True Colors: MoMA PS1 Grand New York, New Museum Triennial and Present Moment Prize!

Last week I was talking to Alain Servais, a jet set collector who, in the days of the globe-trotting madness of the Before Times era, attended about 30 fairs a year, when he revealed something of an open secret among merchants of art and their clients. In art nouveau surveys such as Greater New York and the New Museum Triennial, if the text on the wall says that the work is courtesy of the artist and his shopping gallery, it more often than not means that the work is for sale.

“My favorite place to see art and even buy art is in museums and biennials,” Servais said on air as I interviewed him for a podcast. “People are sometimes shocked when I say that … Rather than going to art fairs and getting second or third grade works – because normally artists will keep the best for museums – you go to MoMA PS1 or go to the New Museum and the works are sometimes available, although some know this trick. It is the best place to buy.

Until recently, this was considered a fairly specialized approach – Greater New York City could never be mistaken for an art fair. Hosted at the former MoMA PS1 school in Long Island City and held once every five years, the show is a scaled-down, New York-focused version, for example, Documenta, the five-year survey of contemporary art that takes place will take place next year in the sleepy town of Kassel, Germany. It’s a methodical exhibition where artists are selected after years of studio visits, and the market buzz takes a back seat to criticism from curators.

But such is the thirst for fresh material among world-class collectors that any high-profile exhibition of new works by institution-nominated artists is greeted with a binge eating. Greater New York City – and, later this month, the New Museum Triennial, another survey conducted several times a decade that attempts to take the cultural temperature – comes at a time when demand for work out of the studio is peaking. . Mega-galleries such as Hauser & Wirth have priced the works of their art stars at unprecedented prices, turning off collectors with mid-size portfolios. Last month, that same gallery sold an exhibition of new work by Singer Avery up to $ 1.2 million per painting. As of February 2020, works of similar size cost just under $ 500,000. It’s not just the singer. Hauser & Wirth also sold a new painting of Rachid johnson for $ 975,000 in September. In the months leading up to the foreclosure, a larger work by Johnson sold at the gallery for $ 595,000.

And the gold rush spurred real-time change. Hiring the art fair guru Noah Horowitz at Sotheby’s (reported by True Colors in August) was apparently spurred in part by the hope that he could convince the galleries he worked with at Art Basel to entrust the auction house with new works instead. . The online effort platform is essentially an eternal digital art fair supported by David Zwirner where small galleries can offer works by their lesser-known artists to the ever-hungry clientele.

And this week, Sotheby’s announced that it will be launching from scratch a brand new evening sale called The Now, dedicated to the work of emerging artists, who were previously relegated to minor league auctions that take place during the day. the new job, the house suggested, was just too hard to ignore.

“We are seeing the rapid emergence of a new generation of collectors who feel a real connection to the art of their time,” said Brooke Lampley, Sotheby’s responsible for global sales for global fine arts, in a press release, explaining the creation of a whole new category of art, more contemporary than contemporary.

Which brings us to Greater New York, which opened to the public Thursday after a few days of premieres for press and customers. I visited Tuesday morning, arriving at the still dilapidated art space to find an in-depth and awe-inspiring investigation of 47 artists and collectives, from millennial discoveries to older artists with work placed in a new context – an exhibition that, in curator-ese, “offers new perspectives and opens up geographic and historical boundaries by identifying both specific and expanded local narratives in a city that elicits a multitude of perspectives. Um sure!

But the keen observer has been able to read between the lines when it comes to how these works will eventually pass from institution to collection. (Note that the MoMA PS1, unlike its big sister in Manhattan, is not a collector’s institution, and therefore does not acquire any works itself.) On the second floor, an installation by Steffani Jemison consisted of a series of polished stones on a platform, and next to the platform three rocky tumblers rumbled, smoothing out the rough products of geology that would eventually be turned into a work, churning the making of art laid bare in the museum.

The text on the wall was revealing. Jemison had exhibited in the small but influential New York art space run by Kai Matsumiya, but the work was “courtesy of the artist and Greene Naftali”, referring to the Chelsea pillar who represents global artists such as Alex Israel, Haegue Yang, and Cory Archangel. Indeed, the gallery’s website confirms that they had faced off against the rising star, and will be opening an exhibit next month, apparently to take advantage of the propulsion caused by the exhibit in Queens.


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