funds provided by Carol and David Appel.
Larry Bell, “Bill and Coo at MOCA’s Nest” (site specific installation, laminated glass, two parts, 2019), in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Accession number: 2019-19. Purchase with funds provided by Carol and David Appel. Installation view, MOCA Grand Avenue. Image courtesy of The Museum of Contemporary Art. Photo by Zak Kelley.

Prior to moving to Los Angeles to take up the directorship of MOCA, Klaus Biesenbach lived for 23 years in Manhattan. In 1995 he moved to New York from Berlin where, in 1991, as an intern for the East German government, he established Berlin’s Kunst-Werke Institute for Contemporary Art in a vacant former margarine factory.

Biesenbach worked initially with what was then called the P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center in New York. The P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center was established in 1971 by Alanna Heiss as the Institute for Art and Urban Resources Inc., an organization devoted to organizing exhibitions in underutilized and abandoned spaces across New YorkCity.

The P.S.1 Contemporary Art Center became an affiliate of TheMuseum of Modern Art in 2000.

Biesenbach joined MoMA in 2004 with a concurrent role at MoMA PS1. He became director of MoMA PS1 in 2010, serving also as chief curator-at-large at MoMA.

Just weeks into his job at MOCA, Mr. Biesenbach described his view of the mission of museums: “’to be a resident among residents,’” “meant not only to display art but to support artists and greater civic life.”

“’“As a museum, you have a civic responsibility, you have a role in society, you have to be courageous, you have to open up your doors to allow for dialogue.’”

“’After 10 years of working for and with [MoMA PS1 board chair] Agnes Gund, I follow one very important principle in decision-making: ‘It’s not about you, it’s about the difference you can make.’”’”

He continues, a primary goal is now “’alignment. To develop a vision for the museum and then align the board and the staff and all the other constituencies. And vision doesn’t necessarily mean huge buildings or blockbusters. It could also be a much more modest vision: simply functioning.

“’I think contemporary art changes how you look at the world. And that’s huge for everybody who comes into the situation.’”

Growing up near Cologne, Germany, Mr. Biesenbach’s love for art began when he was in primary school. Joseph Beuys spoke through his art teacher, who had studied with him.

“Art as responsibility, art as a civic engagement, art has to be a force in society, art has to be courageous, unafraid, ecological, ecological. That was Joseph Beuys talking to my art teacher. We were like 8 or 9 years old!”

Full circle to today’s Los Angeles, and to today’s Houston, Beijing, Venice, and so many other cities.

Clear water in Venice. Blue skies over Beijing. Air monitors in the city of Houston recording less ozone than normal. Clearer and crisper Austin skyline. The cleanest air ever recorded, in March 2020, in Los Angeles.

Home not only to MOCA but also to The Broad (across the street from MOCA and founded by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad; Eli Broad was founding chairman of MOCA in 1979), the Hammer Museum (affiliated with UCLA), and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art amongst others, Los Angeles has seen a lifting of its “notorious L.A. Smog” due “to the fact that most Angelenos are driving less.”

“The notorious L.A. smog starts as a cloud of traffic emissions that’s spewed into the air during the morning rush hour. This layer of air pollution is then held in place by a combination of the Southland’s topography and its prevailing weather patterns, and baked for hours in SoCal’s warm ultraviolet rays, an effect that air-quality experts liken to a pot of soup heating on a stove.

“There’s no question that the drastic improvement in air quality‪—a combined measure of the particle pollution, carbon monoxide, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, and ozone we breathe into our lungs—is due to the fact that most Angelenos are driving less and staying inside more.”

・Jason McGahan, “As Many Stay Home, L.A.’s Air Quality Is Better Than It’s Been in Decades,” Los Angeles Magazine, 6 April 2020

Better quality of air is observed also in Houston, home to numerous excellent museums including the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH).

“The primary reason, experts say, is fewer vehicles on the road, which means fewer emissions from the petroleum-based fuels on which so much of the Texas economy relies.” …

“In Houston, where the huge volumes of commuters and sprawl of industrial facilities often result in a lingering smog, emissions of nitrogen oxides, which combine with other pollutants in the atmosphere to form ozone, are already down 15 percent this month compared to last year.”

“The reduction in pollutants such as nitrogen dioxide and microscopic particulate matter, not to mention the carbon dioxide that is warming the planet, offers a temporary window on what the world might look like as governments worldwide move to cut greenhouse gas emissions to net-zero by mid-century.”

・James Osborne, “As pollution abates and skies clear, coronavirus shutdown gives glimpse of life with less fossil fuel,” Houston Chronicle, 27 March 2020, updated 1 April 2020

“A question we should be asking is, how do we maintain the better air quality without the economic consequences of shutter in place orders?’” Michael Webber, energy resources professor at theUniversity of Texas, Austin.

・James Osborne, “As pollution abates and skies clear, coronavirus shutdown gives glimpse of life with less fossil fuel,” Houston Chronicle, 27 March 2020, updated 1 April 2020

The economic consequences of “shutter in place orders” are dire.

In response to the outbreak of the coronavirus, MOCA, for instance, has laid off all 97 part-time employees. Almost all 69 full-time employees are taking a full or partial furlough or a significant salary reduction.

In correspondence with Deborah Vankin of the Los Angeles Times, Mr. Biesenbach writes, “the coronavirus crisis is changing lives in unprecedented ways and that he couldn’t say ‘how long this slow-burning catastrophe will grow and when it will end.”

“’Given these uncertainties, we are taking significant measures to make sure MOCA’s unique legacy and collection, built through the creative hard work and contributions of so many will continue to be preserved and accessible for generations to come.”

More vulnerable than some other Los Angeles museums, MOCA does not enjoy the financial privilege of a wealthy benefactor behind it, as does the Broad (Eli Broad). Nor is the museum partially funded by a university, as is the Hammer Museum. Nor is it so directly connected to a government entity as is the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

“’MOCA,’” rather, Biesenbach observes, “’is supported independently, mostly by individuals, and we have to navigate this crisis in our own way.’”

・Deborah Vankin, “Hit by ‘slow-burning catastrophe,’ MOCA forced to furlough or cut pay for most staff,” Los Angeles Times, 1 April 2020

So how might we maintain the better air quality without the economic consequences of shutter in place orders?

A hint at forward direction might come from Cody A. Hill, Vice President, Energy Storage at LS Power.

