After the Fair

Fine Art Fair
Fine Art Fair

The 2009 International Fine Art Fair will wrap up this week and so will close a unique opportunity to see a variety of museum-quality works by notable artists, whether or not you’re in the market to make purchases. Of course the dealers hope you are.

If you are a collector of artworks or in a position to become one, these may be fertile economic times for venturing into the market. But don’t expect gigantic discounts or  rapid fluxuation in the values of this art. While buying art for investment is different from buying it for aesthetic and decorative qualities, those goals can coincide. Currently gyrating stock and real estate markets may make keeping some reserves in paintings (that also bring more enjoyment than mutual funds) seem like not such a bad idea.

To be sure, the art most attractive as investment in recent times has been in the “new and different” realm. Art by “pop star” artists. The Fine Arts Fair is not the go to event for that art. The economic downturn has impacted many of us, but in the art world, art bought for investment has been the hardest hit in terms of sale prices. Unlike other commodities, the value of art is impacted by the aesthetic sensibilities of collectors. Those who buy art only for the potential appreciation may sometimes win in the short term, but may be disappointed in the end and certainly won’t find as much enjoyment along the way.

Living artists certainly like it when collectors are attracted to contemporary works in general, and their works in particular. I personally feel the results of creativity can only be fully assessed and appreciated when we are somewhat removed from their time. Just as it’s impossible to fully appreciate a painting from a 6″ distance, so it’s not so easy to make a complete assessment of a work that came from our own time. More, sometimes I feel art is merely the result of an attempt to do something that hasn’t been done before, which by its nature then is completely a product of its own time. Perhaps it’s a sign of my own shortcomings, but I prefer art exist within the confines of a frame (unless it is clearly sculpture) and within the confines of being recognizable without a Ph.D in what art is.

Attendees may have noticed a number of works ranging from La partie de cartes by Pierre Bonnard, Landscape near Clisson by Henri-Joseph Harpignies and Man on a White Horse by Honore Damier.

If you’ve watched the real estate and stock markets, not all property values and stock values are subjected to dramatic rise and decline in value. From my observation, this is because the real value can more accurately be assessed. There’s less guess work. Much of the art at the show has survived the test of time, which sets it apart in a sense because its real monetary value, in addition to its inherent value as art, can more accurately be assessed.

The fair is open through May 5. LINK

About Art After X

With the death of President Kennedy in 1963, America changed. As hard as it is to minimize that sentiment, the effect of Dallas was even greater. The same year saw the merging of the Dallas Museum for Contemporary Arts, which had been central to the art scene, and the Dallas Museum of Fine Arts. Douglas MacAgy, then the director of DMCA, not only opposed the merger, but also declined to directorship of the combined museum. The regionalist movement which had been strong for decades, was giving way to more of an interest in what was going on nationally, and internationally. Like it or not, Dallas was on the national stage. When the Kennedy’s arrived in Fort Worth, local collectors had decorated a hotel room with internationally-renowned works. While the president and his wife learned a great deal about the ability of Texans to collect major art, there was little they could glean about the local scene in this era-defining city. With this in mind, we have begun a project to look not back at the art scene in Dallas, but foreword from 1963. We are interviewing gallery owners, curators and others involved in the art scene then, but this will be a story told mostly through interviews with artists active in the city from that point into the 1980s. The result will be a book with a video component. We hope you will join us in our journey. The hashtag for the project is #artafterx and the url artafterx.com will point to the latest updates on this weblog.

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