Is the Art World All About Money? | Conversations with Jim Zirin

Is the Art World All About Money? | Conversations with Jim Zirin


♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪>>HI THERE, I AM JIM ZIRIN. WELCOME BACK TO MORE “CONVERSATIONS.” WITH US IS THE AUTHOR, MICHAEL SHNAYERSON. MICHAEL SHNAYERSON HAS WRITTEN SIX BOOKS ON A VARIETY OF SUBJECTS. THE FIRST IN 2008, “COAL RIVER” WAS A COMPELLING PORTRAIT OF THE PEOPLE IN WEST VIRGINIA RISKING THEIR REPUTATIONS AND LIVELIHOODS IN THE FIGHT AGAINST KING COAL. THE SECOND, “THE CAR THAT COULD: THE INSIDE STORY OF GM’S REVOLUTIONARY ELECTRIC VEHICLE” WAS THE FIRST BOOK TO PENETRATE THE SILENCE SURROUNDING GM’S RISKY AND SUCCESSFUL DECISION TO BECOME THE WORLD’S FIRST MASS PRODUCER OF THE ELECTRIC CAR. HE WROTE A BIOGRAPHY OF THE ICONIC WRITER IRWIN SHAW, WRITER OF THE ANTI-WAR PLAY “BURY THE DEAD.” WE DID THAT IN HIGH SCHOOL. THEN, THERE WAS “THE KILLERS WITHIN: THE DEADLY RISE OF DRUG-RESISTANT BACTERIA.” IN 2015, HE WROTE AN UNAUTHORIZED BIOGRAPHY, “THE CONTENDER,” A BOOK NOT ABOUT TERRY MALLOY IN “ON THE WATERFRONT,” BUT ABOUT THE STALLED QUEST OF OUR GOVERNOR ANDREW CUOMO TO BECOME PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES. RECENTLY, HE RELEASED HIS MOST SUCCESSFUL WORK, “BOOM,” A BEST-SELLING TALE OF HOW A COTERIE OF ART DEALERS MADE A GLOBAL MARKET FOR CONTEMPORARY ART, AMASSING FORTUNES BY PLACING TROPHY ART OBJECTS WITH SUPER-WEALTHY COLLECTORS. I AM DELIGHTED TO WELCOME MICHAEL SHNAYERSON TO THIS TABLE. PEGGY GUGGENHEIM, THE RENOWNED COLLECTOR SAID THE ENTIRE ART MOVEMENT HAS BECOME AN ENORMOUS BUSINESS VENTURE. SHE SAID THAT IN 1960. A LOT HAS HAPPENED SINCE THEN.>>MY BOOK STARTS IN THE LATE 1940s WHEN THE WHOLE ART WORLD WAS JUST A HANDFUL OF PEOPLE DOWN IN GREENWICH VILLAGE. IT CARRIES IT UP THROUGH TODAY WHERE IT IS JUST THIS GLOBAL BIZARRE, BILLIONS OF DOLLARS, MANIPULATED TO SOME DEGREE BY DEALERS WHO REPRESENT THESE EXTRAORDINARY ARTISTS.>>PEGGY GUGGENHEIM DIED IN 1979. THERE HAS BEEN AN ESCALATION IN PRICES SINCE THEN, WHICH SHE WOULDN’T HAVE EVEN DREAMED OF. WHAT ACCOUNTS FOR THAT? IS IT JUST THE RISE IN INFLATION, GDP, THE STOCK MARKET?>>THERE ARE A NUMBER OF FACTORS OR MILESTONES ALONG THE WAY. IN A SENSE, THE FIRST MILESTONE IS THE SKULL AUCTION IN 1973. IF YOU REMEMBER, ROBERT AND ETHEL SKULL, THESE MAJOR COLLECTORS OF CONTEMPORARY ART AT THE TIME, WARHOL AND LICHTENSTEIN AND ROSENQUIST DECIDED TO SELL A LOT OF THEIR STUFF AT AUCTION. EVERYONE STILL HAS THE SENSE THAT THIS WORK CAN BE BOUGHT FOR PENNIES. THAT NIGHT, THE ENTIRE ART MARKET IS TRANSFORMED BECAUSE THE STUFF GOES FOR HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS OF DOLLARS. PEOPLE ARE STUNNED.