Posted by cathedralofshit on May 3, 2011
The shady role that auction houses play in never-ending booming and busting wild-west industry of art is worth serious journo action. Over in the USA they have intense, brooding ex-academic Noah Horowitz writing ‘Art of the Deal’. Over here in Blightly we get ex-contestant on Celebrity The Weakest Link and occasional arts commentator Miranda Sawyer.
Her programme last night on Radio 4 on Christies was less of a rigorous expose of the auction house and more soft-soaping its balls whilst simultaneous patting it on the back (try it, it’s fun!). We heard the delightful Miranda profess her love for “Chris Offali” and remark in wonder how Christies’s pile-em-high pre-auction shows were “curated” – although this seemed to mean that they bunged all the yBa stuff in one corner and all the other stuff in the other corner. We heard Brian Sewell drawl about the positively sexual excitement of the auction room. We heard Sarah Thornton state it would be a “baaaaad idea” to sell all your 40 Gursky’s at once (take note Victor!). We heard from a random collector that sticking your paddle up late in a sale is a good trick. We heard that master of diplomacy Matthew Slotover suggest that auction-houses might be a bit of bad thing, but not a totally bad thing and that most collectors were polite elderly people who’d been putting a bit of their savings away for 60 years. But the best bit was allowing some fruity-toned chap from Christie’s insist that all artists really quite liked auctions – after all Tracey and Damien do pop by from time to time. Thank god for that! There we were thinking it was all about market manipulation and encouraging speculators to either buy or dump works at random thereby really fucking up artist’s careers.
We can’t wait for the follow-up “De Pury: I’m just a mis-understood, ordinary guy with a warehouse full of unsold Chinese art” next Sunday.