An interesting article about the maintenance of profit, prestige and artificial scarcity in the commercial art world.

“The art trade doesn’t exist outside of economic theory and consumer protection, but it does have its own set of rules that may range from the objectionable to the legally unenforceable. “

New school, hopefully different from the old school

August 29th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art | art education - (Comments Off)

A survey of recently founded artist-run art academies and education programmes, with contributions from: The Silent University, The School of Global Art, The External Program, MASS Alexandria, SOMA and Islington Mill Art Academy.”

Good article in F***** magazine, which will be of particular interest to those people who’ve been asking us about alternatives to the proliferation of shameless scammers and Thatcherite psychopaths who like to pick artists’ pockets in the guise of supposedly developing their careers.


A gallery director has begun setting fire to the art works in his museum, one by one. He’s holding them to ransom in order to protest arts cuts, destructive austerity and the sheer incompetence and waste of Italian cultural policy, e.g. the disastrous MAXXI mega-gallery in Rome, which essentially had to be nationalised and bailed out by taxpayer, after millions of Euros went astray.

I also like his comment “I didn’t want to create an IKEA museum, with always the same 200 artists from the big galleries…”


The ephemeral museum

July 23rd, 2012 | Posted by admin in art | discussion | exhibition | gallery | press - (Comments Off)

Ostensibly a review of the new Tate Modern Tanks for exhibiting live and time-based art, Laura Cumming also makes some interesting observations about some of the implications and questions that arise from it. Of course we’ve covered this subject previously in posts on this site and at our public Collecting the Uncollectable discussion last year.

SpongeBob, ninjas, Goo Be Gone, giclées

June 29th, 2012 | Posted by Alistair in art - (Comments Off)

Noted scholarly academic journal Vanity Fair has a really interesting roundup of some recent shenanigans involving an artist, his dealer and the money made by both… plus the aforementioned ninjas (who seem to have been made up by the dealer), the “Goo Be Gone” that the dealer used to erase and forge signatures and other marks of authenticity from prints and artworks, the netherworld of giclée print artists (“A step up from paper prints but a step down from originals, giclées, which can sell for several thousand dollars, expanded the market for the lowest rung of collectors”), out of court settlements, lies, an artist- unusually- actively fighting back, marketing himself as a celebrity and tipping the power dynamic definitively in his favour… or an artist hiring three ninjas to kidnap his dealer and steal back all his art work, depending upon whose side of the story seems more plausible to you. Hint: it’s not the one involving ninjas.


“Is it art? Well, how is it valued? The value depends upon opinion, opinion depends on the experts, a faker like Elmyr makes fools of the experts, so who’s the expert? Who’s the faker?” Orson Welles in F for Fake.

More on Orson Welles’ film about authenticity in art, and art forgeries, F for Fake. (previously…)  I’ve been thinking about the issues raised in this film ever since I saw it, so I wrote something about it on my own blog.

Bonus: Video of Orson trying (not very hard) to shoot a commercial for cheap plonk while completely and genuinely drunk.

Doing the maths

November 24th, 2011 | Posted by Alistair in art | discussion | research - (Comments Off)

Or: The customer is always right

Today’s pathetic dribble of artistic “opportunities” [sic] that do me no good (and arguably don’t do any artist any good) included promotions for the Arte Laguna Prize and a similar open competition at Kunsthal Charlottenborg in Copenhagen. Leaving aside for a moment the issue of whether an artist should have to gamble their own scarce funds on “winning” an opportunity to show their work as a prize, upon looking at the entry fees and prizes even my not particularly numerate mind was struck by the cruelty of the odds and the paucity of the rewards in these two examples of artists paying to (maybe) show their own work.

The Spring Exhibition in Copenhagen charges DKK575 (about £66 or €77) to submit up to five works. An unspecified number of works will be shown and ten artists shortlisted for the prize, apparently without payment. There is just one prize of DKK10,000 (about £1,160 or €1345). Clearly there are other costs involved in the exhibition- though these costs don’t include paying artists, as has become the shameful norm- but at 575 kroner per entry, the competition needs only eighteen entries to recoup the cost of the solitary prize they’re giving out. (more…)

From left: Market Project's David Kefford, Henry Little from the CAS, artist Michael Pinsky and Bob Lee from The Collective

Collecting the Uncollectable Panel discussion hosted by Market Project at Aid & Abet, Cambridge on the 30th of June 2011. Chair: David Kefford. Speakers: Bob Lee from The Collective, visual artist Michael Pinsky, and Henry Little from the Contemporary Art Society. Download PDF of this transcript.

David Kefford
Just before we start I just need to send an apology on behalf of Paul Hobson, who unfortunately is unable to join us this evening. However, we do have Henry Little here from the Contemporary Art Society who is going to be filling his shoes. Tonight’s discussion really focuses on the challenges and opportunities for both artist and collectors, who make and buy work that doesn’t necessarily fit the traditional view of art works as unique and self-contained objects. For those that don’t know me my name is David Kefford, I am a visual artist, I am a member of Market Project and also one of the co-founders of Aid and Abet, along with C J Mahony and Sarah Evans.

I am delighted to be joined this evening by a panel of invited guest speakers. We’ve got Bob Lee from The Collective in London a group of people who purchase and share contemporary art work together. We’ve got Michael Pinsky, a visual artist, mainly making work to commission through residencies in the public realm and Henry Little from the Contemporary Art Society, a membership organisation which exists to develop public collections of contemporary art in the UK. (more…)

Tavola Periodica

June 9th, 2011 | Posted by Alistair in art | discussion | research | slideshow - (1 Comments)

My friends Thanos Zakopoulos and Katia Meneghini, who are based in Milan and work together as CTRLZAK Art & Design Studio, have come up with an interesting experiment in small scale funding for independent art projects. In short, everyone contributes a small amount of cash to a central fund for a social meal at which every contributor gets to meet everyone else, pitch their work and at the end vote democratically on who should get the money that’s been contributed in the form of a grant. Their second event is happening soon in Turin. (more…)