>>JUST HUNDREDS OF THOUSANDS?>>THAT IS ONE MILESTONE. I THINK THE EARLY 1980s IS ANOTHER MILESTONE BECAUSE YOU HAVE THE BEGINNING OF THE BULL MARKET, REAGAN MONEY, YOUNG PEOPLE WORKING ON WALL STREET AND HAVING THE MONEY TO PUT SOMETHING ON THEIR WALLS. AS YOU GO ON THROUGH THE 1980s, WHERE IT GETS TRULY CRAZED AND FROTHY, THERE IS A MILESTONE AT THE END BECAUSE IT ALL GOES DOWN WITH THE END OF THE 1980s. IT DOESN’T REALLY COME UP AGAIN UNTIL ABOUT 1999. WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT THAT IS THAT IT IS THE YEAR THAT LEO CASTELLI DIED, MAJOR DEALER OF THE 1950’S, 1960’S — THE PRINCE OF THE WHOLE DOWNTOWN ART SCENE. HIS DEATH, AT ABOUT 90, AT THAT TIME REALLY USHERED IN A WHOLE NEW ERA. IT IS NOT JUST BECAUSE OF HIM, IT IS ALMOST DESPITE HIM. THE FACT THAT WITH HIM GONE, A WHOLE OTHER WORLD OF PEOPLE COME INTO THIS FIELD, BILLIONAIRES, FOR EXAMPLE. IN THE 1980s, THERE WERE A COUPLE HUNDRED BILLIONAIRES IN THE WORLD. 1999, THERE START TO BE OVER 1000. NOW, THERE ARE 2000. THESE PEOPLE HAVE EXTRAORDINARY MONEY TO SPEND ON ART.>>CASTELLI WAS MORE INTERESTED IN THE ART.>>ABSOLUTELY.>>HE BROUGHT OUT ARTISTS AND INTRODUCED THEM TO THE PUBLIC.>>HE DID. HE WAS PASSIONATE ABOUT ART. HE DIDN’T MIND MAKING A PROFIT FROM THE ART HE HANDLED, BUT HE COULD ALSO BE JUST AS HAPPY PAYING A STIPEND TO AN ARTIST FOR YEARS UNTIL HIS WORK STARTED TO SELL. HE REALLY WAS AN EXTRAORDINARY FIGURE. THERE IS A GREAT STORY I TELL ON THE BOOK ABOUT CASTELLI JUST STARTING HIS GALLERY IN 1957. HE HAS GOT ONE ARTIST, RAUSCHENBERG, MAKING THESE STRANGE COLLAGES. HE NEEDS ANOTHER ARTIST. HE GOES TO THE JEWISH MUSEUM, TO A SHOW AND HE SEES THIS NICE PAINTING, SORT OF LIKE A GREEN TARGET, NEVER HEARD OF THE ARTIST, JASPER JOHNS. FILES IT AWAY IN THE BACK OF HIS HEAD. THAT NIGHT, HE AND HIS WIFE, HERSELF A DEALER, POSSIBLY BETTER THAN CASTELLI, MOST PEOPLE WOULD SAY. THEY GO DOWN TO VISIT RAUSCHENBERG TO SEE HIS NEW WORK THAT IS GOING TO BE PUT IN THEIR NEW GALLERY. HE OFFERS THEM A DRINK AND THEY ASK FOR ICE. HE SAYS I DON’T HAVE ANY ICE, BUT MY FRIEND JASPER, DOWNSTAIRS HAS SOME. CASTELLI GOES, JASPER? IS THAT JASPER JOHNS WHOSE WORK I SAW AT THE JEWISH MUSEUM? HE SAYS I MUST SEE IT. THEY GO DOWNSTAIRS, OPEN THE DOOR, AND IT WAS THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY MOMENT OF LEO CASTELLI’S LIFE. THERE ARE LIKE 30 JASPER JOHN PAINTINGS NEVER SEEN BY ANYBODY ELSE. THIS IS THE KIND OF WORLD THAT CASTELLI OCCUPIED AND MADE POSSIBLE.