Next: The most important thing is what you see with your eye (1)
Feel like makin' love
Post #1147 • March 25, 2008, 2:39 PM • 38 Comments
I have a few workaday concerns of my own today, so I'm relinking this excellent James Panero article on Larry Salander.
March 25, 2008, 5:52 PM
Why does a Koons or a Warhol fetch more than an Old Master? Simple. Rich idiots happen, and now they're all over the place--along with the inevitable Gagosians to cash in on them.
Salander got in over his head, and made the mistake of thinking that good intentions would automatically carry the day. They often don't, not by themselves. He was too ambitious and let his fervor blind him to the cold economic realities of the situation, not to mention the fact that nobody else involved was on his same wavelength. Sad, really.
March 25, 2008, 5:56 PM
Come to think of it, Eliot Spitzer could have made a great major collector of contemporary art, if only his brain had been somewhere above his waist.
March 26, 2008, 6:50 AM
Franklin are you going to continue naming your posts using lyrics from Bad Company songs?
"Oh baby, I'm ready for love"
"Chose a gun and threw away the sun"
"Oh Somebody Double-crossed me"
"Come on, come on, come on and do it"
"Don't you know that you are a shooting star"
March 26, 2008, 10:28 AM
Franklin are you going to continue naming your posts using lyrics from
Bad Company Roberta Flack songs?
March 26, 2008, 11:43 AM
Let Franklin decide!
(Yeah JL. You are probably right.)
March 26, 2008, 12:04 PM
You are probably right.
The real question is, would Franklin admit it?
(For the record, I hated the song when it was a hit, now I love it. The percussion is great. And I'm not talking about Bad Company.)
March 26, 2008, 2:14 PM
In the 19th century a Hans Makart probably fetched much more than a Rembrandt too...
March 26, 2008, 2:40 PM
What I think is interesting is seeing some of the artists Salander represented. Leland Bell, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Lennart Anderson -- these look great. I finally found a place where my work would be welcomed (assuming it's good enough -- which I don't assume, of course), and of course it tanked.
Bell particularly looks like he was exploring some of the same territory, artistically, that I'm just setting out towards. It's, um, a little distressing, actually, to find that apparently I'm painting back in the 1950s.
March 26, 2008, 4:09 PM
An interesting aspect of the Salander story is the critical role of money (and assorted money people who didn't give a shit about art) in the proceedings. Allying himself with such people turned out to be a fatal error, though certainly not the only one. Still, it llustrates how much even a relatively noble endeavor in the art world hinges on financing, and how it can be undone by it despite even the best intentions.
March 26, 2008, 4:33 PM
Just for the record. I hate Bad Company. I was not trying to put across a pro- Bad Company agenda. Remove the whole classic art market vs. contemporary art market angle from the Salander article and you are left with the story of a corrupt lieing asshole who screwed over many different people. Boo-hoo.
March 26, 2008, 5:14 PM
I'd take Salander's motives over Gagosian's any day. He did, apparently, operate as if the end justified the means, but basically his aim was too grandiose, he clearly got in over his head, and he was too caught up in his sense of "mission" to see and do things more rationally.
March 26, 2008, 6:03 PM
I didn't get the impression from that one article -- which is all I know about the situation -- that Salander was a lying asshole. It's possible he was just an unwise investor getting involved with very serious people (mob money? Good call there). He gamboled and lost, but he was gamboling for a good purpose. And it's not as if the art itself will suffer in any way -- those Parmigianinos will be fine.
That he was juggling creditors and so forth as things collapsed is only natural. As a businessman, what are you going to do, say, "I can't pay you right now because Louie the Legbreaker wants his vig. But I'm hoping to sell something seven years from now and I'll pay you then."
Also, I know that once lawyers get involved, things get ugly. Maybe a creditor goes to a lawyer and says, "Listen, this guy owes me some money. It's no big deal, but I don't want to get walked all over." Then the lawyer says that he's got this right and that right, and he should do this that and the other thing, and pretty soon what was a simple personal disagreement becomes a multi-million-dollar lawsuit with a lot of bile on both sides.
Although I guess it's possible the guy's a crook and a jerk. Certainly he's got a really nice house, so I'm predisposed to hate him. I hate rich people who don't give me money.
