If anyone tells you that no one buys art anymore, look them straight in the eyes and tell them that they can’t be more far from the truth.
The truth is – art was, is and will be always discovered, appreciated and collected. What’s modern and emerging now – will be vintage and classic and cost twice as much in a few years. Some of my smart friends believe that even if they collect one piece of a good art work – [and by ‘good’ I mean – unique, interesting, trendy, strange, unique, etc.] – at least once in five years, they will have a very good collection for themselves and for their children that could also secure their retirement if they wanted it to.
However, most of the art collectors are not collecting art for having something to live on when they are old. Most people who collect art are the visionaries and they collect it because they appreciate it.
I’ve been always fascinated with art – and it helped growing up in Russia with some of the best art museums and galleries in the world (The Tretyakov Gallery alone!) – and while I love the classic ‘artist pack’ – Dali, da Vinci, Van Gogh, etc. – in the last few years I’ve been fascinated and very much drawn to the modern and emerging art.
I used to pass by those modern art pieces and say to myself “I have no idea what these art pieces mean, I don’t understand them, I can do this at home myself…” When I was a teenager, I used to look at Malevich works, for example, and think: “What’s so special about this Black Square? I can do this square as easily…” The same thing I thought about Andy Warhol’s works until one day someone told me that it’s not the fact that you can do it, it’s the fact that they were the FIRST ones to do it.
This perspective of how to approach the art work completely changed my attitude towards it. Now when I look at modern and emerging art works, I try to see if it’s something I’ve seen before or is it something that is new and hasn’t been done before? And I’ve been discovering quite a few art pieces at the NYC art shows that surprised me.
When a few years ago I went to see a solo exhibit Seven Easy Pieces by Marina Abramovic at the Guggenheim Museum in NYC, I was both – shocked, emotional, amused, embarrassed and…perplexed – I thought it was the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen.
And that’s exactly what an artist wants to do – to evoke all sorts of feelings from the audience, and Marina did it. Everyone – as I observed – felt the same way as I did. Some people would turn away, some would stand there jaws-dropped watching her sit at the chair spreading out her legs, exposing the intimate areas, holding a ruffle or holding a dead rabbit…She did it.
At first, I thought it’s not my ‘kinda thing’ and that I do not get the modern art, but, the truth was, Abramovic works did make an impact on me and it stayed on my mind. I started following her works and I became a big fan of her always weird, always shocking, always unique ways of presenting art. One of my favorite thing from Abramovic is her ‘eye starring’ exhibition, part of her The Artist Is Present project.
At first you think – what’s so special about it? We do it often with our friends – playing the stare game… But then you realize – she was actually not only the FIRST one to bring it to another level, but she was the FIRST one to make it more than just a ‘stare game’ – all she did was to sit at the table on one end and anyone from the crowd would sit at the other end and she would just look in the eyes of the other person. Have you seen the reaction?
People were crying…people were feeling…that connection to the people, to strange people who went through some personal emotions because this is what Abramovic did with each single person from the crowd. It was amazing.
Watch her documentary The Artist Is Present, it talks a lot about this art piece. The most intense ‘eye stare’ she did was with her long time partner, Ulay, another artist, with whom she’s been collaborating for years. When both of them were sitting down at that table across each other, you could see their whole lives passing through that eye stare – I get the goosebumps every time I watch it! – with all the moments that have been connecting them in their relationship, all the moments they’ve lived through together…It’s amazing! Watch it here. Even Ulay couldn’t handle it and a few times had to stop the stare.
By the way, her own institute is about to open soon.
I got a bit side-tracked. As you can see – art is a big part of my life, and it’s one of the BIGGEST reasons I’ve decided to go back to the design school! It’s also one of the reasons I don’t want to ever leave New York City. I’ve never seen such a great diversity of the artists and art works all in one city, and I’ve lived in Paris, Moscow, San Francisco…
Last Spring alone, five large international art shows took place in NYC. Thousands of people – art collectors, dealers and the general public – have attended these art shows. The art buying is far from slowing down. At the PULSE Contemporary Art Fair alone last May, the art works of the emerging artists were sold out for more than $60-85K.
If you’ve missed them, here’s my write-ups on all five art shows:
- The Scope Art Show
- The Armory Art Show
- The International ArtExpo
- The Affordable Art Fair
- The PULSE Contemporary Art Fair
See the photos from the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair 2013 below, and for the videos of the digital/video arts from the show, click here:
- JANI RUSCICA: SCREEN TEST (FOR A LIVING SCULPTURE), 2012. IN COLLABORATION WITH SINI PELKKI. COURTESY OF OTTO ZOO.
- LARS ARRHENIUS: The Street, 2004. video, ed. 2/5, 6 min.
- Today Series by İRFAN ÖNÜRMEN
- I Was Made For Dancin’, All, All, All Night Long by Cameron Gray