👻 Why Galleries Ghost You

Jess Valice's Meteoric Rise + The Berggruen Philosophy: From Warhol to El Greco + 1-54 Fair's Hong Kong Debut

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Welcome to the 856 new art lovers who joined last week.

Art in a Flash is a series from Frame&Flame that offers a concise roundup of the week's standout artists, pivotal collections, and key market shifts.

This week’s Art in a Flash includes:

  • 🌟 Rising Artists: Jess Valice, Davide Balliano, and Henni Alftan showcase their diverse styles and recent career milestones, establishing them as must-watch talents in the contemporary art market.

  • 👀 Collector's Corner: Nicolas Berggruen, the Beverly Hills-based philanthropist, amasses a deeply personal and diverse collection of artworks, viewing himself more as a custodian than an owner.

  • 💭 Your Questions Answered: The issue of galleries "ghosting" collectors is demystified, with actionable advice on how to get their attention through proactive, authentic engagement.

  • 🔗 Market Stories: A wide array of industry news, from the upcoming 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair in Hong Kong to high-profile departures, auction events, and editorial controversies.

Read Time 05 minutes

🌟 Rising Artists

🤔 What you need to know: Jess Valice, hailing from California's San Fernando Valley, redefines modern-day figuration. LA-based and born in '96, her canvases pulsate with enigmatic big-eared, doe-eyed beings, all radiating an uncanny blend of romanticism and sorrow. From neuroscience studies at Santa Barbara City College to a self-forged path in painting, Valice’s transformative journey mirrors in her art. Her work, rooted in her unique background, treads a line between the known and the mysterious, the sacred and the profane.

Recent career milestone: Valice's name is rapidly echoing through the hallowed halls of renowned art spaces. She's stamped her mark in prominent galleries: think Carl Kostyal Gallery across London, Milan, Sweden, and Stems Gallery in both Paris and Brussels. Her solo exhibitions are making waves: "Stems" in Paris, 2023; "Human" at Carl Kostyál, London in 2022; and a string of hits throughout 2021.

😍 Why I Like It: There's an ineffable magnetism to Valice's art. Inspired by liturgical visuals and her personal tryst with neuroscience, her paintings are introspective mirrors reflecting our tumultuous digital era. Those oversized figures, lost in their profound doe-eyed reverie, beckon a viewer to pause, think, reflect. The intermingling of baroque grandeur, traces of Francis Bacon’s expressive distortions, and her personal Italian narrative all converge, making her works not just aesthetically enthralling, but soul-stirring. With her trajectory set, Valice is poised to reshape contemporary art's landscape.

🤔 What you need to know: Born in Turin and now dominating New York City's art scene, Davide Balliano’s foray into the art world began with a foundation in photography. With diplomas from Milan and Turin under his belt, Balliano soon ventured into the nuanced space where painting meets sculpture. His canvases, while initially appearing pristine, unveil intricate scars upon a closer look, revealing a play between decay and the immaculate. Parallelly, his sculptures, crafted from materials like stainless steel and ceramic, mirror the geometries of his paintings, showcasing his knack for blending form, space, and texture.

Recent career milestone: From his solo showcases at Milan's Cardi Gallery in 2022 to New York’s Tina Kim Gallery spanning from 2017 to 2023, and not forgetting his presence at Museo Novecento in Florence and Dirimart Gallery in Istanbul, Balliano’s name shines brightly in the art ledger. His group displays aren’t far behind, with exhibitions at venues like Magazzino Italian Art and the renowned David Zwirner Gallery. This consistent footmark in high-profile galleries only solidifies his growing reputation in the art labyrinth.

😍 Why I Like It: Balliano's approach is a breath of raw air in an often overly polished art world. His art doesn’t just sit there, waiting to be admired—it questions, prods, and nudges one into a profound dialogue. The symbiotic relationship between the crispness of his paintings and the intentional blemishes thrusts viewers into an introspective space, challenging our perceptions of perfection and decay. When an artist manages to straddle contrasting worlds - the immaculate and the flawed, the static and the dynamic - that's when you know they're not just on the radar; they're defining it.

🤔 What you need to know: Hailing from Helsinki, Henni Alftan is a contemporary heavyweight settled in Paris's art pulse. Alftan’s playbook is all about painting—deep dives into daily intricacies, tiptoeing between the hauntingly familiar and the mystique of the abstract. Trained in France's renowned art institutions, including a Masters from Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Paris, she’s been sharpening her prowess, turning memories into meticulously crafted canvases. It's the medium of painting through Alftan's lens: everyday fragments with a twist, encouraging viewers to peer beyond the obvious.

Recent career milestone: The past years have been nothing short of meteoric for Alftan. Exhibitions span from "Visitor" at LA's Karma in 2023, to "Contour" at London's Sprüth Magers a year prior, and not forgetting "Night-time" showcased in Berlin in 2021. Her name echoes in the halls of global giants - the LACMA in LA, Kiasma in Helsinki, and the revered Institute of Contemporary Art in Miami, to name just a few.

😍 Why I Like It: Alftan's magic is in her duality— the dance between image and medium, the micro and macro. Her palette captures a depth that resonates, turning the mundane into masterpieces. It's more than just color on a canvas; it's an experience, a challenge to the viewer's perspective. Alftan doesn’t just paint; she narrates, hinting at the stories lurking in the periphery. And the art scene agrees – her works are sought-after treasures in global collections, from Sydney's Art Gallery of New South Wales to LA's Hammer Museum.