March 26, 2008, 6:04 PM
Well I certainly like more artists per capita when comparing Gagosian's line-up to Salander's ex-line-up, but Salander thought he could operate above the law and you can't. Gagosian had no problem operating in ethically shady territory when he bought a Koons he once owned for over twenty million dollars just to keep the Koons market where he wanted it to be. So determining who is morally superior, Gagosian or Salander, would be difficult, but it would be easy for me to determine who has better taste.
March 26, 2008, 6:07 PM
(Incidentally, I used the spelling "gamboling" -- which is obviously wrong (and kind of funny) -- because otherwise my post got the "precondition failed" error. Franklin, you should talk to your system administrator: Clearly your Apache mod_security is overreacting.)
March 26, 2008, 6:15 PM
Actually I take this back:
"So determining who is morally superior, Gagosian or Salander, would be difficult..."
Gagosian has done far more damage to the art world than Salander could ever dream of doing. And I also sympathize with Salander's sense of outrage. But again, the schmuck broke the law and screwed people over.
March 26, 2008, 6:58 PM
I don't think a Gagosian cares whether it's some stupid glossy heart nonsense or a turd sprinkled with glitter embedded in lucite--it's all the same, as long as it sells for enough money. It's got precious little to do with art per se, and absolutely nothing to do with quality. It's just business, which happens to involve putative art. How anybody who claims to be a serious art collector can possibly deal with such a character beats me.
March 26, 2008, 8:01 PM
Larry is a difficult, prickly person but I always liked him and identified with his obsessive love of art and his ambition to put it over, and because he was willing to represent artists who were out of fashion. Obviously he made some bad mistakes but that doesn't change those sentiments, and I hope he comes out of this mess OK.
He has one of the best eyes I have ever experienced. I remember once he showed me - rather conspiratorally, in the back room of his gallery years ago - a Maurer painting he had just bought at a bargain price because he was the only one to see how good it was at an auction sale, and telling me that when he put it on display everyone would know how good it was and they'd have to pay dearly to buy it. And he was right; it was a fabulous picture.
March 26, 2008, 10:44 PM
I would love to be represented by Gagosian.
March 27, 2008, 5:00 AM
I assume you mean Larry Salander opie. catfish what artist (when forced to speak truthfully) wouldn't want to be represented by Larry Gagosian? Collectors are the same as artists in the current art market in the sense that there is a celebrity system a hierarchy of names in place. Your name sells the work, gives it an aura of importance, gets you written about (no matter how frivolous the story is) by the print dinosaurs and regardless of quality. No matter how atrocious or great the art Gagosian pedals it will be considered important because of the name it is associated with. He builds markets for other name brand artists; he doesn't simply take advantage of the pervading ignorance like Salander did. Salander is more in line with the tradition of connoisseurship and Gagosian is a completely different species.
March 27, 2008, 5:42 AM
The artist's name -- as a brand -- is very important. Maybe it's always been like that. I don't know. I do know that out of all my blog posts, the one that gets the most hits -- from people searching on Google, usually -- is the one on John Currin. Positive or negative, that's branding.
I read a short article once on building a brand. I thought it might help me in the art world. And reading it I kind of could see how it would, but ultimately I couldn't see how to apply the techniques. I don't think I can work like that. And I don't mean my art itself -- I mean my art "career." I don't think I can operate that way.
March 27, 2008, 6:07 AM
Yes, when I mention the "willingness to represent artists who are out of fashion" I am clearly talking about Salander, not Gagosian.
