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Over fifty major works totaling about $64 million were offered as payment to the UK for nearly $40 million worth of inheritance tax that accumulated between 2010 and 2012. Those in control of the estates of authors, artists, and collectors have been allowed to use cultural and historical artifacts to pay the tax since 1910.

The UK has recently received a number of masterpieces including two oil portraits of aristocratic families by Sir Joshua Reynolds, a renowned 18th century English artist. One portrait will be placed in the Tate and the other will go to the Bristol Museum and Art Gallery. Other works include two landscapes by JMW Turner; an oil sketch by Peter Paul Rubens titled The Triumph of Venus that will be placed in Cambridge’s Fitzwilliam Museum; a work by Italian 17th century master Guernico that has been allocated to the National Gallery; and four sculptures and three works on paper by Barbara Hepworth.

The ability to donate significant works to pay off inheritance tax has introduced a number of remarkable pieces to the UK’s galleries and museums, bringing monumental works out from behind closed doors and into the public arena.

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David Hickey, one of America’s foremost art critics is known for his acerbic commentary, but his latest tirade against the world of modern art is downright scathing. Hickey, a professor, curator, and author, told the Observer that he will be walking away from contemporary art, a genre he says has been ruined by rich collectors who are more concerned with money and celebrity than quality.

Hickey claims that art editors and critics have lost their edge, spending more time catering to the wealthy people who hold the reigns on the contemporary art market than surveying the actual work (which he says is also lacking). Hickey is not alone in this claim. A number of contemporary art curators, museums, and galleries have deemed the work of such artists as Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, and Antony Gormley bloated and empty – the result of too much fame and not enough criticism. While the notion of the artist as celebrity is not new, today’s market is saturated with it and gaining status has taken precedence over making revolutionary, ground-breaking art.

A former dealer, Hickey is attuned to considering art in monetary terms but his objections stem from his belief that contemporary art has become too broad, too elitist, and lacks discretion. Hickey’s retirement will remove an important critical voice from the equation. He plans to complete a book on the pagan roots of America, aptly titled Pagan America, as well as a book of essays titled Pirates and Framers.

Published in News
Thursday, 25 October 2012 12:10

Artsicle Gives Young People a Shot at Collecting

The art world can be an intimidating place for an aspiring collector with a modest budget. Artsicle is here to help. Founded by Alex Tryon, 26, and Scott Carleton, 27, Artsicle is an online venture that rents inexpensive art at a low rate. Removing haughty galleries and astronomical price tags from the equation allows a new generation of collectors to figure out what they like. By allowing this often dismissed demographic to explore art collecting, they may be more inclined to make major investments further down the line when their pockets have a little more padding.

Artiscle launched in December 2010 and featured the work of 10 artists. Within a few weeks Tryon and Carleton decided to shift the site’s focus to renting rather than buying. The company went from shipping about 30 works a month to 100. Artsicle now feature 150 artists and has 3,000 works in its online inventory.

New clients take a quiz when they land on artsicle.com that reveals their visual predilections. From there, Artsicle assembles a portfolio that is meant to appeal to the visitor based on their likes and dislikes generated by the quiz. It costs anywhere from $25 to $65 a month to rent an artwork depending on the size. Clients can choose to renew the rental if they’re fond of the work or they can trade it in for a new piece. Buying is also an option and works usually run anywhere from $500 to $2,500. Artsicle keeps 50 percent of the rental price and 30 percent of sale.

As stated on their website, “Artsicle makes it accessible, affordable, and fun to get started collecting.”

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After twenty-two years, Nicholas Capasso will be leaving his post at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln, MA. Capasso, who is currently the deCordova’s deputy director for Curatorial Affairs, has been named the new director of the Fitchburg Art Museum and will start his latest venture on December 3.

During his time at the deCordova, Capasso has overseen a permanent collection that included 3,500 objects, changing gallery exhibitions, and an outdoor sculpture park. He helped to bring recognition to the institution and to reposition it as an important contemporary museum.

While Capasso specializes in contemporary art, he is eager to work with the Fitchburg Art Museum’s collection that spans more than 5,000 years and includes American and European paintings, prints, drawings, ceramics, decorative arts, and Greek, Roman, Asian, and pre-Columbian antiquities. The Museum’s collection, which is housed between twelve galleries, includes works by William Zorach, John Singleton Copley, Joseph Stella, Edward Hopper, Charles Burchfield, Charles Sheeler, Walker Evans, and Georgia O’Keeffe.

