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    SCAF Sydney Celebrates Christian Thompson’s Innovative Art

    Indigenous Australian artist Christian Thompson is not only one of the country’s most talented and exciting contemporary artists, he is also one of its most internationally successful and widely exhibited creative talents. Sydney’s Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation (SCAF) is celebrating Thompson’s engaging and innovative practice with its fifth “Collection+” exhibition which will navigate the intersection of art and fashion through his cross-disciplinary work.

    Born in Australia and based in London, Thompson explores notions of identity, cultural hybridity & history through a multi-disciplinary practice that spans photography, performance, video, sculpture, sound, and often incorporates fashion-related imagery. Originally trained as a sculptor, Thompson made history in 2010 when he became the first Aboriginal Australian to be admitted into the University of Oxford where he obtained a Doctorate of Philosophy (Fine Art).

    “Collection+: Christian Thompson” is curated by emerging Melbourne-based curator and lawyer Alana Kushnir who has explored concepts of collection and ownership, the extinction and rediscovery of language, and the appropriation of Indigenous Australian material culture. As with all of the “Collection+” exhibitions, key works from the Gene & Brian Sherman Collection will feature alongside works loaned from major public and private collections worldwide.

    SCAF Executive Director Gene Sherman commented on Thompson’s practice: “A longstanding passion for fashion meshes with the artist’s deeply thought-through costume play. As a result of this and several other overlapping interests – including a need to foreground society’s marginalised – my personal connection with the artist’s practice intensified over the years.”

    “Collection+: Christian Thompson” will be on show at SCAF from 23 October until 12 December 2015 (Opening night: Thursday 22 October, 6–8 pm).

    Forgiveness of Land, 2012 (detail)

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    Luciano Benetton's Global Art Project at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini

    What does it look like when almost 7,000 artworks, made by 6,930 artists from more than 40 countries, are curated by 47 people into one exhibition? It’s hard to describe. One would assume it would also be difficult to conceive of how a project like this could come together, but big, potentially unrealizable ideas seem to be the specialty of Luciano Benetton (of the Italian fashion brand known for its bright “united” colors and incendiary marketing campaigns), to whom the collection belongs and which he amassed in an astoundingly short eight years. The show, titled “Imago Mundi: Map of the New Art,” runs at the Fondazione Giorgio Cini through November 1.

    The works are separated by country and almost all are sized at roughly four by five inches (the artists were given the restriction of working within this format, although not everyone stuck to it and certain countries appear to have been worse offenders than others—Germany, Austria, I’m looking at you). The walls are bare, while the pieces hang on purpose-built display walls, devised by Italian Postmodernist architect and designer Tobia Scarpa, that give the space a mazelike structure. But in this instance, there’s no single path.

    It’s Scarpa’s design that keeps the exhibition from becoming chaotic, and is perhaps the key to what makes it successful. Finding the way along the rows of walls, moving from section to section as something catches your eye, a number of works, walls, and countries altogether are inevitably missed.

    The aim, according to Benetton, is to turn things on their head in search of new approaches. How that manifests itself is an exhibition for which, upon leaving, the feeling of being completely overwhelmed outweighs any positive or negative responses to the art one has just seen. The list of artists alone takes up one entire wall, and the experience of absorbing everything at once is kind of like the schizophrenic barrage of an art fair, minus the market concerns.

    With this much work, there’s a lot to see that’s good, and also a fair amount that is not. This is a particular type of freedom—there’s no way one could really look at or like everything. Coupled with the nonhierarchical collecting and display practices, it makes for a type of egalitarian experience rarely found in art viewing. You’ll find Korakrit Arunanondchai or Laurie Anderson hanging near a whole wall of artists from the United States, Algeria, or North Korea you’ve never heard of, and maybe even fall for one who sticks out to you among all the thousands. For me, it was a portrait-oriented piece with a bulbous mesh protrusion in navy and muted yellow by Chilean artist Matilde Benmayor Mancilla. The entire show—works as well as display—can purportedly be packed up and shipped with ease to any possible location. It’s a new model of exhibition display: frenetic, diplomatic, and perhaps even a little liberating because of these qualities.

    A version of this article appears in the November 2015 issue of Modern Painters.

    Mundi

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  • 09/21/15--11:35: El mundo de Lucas Warat

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  • 09/21/15--11:37: El mundo de Lucas Warat

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  • 09/21/15--11:37: El mundo de Lucas Warat

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    Review: Ai Weiwei’s RA Show Mixes Wit With Terror

    The floor is covered with massive rusted iron reinforcing bars, neatly arranged, parallel to one another. Viewed from above, they form a sort of rolling landscape of hills and valleys. But it is a terrain spit by a sharp discontinuity - a fault line - running half way through it. Look again, and those hills could be vibrating with shock waves.

    This is “Straight” (2008-9), one of the most powerful works in the career retrospective by the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei at the Royal Academy, London. If it looks like a land convulsed by some cataclysm, that’s probably intentional. Those iron bars were extracted from buildings that had collapsed in the Sichuan earthquake of May 12 2008, and then carefully re-straightened in Ai Weiwei’s studio (hence the title).

    About 90,000 people died that day, including a large number of children - due, it was widely believed, to the poor building standards of public buildings such as schools (constructed, according Chinese street speak, from materials as feeble as tofu). The names of 5,000 pupils who were crushed under flimsy classrooms are inscribed around the walls of the gallery.

    “Straight” and its accompanying work, “Names of the Student Earthquake Victims Found by the Citizens Investigation” (2008-11) represent the complexity and force of Ai Weiwei’s art at its best. His influences are eclectic, garnered from both east and west.

    Formally, a piece such as “Straight” reminds you of American minimalists, particularly Carl André, the first to make art by arranging metal on the floor. And indeed, Ai Weiwei was profoundly affected by the 12 years he spent in the US from 1981, both politically and artistically.

    He claims his fundamental influence to have been Marcel Duchamp (a witty homage to the inventor of the ready-made, in the form of a coat-hanger bent into the aquiline contours of Duchamp’s profile, is the only work in the show from prior to Ai’s return to China in 1993). But Duchamp wasn’t particularly interested in making massively sculptural works, and Ai clearly is. When he does so, as with “Straight,” the inspirations tend to be American artists who were prominent in the 1960s and 1970s - that is, just before Ai arrived in Manhattan.

    Formally speaking, at least from outside, “S.A.C.R.E.D.” (2012) looks at first glance like something derived from the school of Richard Serra. Externally it consists of a set of big oxidized iron tanks. But there is a fundamental difference. Inside, Ai Weiwei has put - quite literally - his own life and suffering. Peer though little openings in those metallic boxes, and you see tableaux of the artist’s existence during the 81 days of imprisonment he endured in 2011. There is Ai, handcuffed and being interrogated, supervised by guards when taking a shower, on the toilet, sleeping in his cell. 

    This is his most powerful creation to date. But the strategy - inserting his own life, political protest, and culture into an idiom devised by New York modernists - recurs again and again. Several of his earlier pieces recall Richard Artschwager’s transformations of furniture into art and Gordon Matta-Clark’s slicing up of architectural spaces. Again, however, the content is different: partly autobiographical, partly to do with the jarring collision of traditional Chinese culture and the contemporary world. This helps explain why he apparently made little during his 12 years in the U.S. He didn’t have much new to say in terms of form; the novelty is expressing Oriental themes and feelings into this Occidental language.

    When he made furniture into sculpture, such as “Table with Three Legs” (2011) the raw material was antique woodwork from the Qing dynasty. That is, objects that spoke of the Imperial and Confucian past, but chopped up and reconfigured into a novel shape.

    Famously, he photographed himself “Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn” (1996), an ancient object which was smashed to pieces. Other pieces consist of Han and Neolithic ceramics painted with the bright shades of color field abstraction (or a shop sign). He inscribed the Coca Cola logo on an 1800 year old vase. Of course, the point is that what Ai does to a few pots (of which numerous duplicates exist), is happening to the whole nation: abrupt modernization and, in the cultural revolution, deliberate destruction.

    Is Ai Weiwei the most important contemporary Chinese artist? To paraphrase the words of Zhou Enlai when asked the consequences of the French Revolution: it’s too early to say. There are others, particularly painters, whose work may have staying power. But Ai is unique in the way he spans east and west, in his personal bravery and capacity to command a global audience. His work is uneven, and consequently so is this exhibition. At his best he is at once witty, chilling and compelling.

     

    Ai Weiwei continues at the Royal Academy through December 13, 2015.

     

    Ai Weiwei with his installation Straight

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    The Divine Beauty of Modern Religious Art at Palazzo Strozzi

    “Divine Beauty: From Van Gogh to Chagall and Fontana” at the Palazzo Strozzi in Florence from September 24, 2015 to January 24, 2016 explores the relationship between art and religion from the mid-19th to the mid-20th century through more than one hundred works by some of the best known Italian and international artists.

    The artists featured in the exhibition include renowned Italian artists such as Domenico Morelli, Gaetano Previati, Felice Casorati, Renato Guttuso, Lucio Fontana, and Emilio Vedova, as well as international masters such as Vincent van Gogh, Jean-François Millet, Edvard Munch, Pablo Picasso, Max Ernst, Georges Rouault, and Henri Matisse.

    Curated by Lucia Mannini, Anna Mazzanti, Ludovica Sebregondi and Carlo Sisi, “Divine Beauty” presents religious art as a genre in its own right. Over seven main sections – From Salon to Altar, Rose Mystica, Life of Christ, Gino Severini: Mural Decoration from Spirituality to Poetry, Architecture, The Church, and Prayer – the exhibition analyses and contextualizes almost a century of modern religious art.

    “Divine Beauty” highlights the dialogue, ties, and even the clashes in the relationship between art and religious sentiment that began during a period of transition in the late 19th century from historicist styles of representation to an artistic vocabulary suited to modern times that is characterized by what is described as “a grace that injects aesthetic substance into the form of works of art.”

    Key works in the exhibition include Jean-François Millet’s “Angelus,” on loan from the Musée d'Orsay in Paris; Vincent van Gogh’s “Pietà” from the Vatican Museums; Renato Guttuso’s “Crucifixion” from the collections of the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Moderna in Rome; and Marc Chagall’s “White Crucifixion” from the Art Institute Museum in Chicago, one of Pope Francis’s favourite works of art.

    Click the slideshow to see images of some of the works in Divine Beauty: From Van Gogh to Chagall and Fontana.

    Video by Palazzo Strozzi. Courtesy Palazzo Strozzi

    The Pietà (after Delacroix) by Vincent Van Gogh (Detail)

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  • 09/21/15--22:14: New York
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  • 09/21/15--22:14: Zurich
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    250 Best Auction Houses: Focus on Paris

    In a special summer issue of Art+Auction, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, we bring you the information you need to navigate the vast auction market. We’ve assembled the top 250 houses, along with some of their most notable sales, as well as insider takes from 50 CEOs and specialists on the past year and the changes ahead. Below you’ll find Q&As with auction house leaders based in Paris. To see other installments from the special issue, click here

    ARTCURIAL
    Paris, France; Monaco
    ESTABLISHED: 2002
    SPECIALTIES: Modern and contemporary art, wines and spirits, Orientalist paintings, books and manuscripts, automobilia, Old Master paintings, arms and historical souvenirs, medieval art, Asian art 
    CONTACT: artcurial.com, +33142992020

    François Tajan, Co-Chairman

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    My most successful auction in the past year was the largest comic strip sale ever realized, thus underlining Artcurial’s pioneering role in this field of the art market. This sale, notably focusing on “world of Tintin” lots, in May 2014, realized a total of €7.46 million ($10.2 million), including commission. It was marked by a series of records and illustrated the dynamic, modern nature of the comic strip market.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    Hergé’s flyleaves for the “Adventures of Tintin” albums in dark blue Indian ink, published between 1937 and 1958, totaled €2,654,400 ($3.6 million), a world- record auction price for a comic strip work of art. This drawing from 1937 was very much valued because it showed Tintin and Snowy in 34 different scenarios, each relating to a key moment in an album. An important detail appreciated by collectors and enthusiasts: Hergé drew his heroes at the North Pole for an album that was never produced. I never thought that comic strips could reach such incredible prices. But the recent evolution of the art market has now made it clear that comic strips are considered real works of art. Finally!

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Despite the fact that I tend to prefer works of art of the 20th century, I believe that the market unjustly neglects furniture and objects of art of the 18th and 19th centuries. We hope that Chinese collectors, who are very much interested in European culture, and notably French culture, will transform this interest into future private collections, museums, and foundations. Artcurial’s first sale in Hong Kong next October will enable us to facilitate this. Artist- wise, I believe that Jean Dubuffet is not yet truly appreciated. He was a very productive artist of the second half of the 20th century, mixing modernity and originality in all of his pieces of art, varied as they are, down to the very last one.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    They enabled us to reach people all around the world, far beyond the small circles of initiated people that used to constitute the core of our clients 15 to 20 years ago. Indeed, a recent survey revealed that in 2014, 11 percent of Frenchmen took part in an online auction.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    The luxury industry has deeply influenced the auction market. Sales dedicated to art de vivre are also increasing. These sales of wines, jewels, collectors’ watches, collectors’ cars, and Hermès vintage bags are a way for these “industrial and handcrafted” productions to become, with time, great pieces of collection and desire. Artcurial has been a pioneer exploring such specialties. The best example would be the sale of the Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spider 1961 last February from the Baillon collection, which was sold for the incredible price of €16.3 million ($18.5 million), a world-record auction price for this model. The combination of a prestigious origin—a famous French actor— and an extraordinary original condition, notably with matching numbers, explains the outstanding success of the sale for this car, long thought to be lost.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    Works of art of the 20th century, from contemporary art to design, and the art de vivre departments, from collectors’ cars to jewelry, themselves totaled two-thirds of our 2014 annual sale figures. Exemplarily, the sale of a Van Cleef & Arpels 2.39-carat pear-cut diamond ring in Monaco on July 23, 2014, reached €1,799,800 ($2.4 million).

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    I would like to enhance Artcurial’s international expansion through the opening of new offices in Monaco and in Germany. Our new office in Munich, headed by Moritz von der Heydte, will enable us to reach new connoisseurs and collectors, while completing our European network, started in 2012. We are even going to expand beyond European borders. In October 2015, we will have our first sale in Hong Kong, with a mix of Asian and Occidental works of art.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    I am not an obsessive collector. However, there is indeed one piece of art that I am particularly fond of: a picture by Andres Serrano that I bought 25 years ago and that still gives me a lot of pleasure when I look at it.

