Sunday, January 7, 2007

Quick Notes 1

City Ordinance Fight Over Kiefer Sculpture [NYT] (from Art Law Blog)
Andrew and Christine Hall, two major art collectors from Fairfield, Connecticut, bought Anselm Kiefer's Narrow Are the Vessels and put it on their lawn. It turns out that it's so big that it qualifies as a 'structure' under Fairfield town ordinances, and they have to apply for a permit to certify its 'appropriateness'. Needless to say, there's a law suit in court. What the article doesn't explain is whether it's a matter of making sure the work is aesthetically appropriate or merely structurally so. (Kind of an important distinction, especially since it's blocked from the street by shrubs.) As is the case in many of these stories, the real problem may be class issues. Says the town attorney, Richard Saxl: "We’re dealing with people who are not used to being told 'no.'" That's a great comment to make to a journalist at the Times, Dick.

When Did Klimt Become the Thing? [ArtNews]
Says Robert Rosenblum, “I myself love Klimt up to a point, but it’s like going to a Viennese bakery.” That's about as weak an endorsement as any endorsement as I have ever heard. I like Klimt a lot - more than Rosenblum, at a minimum - but I'm hard-pressed to disagree with the argument that his prices are enormously inflated at the moment. The ArtNews piece provides a pretty helpful overview of how prices rose so dramatically over the last decade. It should be no surprise that it was spurred, in large part, by the collecting habits of a handful of people. With most of his major works now snatched up, prices will have to fall, but it's not hard to imagine that prices for more minor works have been increases for as least the near to medium term. But still, why Klimt? Rosenblum and others want to chock it up to the work's nostalgia value. Isn't that true of all art, though? Turn of the century Vienna is great, but so are lots of other eras. An additional possibility: the resolution of the ownership of a few major Klimt's dating back to World War II has helped facilitate a temporary market burst. And now most of them are sold - into arrangements that appear to be relatively permanent. Vienna Expressionism is the new French Impressionism.

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