The Easel

14th May 2019

How Auction Houses Can Improve the Ways They Describe Non-Western Art

A persuasive, uncomfortable argument. Christie’s and Sotheby’s are called out for “Eurocentric” descriptions of African artifacts. Marketing descriptions tend to be “ahistorical … suspended in some imaginary, pure realm.” These works thus acquire edited biographies, without “messiness [meaning] in many cases, the very people who created the object. Perhaps this is what sells.”

7th May 2019

Easel Essay: For love or money? The merits of investing in art

It is common to see art referred to as an “alternative asset”. The market’s growth in size and sophistication since 1990 provides some justification for the claim. Impressive though its track record is, the intricate structure of the market complicates the usual investment analysis.

“Schiller’s argument is that asset markets like real estate (and art) are prone to making price “mistakes”. Perhaps Salvator Mundi was a mistake in the sense that it was a price spike, an expression of exuberance that may be followed by buyer’s regret. Perhaps low prices for art by women artists are also a mistake. Price overshoots and undershoots usually get corrected but as to when – sadly, that is unknowable.”

A Buyer’s Guide to the Venice Biennale: What Collectors Need to Know About the (Technically) Noncommercial Event

Venice Biennale opens shortly and, for a period, will monopolise artworld attention. It is ostensibly non-commercial, with 90 participating countries and various “collateral events”. Most countries choose a working artist as a representative, a coveted recognition not driven entirely by the saleroom. Eight are profiled here, not all household names.

Blossoming artist: Damien Hirst on returning to the studio, fluorescent florals and the ‘muppets’ in government

Hirst’s “polarizing” 2017 show in Venice persuaded some that his sole interest is money. There is no sign he is chastened by this criticism but still, except perhaps to the irredeemably skeptical, he sounds thoughtful. Of his recent 18 months of studio work – “You need time to make things, and also time to consider them. You don’t want to show things before you believe in them.”