    ***

    PIASA
    Paris, France
    ESTABLISHED: 1996
    SPECIALTIES: Modern and contemporary art, Asian art, jewelry, 20th century design, Old Master paintings and drawings, books and manuscripts, furniture, photography, wines and spirits
    CONTACT: piasa.fr, contact@piasa.fr, +33153341010

    Frédéric Chambre, Associate Vice-Chairman and Chief Executive

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    The auction I most enjoyed was the Serrurier-Bovy collection. This auction reflects Piasa’s spirit, research of a certain aesthetic, and specific choices and position. Serrurier-Bovy is one of the most important designers from the beginning of the 20th century and as rare to the market as he was creative.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    It is always challenging to sell artists or works that are not so famous to the market, so there are a lot of exciting moments in an auctioneer’s life. We had a Marcello Fantoni auction in April 2015, Axel Salto—with a world record—in September 2014, and Christophe Allegrain’s sculpture in December 2014.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Without going into specifics, we are still way too far from the prices for postwar design. Collectors are keen on design, but there is no risk in investing, as prices are still pretty low and will continue to grow.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    Online auctions offer a possibility for auction houses to increase their visibility, as well as to reach out more directly to some buyers and collectors. Buyers are starting to be more active with the live bid. During the first half of 2015, we have had a 300 percent increase; it now represents 3 to 4 percent of buyers. A few months ago, it was only 0.8 or 0.9 percent. To the auctioneers this is a source of surprise, as we often do not know which lot will receive online bids. I assume this is a more playful way for clients to bid.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    With respect to design, institutional interest has the most influence.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    In 2013, we did €10 million ($14 million) for the decorative art and design department; then €18 million ($22,000,000) in 2014; and in the first half of this year, more than €9 million ($10 million).

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    We are focusing our development on design and on modern and contemporary art. Today we are a curated auction house with specific choices, thematic auctions, and invitations to curators. This is a strategy to respond to an increasingly selective market that is seeking rare, unusual, or clever objects and works of art.

    ***

    TAJAN
    Paris, France; Geneva, Switzerland
    CONTACT: tajan.com, webmaster@tajan.com, +33153303030

    Rodica Seward, Owner

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    The sale of a Gouro mask from Ivory Coast, from the André Breton collection, for €1,375,000 ($1.9 million) in June 2014.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    Two lots. A world record for a French painter from the Raw Art movement, Augustin Lesage’s Composition symbolique – L’énigme des siècles, 1929, sold for €373,800($516,000) in April 2014, and a painting by Qi Baishi sold for €814,440 ($1 million) in December.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Painting! I have a strong passion for the young creators in painting like Amy Sillman, Eva Nielsen, Matthias Weischer, and several artists from Cluj in Romania.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    We make 20 percent of our sales on the Internet. We follow our international customers around the world through social networks, live auctions, the flipbook catalogues, our newsletter. We have a strong online presence. We created an online auction brand, T-live @studio 37, with one sale per month, and we collaborated with Auctionata in June 2015 for a sale called Paris Berlin–L’Art de Vivre.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    I am an obsessive collector. I particularly collect contemporary art and Chinese ceramics. Maybe [most proud of] a painting by Adrian Ghenie, before he became famous.

    250 Best Auction Houses 2015

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    250 Best Auction Houses: Berlin and Cologne

    In a special summer issue of Art+Auction, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, we bring you the information you need to navigate the vast auction market. We’ve assembled the top 250 houses, along with some of their most notable sales, as well as insider takes from 50 CEOs and specialists on the past year and the changes ahead. Below you’ll find Q&As with auction house leaders based in Berlin and Cologne. To see other installments from the special issue, click here

    AUCTIONATA
    Berlin, Germany; New York, U.S.
    ESTABLISHED: 2012
    SPECIALTIES: Watches, wines and spirits, Old Master and modern paintings, Asian art, 20th-century art, Russian fine and decorative art, Japanese art
    CONTACT: auctionata.com, info@auctionata.com, +49 30 9832 0222