>>A WATERSHED OVER ICE.>>VERY GOOD. THINGS DO CHANGE IN THE EARLY 2000s. ONE OF THEM IS THE ONCOMING BILLIONAIRES. ANOTHER IS THE AUCTION WORLD. THE AUCTION HOUSES REALIZE THAT THEY HAVE BEEN SPENDING ALL OF THIS TIME PUTTING HUNDRED-YEAR-OLD PAINTINGS UP FOR AUCTION, PAINTINGS WHOSE CREATORS HAVE LONG SINCE DIED. NOW, THEY REALIZE THAT THERE IS A MARKET FOR LIVING ARTISTS. THERE IS A MARKET FOR ARTISTS WHO ARE IN THEIR 20s. YOU CAN MAKE UP A REPUTATION FOR A YOUNG ARTIST, PUT THEM ON AUCTION AND BY GOD, THE NEXT THING YOU KNOW, HE IS SELLING FOR 2 MILLION DOLLARS OR $3 MILLION A PAINTING.>>WITH THE ESCALATION OF PRICES, WAS THERE ALSO AN ESCALATION IN THE MARGINS, WHICH DEALERS WERE ABLE TO HARVEST?>>SURE. EVERYBODY GOT VERY EXCITED BY THE SPIKE IN PRICES THAT WOULD OFTEN OCCUR BETWEEN THE PRIMARY AND SECONDARY MARKETS. IN A SENTENCE, PRIMARY IS THE ARTIST’S WORK WHEN IT IS FIRST CREATED. ANYTHING THAT HAS JUST COME OUT OF A STUDIO IS PRIMARY. WHEN IT GETS SOLD AGAIN, WHETHER AT AUCTION OR ANYWHERE ELSE, IT IS SECONDARY. IT NOW BEGAN TO SEEM AS IF WORK, WHEN IT WENT FROM PRIMARY TO SECONDARY, THE PRICE JUST SKYROCKETED. PEOPLE CAME UP WITH THIS PHRASE, ART AS AN ASSET. ART WAS JUST AS MUCH AN ASSET AS ANY KIND OF SECURITY –>>OR A COMMODITY. A LOT OF IT KEPT IN VAULTS, NEVER SEEN BY THE PUBLIC OR COLLECTORS.>>THAT IS ONE OF THE FASCINATING IRONIES OF THIS BUSINESS. THAT PEOPLE WITH A LOT OF MONEY BUY ART, EXPECTING IT TO INCREASE DRAMATICALLY IN A YEAR OR TWO, AND UNTIL THAT HAPPENS, THEY PUT IT IN WHAT IS CALLED A FREEPORT. THERE ARE FREEPORTS IN GENEVA AND OTHER CITIES OF EUROPE.>>HAVE YOU EVER VISITED ONE?>>I HAVEN’T. I HAVE READ ABOUT THEM. THEY ARE AS BIG AS FOOTBALL FIELDS. BASICALLY, IT IS A HUGE WAREHOUSE FILLED WITH ART THAT HAS BEEN BOUGHT, SORT OF LIKE AT A DUTY-FREE SHOP, WHERE YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY THAT TAX. YOU DON’T HAVE TO PAY A TAX FOR HAVING BOUGHT THAT ART AS LONG AS IT STAYS IN THE FREEPORT. ONCE YOU TAKE IT OUT OF THE FREEPORT AND BRING IT HOME, YOU ARE SUPPOSED TO PAY THE TAX. IT IS GENERALLY RECOGNIZED THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE DO PAY THAT TAX. IT IS QUITE A TAX DODGE. THAT IS A VERY IMPORTANT ASPECT OF ALL OF THIS.>>WHAT HAPPENS TO THAT ART KEPT IN FREEPORT? SOLD, DONATED TO MUSEUMS? WILL THE PUBLIC EVER SEE IT?