Homa Taj in Conversation with Olivier Antoine of Galerie Art : Concept, Paris.

Marvin Gaye Whetwynd, Sans titre (provisoire), 2015, Courtesy the artist Art Concept, Paris and Sadies Coles, London
Marvin Gaye Whetwynd, Sans titre (provisoire), 2015, Courtesy the artist Art Concept, Paris and Sadies Coles, London

Homa Taj in Conversation with Olivier Antoine of Galerie Art : Concept, Paris.

Homa Taj – What inspired you to become an art dealer?
Olivier Antoine – It’s a long story but to make it short I grew up in south of France near Fondation Maeght. This institution has always been the image of a perfect paradise for me, beautiful site, wonderful architecture and incredible art works. Somehow this environment has influenced me, it has maybe sowed seeds for appreciation of art in my sub-conscious.

HT – When did you open your first gallery?
OA – I opened the first gallery in Nice in 1992, then moved to Paris in 1997. I never studied art but I did receive a Masters degree in Private Law. However, I have always been interested in art, so the year I finished my studies I started to work in the field producing and, then, trying to sell silkscreens, etchings & lithographies.

HT- How do you choose which artists to represent?
OA- This is absolutely subjective. But I use a little trick when I see an art work for the first time. I imagine how this work could be understood and seen in the future. I mean how the work I’m seeing today can be understood in 50 or 100 years without the society which surrounds us.

HT – How do you define the New York art market – in other words, how is it different from other art centers?
OA – We’re living a rare moment in civilisations’ history when art and culture become a way of life and an open access to knowledge. It has already happened in Mesopotamia, millenia ago, in Greece around 500 BC or Italy during the renaissance… and for sure in other places. The art market during these periods was flourishing like the one we’re living with today. The only difference with ancient times is the actual speed of our cultural exchanges. Now everything moves so fast that you’re able to see or buy an exhibition in NY, Paris, Hong-Kong or Tasmania, at the same time. It’s great, no?
New York’s art market is strong due to a number of cultivated collectors. The business goes fast but the competition between galleries is quite hard and the result, for me, is a decrease of exhibition’s quality. I mean when I go to NY and I see so many painting exhibitions, so many bad or too commercial shows … I come back to Europe disappointed. I understand why galleries have to do these kind of shows and I realize how the pressure of greedy building owners are affecting exhibitions. It’s sad but it is what it is.

HT – What trend(s) do you anticipate in the art market in the coming 5 or 15 years?
OA – I would advise people to look at the past in order to better understand our actual culture. They should buy antiques works, they’re cheap and amazing. For exemple, you can buy an incredible strange ritual object from Bactriane (2nd-1st Millenium BC) for $8,000. They’re artifacts made by hand, which have passed through wars, earthquakes, cataclysm and reached us in perfect condition. When I see a 2000 years old perfect glass bowl I’m thrilled. The same with Chinese bronzes or Mehrgarh’s clay figures. Most collectors want to buy the same thing. They all want to look the same, and have the same type of collection, the same list of artists, same architects… When you see the interiors of their homes, they look like they’re travelling in the same hotels. I find this a bit annoying. Looking to the past should permit them to open their minds, and think trough another perspective, using their own knowledge and cultivate a new (their own) taste. Looking to the past, should also help some non-Occidental artists to stop copying what we, in the West, have been doing for a century.

HT – What are your thoughts about the trend toward purchasing art and design online?
OA – To continue my reflexion about habits and conformism, as you say buying online is trendy. But if you’re a collector and you want to know more about an artist who is unknown, you have two solutions: meeting the artist or going to a gallery. Later, when the artist become better known, you are be able to read about them, or go see their work in a museum. But buying young art online in a nonsense for me. It’s a bit different with design. If you want an object, buying online is fine. You can only be disappointed with its (poor) condition when you receive it.
But in both cases nothing takes the place of physical confrontation with a work of art, or a piece of furniture.