    Alexander Zacke, CEO and Founder

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    In December 2014, we had our first white-glove sale with an auction of Chinese snuff bottles from a Spanish private collection. A handful of bidders in the online auction room fought so fiercely for each and every bottle that the prices climbed up to more than 20 times the estimate for some lots.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    The most exciting lot we offered this year was a Chinese musical and automaton clock from the late 18th century. We knew that it was an outstanding piece that would attract a lot of interested collectors, but when it finally sold for €3.37 million, including buyer’s premium, it exceeded all our expectations. After a 10-minute bidding battle between six bidders, the well- known businessman and investor Liu Yiqian turned out to be the lucky winner. Not only did the clock set a new world record for a work of Asian art sold in an online auction, but it will now also be exhibited in Liu’s museum in Shanghai.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Vintage advertising signs.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    Online auctions have been a major game changer because they allow bidders from all over the world to participate in an auction, no matter where they are. As the inventor of the live-stream auction, Auctionata’s ambition was to further enhance the customer experience and to transfer the thrill of the auction room into the online sphere and make it accessible for everybody. This has made the auction business faster, more transparent, more convenient, and ultimately more sustainable in the digitized world of the 21st century. At the same time, trust, expertise, and customer service are as important as they have ever been.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    The number of serious and knowledgeable collectors from certain regions, most notably China, has certainly grown rapidly over the last few years, especially in the online realm. Moreover, the market for luxury collectibles and memorabilia is gaining more and more momentum due to online marketplaces and global collector communities.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    The luxury segment, especially in the category of classic cars, has grown the most in the past year.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    The sky is the limit! We have built a proven model and are now focusing on becoming the number-one auction house in Continental Europe within the next 18 months. So in the next few years, we could become leaders in any market, any category, and any geography.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    In my opinion, collectors need to focus and build something meaningful.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    I have a passion for vintage advertising signboards, historical cash boxes, trunks, and cassettes. One piece I was very proud of was an enamel sign called “Opel- Schaufel,” a signature object from an Austrian collection of signboards. I auctioned it, bought it, and resold it again, but it will always be a favorite of mine!

    Have you ever wildly overpaid for something you bought yourself?
    Yes, the first—and only—Richter my wife and I purchased, 20 years ago at $300,000.

    ***

    BASSENGE
    Berlin, Germany
    ESTABLISHED: 1963
    SPECIALTIES: Books, manuscripts, prints, photography, maps, modern art, paintings and drawings
    CONTACT: bassenge.com, info@bassenge.com, +49 30 893 8 0290

    David Bassenge, CEO

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    The fall sale for Old Master and 19th-century drawings. The auction featured many high-quality works and was an overall great success. It also produced some world- record results.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    Definitely Shriveled Maple Leaves, a pen and ink drawing by Friedrich Olivier from 1817, which is not only an exceptional piece of the Romantic period but also rose from an estimated €120,000 ($150,000) to €2.6 million ($3.2 million).

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Drawings in general and 19th-century drawings in particular are a field of growing interest with collectors worldwide. They are still undervalued by market standards, and you can find works of very fine quality for reasonable prices.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    They complement our auctions in numerous ways and have made communicating with clients much easier. The collectors are now generally better informed of what is being offered. But the overall experience of buying and selling art is still the same: In the end, most clients seek a long-term, personal, and trusting relationship with the dealer or auction house.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    There is a notable generation shift with collectors, and we see a rapidly rising interest in all price segments of postwar art with younger buyers. In other segments the clientele is far more specialized today than it used to be, with the occasional buyer being in the minority. The expertise and enthusiasm result in extremely high prices for exceptional pieces.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    Both the 19th-century art and the modern art departments had a very successful year.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    We are concentrating our strengths in the Old Master and 19th-century department and are refining the offerings to meet the changing interests of the collectors. At the same time we are investing in the postwar and contemporary segment. By further expanding our online activities, we will respond to the demands of a new generation of buyers.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    Trust your own instincts and taste. Try to stay off the beaten track and find your own niche. Be passionate about what you collect.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    My collection is very eclectic. I am always fascinated with works that mix genres or intertwine elements of different eras. Generally, it is the latest find that I am most proud of.

    ***

    LEMPERTZ
    Cologne and Berlin, Germany; Brussels, Belgium
    PERSONNEL: Henrick Hanstein, CEO
    ESTABLISHED: 1845
    SPECIALTIES: Old Masters, African and Oceanic art, modern art, decorative art, photography, Asian art, books
    CONTACT: lempertz.com, info@lempertz.com+49 221 925 7290

    Alice Jay von Seldeneck, Partner, and Kilian Jay von Seldeneck, Manager

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    The Contemporary Art Auctions of autumn 2014 and spring 2015.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    Two panels by Matteo Giovannetti depicting Catherine of Alexandria and Saint Anthony the Great, at the Old Masters auction, in autumn 2014. They sold for €2.7 million ($3.4 million), the highest price realized for an Old Master on the German market in 2014.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    The art market has always been subject to certain fashions, and the focus is currently on contemporary art, which is leading to extraordinary price increases. However, anyone who’s smart enough and has a good eye buys against these cycles. It is currently possible to purchase great items of porcelain, furniture, or silver for excellent prices.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    The digital world allows us to interact with our customers on a faster and much more individual basis, an opportunity which we use readily. In the log-in section of our website, customers are able to highlight their interests to create personalized newsletters and catalogues. They can also set artist alerts to let them know whenever a work by a certain artist comes up for auction. All our catalogues are available to read online and in the Lempertz app. In the last few months, these features have established Lempertz as a pioneer in the digitalization of the art market.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    The art market is also influenced by the increasingly international and professional scope of collectors. Digital progress has allowed us to greatly boost internationalization— by now over 50 percent of our customers are based outside of Germany. The professionalization of private collectors is also becoming increasingly noticeable. These kinds of customers boost auction results with their impressive knowledge and enthusiasm.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    The contemporary art department increased its profit in 2014 by 45 percent compared to the year before.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    Our international network is one of our firm’s greatest strengths. We constantly seek to improve contact with our customers across the globe through our representatives.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    That auctions are the most promising way to sell and buy items successfully. They are the only platform where supply and demand are so intrinsically linked, and this often leads to impressive price developments.

