The art market, present and future, with international dealer, Christophe Van de Weghe
MORE THAN NINETY ART FAIRS THROUGHOUT THE WORLD NOW DEFINE THE RHYTHM OF THE GLOBAL ART BUSINESS. IN A PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE RISE OF ART FAIRS ORGANIZED BY STROPHEUS LLC, A NEW YORK BASED COLLECTIVE OF ART LAW AND BUSINESS PROFESSIONALS, MODERATOR JUDITH PROWDER, A MEMBER OF THE NEW YORK BAR ASSOCIATION AND FACULTY AT SOTHEBY’S INSTITUTE OF ART, CONCLUDES:
There are dozens of NYC art fairs. With the rise and rise of art fairs, sheer survival in the commercial art context now requires galleries to participate in a half a dozen or more art fairs a year – from New York to Maastricht to Dubai to Hong Kong to São Paolo – with stops along the way. Some dealers make as much as two-thirds of their sale at fairs. Art fairs have indeed transformed the business of art and even the production of contemporary art. For serious collectors the international art fair circuit is an imperative, while visiting only a few of galleries in NY, London and Berlin seems – well – almost quaint.
TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO RESUME ITS CONVERSATION WITH CHRISTOPHE VAN DE WEGHE, FOUNDER AND PRINCIPLE OF VAN DE WEGHE FINE ARTS, LOCATED AT 1018 MADISON AVENUE, NEW YORK.
CHRISTOPHE, FAIRS HAVE GAINED CRITICAL AND COMMERCIAL DOMINANCE IN THE ART MARKET – A CONCENTRATED AND INTENSE PLAYING FIELD OF CURATORS, COLLECTORS, AND DEALERS. I KNOW YOU PARTICIPATE AT ART BASEL MIAMI, ART BASEL, FRIEZE MASTERS, AND MAASTRICHT. CLEARLY, YOU BELIEVE, AS I DO, THAT THE FAIR HAS BECOME AN INTEGRAL ELEMENT IN THE ART BUSINESS.
Fairs are a very important part of our operation. We present annually at TEFAF Maastricht, Art Basel Hong Kong, Art Basel, FIAC Paris, Frieze Masters London and Art Basel Miami Beach. We have participated in ADAA’s Art Show at the Park Avenue Armory, The Pavilion of Art and Design London, EXPO Chicago, Arte Fiera Bologna, the Palm Beach Art Fair, ARCO Madrid and ART Hong Kong.
This year we also participated in TEFAF New York Spring, sponsored by TEFAF Maastricht, held for the first time at the Park Avenue Armory from May 4-8th. I am very excited about this fair and its strong future.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS THE TRAJECTORY OF COLLECTING IN THE TIME AHEAD?
The architects of today are building modern, contemporary spaces. In 2016 alone, in New York, 6400 apartments were new construction, characterized by high ceilings and large-scaled rooms. The scale and delicacy of Impressionist works cannot survive in these spaces and the best of these works are all in museums.
The contemporary collector, the younger generation of hedge fund guys and tech wizards, all want young artists and they all want the same ones. Basquiat only made 900 paintings and 3400 drawings in his lifetime.
The problem with dealing with living artists is that they are commanding too much money. I don’t agree with the amounts that collectors are paying because I am not convinced these works will hold value. There has been a huge correction in the photography market. Cindy Sherman will survive but a lot of them will not.
WHAT IS YOUR ADVICE TO SOMEONE INTEREST IN ART AND IN BUILDING A COLLECTION?
My advice is to development a good relationship with 2 or 3 galleries where you respect their program.
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE A GOOD DEALER OR GALLERIST?
I once asked Ernst Beyeler, “In your opinion what does it take to be a good dealer?
He replied, “Honesty, courage, passion and hard work.”
LRFA ASIDE: ALL OF WHICH CHRISTOPHE POSSESSES IN SPADES!
Ernst Beyeler (1921–2010) was a titan of the international art scene in the twentieth century. Born in Basel, Switzerland, he began his career as an apprentice in an antiquarian bookstore, eventually taking over the business and shifting his focus from books to dealing and collecting art. Through his discerning eye for art, his close relationships with many of the twentieth century’s great artists, and his role in the foundation of Art Basel and the Fondation Beyeler, he transformed his hometown into a hub for international art.
TO COMMEMORATE ITS 10th ANNIVERSARY, IN 2014 VAN DE WEGHE FINE ART PUBLISHED A BEAUTIFULLY DOCUMENTED AND ILLUSTRATED CATALOGUE OF GALLERY EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT THE GALLERY AT firstname.lastname@example.org.
CHRISTOPHE, WHAT IS THE CURRENT EXHIBIT AT VAN DE WEGHE FINE ART?
Although the gallery usually presents works from the secondary market, I am very excited to present the work of a young Brazilian artist, Henrique Oliveira. In 2013 I saw his installation at the Palais de Tokyo in Paris where he created a spectacular Gordian Knot of wood and sculptural vegetation that interacted with the architecture of the space.
It is quite exciting to see the way in which Henrique has transformed the gallery into a site-specific installation, a fusion of urban design, sculptural elements and plant life. The installation was labor-intensive and we documented its progress throughout.
AND WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF VAN DE WEGHE FINE ART?
I love what I do. My greatest wish is to have all my kids work with me.
AND I’M CERTAIN THEY WILL.
CHRISTOPHE, SO MANY THANKS.
PACK YOUR BAGS! OUR TRAVEL MAVEN AND EXPERT, NICHOLAS CHRISTOPHER OF TURON TRAVEL, WILL TAKE US TO DOCUMENTA 14 OPENING ON JUNE 10th IN KASSEL, GERMANY. FOR THE FIRST TIME, ATHENS, GREECE ACTED AS CO-HOST OF THIS EXTRAORDINARY EXHIBITION, TITLED “LEARNING FROM ATHENS”, THAT TAKES PLACE EVERY FIVE YEARS.
PLEASE JOIN US!