After the record breaking February 2010 sale of Modern Art at Sotheby’s, art world insiders breathed a sigh of relief. The $104.3 million dollar price paid for the rare Alberto Giacometti’s “Walking Man I” sent shock waves and media attention to the once again record breaking prices for artwork sold at auction. Unlike the private and confidential world of buying artwork through galleries and private dealers, the auction market is a very public and immediate gauge of the pulse and pricing of works of art. The high price has been attributed partly to the rare nature of the work.
Giacometti, one of the most acclaimed sculptors of the last century was notorious for overworking and eventually destroying works of art, and his brother is said to have gone into his studio to “save” the works. His oeuvre is limited and important, and the bidders at this auction knew they were getting a prize. Rarity in the art world is a very misunderstood phenomenon, and the idea of owning such a rare and important part of the canon of art history is a challenge and a unique opportunity available only to handful of collectors.
After a painful economic downturn in 2009, the February 2010 sale was a glimmer of hope to the millions who make their livings in this often-unpredictable world of art. The galleries, private dealers and auction houses see this type of record as a clear and certain sign that the art market is in recovery from the painful economic downturn. Top works were not readily offered at auction, mainly because collectors knew prices were down 30% and many lots failed to sell at all.
The gamble of having an important work of art fail to sell or “Bought In” would mark the work very publicly as undesirable and unsellable for a few years at best. Auction houses stopped guaranteeing sales at high prices due to record losses and debt incurred by high guarantees. The guarantee is an insurance policy for the seller.
After hearing many Gallery owners and dealers talk the past few years about how this has been the slowest period in sales in the last 30 years, I am encouraged that the art market still commands ultra high prices for these “trophy works”. Most insiders readily admit that this does not signal surefire turnaround in the art market, and are encouraged that there are at least a handful of high net worth individuals with the ability and desire to acquire these world-class artworks.
The Art Market parallels the real estate market, the stock market, the fine wines, and exotic cars and antiques market. Appreciable assets will always be in demand and the collectors with the financial capitol and the foresight to buy in at the right time will be the ones to continue to influence the art market economy and ultimately the history of art.
10 TIPS FOR ARTISTS APPROACHING GALLERIES:
1. Be Professional – think in terms of a job interview – what can you offer the Gallery?
2. Have a Good, consistent body of work – You should have 10 to 20 strong works available. Think in terms of a SOLO show. What pieces work well together? A Gallery doesn’t necessarily need to see your realistic figure drawings if your focus is Urban Landscapes. Galleries want to see that you have a direction and focus. This is one of the biggest mistakes emerging artists make, is trying to show everything they do – from jewelry, realistic portraits, abstracts etc. A gallery director needs to be able to see a vision and be able to communicate that to collectors.
3. Have good quality photographs of your work and have them digitally available as well. Most Galleries now prefer digital images (on CD) over slides. Many Museums and Juried competitions however still require slides, but that is changing quickly. The art establishment has been slower to adopt new technologies.
4. Have a postcard or other visual the Gallery can keep on file, which is representative of the kind of work you do.
5. Research the Gallery first – again, think in terms of job hunting, and researching an employer. What kinds of work do they show? It doesn’t do you any good to submit work to Galleries that don’t sell your style of work. Ask questions. Are they looking for new artists, do they only show established artists? Find out what their submittal criteria is and follow it!
6. Have a simple, well written artist statement without the use of “Artspeak”. Use language the average collector can appreciate. The Gallery may appreciate it, but they need to be able to translate that to the average collector. Really think about your work and what makes it different, or better, or interesting. What motivates you? What influences you? Try to leave out that you are influenced by XYZ Artist. They were not trying to be someone else, and you need to find your own form of authenticity.
7. Have a record of exhibitions or awards (or not)? Even if your exhibitions are limited list where you have shown. List any Art Consultants you have worked with, juried competitions entered or CO-OP Galleries shown with. If you haven’t shown, you need to make every effort to start exhibiting your work. Again this is like a job interview and any experience no matter how small reads at a minimum like an internship.
8. Respect the Gallery and realize that the Gallery owner is also trying to make a living in the art world, and has a great deal of expenses and time involved, beyond just “hanging art”. Know that most Gallery owners are also artists or art lovers and have the same passion for art that you do.