    250 Best Auction Houses 2015

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    250 Best Auction Houses: Munich and Stuttgart

    In a special summer issue of Art+Auction, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, we bring you the information you need to navigate the vast auction market. We’ve assembled the top 250 houses, along with some of their most notable sales, as well as insider takes from 50 CEOs and specialists on the past year and the changes ahead. Below you’ll find Q&As with auction house leaders based in Munich and Stuttgart. To see other installments from the special issue, click here

    KETTERER KUNST
    Munich, Berlin, Hamburg, and Düsseldorf, Germany
    ESTABLISHED: 1954
    SPECIALTIES: Old Masters, postwar and contemporary art, 19th-century art, rare books
    CONTACT: kettererkunst.com, +49 89 55 2440

    Robert Ketterer, Auctioneer, Owner, and Managing Director

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    Our latest Munich auction, Modern Art and Post War/Contemporary Art, in June 2015.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    Zero artist Günther Uecker’s nail object Hommage à Paul Scheerbart (Scheerbartwesen), which climbed from an estimate of €300,000 ($330,000) to €1,875,000 ($2.1 million).

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Next to contemporary artists such as Jonas Burgert, Chuck Close, Martin Eder, and Karin Kneffel, I think that it would be worthwhile to have a closer look at Art Informel. Even though some artists, like Emil Schumacher, achieve high results— like the one we just obtained for his Alf I, which sold for €306,250 ($337,000), or even for Kazuo Shiraga’s Chijikusei Gotenrai, which sold for €3,250,000 ($3.6 million) in December—there are others, like Karl Fred Dahmen, Gerhard Hoehme, Winfred Gaul, Karl Otto Götz, Hans Hartung, Georges Mathieu, Bernard Schultze, and Fred Thieler, that can be purchased for less. Their works very often are available not only in the five-digit but even in the four-digit realm.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    Due to the cost factor, there is a variety of works up to about €3,000 that we can no longer present in our printed catalogues. Online auctions allow us to still offer them to our clients.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    In my opinion the art market isn’t permanently subject to new trends. The most important factor is and always will be the confidence in the artist and the auction house. If this is a constant, the online auction market will grow as well.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    The demand for postwar and contemporary art is definitely growing exponentially. This is owing not only to the scarcity of great Old Masters and modern classics but also to problems regarding authenticity and provenances in these fields. The key factor, however, is the great quality of postwar and contemporary art available. It also depends on the buyer’s sociocultural background. This segment is [very much of the moment], serving a new generation of art collectors looking for their very own style and way of expression.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    The way to the top wasn’t easy; however, remaining [at the top] will be even harder. Quality and trust are the two main issues we will continue to focus on. This will not only make for attractive live auctions and further growth in the online auction market, allowing for works with estimates of up to €10,000 to be sold online. Above all, it will keep our client and business partner relationships healthy and enjoyable—the most important thing of all.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    I wish more collectors knew that auction houses today also provide the qualified guidance that only art dealers offered in the past.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    My personal passion is not with a particular artist. Due to our auction house’s wide range of offerings, my interests are also quite diversified. However, the purchases that I am most proud of are the ones that touch my heart.

    Have you ever wildly overpaid for something you bought yourself?
    For objects that really touch your heart, you generally pay way too much.

    ***

    HAMPEL AUCTIONS
    Munich, Germany
    SPECIALTIES: Old Masters, modern and contemporary art, Asian art, Russian art, antiquities, decorative arts, furniture, prints and engravings, books
    CONTACT: hampel-auctions.com, office@hampel-auctions.com, +49 89 28 8040

    Vitus Graupner, Executive Partner

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    There have been a number of great and delightful events in the past year.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    The most exciting moment took place in our March sale: lot 839, the important natural pearl and diamond pendant earrings, was sold for €1,200,000 ($1.3 million) after intense bidding. We are especially happy about the fact that the previous owner donated part of the proceeds to a charitable cause.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    For us, they are an even better way to stay in touch with our already international clientele. Furthermore, online auctions help to reach new potential clients.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    The market focuses more and more on high-quality objects, which tend to reach very high prices. Also, there seems to be a still-growing interest in investing in art.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    Our newest department, for luxury goods, is thriving. We offer handbags—mostly by Hermès—jewelry, and fine wristwatches.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    We would like to continue to offer exciting and interesting art objects to our clients. Also, we are working to use the new social media further.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    I think most collectors underestimate how much effort it can take to find great pieces for their collections.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    My wife actually is in charge of our private collection, so you would have to ask her. But I am always very pleased by her great taste.