>>ALL OF THOSE THINGS CAN HAPPEN, BUT THE SAD THING IS THAT MOST OFTEN WHAT HAPPENS IS IT CONTINUES SITTING IN THE FREEPORT. SOMETIMES, IT GETS SOLD FROM ONE OWNER TO ANOTHER OR TRADED WITH ANOTHER WORK ON ANOTHER SHELF IN THE SAME FREEPORT. IT NEVER GETS OUT OF THE FREEPORT. SOME OF THE REAL MASTERPIECES THAT WE HAVE COME TO KNOW IN THE LAST DECADE ARE NOW JUST GONE.>>DO ANY OF THESE COLLECTORS REALLY KNOW WHAT IS A FIRST-CLASS PAINTING AND WHAT ISN’T? I SUPPOSE THEY HAVE ADVISORS. JERRY SALTZ, A CRITIC FOR “NEW YORK MAGAZINE” SEEMS TO THINK THAT 80% OF ART THAT YOU SEE IS CRAP.>>JERRY SALTZ, WHO IS CLOSE TO GOD IN THIS BUSINESS, HE SAYS THAT 85% OF CONTEMPORARY ART IS TERRIBLE AND DOOMED TO FAIL. THE PROBLEM IS, WHAT YOU THINK IS THE GOOD 15% IS NOT THE 15% THAT I THINK IS GOOD.>>TOTALLY SUBJECTIVE.>>SO YOU DON’T KNOW, SO PEOPLE KEEP COLLECTING HOPING THAT WHAT THEY HAVE BOUGHT DOES EMERGE AS BEING PART OF THAT 15%.>>LET’S TAKE ANOTHER CONCRETE EXAMPLE OF A GRAFFITI PAINTER, JEAN-MICHEL BASQUIAT. HIS WORK WAS NEVER FULLY ACCEPTED BY CONNOISSEURS. MOMA DIDN’T BUY HIS WORK THROUGHOUT THE PERIOD OF HIS HEYDAY. THE MID-1980s, HE WAS MAKING MAYBE –>>$1000 A PAINTING.>>BY 2017, HIS WORK OF A SKULL WENT FOR OVER $100 MILLION.>>HIS STORY IS CENTRAL TO THE BOOK AND TO THAT WHOLE PERIOD.>>THAT IS A BOOM.>>THAT IS A BOOM, ALRIGHT. I AM CAREFUL TO SAY THAT I AM NOT GOING TO JUDGE ANY ARTIST HERE. I’M NOT A CRITIC, I’M NOT A CURATOR. I AM REALLY JUST A STORYTELLER. TO ME, WHAT IS INTERESTING ABOUT HIM IS THE WAY THAT HIS WORK WAS RECOGNIZED IMMEDIATELY BY A WHOLE DOWNTOWN ART SCENE. IT DIDN’T TAKE YEARS. IT TOOK YEARS FOR THE MARKET TO CATCH UP TO HIM OR FOR THE MARKET TO PROPEL HIM TO SALES OF $100 MILLION. BACK IN THE EARLY 1980s, ONE OF THE FIRST PEOPLE TO DISCOVER HIM WAS LARRY GAGOSIAN. HE HAS A GOOD EYE. HE SAW RIGHT FROM THE START THAT THIS YOUNG GUY –>>HE HAS AN EYE FOR ART OR MONEY?>>BOTH. MORE EYE FOR ART THAN PEOPLE GIVE HIM CREDIT FOR.>>HE WAS A DISCIPLE OF LEO CASTELLI.>>AND A VERY UNLIKELY ONE BECAUSE THE TWO MEN COULDN’T BE MORE DIFFERENT FROM EACH OTHER. YET, WHEN LARRY CAME FROM CALIFORNIA TO MAKE HIS WAY KNOWING NOBODY AND HAVING NO REAL MONEY. NO ART DEGREE, NOTHING. HIS BIG ART CREDENTIAL WAS THAT HE HAD SOLD POSTERS OUT OF THE TRUNK OF HIS CAR IN A LA. HE HAD MOXIE, HE HAD A GOOD EYE, AND HE ACTUALLY IMPRESSED CASTELLI AS BEING THE SORT OF PERSON, IN A WAY THAT CASTELLI HAD WISHED HE HAD BECOME. CASTELLI WAS THIS URBANE EUROPEAN, SPOKE FIVE LANGUAGES, BUT HE WASN’T A TOUGH GUY. HE LIKED THE TOUGH GUY PART OF LARRY GAGOSIAN.