HT – How would you define the importance of art fairs?
OA – In a world where every one is busy, and no one has time to read or meet, art fairs have become the contemporary square where everyone goes. For nearly a decade, the art world has bloomed. I’ve seen so many “new collectors” in fairs that I’ve never seen in my gallery. If they go to a gallery, they’ll have to deal with someone who asks them questions, gives them explanation, references, comparisons, dates… Most of these uneducated collectors don’t feel comfortable. That doesn’t happen at fairs. [Dealers] don’t have the time to explain. You have to be efficient. You have to make fast decisions, and, most of the business is done during the first hours of the fair. It’s great for collectors because this way they don’t feel judged. They ask about a work’s availability, price and it’s done. Thank you, see you at the party tonight!
So, what is a fair today? A popular entertainment… Richard Serra said, “Popular entertainment is basically propaganda for the status quo.” Art has never been about the status quo. This is Art Deco. Think about all the movements in the XXth century. All the -isms or -ists. They weren’t popular. They were against conformism. But today, that’s not the case anymore. And, I find this situation sad.

HT – What has been your most memorable encounter with an art collector?
OA – I’m always happy to meet a collector when is able to transmit a knowledge.

HT – WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EMERGING ART COLLECTORS?
OA – I’m going to be short with my answer. Today galleries are selling young art at crazy prices. Some artists have just finished their studies and are already sellin for too much. I remember an art advisor showing me a painting, from another new abstract painter zzz, that he bought directly at the studio for $10,000. He was proud and happy to tell me that he bought this artist who has no gallery yet. Does it makes sens? No show, no gallery, $10,000?! I really think that contemporary art is overpriced! It’s very expensive for well-known artists but it’s absolutely insane to pay a 4 digits price for an unknown new artist.
Collectors should think why they want to collect contemporary art? If it’s to improve their knowledge, then they should go to museums and galleries, read and take more time before buying.
If it’s only to look like their neighbor, friend or boss… I would advise them to go to auction houses.

HT – What is your next big project?
OA – I’ll be in Art Basel in June, then, I’ll go the Lyon Biennale where Michel Blazy and Jeremy Deller are exhibiting. In the fall I’m moving the gallery in to a bigger’s space. We’ll open with a fantastic 80 years old French artist Jean-Michel Sanejouand.

HT – Any last minute thoughts?
OA – I would add something about fashion industry and art. I wrote this little sentence for Mousse Magazine 4-5 years ago and I find it still relevant:
“I think that today art world is conservatism. There are more people involved but less knowledge. Most of them try to be as sleek and glossy as a fashion magazine.
The cleverness plays against the mass, therefore repetition through pre-existing forms becomes the key to success.”

Galerie ART : CONCEPT’s next exhibition is a group show entitled La Femme de trente ans that features works by Jean-Luc Blanc, Whitney Bedford, Judith Bernstein, Marvin Gaye Chetwynd, Lothar Hempel, Celia Hempton, Hedwig Houben, Tatiana Rihs, Walter Robinson. The exhibtion is curated by Caroline Soyez-Petithomme. It is on view from May 30 until July 25.

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Homa Taj in Conversation with Patti Bleicher of Contemporary Art Jewelry Gallery Loupe

Attai Chen at Gallery Loupe, Collective Design Fair - Photo courtesy Homa Taj for MUSEUMVIEWS
Attai Chen at Loupe Gallery, Collective Design Fair – Photo courtesy Homa Taj for MUSEUMVIEWS

Homa Taj in Conversation with Patti Bleicher of Contemporary Art Jewelry Gallery Loupe 

Homa Taj – What inspired you to open your own gallery of design?
Patti Bleicher – Mostly, it was a passion for contemporary jewelry. I am interested in painting and sculpture, as well. But the intimacy of contemporary jewelry spoke to me on a monumental scale that was as potent, for me, as any other aesthetic expression. The desire to share my knowledge and help develop connoisseurship of this particular art form led me to open a gallery that specializes in “art jewelry.”

HT – When did you open your first gallery?
PB – I began in 2006 with the intention of serving not only the established community of collectors, but with the hope of introducing this important part of the art world to individuals who were not familiar with it. We were able to forge relationships with many of the seminal artists in the field early on, which has allowed the gallery to grow at an exciting pace. To this day, we remain as enthusiastic about bringing the world of contemporary jewelry to our local audience, as we are to serving the passionate world of collectors.

HT- How do you decide which artists (periods, etc) to represent?
PB – The gallery focuses on jewelers from the last quarter of the twentieth century up to the present day. Primarily, we represent artists directly; although we do consider major works by master artists in the jewelry field when collectors look to de-accession. It is also important to note that, over the years, Gallery Loupe has furnished several museums with important pieces for their permanent collections.