LS Power is “a development, investment, and operating company focused on power generation, electric transmission and energy infrastructure. We partner with communities across North America to create lower-cost, cleaner energy solutions.”

Mr. Hill has an MS in Electrical and ComputerEngineering from the University of Texas at Austin and is now based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Sharing an “astounding chart from the EPA,” Mr. Hill (Twitter: @cody_a_hill) notes, in a tweet of 2 April 2020, that “Los Angeles had the cleanest air ever recorded there in March 2020.”

EPA, generated 2 April 2020, shared by Cody A. Hill, @cody_a_hill, via Twitter, 2 April 2020

Cody Hill continues in the same tweet, “This is mostly from reduced driving with the same vehicle fleet. It could be the new normal and ~13 million people living there would be healthier if we electrify transportation.”

See:

MoMA PS1 history

Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA)

Eli and Edythe Broad Foundation | MOCA

The Broad | About

Jason McGahan, “As Many Stay Home, L.A.’s Air Quality Is Better Than It’s Been in Decades,” Los Angeles Magazine, 6 April 2020

Cody A. Hill (@cody_a_hill), tweet of 2 April 2020

James Osborne, “As pollution abates and skies clear, coronavirus shutdown gives glimpse of life with less fossil fuel,” Houston Chronicle, 27 March 2020, updated 1 April 2020

Deborah Vankin, “Hit by ‘slow-burning catastrophe,’ MOCA forced to furloughor cut pay for most staff,” Los Angeles Times, 1 April 2020

Larry Bell, Bill and Coo at MOCA’s Nest (2019),” MOCA

Larry Bell, “Bill and Coo at MOCA’s Nest” (site-specific installation, laminated glass, 2019)

Larry Bell, represented by Hauser & Wirth, New York and Los Angeles, and Anthony Meier Fine Arts, San Francisco

Deborah Vankin, “New MOCA director Klaus Biesenbach embarks on a’civic-minded’ mission to steady the museum,” Los Angeles Times, 8 November 2018

art, philanthropy, energy: in transition

· renewable energy sources are set to account for nearly 21 percent of the electricity the United States uses for the first time this year, up from about 18 percent last year and 10 percent in 2010

· renewable energy provides 18% of total U.S. power generation, up from 10% in 2010

· corporate PPA’s for renewal energy accelerated from 0.1 GW in 2010 to33.6 GW by year-end 2019, with a record breaking 13.6 GW in 2019 alone.

· the carbon intensity of the power sector continues to decline. From 2010 to 2019, power sector emissions fell nearly 25%

· total U.S. greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions have fallen 4.1% over thepast decade, and now sit at roughly 12% below 2005 levels

2020 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook”, produced for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy by BloombergNEF

Art, philanthropy, energy. The relationships between them have history. As the way we generate energy evolves, the relationships between art, philanthropy, and energy will, in all likelihood, evolve as well.

Yves Tanguy (French, 1900-1955), “What” (oil on canvas, 1940), in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. The Joseph and Sylvia Slifka Collection. Object Number: 2004.146

“Houston,” observed Gary Tinterow, Director of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, in 2019, “is a cultural capital largely thanks to the discovery of oil.” (Houston Chronicle)

Yet, the energy economy is shifting in Texas. Renewable energy constitutes an ever increasing percentage of energy produced and used in Texas. 

Texas, a competitive rather than regulated energy market, is first in the United States in wind power capacity and near to having the second-most capacity for solar PV after California.

Solar energy has a significant (“marvelous”) cost advantage over gas-fired power plants: the marginal cost of solar is zero. Texas is on course to build a quarter of the record new industrial-scale solar capacity being installed across the United States in 2020.

As the energy economy evolves, how will the philanthropy that supports so many museums and cultural institutions evolve?

Let’s begin our quest for understanding by taking a look at relationships between art, philanthropy, and energy. We’ll start by looking to Texas.

The U.S. state of Texas consumes the most electricity in the United States. Demand for energy in Texas has grown over five percent over the past five years even as it has declined nationwide (EIA as reported in the FT).

Adding solar power through the incentives of a competitive electricity market, Texas is near to having the second-most capacity for solar PV after California. Texas, further, now ranks first in the United States in wind power capacity.

Texas is home to the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (MFAH). The MFAH is one of the largest museums in the United States. As of late 2011 it had the third-largest museum endowment.

The permanent collection of the MFAH consists of nearly 70,000 works from throughout the world, from antiquity to the present day (MFAH) .

Gary Tinterow, Director of the MFAH, grew up in Houston. He worked at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art for 28 years, serving from 2008 until his departure for Houston as chairman of the department of 19th-century, modern and contemporary art. Mr. Tinterow’s appointment as Director of the MFAH was finalized by the museum’s board of trustees in late November 2011. He started his new position in early 2012.

Richard D. Kinder, co-founder (February 1997) and now Executive Chairman of Kinder Morgan, Inc., one of North America’s largest energy infrastructure companies, serves as Life Trustee of the museum and Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Mr. Kinder served as chairman of the museum’s search committee that identified Mr. Tinterow as a candidate for the directorship of the museum.

The business of Kinder Morgan is involved primarily with oil, gas, and petroleum products. Kinder Morgan “owns an interest in or operates 83,000 miles of pipelines and 147 terminals. The company’s pipelines transport primarily natural gas, refined petroleum products, CO2 and crude oil and its terminals store, transfer and handle such products as gasoline, ethanol, coal, petroleum coke and steel.” (Kinder Morgan)

Mr. Kinder commended Mr. Tinterow: “Gary’s passion for the job and his encyclopedic knowledge were what convinced us. He has so many good ideas, and there is so much potential to make this one of the outstanding museums of the world.” (NYTimes)

For his part, Mr. Tinterow explained, “As sorry as I will be to leave the Met after 28 years, I think I’ve landed the best job in the world. It’s a matchless combination: a committed board, a passionate audience, a fine collection and an institution with the third-largest endowment in the country.” (NYTimes)

Mr. Tinterow observed that the endowment of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston stood at $1 billion in December 2011 after the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, which oversees the J. Paul Getty Museum (endowment: $4.8 billion) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York (endowment: $2.6 billion).

Asked in June 2019 after the relationship of the museum to energy companies and oil, Mr. Tinterow replied that he has “enormous respect for the energy industry.”

“Houston,” he continued, “is a cultural capital largely thanks to the discovery of oil.” (Houston Chronicle)

Indeed.

