Thursday, May 28, 2009

Robert Hughes vs. Alberto Mugrabi

The following video has been making the rounds lately through the blogosphere. Art critic Robert Hughes sits down and talks to mega-collector Alberto Mugrabi about the Mugrabi family collection - and the conversation gets a little heated and a lot ugly. Part of me understands both of their perspectives. Robert Hughes argues that collectors have an unfair way of determining the popularity and validity of certain art and artists. Mugrabi stands behind his choices (namely, Warhol and Richard Prince), as important bricklayers for the paths of future artists. By the end of the video I feel very upset, but what I can take from watching this is that as a collector, you must be informed about the artists and ultimately, really believe in and love your investments.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Open studios

There are many different avenues one can take to collect art. You can buy at auction, from galleries, from other collectors, or directly from the artist. If you are interested in contemporary art, or emerging artists, a good way to buy work is through open studios. Often, artist communities or neighborhoods host open studios days, where a groups of artist open up their studios for public view, and more often than not, they are looking to sell their work. Check your local newspapers, or search online - usually these open studios are well publicized. Also, most art schools have open studio days - so if you're looking for emerging work - a good M.F.A. program could be your best bet at finding some great stuff.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Spring Auction Results

As an art collector, it can be very important to stay abreast of all possible information concerning the art market - especially if you are actively buying or selling work.

All eyes were on Christie's and Sotheby's this past week for their big Spring Post-War and Contemporary Auctions.

Read this article from the Wall Street Journal, or for the auction results, see below:

Christie's Post War and Contemporary Evening Sale

Sotheby's Contemporary Art Evening Sale

Monday, May 11, 2009


In 1991, Dubrovnik, a fairytale fortress of Titians, Renaissance palaces and lemon-scented cloisters, was shelled by Serb and Montenegrin forces. Appalled by the siege of a city described by Lord Byron as the "pearl of the Adriatic", the international community sprung into action.

Unesco, the United Nations organisation responsible for education, science and culture, called meetings, co-ordinated fundraising, and mobilised armies of experts. Not long after the dust of war had settled on scores of razed buildings, Croatia began restoration work. In a matter of a few years, Dubrovnik, designated as a World Heritage Site in 1979, rose from the ashes......

read more

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Art Conservation

Art restoration is a highly touchy subject these days. There are varying philosophies on conservation and restoration, and general guidelines hardly apply to the vast majority of artworks. How to care for and prevent damage is of utmost importance, but what happens when a piece no longer resembles it's condition at the point of creation. How far should we go to preserve objects that, to be honest, will degrade no matter what we do?

In 2005, a report by the Heritage Preservation, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services, a U.S. federal agency, came out, entitled A Public Trust at Risk: The Heritage Health Index Report on the State of America’s Collections, It concluded that immediate action is needed to prevent the loss of 190 million artifacts that are in need of conservation treatment. The report made four recommendations:
  • Institutions must give priority to providing safe conditions for the collections they hold in trust.
  • Every collecting institution must develop an emergency plan to protect its collections and train staff to carry it out.
  • Every institution must assign responsibility for caring for collections to members of its staff.
  • Individuals at all levels of government and in the private sector must assume responsibility for providing the support that will allow these collections to survive [10]

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reading material

A few weeks ago I wrote about two books on the topic of collecting contemporary art. Any good collector should have a good deal of knowledge (and should want to know) of the art market. Just like any good investor, it is important for a collector to stay abreast of current news, as well as understand the all of the questions behind what makes the art market work. Like a little economics book about our interest:

Understanding International Art Markets and Management
by Iain Robertson