9. Understand it is an interdependent relationship – you both need each other. The easier you make it to sell the work, the more they will sell. Also, know there are other options for exhibiting and selling your work, so if it doesn’t work out other options will present themselves.
10. Don’t take it personally. It is not personal. Most often the Gallery has a specific niche, which is valuable to know before you approach them. Is it conceptual, western art, glass art, works on paper, etc.? Where and how does your work fit in with their mission?
<A HREF=”http://ws.amazon.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&MarketPlace=US&ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fthfiarne-20%2F8001%2F173626ae-f9ce-4e35-99eb-ab36cf720921&Operation=NoScript”>Amazon.com Widgets</A>Recommended Books:
Caroll Michels – How to Survive and Prosper as an Artist – Selling Yourself Without Selling Your Soul. Very good book written by a career coach for artists, outlining many different possibilities.
Cay Lang – Taking the Leap – Building a Career as a Visual Artist –
A very clear roadmap for how to build a career from the beginning. Written by a professional, exhibiting artist.
Knowing where to begin and when you need to have an appraisal will help ensure a seamless transition of your valuables, and protect you in the unfortunate event of a loss. It is important to work with a professional Appraiser, one who is in good standing with one of the three nationally recognized Appraisal organizations and regulated by the Appraisal Foundation of America. For more information on the Appraisal Foundation and Credentialing, please visit http://www.appraisalfoundation.org
Most Insurance companies will require an appraisal for items valued over $5000, but some as low as $2000 and others more accustomed to fine art coverage like Chubb Insurance, only require an appraisal on items over $50,000. Check with your insurance carrier. All insurance claims will require two things:
a. Proof item existed
b. Value of item at time of loss
2. Charitable Donation
According to IRS Regulation 561, all artwork donations must meet specific criteria:
a. Must be to a non-profit organization whose mission is in alignment with art
b. All items over $5000 must have an accredited art appraisal from a “qualified art appraiser”
3. Estate Federal Tax Liability – 2011 – estate valued over $5,000,000
Each state varies on estate tax rules, so check with your accountant for your state. Some states, such as Oregon collect estate taxes on estates valued over $1,000,000.
4. Equitable Distribution – This is an important part of estate planning and can help eliminate painful and costly family disagreements. An impartial expert determines the Fair Market Value of all of the Artwork and other appreciable assets so the family members are not left to guess or assume value.
b. Family distribution
c. Business or partnership dissolution
5. Re-sale Value
How much can I get for this item, and how do I go about selling it? It is important to know the Real Fair Market Value of an item you are selling. Many people make the mistake of selling a very valuable painting for far less than its current market value, losing thousands of dollars. On the opposite side, people are confused and disappointed when something sells for far less than what they “think” it should be worth. An Appraisal is not a guess, it is a Professional Opinion of Value, based on research, sales comparables and years of experience in the business.
6. Moving/Damage Claim
If the moving company damaged a work of art, is it repairable and how much will that cost? What is the replacement cost if completely damaged?
7. Bankruptcy and Disillusion of a business – what to do with the assets?
Many Banks are now being presented with significant artwork collections seized from bankruptcies and need help evaluating the collections as well as determining if anything is of significant value, and lastly, what to do with these “assets”? Should you sell them all in an auction or should some pieces be privately sold, and if it is an option to keep any of the works or donate them to charitable organizations and receive a tax break.
To find out more about Art Appraisal Resources, please visit www.aar21.com
Contemporary abstract painter Amy Royce is an artist embracing the ancient art of encaustic painting as well as new mediums, while continually striving for new ways to express herself with her art. Her work is luminous and colorful using layers upon layers of fused wax to create abstract portraits of the physical form and patterns of movement. “My art is a study of self identity using my language to explore universal ideas of communication, awareness and the emotional filtering which influences our perceptions of every interaction” says the artist.
The encaustic medium is an ancient art form from Greco Roman Egypt (circa 100 BC to A.D. 200). Some of these original works have been discovered intact many centuries later and artists are again rediscovering different ways of using beeswax and damar resins in contemporary ways.