March 27, 2008, 6:21 AM
The artists or estates that exhibit at Gagosian galleries around the world:
Ghada Amer Old Space New Space Artists Richard Artschwager
Francis Bacon Roger Ballen François-Marie Banier Georg Baselitz Jean-Michel Basquiat Max Beckmann Joseph Beuys
Alighiero e Boetti Cecily Brown Glenn Brown Chris Burden
Alexander Calder Francesco Clemente Michael Craig-Martin
Gregory Crewdson John Currin Dexter Dalwood Willem de Kooning Walter De Maria Philip-Lorca diCorcia Alberto Di Fabio Mark di Suvero Todd Eberle Tracey Emin Roe Ethridge Lucio Fontana Tom Friedman Ellen Gallagher Gelitin Alberto Giacometti Douglas Gordon Arshile Gorky
Mark Grotjahn Richard Hamilton Damien Hirst Howard Hodgkin Carsten Höller Edward Hopper Rachel Howard Neil Jenney Jasper Johns Y.Z. Kami Mike Kelley Anselm Kiefer
Martin Kippenberger Yves Klein Franz Kline Jeff Koons Yayoi Kusama Roy Lichtenstein Maya Lin Vera Lutter Monica Majoli Sally Mann Mario Merz Takashi Murakami
Marc Newson Paul Noble Tim Noble & Sue Webster Steven Parrino Pino Pascali Paul Pfeiffer Richard Phillips
Pablo Picasso Jackson Pollock Richard Prince Anselm Reyle
Nancy Rubins Ed Ruscha Tom Sachs Jenny Saville Julian Schnabel Richard Serra Cindy Sherman Elisa Sighicelli
Taryn Simon David Smith Alec Soth Hiroshi Sugimoto
Philip Taaffe Mark Tansey Al Taylor Robert Therrien
Cy Twombly Piotr Uklański Francesco Vezzoli Andy Warhol
Franz West Rachel Whiteread Christopher Wool Richard Wright
The Salander-O'Reilly Galleries website doesn't exist any longer.
March 27, 2008, 6:31 AM
Ah, but you can always visit the Internet Archive. The Wayback Machine has a bunch of copies of the old Salander site.
March 27, 2008, 7:58 AM
None of the Salander site links opened for me Chris. I am sure the lawyers are combing over them as we comment.
March 27, 2008, 8:09 AM
Sorry about posting that long list of names. When I originally formatted the list it took up much less space than it did in the version that got posted.
March 27, 2008, 8:31 AM
Catfish (19), I'd like to get the services of high-end prostitutes for free, but I'm not holding my breath.
And Eric, if you're trying to impress me with Gagosian's roster, don't waste your time. To me, he's still a pimp.
March 27, 2008, 8:34 AM
You just need some patience to get the pages up. Salander's artist list is:
Lennart Anderson, Gregory Amenoff, Joby Baker, Peter Begley, Arthur Carter, Dan Christensen, John Constable, Martin Dieterle, John Dubrow, George Fitzpatrick, Tom Goldenberg, John Adams Griefen, Mimi Gross, Lindy Guinness, Don Gummer, Ronnie Landfield, Michael Mulhern, Graham Nickson, Jedd Novatt, Anne Peretz, Paul Resika, Stone Roberts, Kikuo Saito, Edward Schmidt, Joan Solomon, Michael Steiner, Paul Weingarten, Kit White
Leonard Baskin, Leland Bell, Stanley Boxer, Fanny Brennan, John Constable, R.A., Ralston Crawford, Stuart Davis, Robert De Niro Sr., Arthur Dove [In Association with Terry Dintenfass], Suzy Frelinghuysen, Arnold Friedman, Paul Georges, Gregory Gillespie, Marsden Hartley [Estate of Hudson and Ione Walker], Elaine de Kooning, Willem de Kooning [Printers Proofs from Irwin Hollander], Gaston Lachaise, Louisa Matthiasdottir, Alfred H. Maurer [Estate of Hudson and Ione Walker], George L.K. Morris, Gerald Murphy, Elie Nadelman, David Park, Morgan Russell, Morton Livingston Schamberg
In other words, mostly people you've never heard of. If Gagosian's list is the New York Yankees, then Salander's list is the Staten Island Yankees.
But then Salander has "Artists Frequently Shown":
Gian Lorenzo Bernini, William Blake, Ralph Albert Blakelock
Jean-Baptiste Camille Corot, Gustave Courbet, Eugène Delacroix, Charles Demuth, Theodore Gericault, Joan Miró, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, Théodore Rousseau, John Ruskin, Joseph M.W. Turner
Which is like having Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mickey Mantle, and Phil Rizzuto on your team.
March 27, 2008, 9:02 AM
Eric (20), just how did Salander "take advantage of the pervading ignorance"? And are you in any way suggesting that there's a problem with the tradition of connoisseurship? And if Gagosian is a completely different species, does that somehow excuse or justify anything? Or do you think being new, in and of itself, is automatically a virtue?
It should be beyond clear that what prevails in the current art world is simply that; in other words, prevalence need have nothing to do with being right, and all too often doesn't.