As of June 30, 2018, the Kinder Foundation had donated more than $50,000,000 to the Campaign for the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (“The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Annual Report 2017 – 2018,”p. 17). This followed $50+ million reported by the museum as donated by the Foundation to the capital campaign as of the years ending June 30, 2017, June 30, 2016, and June 30, 2015.

The Nancy and Rich Kinder Building, dedicated to art after 1900 from the MFAH collections, is scheduled to open in November 2020. Consisting of two floors and more than 100,000 square feet of exhibition space,the building will increase overall MFAH exhibition space by nearly 75%. (MFAH)

While the MFAH has benefited, and continues to benefit, from the business of oil, the mix of Texas energy is changing.

First in the United States in wind power capacity and near to having the second-most capacity for solar PV after California, Texas will build a quarter of the record new industrial-scale solar capacity being installed across the US in 2020 (EIA, FT).

The cost of solar has plummeted, with the average industrial-scale PV project just $0.80 per installed watt last year compared to $3.53/Win 2010, according to the “2020 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook”, produced for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy by BloombergNEF, that looks at the U.S. energy transition over the decade 2010 – 2020.

Solar has a significant cost advantage over gas-fired power plants. The marginal cost of solar is zero. “The key thing is they have a magnificent cost advantage over gas-fired power plants,” observes Edward Hirs, energy fellow at the University of Houston. “The marginal cost of solar is zero.” (FT)

Investors in renewable energy, with time horizons of more than a decade, moreover, like the stable returns of projects backed by long-term contracts. (FT)

Corporations are taking advantage of falling costs to sign long-term solar power purchase agreements. Of the record 13,600MW of clean energy deals that companies completed in the US in 2019, 5,500MW of deals were generated in Texas. The majority of the deals closed were based on solar energy according to the “2020 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook”.

Google, for instance, is committing to buy power from Texas solar plants.

Neha Palmer, Google’s director of operations and head of energy strategy, observes that “[Texas] is a large, deregulated market. Users of electricity have a choice in who they buy electricity from and the type of energy that they buy. I think that’s been another driver of the large uptake of renewables in the state.”

The solar energy travels from the Permian Basin in west Texas, where much of the investment in solar energy is taking place, to cities such as Dallas and Houston aided by special transmission lines. The state of Texas authorized the lines 15 years ago. Designed to handle wind power, they are now enabling the flow of solar also.

Largely disconnected from the interstate transmission networks to the east and west of Texas, the grid is exempted from federal oversight. It is operated by the non-profit body Ercot (Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

“The Ercot power market is designed to be the ultimate competitive market,” Mr Archer says. Chris Archer, head of Americas at Macquarie’s Green Investment Group, a solar and wind developer with projects in Texas.

“Generators are only paid for the energy that they sell, not for having capacity at the ready. Wholesale prices that average about $40 per megawatt-hour are allowed to climb as high as $9,000 per MWh when demand surges on the hottest afternoons, a potential windfall for generators. Solar farms’ output crests when the sun is highest, enabling them to participate in these sales.” (FT)

As renewables grow as a percentage of the energy mix in Texas, and elsewhere, we will follow the evolution of the relationship between art, philanthropy, and energy.

See:

Ivan Penn, “Oil Companies Are Collapsing, but Wind and Solar Energy Keep Growing,” The New York Times, 7 April 2020, updated 8 April 2020

Gregory Meyer, “Texas: how the home of US oil and gas fell in love with solar power,” Financial Times, 7 April 2020

2020, Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, Understanding the U.S. EnergyTransition,” the2020 edition of the Sustainable Energy in America Factbook – produced for the Business Council for Sustainable Energy by BloombergNEF

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Annual Report 2017 – 2018

Richard D. Kinder, Kinder Morgan

Erin Douglas, “Museum of Fine Arts Houston director putting final brushstrokes on $450 million expansion,” Houston Chronicle, 7 June 2019

Carol Vogel, “Met Veteran Named Director of Houston Art Museum,” TheNew York Times, 1 December 2011

Stephanie Cash, “Gary Tinterow leaves the Met for Houston,” artnews.com, 1December 2011

Business Council for Sustainable Energy

BloombergNEF (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

coronavirus, climate change, the environment, & the arts: positive steps forward

“To my mind, one does not put oneself in place of the past; one only adds a new link.”

 Cy Twombly, quoted by Gagosian

“an elemental Dionysian force of madness rising, like a ‘fire that rises from the depths of the sea'”

Malcolm Bull, “Fire in the Water,” in Cy Twombly Bacchus Psilax Mainonmenos, exh. cat., New York, 2005, p. 55), quoted in Lot Essay, Cy Twombly (1928-2011), “Untitled” (acrylic on canvas, painted in 2005), Christie’s, Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York, 15 November 2017, Lot 15 B

Cy Twombly (1928-2011), “Untitled” (acrylic on canvas, painted in 2005). “Untitled” sold at the Christie’s Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale of 15 November 2017 in New York realizing a price of US$ 46,437,500

Over ten feet high and sixteen feet in length, “Untitled” is the largest example from a group of giant-scaled paintings that Twombly created beginning in 2003 at age 75.

Twombly makes use of spirals of linear loops, culminating fifty years of regularly invoking scrawls, whirls, and writing/drawing.

In his catalogue essay, “Fire in the Water” that accompanied the first exhibition of Twombly’s Bacchus series in 2005, Malcolm Bull argued that the abiding theme of these paintings was that of an elemental Dionysian force of madness rising, like a “fire that rises from the depths of the sea” (M. Bull, “Fire in the Water,” in Cy Twombly Bacchus Psilax Mainonmenos, exh. cat., New York, 2005, p. 55).’ – Lot Essay

Like Dionysian forces of madness, we are all experiencing the dislocation caused by the current COVID-19 pandemic.  

Individuals, families, supply chains, industries, markets, businesses, nations – all are affected.

This pandemic, however terrible, unexpected, and unprepared for, may in part be an outcome of behaviors that we have, however unwittingly, engaged in over decades.

We are all – individuals, peoples, cultures, animals, plants, functional objects and works of art, buildings, systems of transportation, agriculture, and education, etc. etc. etc. – inextricably embedded in nature. We are part and parcel of and subject to the forces of physics. Part and parcel of and subject to the elements and interactions of chemistry. 

As living, breathing creatures, moreover, and complex systems of systems. we are part and parcel of and subject to the complex forces of biology.  We are calibrated precisely, over long periods of time, to our biosphere.

