Felix Salmon

The destruction of the Polaroid photo collection

February 12, 2010

I’m disappointed in the way in which the NYT’s Carol Vogel swallowed the disingenuous rationalizations of the vandals tearing apart the unique and irreplaceable Polaroid photography collection:

Giacometti and the primacy of the fungible

February 7, 2010

How did I miss the $104 million Giacometti? Marion has a good round-up of the reactions, to which I’d just add that this is proof of the primacy of the fungible. The most valuable works of art are increasingly not unique, but rather part of an edition: the Giacometti is just one of ten, including four artist’s proofs. Hugely-expensive works by Koons are always in an edition; sculptures by Murakami often are; and in the world of painting, where uniqueness is pretty much a given, the most expensive artists — people like Warhol and Prince and Hirst — are often those who paint the same thing over and over again, allowing many collectors to buy essentially the same artwork.

Revisiting the uncollectable artwork

January 24, 2010

I think, but I’m not sure, that I’m a key vector through which A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter started going viral: my blog entry on the artwork got picked up by Tyler Cowen (and others) before the artist, Caleb Larsen, was interviewed by Wired.co.uk in a story which was then Slashdotted. The work, which was originally priced at $2,500, had a couple of days to go when I blogged it, but didn’t end up selling in that auction.

The uncollectable artwork

January 19, 2010

A Tool to Deceive and Slaughter is an artwork by Caleb Larsen, currently for sale on eBay. If it hasn’t sold in the next couple of days — the minimum bid is $2,500 — it will go back on eBay. On the other hand, if it does sell, it will still go back on eBay. That’s what it does, as clearly explained in the legal contract accompanying the work:

Another proposed deaccessioning rule

January 11, 2010

Judith Dobrzynski has come up with her own version of the Ellis rule when it comes to museums selling off their art. Adrian Ellis’s rule is quite elegant:

Authentic art by telephone

December 22, 2009

John Quiggin reminds me of Richard Dorment’s wonderful NYBR essay on Andy Warhol and the authenticity of his 1965 Red Self Portraits. While my blog entry on the essay was basically about non-profit politics and the art market, the essay itself was largely about the way in which Warhol reinvented authenticity:

Don’t invest in art funds

December 17, 2009

File this one under “you could see that one coming a mile off. The Art Trading Fund, which was doomed before it launched, doomed at launch, and even more doomed a year later, has finally failed: its liquidators are holding a creditors’ meeting in January.  

The art book of the decade

December 15, 2009

I recently took possession of one of the most beautiful art objects I own. It’s a book — an absolutely stunning one — and it’s just been published by Yale University Press. It’s the New Complete Edition of Interaction of Color, the legendary book by Bauhaus master Josef Albers. And if you know anybody who loves color, or art, or ever took a color class at art school, or just has bibliophilic tendencies, they will remember you fondly forever if you give it to them.

Annie Leibovitz is now $30 million in debt

December 11, 2009

Allen Salkin has some new facts in the continuing saga of Annie Leibovitz and Art Capital Group: the amount that Leibovitz owes Art Capital has now ballooned to $30 million (the original loan, taken out in September 2008, was for $24 million); and the maturity date on the loan has now been extended only to “next summer”: