Is the economic shakedown the best thing that could have happened to the art world?
It seems that amid the upheaval and uncertainty, survivors will emerge and we reckon they will be old masters, mid-century and contemporary masters, as well as lesser-known, high quality works. Works that were representative of certain turns in the history of art, despite having fallen from favour. Witness the recent resurrection of the wonderful, and important artists Alice Neel, Elaine Sturtevant and Paul Thek, among others.
(A fantastic, weighty book on Thek is just out from MIT Press – click HERE)
Paul Thek, Meat Sculpture With Butterflies, 1966. Image: thebody.com
Not only because collectors are now demanding value for money – they may have cared more about flash and attitude a few years ago – but also, as Charlie Finch points out HERE, that America is seeing what he calls “the perfect storm”. Big American collectors are “desperate to invest devalued currency into artworks by the dead and aged, coming face-to-face with a slew of soon-to-be indicted moneybaggers, forced by either the law or necessity to sell their art collections.”
Meanwhile museums are resurrecting and recontextualising early greats – The Whitney Museum will show Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen’s early work this spring, and the AGO’s Surreal Things “offers a new perspective on the surrealists’ contentious and ambiguous relationship to the commercial fields of design, fashion, advertising, architecture, film and theatre.”
Now is a great time for collectors to really inform themselves about art, to watch what’s happening, and to gather enough information themselves to determine which art stands out. This is the art to invest in.