HT – How do you see the dramatic rise in real estate prices (in New York) affecting the art and design market?
PB – High sale/rental prices encourage galleries, like us, to maintain a “home base” just outside of New York City proper.

HT – How do you define the New York art market – in other words, how is it different from other art centers?
PB – Due to New York City’s density of museums, art galleries, auction houses, art schools, and other tangential establishments, attractions, and institutions, the New York art market is one of the finest in the world. We, nonetheless, are in such close proximity to New York City, I consider it very much a part of the New York art scene.

HT – What trend(s) do you anticipate in the art/ design market in the coming 5 or 15 years?
PB – I believe there will be a continual blurring of boundaries between the so-called “fine arts” of painting/sculpture and the “decorative arts” or “design” objects. All of these will continue to be acknowledged for skill, originality, intent, and ultimately be accepted — or rejected — on the basis of individual merit and cultural relevancy, regardless of former labeling as painting, sculpture, photography, performance, video, furniture, vessel, textile, jewelry, etc..

Attai Chen at Gallery Loupe, Collective Design Fair - Photo courtesy Homa Taj for MUSEUMVIEWS
Attai Chen at Loupe Gallery, Collective Design Fair – Photo courtesy Homa Taj for MUSEUMVIEWS

HT – What are your thoughts about the trend toward purchasing art and design online?
PB – I think online viewing is an acceptable way to be introduced to a piece, but it is extremely difficult to relate personally to a work of art through a virtual encounter, alone. I certainly don’t think it possible to understand a piece of jewelry until you have it in hand — touch it and place it on your body. One can’t ascertain scale, dimension, tactility, etc., until the piece is actually worn. Also, there is a symbiotic relationship between a piece of jewelry, the artist, and the collector that just doesn’t occur with other art forms.

HT – How would you define the importance of art fairs?
PB – They are extremely important, as they offer opportunities for the public to experience art forms to which they would not otherwise be exposed. Collective Design is a perfect case in point, as many visitors are familiar with domestic — but not personal — objects such as artist jewelry.

HT – WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EMERGING ART / DESIGN COLLECTORS?
PB – Learn all you can about contemporary art and design. Read books and magazine/journal articles concerning the particular art form of interest. Attend artist/theoretical/critical lectures and discussions on the topic, and view museum, and related gallery, exhibitions. Be open-minded and expansive, and look for new and exciting expressions in any and all media, ALWAYS seeking the BEST examples available for purchase.

HT – What is your next big project?
PB – We will be organizing a solo exhibition of jewelry, and their related installation devices, by a stellar new talent — multimedia artist/designer Misha Kahn – it will open at 2 Rivington, a pop up space, on June 17th. A conversation with Misha and Glenn Adamson, the director of the Museum of Arts and Design, is scheduled for Saturday, June 20th at 2pm.

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As If the Closing of MOBIA Didn’t Break Our Hearts: Donatello Breaks Attendance Records

mobia - donatello - renaissance - sculpture - homa taj - museumviewsEarlier this month, the Board of Trustees of the Museum of Biblical Art MOBIA announced that the Museum will close to the public on Sunday, June 14, 2015 and cease operations on June 30, 2015. “MOBIA will not reopen in a new location.”

Exorbitantly high rents in New York City have forced this terrific institution who mission is to “celebrate and interpret art inspired by the Bible and its cultural legacy in Jewish and Christian traditions through exhibitions, education, and scholarship” to close its doors.

In its 10-year history, the museum has presented more than 45 exhibition with featured artists including: Donatello, William Kentridge, Jacopo Tintoretto, Pipilotti Rist, Marc Chagall, Paolo Veronese, Mark Dion, Albrecht Dürer, Fred Tomaselli, Romare Bearden, Andy Warhol, Rembrandt van Rijn, and Enrique Martinez Celaya.

MOBIA’s last hurrah, Sculpture in the Age of Donatello: Renaissance Masterpieces from Florence Cathedral, however, has broken records with higher attendance than any exhibition in the Museum’s 10-year history. The show has even surpassed the total number of visitors that this very secular(!) institution receives in an entire year. More than 26,000 people have seen the exhibition, which is now in its final weeks through Sunday June 15, 2015.

The exhibition presents 23 critical works by early Renaissance masters Donatello, Filippo Brunelleschi, Luca della Robbia, and Nanni di Banco that were created for the Duomo in Florence.

