🤫 Shhh... Luxury Whispers in Modern Art

+ Beat Canonica's Eastern Fusion + Abercrombie's $350K Owl Surprise + Gallery Dating Game


Welcome to the 1316 new art lovers who joined last week.

This week’s Art in a Flash includes:

  • 🌟 Artist in Focus: Beat Canonica's world: East meets West with a Kandinsky twist. Watch out for "With the Signs of ZEN".

  • 🔥 Hammer Time: Gertrude Abercrombie's on fire, with "Four Trees and Three Owls" soaring at $350,000.

  • 📚 Brushstrokes of Knowledge: Welcome to the era of quiet luxury, where opulence whispers its worth.

  • 🧐 Curator's Corner: Hollywood and artists grapple with the pressures of a shrinking, globalized world.

  • 💫 Wonder of Art: The artist-gallery dance? It's high school dating with more flair.

  • 🔗 Industry Top Picks: London's cheeky "non-fair", Christie's after-sale regrets, NYC auction houses rush the season, and more.

Read Time 10 minutes

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🌟 Artist in Focus

Let's dive into the whirlpool of Beat Canonica's expressive universe, shall we?

A whimsical realm where East meets West and charcoal sketches elbows with slapstick humor.

At 8, while most of us were perfecting our stick figures or, let's admit it, scribbling over walls, Beat was already designing signs - the heartbeat of his artistic soul.

Beat's art feels like a fusion sushi roll, with flavors of Asian calligraphy, seasoned with symbolic zest, and wrapped in layers of acrylic, pastel, and a touch of imagination.

One might even say, it's like opening a fortune cookie and finding a miniature Kandinsky inside. How's that for a treat?

Dive into "Vögel, Menschen und Drachen" (birds, humans and dragons) and it's not just a piece of art – it's a philosophical, ornithological, and mythological party.

A mixed-technique spectacle where beings traverse life cycles and fine lines whisper secrets only the keenest of observers can decode. It's a visual symphony orchestrated with signs that bridge our real world with the infinite realms of Beat’s fantasies.

Now, Beat's not just about the canvases and easels. Our maestro is a jack of all trades, and a master of...well, all of them! From impromptu stage performances to tickling ivories and strumming strings, his versatility is as awe-inspiring as his art. Beat’s upcoming exhibition, "With the Signs of ZEN," will be showcased at the Kunstsichtbar gallery in Zurich from September 16 to September 30, promising a Zen-coaster ride.

Trust me, you'll want a front-row seat to this visual fiesta.

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

🔥 Hammer Time

Step aside, stock markets. The art world’s latest darling, Gertrude Abercrombie, is making waves with her surrealist magic.

This American artist, once the wallflower of the art scene, is now waltzing her way to the limelight, raking in big bucks beyond the behemoth galleries.

To throw a number into the mix: a whopping $2.26 million from just 13 works this year, averaging a sumptuous $172,852 a piece.

Four Trees and Three Owls by Gertrude Abercrombie

The showstopper? "Four Trees and Three Owls from 1950" which went under the hammer for $350,000 at Hindman, soaring high above its modest $50,000 estimate like an owl spotting a juicy mouse from a mile away.

Upgrade to unlock the full story behind these numbers and insights from lots to watch in the coming months…

📚 Brushstrokes of Knowledge

Just as Bill Gates reputedly said, "Content is King," one could say that in the realm of painting, "Quiet Luxury is Queen."

Artists are leaning into this notion and picking up elements that hide wealth in plain sight, subtly signaling a person's social standing.

Picture this: Where once a peacock might unfurl its grandiose plume, today's wealthy elite, and their artistic proxies, are more apt to sport a logo-free, Italian cashmere baseball cap a la Kendall Roy in "Succession." 

Like a well-kept secret amongst those in-the-know, quiet luxury finds its expression in the realm of painting in the understated portrayal of beautiful garments and accessories.

The likes of Alexis Ralaivao, sculpt details with artistic fervor that quietly screams money - making it akin to a whispering auction at the back end of a private-jet hangar.

La source lumineuse, 2022 by Alexis Ralaivao

Fast rewind a few centuries to the old Masters like Vermeer, Rembrandt, their canvases all but whispered the spirit of "quiet luxury".

Back to our future, Alexis Ralaivao, repackages this fine art tradition into a modern context. His fascination lies with the interplay of transparency, light, and the luxurious dichotomy of simultaneously attracting and repulsing.

Like being gifted an Hermès Birkin bag, only to realize it's empty - so beautiful yet mystifyingly void.

Leonard Baby, and Caroline Zurmely, among others, straddle this quiet, luxurious tightrope with their detailed portrayals of materialistic desires.

They are the modern detectives of consumer ideology, rendering opulence under a forensic lens, playfully poking and prodding to find its underlying resonance in society.

Knees, 2021 by Caroline Zurmely

As they bring these objects of desire into the public view, painstakingly recreating the glow of silk, the shimmer of a diamond, or the intricacy of an expensive watch, they question our kneejerk desires and the power dynamics that fuel them.