Capasso will take over the role of director from the soon-to-be-retired Peter Timms who has held the position since 1973.

Published in News
Thursday, 18 October 2012 13:16

$8 Million Miro Sells at FIAC

The International Contemporary Art Fair (FIAC) starts today in Paris and runs through Sunday, October 21. One of the largest forums for contemporary artists, galleries, and dealers, the FIAC encompasses a number of events across the city at the Grand Palais, the Louvre Museum, the Tuileries Gardens, and various other locations.

The Grand Palais portion of the FIAC is held on two floors and features 182 dealers of modern and contemporary art from around the world. Last night’s preview, which is considered a litmus test of the art market’s strength, hosted a number of notable sales. Joan Miro’s Surrealist abstract Peinture (Le Cheval de Cirque) (1927) was sold by Helly Nahmad Gallery (New York) for $8 million and Lucio Fontana’s Concetto Spaziale, Attese (1967–68) was sold by Paris’ Tornabuoni Arte for $2.36 million.

A number of high-profile collectors were in attendance including French billionaires Francois Pinault and Bernard Arnault, U.S. collector Alberto Mugrabi, and Turkish collector, Omer Koc. If the preview is any indication of the how the fair will proceed, it should be any exciting next few days in Paris.

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After ten years, Frieze London continues to be a hit with patrons and dealers alike. A mix of established and fledgling galleries, Frieze attracted nearly 55,000 visitors during its five-day run. Major sales included Paul McCarthy’s White Snow Head (2012) for $1.3 million, Damien Hirst’s Destruction Dreamscape (2012) for $807,650, and Jenny Holzer’s installation Blast (2012) for $525,000. New to the fair, Stevenson Gallery was pleasantly surprised when The Outset/Frieze Art Fair Fund to Benefit the Tate Collection acquired Nicholas Hlobo’s Balindile I (2012).

Stefan Ratibor, Director of Gagosian, said, “We had a terrific fair. Both Frieze and Frieze Masters were quite brilliant.” Victoria Miro of Victoria Miro Gallery added, “I can only say positive things. We’ve had success with all our artists and the market has been surprisingly strong. The fair is truly contemporary with many cutting-edge pieces.”

This year marked the debut of Frieze Focus, a section of the fair devoted to galleries less than ten years old. Focus participant, Mihaela Luteo of Plan B said, “The positioning of Focus has been really very good in cultivating positive reactions. This section gives us the possibility of building our profile in the perfect context. We wanted to introduce artists that may not be so well known and have sold most of the work we brought with us.”

A decade after its debut, Frieze London remains at the forefront of the Contemporary art scene. Frieze's dedication to innovation, risk-taking, and new talent can be thanked for that.

Published in News
Wednesday, 10 October 2012 19:28

Art.sy, a Website for Art Lovers, Debuts

After two years in beta, Art.sy’s public version went live this past Monday. Using intuitive sites such as Pandora and Netflix as guides, Art.sy gets to know its users and presents them with suggestions and recommendations based on their individual likes and dislikes. Art.sy offers a free repository of 20,000 and counting digitized fine art images as well as an art appreciation guide. Art.sy can already count 275 galleries, private collectors, and 50 museums such as the Dallas Museum of Art, SFMoMA, and Fondation Beyeler as partners.

A start-up backed by millions of dollars in venture capital from art world giants such as Larry Gagosian and Dasha Zhukova, Art.sy already has 600,000 registered users. The site is moving past mere image sharing and has begun partnering with major art fairs, serving as the exclusive online platform for Design Miami/ in December and the Armory Show in March.

Art.sy offers a unique experience to collectors, allowing them to speak with a specialist, connect directly to a gallery, or submit offers on works remotely. A different feature on the site will allow collectors to buy outright as long as the dealer chooses to utilize the e-commerce option. Art.sy plans to bring in most of its revenue from sales commissions on works sold through the site.

Published in News
Tuesday, 21 August 2012 13:32

Gallery Expansions are the New Trend in New York

This campaign season, the talk across America is about tightened belts and reduced expectations. The art world hasn’t heard it. New York’s biggest galleries are about to get bigger, and some smaller players are expanding as well.

We’re doing well as a gallery, and the ambitious new space reflects that,” says Maureen Bray, a director of the Sean Kelly Gallery. She’s barely audible above construction being done on an arena-size space due to open late in October. The gallery is moving up from 6,500 square feet in the neighborhood called Chelsea, home of the world’s biggest art souk, to almost four times that floor space farther uptown.

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