If and should we take our biosphere for granted, fundamentally alter the composition of our atmosphere, and tamper with our climate, the unexpected can occur. Mayhem may let loose,

And so it has.

Yet, in the arts we are global. We reach across time, across space, across borders, across cultures, across nations. We represent mind and passion, interests and preferences. We come from an abundance of backgrounds and industries. 

We may lead, each in our own place, taking steps to realize our ambitions anew.

Together we will have impact.

While we work in our many spheres of activity, what steps, however simple, might we take to realize our objectives while mitigating risks of future such dislocations?

If we want “to do something to prevent disease emergence, first of all we need to seriously reconsider how we do business with the biosphere.”

Q & A: A Harvard Expert on Environment and Health Discusses Possible Ties Between COVID and Climate,”

“We need to hear what nature is trying to tell us, which is clear: let’s be smarter about how we do business with the biosphere and stop disrupting the climate we depend on.” 

 Conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard C-CHANGE

Two recently published articles are insightful. In them, Dr. Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, Director of The Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health (Harvard C-CHANGE) offers guidance.

Please take a few minutes to read them in full:

Neela Banerjee, “Q & A: A Harvard Expert on Environment and Health Discusses Possible Ties Between COVID and Climate,” Inside Climate News, 12 March 2020

A Conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard C-CHANGE, ” Harvard C-CHANGE  

Excerpts follow, giving us some idea of what we probably already know but don’t always think about or consider in the decisions we make on a daily basis:

The bottom line here is that if you wanted to prevent the spread of pathogens, the emergence of pathogens, … you wouldn’t transform the climate.”

Q & A: A Harvard Expert on Environment and Health Discusses Possible Ties Between COVID and Climate,”

The separation of health and environmental policy is a dangerous delusion. Our health entirely depends on the climate and the other organisms we share the planet with.”

A Conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard C-CHANGE

Simply put, “The likelihood is high that this [a next pandemic] will happen. This has happened through human history but the data we have shows that the pace is accelerating. That’s not terribly surprising. We’re living in highly dense urban places. Air travel is much more prevalent than it used to be. And climate is a part of what is fundamentally reshaping our relationship with the natural world.”

Q & A: A Harvard Expert on Environment and Health Discusses Possible Ties BetweenCOVID and Climate

You look at climate change, we have transformed the nature of the Earth. We have fundamentally changed the composition of the atmosphere, and, as such, we shouldn’t be surprised that that affects our health.”

If you look at the emerging infectious diseases that have moved into people from animals or other sources over the last several decades,the vast majority of those are coming from animals. And the majority of those are coming from wild animals. We have transformed life onEarth. We are having a massive effect on how the relationships between all life on Earth operate and also with ourselves. We shouldn’t be surprised that these emerging diseases pop up.

The principle is that we’re really changing how we relate to other species on Earth and that matters to our risk for infections.”

Q & A: A Harvard Expert on Environment and Health Discusses Possible Ties Between COVID and Climate”

Historically, we have grown as a species in partnership with the plants and animals we live with. So, when we change the rules of the game by drastically changing the climate and life on earth, we have to expect that it will affect our health.

A Conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard C-CHANGE

How might we in our private and business capacities be smarter about how we do business with the biosphere and stop disrupting the climate we depend on?

First, think.

All industries, markets, and economies, including the arts, the art market, and the art economy, are interconnected and all are viable only within our shared biosphere.

“Art” is not self-existent. Art as a phenomenon, culture as a phenomenon, works of art, cultures, collections of works of art, collectors, and all parties to art are inextricably embedded in and dependent on nature.

Take time and steps to learn about and understand the biosphere. Take steps to reconsider how we, in every sphere of work and activity, do business with the biosphere.

We have an opportunity to consider ways to optimize connections, culture, art, the business of art, and the biosphere jointly.

Some simple steps that can be taken:

Minimize travel

Whether curator, museum director, staff, or trustee, collector, dealer, gallerist, advisor, interested party – vet travel requirements.

Minimize travel powered by combustion of hydrocarbons.

“We need to drastically decrease our greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuels like coal, oil and natural gas.”

A Conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard C-CHANGE

It goes without saying that travel by foot or by bike is encouraged. Travel by electric-powered cars, buses, and trains – especially insofar as the electricity is generated from renewable, non-hydrocarbon sources – is also encouraged.

Amsterdam-based art dealer Jan Six XI, for instance, bikes to and from work, and across town to consult with experts. (Russell Shorto, “Rembrandt in the Blood: AnObsessive Aristocrat, Rediscovered,” The New York Times Magazine, 27 February 2019)

Work with local partners

We are all somewhere. We do not need to be everywhere.

If you need to do work or close a transaction somewhere else, research, identify, vet, and work with local partners.

Optimize resources and connections made available online

Information, images, and opportunities to meet and discuss face-to-face, even in groups, abound online. As we are now seeing in abundance, education and research can be conducted online. Relationships developed through written and verbal communications optimized online, by mail (even mail that goes through the post office), and by telephone.

As much activity is migrating online, vet also your online service partners and their delivery options.

This website, for instance, is hosted by AISO.net. AISO.net is powered 100% by solar energy generated on site. The company does not make use of carbon credits. Members of staff are knowledgeable, of course, very personable, and extraordinarily helpful. They are great to work with.

Reduce carbon dioxide and greenhouse gas emissions from ongoing operations of physical plants

Galleries,museums, homes, businesses, offices, schools and universities, hotels,hospitals – all house works and collections of art.

Real-life steps can be taken to reduce use of hydrocarbon-based energy sources and achieve net-zero energy.

Expert and experienced stakeholders including architects, engineers, designers, builders, energy consultants, and sources of finance are able and ready to assist.

Information about service providers will follow.

Amsterdam’s Van Gogh Museum can serve as a model. The Van Gogh Museum operates 100% on renewable (wind)energy. (See Van Gogh Museum, sustainability, and accompanying infographic.)

Change habits of mind and behavior

Allow time for foot and bike travel. Schedule meetings and work requirements accordingly. 

Enjoy the great outdoors en route to work, home, meetings, and shopping.