March 27, 2008, 9:06 AM
If my comments are being taken as a form of support for (Gag)osian's endeavors please look at this comic tribute to Gagosian I posted on my blog last year. I have no respect for Gagosian and I dislike most of the living artists he represents. Salander's roster and the artists he exhibited are much more to my liking, but of course my opinion means shit. By posting the list of artists under Gagosian's wing I was just trying to dramatize the triumph of new over old in the current market. But that will change once supplies dry up. Also, once we control genetics and stuff like that you would be better off birthing a Chinese baby if you want your progeny to be a successful artist.
March 27, 2008, 9:13 AM
Supplies of the new will never dry up as long as there's enough of a market for it, especially a market stupid enough to equate newness (real or apparent) with value. Part of the beauty of the current racket is that there's no need to find something truly worthwhile to offer the public, just something "new and different" with the right marketing spin on it.
March 27, 2008, 9:19 AM
The shortages I alluded to refer to established name brands, but of course there will always be an endless supply of naked emperors to wheel out for the rich ignoramuses to choose among. Also, the unofficial partnership between the Whitney Biennial and the Armory Show (which conveniently opened right after all the press for the Biennial got published and while the art is still on display) is a way of guaranteeing the market viability of all of the artists the Whitney curators have dubbed 'important'.
March 27, 2008, 9:50 AM
Sorry I didn't finish my last thought. MANY of the artists in the current Whitney Biennial will be appearing in the Armory show as well. Synergy!
March 28, 2008, 1:27 PM
newCrit has just added a comment by Paul Ruscha about what if nobody likes your art. To view it hit:
Paul shows at Pharmaka in Los Angeles, collects art, leads all the documentation projects for his brother Ed's work, and is married to Ulrike Kantor, a well known art dealer. He's been around the LA art scene for quite a while and you might enjoy reading his comments about the plight many artists face.
March 29, 2008, 11:19 AM
That's a thoughtful piece.
I have found that the first necessity is to really like making art, to have it as an acutely interesting kind of ongoing esthetic puzzle I can work on every day with all the attending ups and downs.
The second is a community,however small, of like-minded artists I can talk to, especially those with an eye who can look at my work and criticise it effectively. I can live without the rewards of the art world, but it would be mighty tough to get along without my fellow "cellmates".
Then there is the art world itself. I had a few years of big-time acceptance long ago, a painting on the cover of ARTFORUM, in the Whitney every year, museum group shows, selling everything I painted and constant invitations, but I was always suspicious of it and didn't expect it to last. It didn't.
March 29, 2008, 12:26 PM
Yeah, Ruscha's comment reminds me of the Lascaux cave artists who were as good as any artist that has ever lived. I'm sure they devoted a huge portion of their daily lives towards the various tasks of survival in exceedingly harsh circumstances - hunting, cooking, making clothes, protecting their shelter, foraging, etc. Thus, they were required to engage in their equivalent to our "day jobs". But it didn't stop them from making masterful images.
March 29, 2008, 10:46 PM
Thank you, catfish, for your constant blog-comment clarity. I find it affirming and encouraging.
March 29, 2008, 11:25 PM
I'm flattered ahab. Thanks.
March 25, 2008, 3:35 PM
probably like a lot of us here, i think it was a good plan, but poorly executed. most of my purchases are lower end mid to late out of fashion 20th century paintings and i was still thinking maybe i should also go for old masters. the Art bang for the buck seems big and offers seemingly good investment upside as well comparably.
in furniture and decorative arts it is the same thing. 20th century seems over extended compared to antiques. especially things from the 17th century or earlier. but i also wonder how much of this so called old stuff at market, even from the Big auction houses is genuine.
it just so happens that i am currently involved in a situation in which i put a partial payment down on a table from a dealer that was guaranteed as Jacques Quinet, but in the meantime before anything has been finalized a leading expert on Quinet has informed me that he never designed the table in question. now it is getting ugly and could be very difficult to get my $ back without a fight. the whole saga is more involved, but that is the meat on this situation at present. there are some very shady characters in these sales who can be very charming. atleast it was not a huge sum of money and i learned a lot from the experience already. i still want to pass out fliers around this guys shop outing this bastard. trying to remain calm and professional in attempts to get my money back before i do anything drastic.