In the end, even as these artists subtly critique the entourage of quiet luxury in their paintings, they themselves become part of the act. It's the artistic equivalent of being both in the play and an audience at it.

As Salvador Dali aptly said, "What is important is to spread confusion, not eliminate it".

So, ladies and gentlemen, let's raise a glass to quiet luxury, the leading lady of the modern art stage, playing her part with understated elegance in the grand spectacle of high-end society.

🧐 Curator's Corner

Let’s kick things off with a brain teaser, shall we? What do the brooding screenwriters of Hollywood and the paint-splattered artists in dimly lit studios have in common?

If your answer was “quirky fashion choices,” nice try! But today, it's about a surprising intersection: the pressures of our globalized world.

Think of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) going on strike as a grand Broadway show; the main act isn't just about writers demanding fair pay. Oh no!

It’s a dazzling display of how the modern art scene shares more than just curtain calls with the silver screen. And if you're wondering why artists should care about writers' woes, let me paint you a vivid picture.

Fire Kid (Girl), 2020 by Yinka Shonibare

Shift your gaze from the art gallery to your living room. Netflix, Hulu, and their techy compadres have forever altered how we consume TV.

Remember the days when waiting a week for the next TV episode was the ultimate patience test? Ancient history! Just as art has been influenced by societal changes, the way TV is written and distributed has evolved.

Now, while you’d think this new world order benefits every Tom, Dick, and Harriet with a typewriter, it's really a bittersweet symphony. Yes, there are more shows to binge, but for writers, shorter series and "mini-rooms" mean more uncertainty and less dough. Imagine Van Gogh trying to paint “Starry Night” with half the colors and a third of the canvas. Not so starry now, huh?

Now, what's truly astonishing is that even with the art industry’s relatively unchanged business model since the mid-2000s, artists face similar pressures.

In this global arena, both writers and artists dance to the rhythm of a shared tune: the siren song of international acclaim and the crushing weight of replaceability.

Every industry heavyweight, from Netflix to notable art galleries, is chasing the same dream - universal appeal.

But while they aim for the stars, our trusty creators are often left grounded, struggling against the tides of change.

So, as the world shrinks, and tastes globalize, it’s not just about the medium, whether script or sculpture. It’s about understanding the interplay of creativity and commerce in a world that constantly shifts the goalposts.

The real masterpiece? Navigating this complex canvas while still making every stroke count.

💫 Wonder of Art

You might think the art world is all bohemian soirées and champagne-fueled auction frenzies.

But peel back the paint and what you've got is a peculiar dance between artists and galleries that's a bit like high school dating – but with more canvas and fewer zits.

The open secret: introductions matter. Much like that friend who insists they've found the one for you, most artists get in the gallery door via a friend's word or through open studios. It's a sort of "who you know, not just what you paint" scenario.

Forget sending random portfolios; most gallerists, rarely bite unless they've started the chase themselves. In other words, swiping right on an artist’s Instagram might just be the new courting.

Gisela McDaniel, installation view in Pilar Corrias Gallery’s booth at The Armory Show, 2023

Once the introductions are made, the real game begins, It's like dating (ah, that analogy again). They're sizing up if the artist is the real deal.

Is there passion? Commitment? A dash of humor? The game isn't just about the artwork's aesthetic value but the character behind the brushstrokes.

A gut feeling evolves into something deeper, something that looks at both art and economic philosophies. It's a mix between the X-factor and a promising stock in the art world.

But as with any relationship, communication is vital. Being organized, like having high-resolution images of work, is art’s version of good chat.

Timothy Lai, installation view in Jack Barrett’s booth at The Armory Show, 2023.

For artists, stepping into a gallery might feel like a final commitment. But before artists and galleries change their Facebook status to 'In a Relationship,' there's a sort of probation period.

Think of it as a dance off, where both parties get to feel the rhythm and assess their partner's moves. They'll collaborate on group shows, or if the stars align, solo exhibitions.

This is where compatibility shines or fizzles out. It’s as much for the artist as it is for the gallery.

A good match isn't about tying the artist down but letting them soar. Once the dance is perfected, contracts are inked, and the real journey begins, letting artists focus on what they do best: creating magic on canvas.

🔗 Industry Top Picks

🎡 London's getting a "radical twist" with the debut of Minor Attractions, which is so against mainstream it's calling itself a “non-fair”. Why? Just to thumb its nose at Frieze London happening at the same time. Revolutionary, or just having a laugh? Stay tuned!

🔨 Christie's is suddenly practicing moral gymnastics, cancelling sales from Nazi-affiliated Horten's estate after, oh, a modest $202 million sale. Guess better late than never?

🗽 The auction houses in NYC are feeling a bit FOMO with Amory Week's crowd, rushing sales ahead of peak season. Sotheby's is channeling Vogue, and Bonham's is putting Colescott in the spotlight. Impatient much?

Upgrade for the full batch of picks this week…

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