    ***

    HERMANN HISTORICA
    Munich, Germany
    SPECIALTIES: Arms and armor, firearms, antiquities, orders and decorations, historical objects, historical militaria, hunting collectibles
    CONTACT: hermann-historica.de, contact@hermann-historica.com, +49 89 54 726490

    Wolfgang Hermann, Founder and Co-owner

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    We achieved very good results in the spring 2014 and 2015 sales, as well in the autumn sale last year.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    The sale of a Tibetan khatvanga, or ritual scepter, with inlays of gold and silver, dating from the 15th century, a significant era in the history of the country. As bids for the exceptionally rare artifact from the slopes of the Himalayas quickly jumped from €9,500 ($13,000) to the spectacular final selling price of €85,000 ($118,000), the nail- biting tension was palpable in the room, down the telephone wires, and on the Internet.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    We think that currently, in particular, ancient arms and armor do not experience the appreciation they deserve as works of art. But we think that in a few years the market for these items will increase enor- mously, when new collectors have joined the community who realize the unique quality of craftsmanship.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    The Internet is well established as the fourth channel, apart from the written bids, the direct contact to the audience in the room, and the telephone wires. Today nearly 20 percent of all our winning lots have been sold to Internet bidders.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    Another more delightful trend is that new aficionados who have not made an appearance up to now are starting to build up collections. American, European, and Middle Eastern newcomers are joined increasingly by Chinese collectors.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014? 
    International orders and medals, especially, reported excellent growth.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    I believe in my soul I am a collector, but that’s a hindrance in this profession, so I am very reluctant.

    ***

    NAGEL AUKTIONEN
    Stuttgart, Germany
    ESTABLISHED: 1922
    SPECIALTIES: Fine art and antiques, modern and contemporary art, Asian art
    CONTACT: auction.de, +49 711 649 690

    Uwe Jourdan, CEO

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    Our Asian art auctions were the most successful. With this year’s Asian art sales figures exceeding €20 million ($22 million), Nagel Auktionen ranks, as in past years, among Europe’s leading auction houses.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    The last example for this kind of exciting lot was a rare gilt-bronze Tibeto-Chinese figure of the Buddhist death deity Yamantaka from the first half of the 15th century, which started at €50,000 ($56,000) and, after a thrilling bidding battle, was finally sold for almost €700,000 ($783,000). Another was a silver cutlery set composed of 180 pieces, presented with its original case, that was designed by the important German Art Nouveau artist Richard Riemerschmid, starting off at €12,000 ($14,000) and climbing up to €266,000 ($317,000) in the end.

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    From my point of view, art ceramics from the second half of the 20th century actually deserve more appreciation. Here you may find one jewel or another for comparably moderate prices.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    The ongoing use of the Internet obviously makes it easier to access the art market and thus also ensures its accessibility to everyone. This leads to a growing number of international clients—consignors as well as bidders. But the actual impact of those ever-growing Internet auctions remains rather marginal for us. We’ve offered live auctioning with online participation since the 1990s, but in the end it is still the auction room where all bids come together.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    Modern and contemporary art continues to thrive, without any doubt. And the end of this particular development is not in sight. In 2014 we also registered a growing popularity of European art amongst Asian buyers.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    In the next years we will expand our excellent position in the field of Chinese art, and we will also purposefully address the Asian market with European art.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    I wish more collectors knew about the advantages of auction houses in general and, of course, about Nagel Auktionen in particular. And I wish they knew how much fun an auction can be.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    I come from an art-loving family. Personally, I collect high-quality pieces of art of all areas and genres that fascinate me, even though a certain predilection for Chinese art cannot be denied. I am especially proud of one of my most recent acquisitions, an underglaze-blue porcelain garden stool from the Kangxi period, now decorating my garden.

    Have you ever wildly overpaid for something you bought yourself?
    Did I not just mention this garden stool from the Kangxi period?

    250 Best Auction Houses

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    250 Best Auction Houses: Switzerland and Austria

    In a special summer issue of Art+Auction, which will be published in installments on ARTINFO this month, we bring you the information you need to navigate the vast auction market. We’ve assembled the top 250 houses, along with some of their most notable sales, as well as insider takes from 50 CEOs and specialists on the past year and the changes ahead. Below you’ll find Q&As with auction house leaders based in Switzerland and Austria. To see other installments from the special issue, click here

    GALERIE KORNFELD
    Bern, Switzerland
    ESTABLISHED: 1864
    SPECIALTIES: Modern art, Old Master prints and drawings 
    CONTACT: galeriekornfeld.ch, galerie@kornfeld.com, +41313814673

    Bernhard Bischoff, Partner

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    Our annual auction, Art of the 19th to 21st Century, in June 2015.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    The Kirchner painting Rotes Haus – Roter Januar, estimated at CHF800,000 ($862,000) sold for CHF1,955,000 ($2.1 million).

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    A lot. We were very successful with artists from the second Ecole de Paris; with a Pol Bury work sold for CHF149,500 ($162,000), we even had a new auction world record. But we are also happy that Swiss art and Expres- sionist art are gaining interest again.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    We get new collectors from all around the world. They know what’s on the market.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    Taste changes, but quality always stays!