Enjoy your locality

See:

Cy Twombly (1928 – 2011), “Untitled” (acrylic on canvas, painted in 2005), Christie’s, Post-War & Contemporary Art Evening Sale, New York, 15 November 2017, Lot 15 B 

Coronavirus, climate change, and the environment, A Conversation on COVID-19 with Dr. Aaron Bernstein, Director of Harvard C-CHANGE”, Harvard C-Change, 20 March 2020

Aaron Bernstein, MD, MPH, C-Change,Center for Climate, Health, and the Global Environment, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Neela Banerjee, “Q&A:A Harvard Expert on Environment and Health Discusses Possible TiesBetween COVID and Climate,” Inside Climate News, 12 March 2020

Russell Shorto, “Rembrandt in the Blood: An Obsessive Aristocrat,Rediscovered,” The New York Times Magazine, 27 February 2019

Jeff Koons & “Rabbit” (1986)

“When I hear “Commodity Art,’ I always feel I was never involved in that. My intentions with my work have always been philosophical and social. I’ve worked with objects, but it’s never been about a dialogue of money. It’s been about a dialogue of desire.

“But I think what happens during certain times you live in, you know, in the ’80s the market was very strong, and so people want to box everything up and package everything. It’s reduced to this level of being about money when it’s really about, I believe, communicating ideas.

“When I’ve worked with objects I always tried to remove critique, it’s really about the removal of judgment. Something can be accepted for being perfect as what it is.

“So it’s about removing hierarchy, removing judgment, removing discrimination and to use objects as metaphors for people.”

Jeff Koons in conversation with artists Peter Halley, Ashley Bickerton, Joan Wallace, and Barbara Bloom together with M.H. Miller, arts editor of T Magazine (April 2018)
Jeff Koons’ “Rabbit” (stainless steel, cast in 1986), from the collection of S.I. Newhouse Jr. Image: Christie’s

Jeff Koons’ “Rabbit” (stainless steel, cast in 1986) sold at Christie’s Post-War and Contemporary Art Evening Sale of 15 May 2019 realizing a price of US$91,075,000 (hammer price of $80 million plus buyer’s premium net of any applicable fees) and achieving an auction record for a living artist.

From the collection of publisher Samuel Irving (S.I.) Newhouse Jr., co-owner of Advance Publications and long-time chairman of Condé Nast who passed away in 2017, “Rabbit,” cast in 1986 in an edition of three, plus an artist’s proof, was the last one in private hands.

The other “Rabbits” from the casting of 1986 are in the collections of the Broad Art Foundation in Los Angeles, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago and, it is said (Laurel Wamsley, “Jeff Koons’ ‘Rabbit’ Fetches $91 Million, Auction Record for a Work by a Living Artist,” NPR, 16 May 2019), the National Museum of Qatar.

Jeff Koons, “Rabbit” (stainless steel, cast in 1986), from the collection of S.I. Newhouse Jr. Image: Christie’s
Jeff Koons’ “Rabbit” (stainless steel, cast in 1986), from the collection of S.I. Newhouse Jr., on view at Christie’s New York (May 2019)

“Considered the holy grail of Koons works among certain collecting circles”(Eileen Kinsella, “Jeff Koons’ Bunny Sets a New Record for a Living Artist in Christie’s Half-Billion-Dollar Postwar and Contemporary ArtSale,” Artnet News, 15 May 2019), bidding for “Rabbit” started at $40 million.

The bidder on the phone with Xin Li, Christie’s Deputy Chairman of Asia Pacific, conceded to dealer Robert Mnuchin, who placed the winning bid of $80 million on behalf of an anonymous client.

While there had been speculation that Mr. Mnuchin may have been working on behalf of either Mitchell Rales or Steven A. Cohen, Kenny Schachter of artnet News revealed the buyer to be Steven A. Cohen.

See:

M.H.Miller, “The Artists Who Defined the East Village’s Avant-GardeScene; For a short time in the early ’80s, the Manhattan neighborhoodwas the epicenter of experimental art. Jeff Koons, Peter Halley,Ashley Bickerton, Joan Wallace, and Barbara Bloom remember themoment,” T The New York Times Style Magazine, 17 April 2018

Kenny Schachter, “Kenny Schachter Reveals the Mystery Buyer of Jeff Koons’ Bunny – and Blurts Out Other Secrets from Auction Week as Well,” artnet News, 21 May 2019

Jacob Bernstein, “Robert Mnuchin Would Rather Not Discuss His Client (or His Son),” The New York Times, 19 May 2019

Laurel Wamsley, “Jeff Koons’ ‘Rabbit’ Fetches $91 Million, Auction Recordfor a Work by a Living Artist,” NPR, 16 May 2019

Scott Reyburn, “Jeff Koons ‘Rabbit’ Sets Auction Record for Most Expensive Work by Living Artist,” 15 May 2019

Eileen Kinsella, “Jeff Koons’ Bunny Sets a New Record for a Living Artistin Christie’s Half-Billion-Dollar Postwar and Contemporary Art Sale,”Artnet News, 15 May 2019

Jeff Koons (b. 1955), “Rabbit,” Christie’s Post-War and ContemporaryArt Evening Sale, New York, 15 May 2019, Lot 15 B | Jeff Koons: A Masterpiece from the Collection of S.I. Newhouse

Vermeer’s “The Milkmaid”

“So also Vermeer creates a story. A story of everyday life. And it’s amazing, I think, how he’s able to make this everyday scene into a monumental painting.”

Taco Dibbits, General Director of the Rijksmuseum

Put up for sale (for tax purposes) by the Six family in the early 20th century, “The Milkmaid” attracted the attention of American financier J. Pierpont Morgan who would have brought the painting out of the Netherlands.

“The Milkmaid” was, however, not sold to Mr. Morgan nor did it leave the Netherlands.

Instead the painting was acquired in 1908, together with 38 others also offered by the Six family, for 750,000 guilders by a consortium comprised of the Rijksmuseum, the government of the Netherlands, and the Rembrandt Society.

Successfully retained at home, “The Milkmaid” entered the protective custody of the Rijksmuseum where it has remained since.

Johannes Vermeer, “The Milkmaid” (c. 1660, oil on canvas)

“The Milkmaid,” painted in oil on canvas by Delft painter Johannes Vermeer in about 1660, describes a maid standing in the dairy kitchen of a Delft household making a bread pudding.

Bread, protected from the mice in a chest hanging by the window up on the wall, is readied in a basket on the table. A blue porcelain pitcher holds beer to be used as yeast. The milkmaid pours milk, delivered to the door from the countryside, from an earthenware pitcher.

Taco Dibbits spoke engagingly of “The Milkmaid” during his presentation of 26 January 2018 at the Yale University Art Gallery: “Understanding the Rijksmuseum: The History of a National Museum”.

