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Hanneke van Oosterhout and Adriaen Coorte

Hanneke van Oosterhout

20 x 30 cm detail from ‘Longing for Pondicherry’, Linen on wood, 70 x100 cm, in progress

Hanneke van Oosterhout just emailed me a detail from her latest painting showing a watermelon resting in an earthenware bowl. When I first discovered Hanneke, she was painting roses. I am able to admire one of them because it graces my dining room. Hanneke’s painting shows a yellow rose standing in streaming water while stretching upwards, both lovely and powerfully, with one of its leaves fluttering downwards. more… »

World Depression II: Great Time to Become an Artist — Bad Time to Be a Dealer?


What I am really wondering here is,

Will our Dealers Survive?

Every artist has a relationship with at least one dealer — even if it is only a one-sided voyeuristic relationship. So it is relevant to ask:

Are they all going to go bust?

And if so, what happens to us? Do we need the dealers, or is the Fall of the Art World (as we know it) the best thing that could possibly happen?

On the one hand, the idea of cataclysmic change is always interesting, especially if it is happening to someone else. On the other hand, if you have been cultivating good relationships with dealers over the course of years, as Hanneke and I have, then the prospect of these people going out of business is pretty distressing. Distressing from an economic standpoint, not to mention from a personal one, since dealers can be pretty nice once you get to know them.

But it certainly does not look good. The New York Times paints a grim picture of the current art market:

Auction houses have begun to report sales that are less than half their level a year ago. In November 2007, the Christie’s evening sale of postwar contemporary art in New York totaled nearly $325 million; in 2008, the same sale brought in just $113 million. A share of Sotheby’s stock, which peaked above $50 in late 2007, now trades in the $6 range. . . the prices of work by young artists . . . are falling like bank stocks.

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Human Form

A Francis Bacon, according to an ad from Artprice in ft.com on March 31, 2008, fetches more money than a Rothko.

Here is a Bacon entitled Study from the human bodybacon.jpg

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Le Géranium

Please help characterizing the genius of Henri Matisse’s painting from 1910.

Le Géranium made news because of its high price at a Sotheby’s auction on May 7, 2008.

Saving my screenshot as ‘for Web and Devices’ made the colors more brilliant. Has anyone seen the original? How bright are the colors?

Support the Arts – Turn Off Your Television


I assume most of you have heard about the WGA (Writers Guild of America) strike. I’m not sure how much attention it gets in other parts of the country (or the world, for that matter), but here in Los Angeles it’s a big story. This is after all an entertainment industry town, and the effects of the strike can be felt in every part of our local economy. My wife is a writer and a WGA member, as are many of our friends.

The strike has come about because of a disagreement between the corporations who own the movie and tv studios and the writers who create their content over how much, if at all, the writers should be compensated for their creative work. The writers contend that they should be getting a slightly larger share from the sale of DVDs of the movies they wrote. From the sale of a $28.95 DVD, the writer of the movie currently gets 4 cents, or as comedian Tim Kazurinsky points out, that ‘s 4 cents out of 2,895 cents. The writers are asking for 8 cents.

But a bigger issue, and possibly the main one, is that the networks and studios want to pay the writers nothing, that’s ZERO $, for tv shows and movies that they (the corporations) post on their web sites. The corporations claim that these streaming videos are “promotional”, and that they shouldn’t have to compensate the writers for posting them. But these “promotional” shows have commercials, just like any regular tv show, and are a huge source of income for the studios. They just want to keep it all for themselves.

As Mark Harris notes in his Entertainment Weekly Online column, “Why the Striking Writers Are Right”:

“The problem with this position is that writers deserve a share of revenue for material they help to create. Not a share only if the revenue is really, really a lot. A share, period. If it turns out that streaming video is a goldmine, then both sides will get a lot of money. If it turns out not to be, they’ll get less. Corporations are fond of reminding their employees that they’re all a ”family” during tough times. But when families sit down to dinner, Dad doesn’t get to say, ”I’m gonna eat until I decide I’m full, and then we’ll see if there’s anything left for the rest of you.” The right of a writer to earn money from work that continues to generate revenue cannot be dependent on how comfy studio and network heads are with the fullness of their own coffers.”

The studios are responding to the strike by showing reruns, and more reality and talk shows. But many of the more popular talk shows themselves will have to be reruns, since people like David Letterman and Jay Leno don’t come up with all those clever lines off the tops of their heads. They are created by a staff of, you guessed it, writers. To their credit, both Leno and Letterman are supporting the writers’ position in this dispute.

For the personal reasons mentioned above, and also on principle, as an artist, I’m siding with the writers as well. It seems obvious to me that the people who profit from the success of a creative product should include the artists who actually created it, not just the executives who made the phone calls and brokered the deals. I don’t watch a whole lot of tv to begin with, but until this strike is over I’m not planning on watching any. I’m going to vote with my remote, and say no to corporate greed. I hope many other people do the same.


Here are a couple of videos about the strike that you might find interesting:
Tim Kazurinsky on WGN
the writers of The Office

Clyfford Still’s Ultimate Joke?


The Arts section of today’s The New York Times examines the strange history and odd future of an artist considered to be one of the geniuses of the 20th Century and possibly the greatest of the Abstract Expressionists. Ironically, he remains–by design–virtually unknown to the general public and this despite the fact that he may have been even more prolific than Picasso.

For those of you unfamiliar with Clyfford Still, he is most certainly the ultimate manifestation of an artist’s contempt for commercialism, museums, galleries and collectors.  He is famous for denouncing the galleries and museums of the art world as Nazi gas chambers.  After a brief period of selling and displaying some of  his work, Still retreated to a remote farm in Maryland and spent the remaining decades of his life painting furiously, cursing critics and the commercial art world and hiding his work.  In a one page will he specified that his body of work could never be sold, never be separated, never be shown next to another artist’s work and could only be shown to the pubic in a Clyfford Still museum that would be built by an American city and would exclusively house his entire collection.

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Art On-line Sales and Galleries

This past Tuesday I attended a lecture and discussion panel with three gallery owners who talked about how they got into the business, what they see their role and relationship to the artist is etc. Someone in the audience brought up Internet sales and did they work with artist who also sold their work on line.

If you are currently doing both, selling via your website and through a gallery, what are the agreements that you have in place with the gallery? Do you sell certain types of work on-line but not through the gallery?

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