>>IS IT NECESSARY TO BE A TOUGH GUY TO BE AN ART DEALER? IT IS A DOG EAT DOG MARKET.>>YES. IF TOUGHNESS MEANS GETTING A REALLY GOOD PRICE OR DISCOVERING AN ARTIST BEFORE EVERYONE ELSE, THEN SURE. YOU HAVE TO BE TOUGH. IN TEMPERAMENT, MOST OF THE DEALERS THAT I MET WERE LOVELY PEOPLE. I FOCUSED ON THE DEALERS.>>BUT DOES THE LOVELY TEMPERAMENT — THE UNDERLYING AVARICE –>>JUST LAST NIGHT, SOMEONE ASKED ME, IN THE BOOK, DO YOU GET INTO THE AVARICE, INTO THE ILLEGALITIES, INTO THE MONEY LAUNDERING? THERE IS A LITTLE BIT AT THE END, BUT TO BE HONEST, THAT IS A WHOLE OTHER BOOK. YOU WOULD ALMOST HAVE TO BE AN INVESTIGATIVE FINANCIAL JOURNALIST OR PROSECUTOR TO DETERMINE WHO HAS BEEN CHEATING ON WHAT. EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE, SOME NEWS WILL POP UP. A FEW YEARS AGO, LARRY GAGOSIAN HAD TO PAY A $4 MILLION FINE FOR TAX EVASION BECAUSE HE WAS PUTTING ART THAT HAD JUST BEEN SOLD TO YOU IN A BOX AND SENDING IT ACROSS THE STATE LINE TO SOMEWHERE ELSE AND EVADING STATE TAXES FOR THE RECIPIENT. THAT KIND OF THING HAPPENS, BUT IT IS VERY HARD TO KNOW HOW MUCH CORRUPTION IS GOING ON.>>GALLERIST MARY BOONE — IN JAIL EVEN.>>I WAS ACTUALLY THE LAST PERSON TO INTERVIEW HER BEFORE SHE WENT TO JAIL.>>LUCKY YOU.>>SHE WAS STUNNED THAT THIS HAD HAPPENED. HER ARGUMENT WAS THAT ALL DEALERS DO THIS. WE ALL EXPENSE ACCOUNT EVERYTHING OR CALL SOMETHING A BUSINESS EXPENSE WHEN IT IS NOT. ACTUALLY, SHE HAD REALLY PUSHED THE MARGINS BY DECLARING HER WHOLE GALLERY, HER WHOLE APARTMENT TO BE A GALLERY. IT IS HARD TO GET AWAY WITH.>>WHEN YOU HAVE AN EPONYMOUS TRADENAME, LIKE MARY BOONE OR GAGOSIAN, EVERY CENT YOU SPEND IS ARGUABLY A BUSINESS EXPENSE. IT IS PROMOTING THE BRAND.>>YOU COULD SAY THAT, BUT FOR REASONS I CAN’T BEGIN TO TELL YOU, LEGALLY, YOU CAN’T ACTUALLY DO THAT. WHAT I WANT TO SAY IS THAT WHEN I BEGAN, I THOUGHT, I WILL TELL THE STORY OF CONTEMPORARY ART, GOING BACK FROM THE 1940s, ALL THE WAY UP TO TODAY. I GOT A FEW MONTHS INTO THIS AND I SAW THAT IT WAS SUCH A SPRAWLING SUBJECT. THAT IS WHEN I FOCUSED ON THE DEALERS. THEY ARE A FASCINATING BREED. WHETHER ONE OR ANOTHER HAS BEEN IMPLICATED IN SOME KIND OF TAX EVASION AT SOME POINT OR ANOTHER, THE FACT IS, THESE ARE GENERALLY VERY SMART, PASSIONATE PEOPLE WHO HAVE DONE A LOT TO BRING ARTISTS ALONG. I THOUGHT THEY WERE A GROUP THAT HAD NEVER BEEN EXAMINED IN THAT WAY. THEY HAD BEEN EXAMINED EITHER IN COLD NUMBERS OR WITH A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF SCORN — AS BEING WHEELER DEALERS. I FOUND THEM GENERALLY TO BE AN ADMIRABLE AND FASCINATING BUNCH.