“And then there is the first big intervention of the State. “The Milkmaid” by Vermeer, she was about to be sold to the US, and the Dutch said, ‘no, this cannot happen,’ and a committee was formed, in the Netherlands everything goes by committee, a committee was formed, consensus was reached, it was brought into Parliament, and it was unanimously decided that this painting  should be acquired for the country, and it has been in the Rijksmuseum since the the beginning of the 20thcentury.

“For Vermeer, it is incredible to see how well preserved it is. And it’s a large part of its magic.

“You really feel his brushstroke and the way he indicates the brittleness of the bread and the breadcrumbs

Johannes Vermeer, “The Milkmaid” (c. 1660, oil on canvas, detail)

“and the way he with little dots, you can still see them on the paint surface, and the way he depicts the dark blue skin of the milkmaid, she’s been cleaning, probably in cold water, the way he does that, and contrasts it with the dark blue behind it, it is an amazing painting.

“And it’s a painting that tells a story, a story of a lady, or a maid in  this case, standing in the dairy kitchen, a kitchen on the north. There is a window, but you see the mold. I always say it is the most beautiful plaster wall ever painted, you see the mold here. And the windows on the north, a small hole in the window to show that it’s really glass.

“Bread is in the chest, hanging up against mice.

Johannes Vermeer, “The Milkmaid” (c. 1660, oil on canvas, detail)

“You know it’s cold because there’s a stove here, with a little piece of pottery, within it hot coals.

“And here is the milk. The milk would be delivered at the door from the country, delivered at the door in large buckets.

Johannes Vermeer, “The Milkmaid” (c. 1660, oil on canvas, detail)

“And there is a pitcher with beer which is used as yeast.”

Johannes Vermeer, “The Milkmaid” (c. 1660, oil on canvas, detail)

Taco Dibbits, “Understanding the Rijksmuseum: The Story of a National Museum,” Yale University Art Gallery, 26 January 2018

“The Milkmaid” was “probably purchased from the artist by his Delft patron Pieter Claesz van Ruijven (1624-1674), who at his death appears to have owned twenty-one works by Vermeer.”

The twenty-one paintings were sold in 1696 from the estate of van Ruijven’s son-in-law, Jacob Dissius.

At this sale, “The Milkmaid” was described as “exceptionally good” and brought the second-highest price. (Vermeer’s “View of Delft,”c. 1660-1552, now in the collection of the Mauritshaus, The Hague, fetched the highest price, 200 guilders).

Auctioned in 1719, the painting belonged to at least five Amsterdam collections before it was acquired by one of the great collectors of Dutch art, Lucretia Johanna van Winter (1785 – 1845) who in 1822 married into the Six family of collectors.

Years later, in the early 20thcentury, heirs of the two sons of Lucretia Johanna van Winter intended to auction off “The Milkmaid” together with 38 other paintings in their collection. American financier, J. Pierpont Morgan, expressed interest in acquiring the painting.

In order to keep “The Milkmaid” in the Netherlands, the Rijksmuseum, with support from the Dutch government and the Rembrandt Society, purchased “The Milkmaid,” together with the other 38 paintings, in 1908 for 750,000 guilders.

See:

The So-Called Dissius Auction (1696 sale of 124 paintings by the artmerchant Gerard Hoet)”, Essential Vermeer

The Milkmaid by Johannes Vermeer,” Walter A. Liedtke, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2009, p. 22

The Milkmaid,” The Rijksmuseum

TacoDibbits, “Understanding the Rijksmuseum: The Story of a National Museum,”Yale University Art Gallery, 26 January 2018

Art Basel to Offer Online Viewing Rooms

As latent risks emerge, industry, business, and individuals adapt. Opportunities, and benefits, are discovered in and developed from such adaptation. Opportunities and benefits are discovered also in forward-looking mitigation.

Inaugurated in 1970 by Basel gallerists Ernst Beyeler, Trudi Bruckner and Balz Hilt, owned and managed by Switzerland-based MCH Group, art fair giant Art Basel, facing health, travel, and concomitant business risks posed by the emergent Covid-19 virus, cancelled Art Basel Hong Kong 2020.

The Art Basel fairs, offered in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong, have succeeded as an effective venue for introducing galleries, works of art, and collectors to each other.

The fairs, while offering face-to-face interactions, are, however, premised on travel, often long-distance. The fairs are premised further on the gathering of large numbers of people together in one place at one time.

The travel and costs (staff, booth rentals, insurance, hotels and lodging, shipping of works of art, …) involved with the fair – and the many art fairs that have developed over the years – are expensive for galleries and collectors alike.

The travel, further, can increase risk. Combustion of hydrocarbon-based fuels releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. 

Carbon dioxide molecules are precisely calibrated to attract and retain, in our atmosphere, photons of thermal energy that reach the earth from the sun. (See infographic.) Increasing levels of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere leads therefore to greater thermal energy (heat) in the atmosphere.

Acidification of the oceans, that themselvesabsorb about 30% of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere, also takes place.

Increased atmospheric heat leads to consequences such as melting of arctic permafrost, melting of glaciers, sea level rise, fires, storms, the release of pathogens and concomitant health risks. (See infographic developed by Zurich-based reinsurance giant Swiss Re.)

 With regard to large numbers of people gathering together in one place at one time, this currently may pose a risk of transmission of the emergent coronavirus (COVID-19).

To reduce such risk, the Swiss Federal Council, on 28 February 2020, issued an ordinance forbidding the holding of public or private events in Switzerland where more than 1,000 people are present at the same time.

MCH Group has, accordingly, not only cancelled Art Basel Hong Kong 2020 but has also postponed further events and trade shows such as the Baselworld Watch and Jewellery Show 2020 (until January-February 2021), the garden exhibition Giardina in Zurich, and Habitat-Jardin in Lausanne.

Fortunately there are means of bringing galleries, works of art, and collectors together that are premised neither on long-distance travel nor on the gathering in one place of multitudes of people.

Art Basel has been developing such a means, an initiative that, as “the art market continues to evolve, exemplifies its longstanding commitment to fostering a healthy art world ecosystem by creating new ways for its galleries to reach collectors from across the globe.”

The initiative is a digital-only platform for Art Basel’s galleries and collectors. The inaugural edition of Art Basel’s Online Viewing Rooms are planned to go live on 20 March 2020.