🧐 Collector's Corner

Nicolas Berggruen, Founder & Investment Advisor at Berggruen Holdings

🔍 Collector Close-Up: Nicolas Berggruen, Beverly Hills-based philanthropist and art collector, boasts a lineage of art appreciation, thanks to his father, Heinz Berggruen, who had ties to iconic artists such as Picasso and Kahlo. The art world isn't unfamiliar terrain for Nicolas. Nurtured amidst masterpieces, his affinity for contemporary art flourished. With wealth accrued from a blend of inheritance and sharp investments via Berggruen Holdings, Nicolas embarked on a collecting journey ignited by interactions with Warhol and Basquiat in the '80s and '90s. His collection philosophy is intimate; art must stir his heart. Although labeled the "homeless billionaire" due to his hotel-hopping lifestyle, Berggruen maintains a deep emotional bond with his art. However, he perceives himself as a guardian of these masterpieces, emphasizing that they'll outlive their possessors.

💎Key Artists in the Collection:

  • Andy Warhol: A pivotal figure in the pop art movement, Warhol's works challenge the boundaries between art, celebrity, and commodity.

  • Jean-Michel Basquiat: Rising from street art to international acclaim, Basquiat’s raw graphics and poignant symbols explore themes of race, identity, and social issues.

  • Ed Ruscha: Revered for his text-based paintings, Ruscha’s works are rooted in the landscapes and vernacular of American culture.

  • Gerhard Richter: Straddling between photorealistic paintings and abstract color charts, Richter’s works confront the limits of representation.

  • Petra Cortright: A digital art pioneer, Cortright's works, often web-based, offer a unique blend of digital aesthetics and traditional art concepts.

  • Jon Rafman: Renowned for his exploration of digital culture, Rafman's pieces dissect the relationship between technology and human experience.

  • Bruce Nauman: His interdisciplinary approach, spanning sculpture, video, and performance, delves into human experience themes.

  • El Greco: A surprise in Berggruen's collection, the post-Renaissance painter's intense, spiritual works might've been an acquired taste for Nicolas, but they reflect his broad spectrum of appreciation.

“No matter what you own, especially art and great art, you are just a custodian or a temporary shepherd as opposed to really being the owner because the art will survive you.”

Shared by Berggruen in an interview

💭 Your Questions Answered

Is navigating the art world more like decoding a cryptic treasure map or simply banging on every door? This week, we're diving deep into the mysteries of gallery interactions. The question on every budding collector's lips of this week:

Why do galleries ghost, and what's the secret to making them listen?

Lorena Levi, Evergreen II (2022)

Listen, getting ghosted by galleries is the art world's unsung dilemma. But here's the raw truth: No one ever made it in the art game by waiting for an email reply. Let’s dissect how to kick the door open.

First, clear your inbox fantasies. With the sheer volume of emails, your query could easily become digital dust in a gallery's inbox. Especially if the gallery's roster boasts the latest “it” artist, they're drowning in inquiries. For smaller galleries, understaffing could mean your email is as good as invisible.

So what's the pro move? Show up. Yes, you heard me right—go to the gallery. No one ignores a live human. Approach the desk, introduce yourself. If you can't get to the gallery, go old-school: pick up the phone. Scope out the gallery's website, find a salesperson’s name, and dial directly.

And while you're at it, ditch the generic lines. Tell them you're a new collector. Make it clear you're not just trawling for the next big thing to flip; you're genuinely invested in the artists they represent. That's currency in this world. Galleries are eager to educate someone who's not treating art like a stock market.

Keep pressing. Show up at their exhibitions. Hunt them down at art fairs. Make your face a fixture on their radar. Show up, follow up, and I guarantee, you'll get the attention you're looking for.

Stop waiting for the art world to come to you. Take these steps, and you’ll go from being another unread email to a known entity on a gallery's radar. Time to make some moves.

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

🔗 Market Stories

  • 🌏 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair is planning a grand entrance into the Asian market. How? With a Christie's Hong Kong showcase to coincide with Art Basel Hong Kong in March 2024. New continents, new opportunities!

  • 👔 Jussi Pylkkänen, the auctioneer who's been the Gandalf of Christie’s magic for nearly four decades, is stepping out solo. Billions in art sales under his belt, and he's just getting started.

  • 👀 Sotheby's Paris is where you'll want to be this December. The late Hubert Guerrand-Hermès is sending over a whopping 1,000 works to the auction block. Get your paddles ready!

  • 🖼️ Eyes were popping when Amrita Sher-Gil’s painting "The Story Teller" became the priciest Indian artwork ever sold. Major applause!

  • 💔 We lost two giants. Robert Irwin, the sage of California Light and Space, and Ida Applebroog, the feminist provocateur, have left us. Their impact? Eternal.

  • 🌟 Lauren Halsey takes her activist genius to Gagosian, Todd Gray heads to Lehmann Maupin, and Trey Abdella is a David Lewis-Vito Schnabel collab. And Lorena Levi? She’s Marlborough's newest prize. Talent is always in season!

  • 🏰 Antwerp's Tim Van Laere Gallery is about to make the Eternal City even more divine with a 17th-century Palazzo outpost. And guess what? Ben Sledsens will be the headliner. Can't wait!

  • 💼 The Dallas Museum of Art is trimming its staff and taking a Tuesday hiatus during a mega $150M expansion. We'll be waiting for the big reveal!

  • 💡 Massimo Bartolini is Italy's pick for the Venice Biennale. Can you say "mamma mia"!

  • 👋 Jill Medvedow is exiting ICA Boston, and Anne Lyden is making history as the first female director for the National Galleries of Scotland. Women on the rise!

  • 🎨 Leonardo da Vinci’s contested drawing is getting a French exit, while the Ann Craven pieces caught in Lisa Schiff’s legal tangles are still up in the air.

💡 How I Can Help

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📚 What I’m Reading

Many of you have been inquiring about my go-to book recommendations for navigating the often labyrinthine worlds of the art market. Well, the wait is over. Here's a curated list of my all-time favorites:

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