[iDC] Art Basel: Signs of a Broken Food Chain

Chris Byrne chris at crowriver.net
Sun Jun 24 20:07:46 EDT 2007

I saw just about every single dealer's booth at this year's Art  
Basel, and there was plenty of interesting art to see. For those who  
couldn't go (or wouldn't), you can get some idea of what was on offer  


I think Frank hits one target in his estimation of a certain type of  
"investment" or institutional collector. Still, collectors are  
people, with different tastes, and probably respond to different  
kinds and levels of "buzz"...

If art fairs manufacture attention for certain artists and dealers,  
then Basel must be the biggest attention factory for the global art  
market: the sheer number of galleries, artists and works made for a  
sometimes dizzyingly huge spectacle. In such a context one can see  
why people seek out those artefacts and individuals which have been  
sanctioned by others, however informally: indeed collectors gossiping  
with each other about what they bought (or didn't) seems part of the  
social makeup of these events.

Whether the art was "great", that's perhaps for time and future  
curators to judge. Maybe the Picassos on the ground floor which I  
whisked past and didn't really look at were "great", or was it the  
large neon installation by Rafael Lozano-Hammer in Art Unlimited?  
With so many potential options, making decisions about such issues  
should be quite difficult. Maybe this complaint is about not being  
able to cope with so much choice? Or more likely what he wanted had  
already been sold to somebody else, as was alluded to in the original  
NY Times article...


ARC Projects

On 19 Jun 2007, at 16:51, Frank Pasquale wrote:

> My guess is, that when someone like Bryant complains about lack of  
> great art, he's really complaining about a lack of art that has  
> accumulated the "buzz" necessary to assure a prudent investor of  
> the resale value of the work down the line.  It's an artificial  
> scarcity based on the " economics of attention" and Girard's idea  
> of "triangulated desire": buyers want what everybody else wants.
> I found the Hans Abbing's Why Are Artists Poor an insightful  
> analysis of some issues here.  Tyler Cowen's Good and Plenty also  
> does a great job commenting on gaps between economic success and  
> artistic quality.  He states "we cannot have a coherent political  
> philosophy without bridging the gap between economic and aesthetic  
> perspectives" on arts economics.
> --Frank
> On 6/19/07, Cynthia Rubin <cbrubin at risd.edu> wrote: I am curious  
> about how others are reacting to the buzz on the big art fairs.  In  
> particular, I was struck by comments in Carol Vogel's report from  
> Art Basel, June 14, NY Times
> http://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/14/arts/design/14fair.html
> =========
> quotes from Vogel's text:
> Collectors are grumbling about the scarcity of top-quality art.
> "There are some good things, but not as many as there used to be  
> here," said Donald L. Bryant, a Manhattan collector and trustee of  
> the Museum of Modern Art. "The market is so hot, and the demand is  
> so great, it's getting harder to find great art."

More information about the iDC mailing list