“Online Viewing Rooms will give visitors the opportunity to browse thousands of artworks presented by Art Basel participating galleries, many of which will be online exclusives. The exhibiting gallery can then be contacted directly for sales inquiries. The Viewing Rooms will run in parallel to the three shows in Basel, Miami Beach, and Hong Kong.”


Art Basel to launch Online Viewing Rooms,” Art Basel

While recognizing “’the essential personal interactions that continue to underlie the  art market,’” Art Basel Global Director Marc Spiegler notes that “’the Online Viewing Rooms will provide galleries with a further possibility for engaging with our global audiences.'”

All the galleries that were accepted for the cancelled 2020 Art Basel Hong Kong have been invited to participate, at no cost, in the launch of the Online Viewing Rooms.

Art Basel is not the first to organization to provide a means for galleries, works of art, and collectors to meet online. New York-based Artsy has been doing so for several years.

The process of selecting works of art, acquiring them, and developing a collection requires intent, effort, patience, and work. Such work is conducted in increments over a long-term.

Relationships of mutual trust and reliance, between collectors, galleries, and dealers, some private, are developed.

Qualifications of all parties are established. Buyers and sellers alike vet each other for acknowledgement and understanding of contract law as well as willingness to agree and adhere to contractual terms.

As works of art are identified for purchase, high-resolution images taken from multiple angles can be shared. Condition reports, provenance, and valuations provided.

The process enables collectors to learn and value not only the aesthetic, historical, and, increasingly, financial qualities of such works of art but also the supply chain logistics.

Supply chain logistics are themselves complex, often crossing cultures, history, collections, sovereign entities such as cities, states, and nations, and laws.

Supply chain logistics and the logistics of collections management evolving to include collaborations not only with art professionals but also with those with in a variety of industries. These industries include science, tech, law, engineering, energy, water, design, architecture, finance, and, insurance.

Insurance especially in a new iteration: in regard to transparent, data-driven identification of risk together with public/private collaborations structured to foster preemptive mitigation of risk.

See:

Art Basel to launch Online Viewing Rooms,” Art Basel

Anny Shaw, “MCH Group postpones Baselworld watch fair as Swiss authorities ban large events over coronavirus fears,” The Art Newspaper, 28 February2020

Christian Jecker, “MCH Group postpones forthcoming events,” MCH Group Media Release, 28 February 2020

Carbon Dioxide Absorbs and Re-Emits Infrared Radiation,” UCAR Center for Science Education

Swiss Re, “Special Feature: It’s existential – climate change and life & health,” 22 May 2019

NOAA, “Ocean Acidification

Trio of gallery greats commence sales of works from the Donald B. Marron Family Collection

Good contemporary art reflects the society, and great contemporary art anticipates.

Donald B. Marron (quoted by Pace Gallery, “Acquavella Galleries, Gagosian and Pace to Handle Sale of Donald B. MarronFamily Collection”)

Kelly Crow of the Wall Street Journal has reported that two works by Pablo Picasso, “Femme au beret et la collerette” (Woman with Beret and Collar,” 1937) and “Seated Woman (Jacqueline)” (1962) have been sold from the Donald B. Marron Family Collection to collector Stephen Wynn. It is reported that Mr. Wynn paid approximately $105 million for the two paintings.

Sales of works from the family collection are being conducted by a collaboration of gallery greats – Pace Gallery, Gagosian, and Acquavella Galleries. Bill Acquavella (son of Acquavella Galleries founder Nicholas Acquavella), Larry Gagosian (founder of Gagosian), and Arne Glimcher (founder of Pace Gallery) each worked with Mr. Marron in the development of the collection.

The collaboration, “the first of its kind, signals a new way for families to handle the sales of their collections” (Gagosian).

Under the terms of the collaboration, the galleries are charged to work jointly and privately to place and sell the works in the market. They are charged, further, neither to disclose publicly what is or is not available for sale nor to disclose an estimate for the collection.

The collaboration appears to have been the brainchild of Marc Glimcher, son of Arne Glimcher and president of Pace Gallery.

Eileen Kinsella of Artnet News, reporting that the plan came together quickly, quotes Mr. Glimcher:

“’I heard that [the Marron family] were considering going to auction and I just picked up the phone and called Larry [Gagosian] and said, ‘We should really present an alternative to the family. It’s tragic for this collection to go to auction,’” Glimcher recalled.

“After reaching out to Bill Acquavella, who also had a longstanding relationship with Marron, “’we all came and presented an idea to the family of how we would do it” around a month ago.’”

The Acquavella family – sister, brothers, and father – came on board. Eleanor Acquavella, Bill Acquavella’s daughter, reports that they“’ liked the idea of competing with the auctions on a great estate.’” They acknowledged, however, that “it would be hard to pull off.'” The galleries would be required to “’compete financially,'” and otherwise, to win to the business.

Indeed. Financial guarantees for the collection, in the amount of $300 million, had been offered by auction houses Christie’s, Sotheby’s, and Phillips.

Especially in the face of those guarantees, “’“the key,’” observed Gagosian’s COO Andrew Fabricant, “’was to meet the fiduciary requirements of an estate, which is complicated.

“‘We had to convince the family and the lawyers. The challenge was to be in line and competitive and still have some daylight for running with an exhibition and sales.”

A joint New York exhibition of May and June, is being organized by the three galleries. Including works from the family collection together with loans from institutions,  the exhibition “will chronicle Marron’s collecting activities, including his early acquisitions in the 1960s and 1970s, his museum stewardship, and his pioneering work reinventing how corporations build art collections around a singular vision.”

See:

Kelly Crow, “Steve Wynn Pays $105 Million for Pair of Picassos,” The Wall Street Journal, 24 February 2020

Eileen Kinsella, “The $450 Million Marron Collection Is the Art Market’s Ultimate Prize. Now, Three of the World’s Top Rival Galleries Are Joining Forces to Sell It,” Artnet, 19 February 2020

Acquavella Galleries, Gagosian, and Pace to Handle Sale of Donald B. MarronFamily Collection,” Gagosian

Acquavella Galleries, Gagosian and Pace to Handle Sale of Donald B. Marron Family Collection,” Pace Gallery

Pace, Gagosian, and Acquavella selected to sell – jointly and privately – works from the Donald B. Marron Family Collection

Three galleries – Pace, Gagosian, and Acquavella – have been selected to sell, jointly and privately, works from the Donald B. Marron Family Collection. The arrangement was agreed on 18 February by Donald Marron’s widow, Catherine. The galleries expect the majority of the works to be placed with new owners, representing great collections, this spring.

