📉 Why Art Sales are Plunging...

+ Sephora's Modern Dadaist Dive + "Lawdy Mama" Rewrites Portraiture + Art Basel Miami's Sizzle


Welcome to the 1084 new art lovers who joined last week.

I've given the sections a little shuffle based on your feedback. Now, Wednesdays are snappier and straight to the chase. Oh, and auction info? That's been bumped to Fridays

On Sunday, I took a deep dive into the puzzling valuations of major art fairs. Join the paid plan to receive access to all of my deep dives and a new one in your inbox every Sunday.

This week’s Art in a Flash includes:

  • 🌟 Artist Spotlight: Sephora Venites shines, melding Dadaism and digital media. Duchamp with an iPhone vibe? You bet.

  • 👀 Must-See: Barkley L. Hendricks redefines portraiture with "Lawdy Mama" at Frick Madison. A dialogue between centuries of art awaits.

  • 💭 Your Questions Answered: Art sales dip due to rising interest rates, inflation, shaky financial markets, and a post-2020 buying hangover.

  • 🔗 Market Stories: Art Basel Miami's fiery line-up, Hindman's Big Apple debut, Picasso's $120M dazzler at Sotheby's, and more.

Read Time 05 minutes

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🌟 Artist Spothlight

Sephora Venites, with her tantalizing collages, reminds me of a modern alchemist – transforming basic materials into gold.

Well, not literal gold, but visual masterpieces that might as well be. But Sephora is not just merging materials; she's braiding time, art movements, and techniques, creating a tapestry that'd make even the masters tip their hats 🎩

Let’s deep-dive for a sec: remember the dadaists? Those 20th-century rebels who threw reason out the window, championing chance and nonsense? Their message was clear: to question the status quo and to re-imagine art.

Sephora takes a page out of their book, but rather than using newspapers and random photographs, she incorporates 21st-century digital wonders into her collages. It's as if Marcel Duchamp had an iPhone! And her nod to surrealism isn't just a casual wink; it's a full-on embrace.

The dream-like distortion, juxtapositions, and abstracted realities of Salvador Dali or René Magritte find a new-age sister in Sephora's work.

😍 Why I Like It: Art isn't static. It evolves. Sephora's fusion of classical techniques and digital media challenges our concept of art, just like dadaism once did. In this digital age, where "copy-paste" is a norm, her unique blend becomes an anthem for originality.

But it also poses a tantalizing question: If dadaists had access to Photoshop, would their works resemble Sephora's? Makes you wonder, doesn't it? 🤔

Calling all artists! 📣 Want to see your work featured in our newsletter? Submit your work here.

👀 Must-See

Barkley L. Hendricks, Lawdy Mama (1969)

The Frick's latest coup? Bringing Barkley L. Hendricks front and center, an artist who not merely painted, but rewrote the narrative of portraiture.

If you're wondering why the art world is in a tizzy, it's simple: Hendricks didn’t paint Black figures. He celebrated them.

With a finesse stemming from European classics and an undying reverence for Black identity, he crafted canvases that aren't just visually sumptuous, but historically significant.

In an era of Black artists pushing boundaries, Hendricks stood tall, synthesizing the gravitas of the Frick's European staples with the fervor of 60s America.

"Lawdy Mama" isn't just a portrait; it’s an emblem, a dialogue between Hendricks and centuries of art precedents. One can't help but muse: What would Rembrandt say?

The art world offers up exhibitions aplenty, but few with the audacity and gravitas of this one at Frick Madison. As your local art enthusiast and straight-shooter, I'll say it plain: miss this, and you've skipped a pivotal chapter in the annals of modern portraiture. See you at the Frick.

“Barkley L. Hendricks: Portraits at the Frick”.

  • Dates: September 21, 2023 - January 7, 2024.

  • Frick Collection, New York

💭 Your Questions Answered

Sales are dropping, and not gracefully like autumn leaves, but more like an amateur artist's first attempt at a sculpture. So, the million-dollar question of this week (or maybe just a couple hundred, given the circumstances) is:

What are some primary economic reasons for the decrease in art sales?

Interest rates. Think of these as the party crashers of the art scene. Higher rates make borrowing money pricier. Art enthusiasts hoping to snag a masterpiece on credit now need to dig deeper. And honestly, many decide it's not worth the dig.

Then there's inflation. This isn’t just an economist's favorite buzzword. It's the reality that money isn't going as far as it used to. Buying art feels less appealing when everyday expenses have become mini financial monsters. We all appreciate a good Dali, but not over dinner.

Turbulent financial markets also play their part. It’s the art world’s equivalent of a spilled wine on a pristine white carpet. This uncertainty makes even art die-hards hesitate. They might love the art, but love doesn't pay the bills.

Post-2020, the art market behaved like a teenager with a new credit card - a buying frenzy. But the buzz has faded. Now, there's a shortage of premium artworks at auctions. Imagine hoping for a feast and getting leftover crumbs.

To sum it up, declining art sales are influenced by rising interest rates, the shadow of inflation, wobbly financial markets, and the aftermath of a buying spree. If art sales were a canvas, it’d be more storm clouds than sunny skies right now. But hey, as every artist knows - the next brushstroke could change everything.

Have a question about the art market you want answered? Send me an email

🔗 Market Stories

  • Guess who's turning up the heat this December? Art Basel Miami Beach! The lineup’s out with 277 galleries on the list (a tad less than last year’s 283, but hey, quality over quantity?). Under the fresh leadership of the fabulous Bridget Finn, expect a swanky new layout ensuring you don't get lost admiring some Cubist masterpiece. And in the next tent? The Untitled Art fair, popping the champagne for its biggest edition with 163 exhibitors! 🍾

  • Fancy fashion brand Stone Island is mixing threads with canvas. They're partnering up with Frieze to help out those budding galleries, covering up to 30% of their stand fees. Talk about making an entrance! 💃🕺

  • New kid on the block, Hindman auction house, is setting up shop in the Big Apple! Timepieces, snapshots, paintings, and ceramics are all going under the hammer from Oct 18–26.

  • Sotheby’s hit the jackpot, securing the treasures of the late art maven, Emily Fisher Landau. Star of the show? Picasso’s 1932 dazzler, Femme à la montre, with price tags dancing around $120 million 🤑 

  • Post-Basel life for Marc Spiegler? Well, it's all about Superblue. Yep, he's now in the director's chair, filling in the space after Laurene Powell Jobs and Marc Glimcher waved goodbye.

  • Court drama starring mega-gallery Gagosian ended with a cliffhanger. The judgment? No liabilities over Richard Prince’s Insta-art saga 📸 

  • London's Modern Art gallery is taking a Euro-trip! Destination? Paris. But don't expect regular showings; it’s all exclusive with only three showcases annually and by appointment only 🥂 

  • Some gallery goss? The Breeder now reps Miltos Manetas, Lisson Gallery welcomes Dexter Dalwood, Almine Rech puts the spotlight on Sasha Ferré, and Kasmin? They've scooped up Lyn Liu post-Armory Show splash!

  • Ready your wallets! MoMA’s price of admission? A cool $30. Is art becoming a luxury? Discuss 🤔

  • Sydney Contemporary boasted a whopping $21M in sales and an audience of 25K, making history! 🎊

  • Berlin's newest gem? Fotografiska, housed in a former artist hub, kickstarting with solos from Juliana Huxtable and Candice Breitz 🚀

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