Her work is very much influenced by the human figure, and she loves observing and drawing people, wondering what stories are beneath the surface of someone’s expressions and gestures that they develop throughout their lives. Her latest series is involved with distilling movements that are rooted in the shapes of the structures and movements to electrical impulses and cell patterns, but the viewer can take in the abstract shapes and colors and interpret them for themselves.
Amy felt compelled to pursue art as a career because it never felt like a choice, and derives deep satisfaction from it. Taking risks and relinquishing control through her art and going deep into her personal expression is a highly personal part of her process, describing her works as self-portraits. Like most artists, Amy finds the marketing and business aspect of being an artist sometimes challenging, but she remains very active within her local arts community and stays current with what is happening in the larger art world. She was recently awarded a scholarship to the prestigious Anderson Ranch Arts Center in Colorado.
Always experimenting with different art mediums and forms, Amy is drawn to three-dimensional form and would like to pursue sculpture as part of her art. Travel and dancing / movement have both been very influential in her work as an artist, and is evident within her work. When asked what other career she could see herself doing, she replied “I love the life sciences, so I could see myself doing fieldwork in ecology or biology of some kind. I think the balance between left and right brain activities is important and I crave that balance. That’s why I choose typically more technically challenging mediums and find myself drawn to anatomy and movement. If I had musical talent I think it would be fantastic to be a singer or musician.”
Her advice to art students in college now would be to ask for more help from mentors and teachers who understand you and your art direction, and not to waste time with people who tell you that a career in art is fruitless. She says not to be afraid to take risks but arm yourself with as much knowledge as possible, and keep focused on your art and talk to many people about the realities of what it takes to get your art on the market so you can support yourself.
To see more work by Amy Royce:
Represented by Ozone Fine Art, Newport, OR
Another Auction record was recently set with the much anticipated sale of Edvard Munch’s “The Scream” which sold for a record $119,000,000. The record price was a result of a number of factors, including rarity of the work, and the iconic nature of the image as well as this being such a well recognized, well studied and much reproduced image of a work of art. To see more about this story, click on the link for the story by CNN.
For artists not wanting to be pigeonholed as one genre or another, this question can seem intrusive and annoying. “Why should I have to limit myself to any one way, why can’t I be constantly evolving?” This may seem like a valid response, but for an artist that wants to become a professional artist, it is a question you must ask yourself and answer honestly.
Who are you can be as simple as where do you live, or how old are you? It can also be as complicated and detailed as, “I’m a classically trained photorealist painter who now works with found objects, clay, and a pottery wheel to create abstract constructions based on our consumer culture.” As human beings, we are constantly evolving and I would hate to see anyone who stayed the same at 50 as they were when they were 20 years old. We need to grow and evolve, especially for creative individuals, but who you are and what your story says about you is vitally important to why people relate to your art and want to own parts of it. As an art consultant and former gallery owner myself, I found that clients and collectors were most interested in the artist’s story, who they are or were. Once you tell their story, the client feels they know you in some way and can relate to you, and possibly can be a part of your creativity.
When artists begin to write their artist statement or biographical portrait, they must know who they are, and what it is they want to share with the world. You may not be comfortable sharing everything about who you are and why you are the way you are, but it is important to know what influences you and the factors that helped shape who you are as an artist. What influences you? This does not mean listing other artists you like and try to be like, nor does it mean what art movements have been interesting enough for you to follow. When asked the question “what are your influences” an artist must be prepared to share a bit of themselves that does not have to do with copying anybody or anything else. It has to do with who you are as a person and as a creative being, and why you would continue to work so hard at something that very few ever succeed in.
Art history honors the 1st and the most original within all new movements, it does not recognize the ones who thought that movement was interesting and followed along. I tell my kids frequently, “be a leader, not a follower.” Artists should honor that which is unique to them; be a first-rate version of your own self instead of a copy of someone else. A museum would never give a solo show to an artist who touted themselves as “influenced by Mark Rothko.” We all love Mark Rothko, but that is just not interesting to be purposely just like another more famous artist. What is more interesting would be that your work was influenced by living on a farm in rural Iowa and doing crop rotations every spring, creating mathematical grid patterns within a flat surface, and that the colors you use remind you of the rotting corn in August. That is unique to only you.