MOBIA is a non-collecting institution so there is no collection to be dispersed with the closing of the Museum.

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Homa Taj in Conversation with Peter Kjelgaard of Bruun Rasmussen Auction House (Denmark)

Peter Kjelgaard with Frederik Bruun Rasmussen of Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers at Collective Design Fair - Photo BRA
Peter Kjelgaard with Frederik Bruun Rasmussen of Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers at Collective Design Fair – Photo BRA

Homa Taj in conversation with Peter Kjelgaard,  Head of Design at Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers, Scandinavia’s leading auction house. Rasmussen recently exhibited their stunning Le Corbusier tapestry from the collection of famed architect Jørn Oberg Utzon (1918-2008), at Collective Design Fair, in New York City.

 

Homa Taj – For those who may not be familiar with Bruun Rasmussen, can you tell us about your firm?
We are one of the leading auction houses in Scandinavia based in Copenhagen and we are a leader in primarily Nordic design and art. Knowledge and passion is the driving force behind everything we do.

HT – When was your Auction house founded?
Our auction house was established in 1948 in Copenhagen, Denmark by Arne Bruun Rasmussen.

HT- How do you select which artists, periods, etc to represent?
Many objects are presented to us daily, and we select those suitable for our international sales based on our knowledge and our interpretation of what is happening in the market – sometimes trying to point to something new or different.

Photo Courtesy Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers
Photo Courtesy Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers

HT – How do you see the dramatic rise in real estate prices (in New York) affecting the art and design market?
Growth in real estate is actually good for us. We see a growing interest from clients in the New York area specially from discerning clients looking to buy Nordic design from the country of origin.

HT – How do you define the New York art market – in comparison to other art centers around the world?
New York is a giant magnet for all items of exceptional quality. That certainly is the case for the increasing interest in vintage design of which Danish midcentury design is a critical component.

HT – What trend(s) do you anticipate in the art/ design market in the coming 5 or 15 years?
Mid-century vintage is a relatively new field of collecting. We think that the difference in prices between what is simply a good piece and what is an exceptional piece will increase dramatically as buyers become more knowledgeable.

HT – What are your thoughts about the trend toward purchasing art and design online?
We see online purchasing as a great opportunity and believe that this is an unstoppable trend. We offer online auctions on a daily basis and have done so for 12 years. This is part of our business model and we seek to expand this area. Selling expensive, high quality pieces online does however require sellers to meet very high standards of description, photos and service associated with the buying of such pieces. We believe that a gradual process toward this will happen everywhere.

HT – How would you define the importance of art fairs?
Art fairs offer clients the opportunity to see pieces displayed in curated context. They play an important role in moving the interest in new directions.

HT – What has been your most memorable encounter with an art collector?
Our company have had the privilege of countless memorable and eccentric clients over the past 6 decades so to name anyone particular would be unjust to far too many.

HT – WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO EMERGING ART / DESIGN COLLECTORS?.
Go for the best, Go for provenance. Go for pieces that are handcrafted. Go for original condition when at all possible. Try to gain as much knowledge as possible, and ask the advice of experts. Try to avoid pieces that go from low prices to astronomic numbers in very short time. But most importantly buy with the heart and buy pieces that make sense in your life. Collecting design offers endless possibilities, and there are great buys at all price levels.

HT – What is your next big project? 
We are constantly trying to expand the knowledge and understanding of Nordic Design through our international sales. In our international sales we aim for a special focus that can offer a new perspective on both unknown and well established designers. These “stories” are presented with an array of other well known pieces. Our next sale will focus on Danish Designer Poul Kjaerholm following up on an affair with him that took of with our seminal 2006 special Poul Kjaerholm sale.

HT – What upcoming auctions should collectors get excited about?
This idea of trying to bring something new and fresh out about iconic designers has also been the underlying reason for our presentation of the wonderful Le Corbusier tapestry that came from the Home of world famous architect Jørn Utzon. This tapestry was made in 1960 and intended as the starting point for Le Corbusiers involvement in the decoration of the interior of the Sydney Opera House. A project never fulfilled that now seems a loss to us all.

Utzon was the first Dane to win the Pritzker Prize for Architecture, in 2003. A year later, his design for the Sydney Opera House was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Later in June (9-11), Bruun Rasmussen Auctioneers in Copenhagen will present Jørn Utzon’s private art and furniture collection. The preview runs from May 28 to June 1.

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