Works from the Marron collection will be exhibited from April 24 to May 16 at Pace and Gagosian in Chelsea (New York). The timing, not coincidentally, coincides with Tefaf New York Spring and Frieze New York.

 Works to be exhibited include Pablo Picasso’s “Femme au beret et la collerette” (“Woman With Beret and Collar,” 1937; already sold) and Mark Rothko’s “Number 22 (Reds)” (1957). Select works will be loaned from institutions to highlight those from the Marron family collection.

Asking prices will be publicized only for works that remain unsold by the time of the exhibition.

Observes Marc Glimcher, president of Pace, “One of the responsibilities of our galleries—and we represent many or most of the artists that are in the collection—is to see that these works move from one great collection to another.”

Donald B. Marron passed away on 6 December 2019 at the age of 85. He had served as President, CEO, and Chairman of the Board of PaineWebber. While at PaineWebber he helped initiate the company’s corporate art collection. PaineWebber, founded in Boston, Massachusetts in 1880, was acquired by Swiss banking giant (and sponsor of Art Basel) UBS in 2000. From 1985 to 1991 Mr. Marron served as president of the board of trustees of New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

Over the course of decades a collection of approximately 300 works, with a reported worth of upwards of $450 million, was assembled. The collection includes paintings by Pablo Picasso, Mark Rothko, Cy Tombly, Henri Matisse, Fernand Léger, Brice Marden, Willem de Kooning, Ellsworth Kelly, and Gerhard Richter amongst others.

Reflects Pace’s Marc Glimcher, “All three galleries were very close to Don, and all participated in building that collection with him.”

Eleanor Acquavella told Artnet News that “when Marc called, I really liked the idea of competing with the auctions on a great estate. My father and brothers and I talked about it and thought it would be hard to pull off. … We certainly had to compete financially and otherwise.”

Said Andrew Fabricant, COO of Gagosian, “The key was to meet the fiduciary requirements of an estate, which is complicated. We had to convince the family and the lawyers. The challenge was to be in line and competitive and still have some daylight for running with an exhibition and sales.”

Sales have commenced. Kelly Crow of The Wall Street Journal reports that billionaire former casino-resort magnate Steve Wynn, who appears on ARTnews‘ list of Top 200 Collectors, has paid around $105 million for two paintings by Pablo Picasso, “Woman with Beret and Collar” (1937) and “Seated Woman (Jacqueline)” (1962).

See:

Eileen Kinsella, “The $450 Million Marron Collection Is the Art Market’s Ultimate Prize.Now, Three of the World’s Top Rival Galleries Are Joining Forces to Sell It,” Artnet, 19 February 2020

Tim Schneider, “The Gray Market: Why History Equipped the Mega-Dealers to Win the $450 Million Marron Estate (and Other Insights),” Artnet News, 24 February 2020

Margaret Carrigan, “Donald B. Marron’s $450m collection to be sold by Acquavella, Gagosian and Pace galleries in New York,” The Art Newspaper, 19 February 2020

KellyCrow, “SteveWynn Pays $105 Million for Pair of Picassos,” The Wall StreetJournal,  24 February 2020

Tessa Solomon, “Embattled Billionaire Collector Stephen Wynn Buys Two Picassos From the Marron Estate for $105 M.: Report,” ArtNews, 24 February 2020

collecting Old Masters

From quattrocento to early 19th century Europe, the term “Old Master” generally refers to artists of skill who, in theory, were fully trained “Masters” of their local artists’ guilds and worked independently.

In practice, works produced by pupils, workshops, and studios of Masters are included in the term.

The term does not refer to a specific art historical style or movement.

Christie’s, using the term “Old Masters” to denote a category of painting that spans 500 years, is “redefining old masters for the 21st century global art market.”

Redefining, and re-positioning, the category for the 21st century global art market, the auction house is drawing interest from buyers in the contemporary art market and from around the world.

From artist to condition to subject to provenance, Christie’s has produced a helpful guide for buyers and prospective buyers in the Old Masters painting market: “Old Master paintings: 5 things for a new buyer to consider.

Pointers follow.

Price

Prices for Old Masters paintings realized at Christie’s range from a few thousand dollars to the hundreds of millions.

An exceptional $450,312,500 /£342,182,751 (including buyer’s premium) was realized in New York on 15 November 2017 for “Salvator Mundi”.

“Salvator Mundi” (c. 1500), attributed to Leonardo da Vinci, was sold to Prince Bader bin Abdullah bin Mohammed bin Farhan al-Saud of Saudi Arabia, friend and associate of crown prince Mohammed bin Salman. The painting was earlier included in the National Gallery’s 2011-12 exhibition of Leonardo’s surviving paintings.

Artist

“Is the artist an established name? Is the work from a good or particularly pivotal moment in the artist’s career or development? Is the attribution given in full (or qualified as ‘Studio’/‘Circle’/ ‘Follower’ of the artist)? Is the work included inthe key literature on the artist — and if not, have the currentexperts been consulted? Has the work been included in any recentseminal exhibitions on the artist?”

Christie’s, “Old Master paintings: 5 things for a new buyer to consider”

Provenance

Which collectors have been drawn to the work and “considered it worthy of their collections”?

Which exhibitions has the work been included in and where?

Restored? “Slightly neglected?” Rare?

“It is better to invest in a slightly neglected work, which can be treated relatively easily with sensitive restoration, than in one that has been subjected to numerous campaigns of restoration in the past, some of which may have resulted in the original surface beingabraded and over-painted. If in doubt, consult a restorer.”

Christie’s, “Old Master paintings: 5 things for a new buyer to consider”

In terms of rarity, research how prolific the artist was and how frequently his work appears on the market.

When excellent condition and rarity combine, magic happens. Works can realize exceptional prices.

Subject matter

Subject matter includes royal sitters, historical figures, topographical views, city views, university towns, landscapes, still lifes.

See:

Old Master paintings: 5 things for a new buyer to consider,” Christie’s, 25 November 2019

Old Masters,” Artsy

Old Masters,” Christie’s

Old Master,” Wikipedia

Leonardo’s Salvator Mundi makes auction history”, Christie’s, 15 November 2017

David D. Kirkpatrick,“Mystery Buyer of $450 Million ‘Salvator Mundi’ Was a Saudi Prince,”New York Times, 6 December 2017