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    Swiss art and contemporary art.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    As a house with 150 years of tradition in Old Master prints and 90 years in modern art, we would like—without neglecting our core competencies— to continue our work in the contemporary art market, as started some years ago. Switzerland is one of the best places to sell artworks: a reliable and safe situation, with good connections to the world and an attractive environment, too. Our annual auction sales in June, contemporaneous with the Art Basel fair—one hour by train from Bern!—always attract a lot of international interest.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    Kornfeld is not only a company; it’s an institution. Excellence and expertise since 1864.

    Have you ever wildly overpaid for something you bought yourself?
    Yes, but that’s part of art collecting.

    ***

    KOLLER AUCTIONS
    Zurich, Switzerland
    ESTABLISHED: 1958
    SPECIALTIES: Old Masters, modern and contemporary art, Asian art, Swiss art, jewelry, watches, furniture, decorative arts, silver, books
    CONTACT: kollerauktionen.ch, office@kollerauctions.com, +41444456363

    Cyril Koller, President and CEO

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    In 2014 we held approximately 50 auctions in a wide range of collecting categories. Many of these were very successful. Two particular highlights were the sale of a painting by Paul Signac to an American collector for CHF5.3 million ($5.9 million) and Madonna and Child, painted by Jan Gossart, which sold to a Russian private collector for CHF2.4 million ($2.7 million).

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    One of the most exciting lots was a bureau plat by one of the greatest cabinetmakers in history, André- Charles Boulle. It had been in an old Swiss family for generations, and nothing quite like it had been seen on the market since the Getty Museum purchased its example in 1985. Estimated between CHF1.5 million and CHF2.5 million ($1.6–2.6 million), it sold to a private London collector for CHF3 million ($3.2 million).

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    In the 20th century, Switzerland produced a number of important artists who are still somewhat marginalized on the international market. Works by Ferdinand Hodler, Giovanni and especially Augusto Giacometti, Félix Vallotton, and so on, compared with works by other important classic modern artists, are still relatively inexpensive, even though they have long been included in major museums and international private collections.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    Our auctions have been online since 2006. Since then, we have seen a massive increase in the number of bidders and buyers participating online. However, we consider online bidding solely as an alternative to telephone bidding, and it cannot replace the direct contact that we maintain with our clients. I don’t see much of a future in online-only auctions for us, because the art market—much more than certain other fields—thrives on the competent and personal advice of specialists.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    The historically low interest rates in Europe are making the art market more and more attractive to collectors and investors, and we have seen this affect our sales, particularly in the high end of the market.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    Besides our traditionally strong departments of Old Masters, Asian art, and modern and contemporary art, the jewelry and watches department has been one of the pillars of our recent success. In the past few years we have seen a sharp increase in the gross revenue of our jewelry auctions. The price range in these auctions is generally between $10,000 and $1 million, which has served to attract an ever-growing number of private buyers who have realized that buying jewelry at auction is an attractive alternative to the high margins of many jewelry boutiques.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    The art market in Switzerland offers a large number of distinct advantages for buyers and, especially, for sellers: one of the most stable political systems in the world, a strong currency, an excellent legal system, a fair taxation system, one of the world’s highest concentrations of resident millionaires, and an open, international outlook. Because of this we are able, despite our comparatively smaller size, to offer and sell works of art just as well as our competitors in London and New York.

    ***

    IM KINSKY
    Vienna, Austria
    ESTABLISHED: 1992
    SPECIALTIES: Old Masters, 19th-century paintings, modern and contemporary art, furniture
    CONTACT: imkinsky.com, office@imkinsky.com, +43 1 532 4200

    Ernst Ploil, CEO

    What was your most successful auction in the past year?
    We had an exceptionally successful auction in autumn of last year.

    Which lot was the most exciting or surprising?
    The most exciting piece was a still life painted by Brueghel [Jan the Younger].

    Is there an artist, market, or medium you think is overlooked right now? Something you’d invest in?
    Yes, in the Austrian art market, I would invest in 19th-century paintings and applied art designed between the two World Wars, 1918 to 1938.

    How have online auctions changed the way you do business?
    They have accelerated our auctions and also brought us a lot of new—mainly younger— customers.

    What other trends do you see influencing the market?
    The reasons for buying art are changing rapidly. An increasing number of customers acquire art only as an investment and not for collecting reasons.

    What part of your business saw the most growth in 2014?
    The sale of contemporary art and Old Master paintings.

    Where would you like to take the company in the next several years?
    We expect an annual growth of 10 percent.

    What one thing do you wish more collectors knew?
    That presently no better investment opportunities exist than good pieces of art.

    Do you have a collecting obsession? If so, what purchase are you most proud of?
    Yes, I have such an obsession. The atelier furniture of Gustav Klimt, designed by his friend Josef Hoffmann.

     

    Have you ever wildly overpaid for something you bought yourself?
    Yes, many times.

    250 Best Auction Houses 2015

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