>>IT SOUNDS AS IF WALL STREET IS DOG EAT DOG, THE ART WORLD IS THE OTHER WAY AROUND.>>I GUESS SO. [LAUGHTER] AT ANY RATE, I MET SOME WONDERFUL DEALERS. ONE OF MY FAVORITES IS GAVIN BROWN, WHO IS CALLED THE LEO CASTELLI OF HIS AGE. NOW, HE IS ABOUT 45, HAS A PIRATICAL BLACKBEARD. ONE DAY, HE CAME BACK TO HIS GALLERY TO DISCOVER SOMETHING BIZARRE. THE ENTIRE FLOOR HAD BEEN JACK HAMMERED. IT WAS GONE. THERE WAS A BIG PIT THERE. HE KNEW EXACTLY WHAT HAD HAPPENED. AN ARTIST HE KNEW HAD TAKEN IT UPON HIMSELF TO PUT THIS HOLE IN THE GALLERY AS ART. IT WAS ART. I SAID TO HIM, WHAT HAPPENED AFTER THAT? HE SAID WE SOLD THE HOLE. WE SOLD IT TO THIS COLLECTOR, A VERY WELL-KNOWN COLLECTOR THAT IS CLOSE TO WARHOL. I SAID, HOW DID PETER GET THE HOLE UP FROM YOUR DOWNTOWN GALLERY TO HIS PLACE IN GREENWICH? HE SAID, OF COURSE HE DIDN’T DO THAT, HE JUST CREATED A NEW HOLE UP IN GREENWICH AND CALLED IT THE HOLE. I SAID, THIS IS REALLY KIND OF CRAZED. YOU ARE SAYING THAT THE NEW HOLE IS THE SAME AS THE OLD HOLE AND THEY ARE BOTH ART? HE SAID ABSOLUTELY. IT IS ALL ABOUT THE IDEA. THAT, I THINK IS AN IMPORTANT POINT FOR ANY ASPECT OF THIS STORY. THE IDEA IS SO IMPORTANT. THERE WAS A WONDERFUL ARTIST NAMED SOL LeWITT. IN THE BEGINNING OF 50s OR MAYBE EARLY 60s, HE DIDN’T MAKE THE ART ITSELF, HE MADE THE DIRECTIONS. YOU WOULD MAKE THE ART YOURSELF. HIS ART TENDS TO BE THESE SQUARE COLORED PANELS ON WALLS. BUT HE DIDN’T PUT THEM THERE. HE JUST GAVE YOU THE INSTRUCTIONS.>>SO THEN YOU MUST HIRE AN ARTISAN.>>AND THAT IS CONCEPTUAL ART.>>WHICH IS ANOTHER THING. YOU ALSO WRITE ABOUT A CERTAIN DODGINESS AMONG ARTISTS AND ALSO AMONG COLLECTORS, AMONG ARTISTS YOU HAVE THE AFRICAN-AMERICAN ARTIST MARK BRADFORD, WHO INSISTED THAT THE COLLECTOR PAY FOR TWO PAINTINGS WOULD ONLY GET ONE. ALSO RECEIVED A VERY LARGE DONATION TO HIS FAVORITE CHARITY FROM THE GALLERY TO INDUCE THEM TO SWITCH GALLERIES FROM THE LONDON GALLERY TO THE NEW YORK GALLERY.>>YOU COULD MAKE THAT ARGUMENT. THE FACT IS THAT MARK BRADFORD, WHO IS A WONDERFUL ARTIST, ONE OF THE BEST I THINK — NOW THAT I AM A CIVILIAN AGAIN. HE GREW UP IN THE SOUTH PART OF LA, NO MONEY, HIS MOTHER HAD A BEAUTY SALON. HE WORKED IN THE SALON THROUGH HIS 20s. HE STARTED LOOKING AT THESE ENDPAPERS THAT YOU PUT INTO YOUR HAIR IF YOU ARE A WOMAN. I DON’T QUITE UNDERSTAND WHAT THEY ARE. HE BEGAN PUTTING THEM ON BIG CANVASES AND MAKING THIS VERY INTERESTING ART OUT OF IT. HE HAS BECOME ONE OF THE HIGHEST EARNING AND MOST ADMIRED PAINTERS IN THE WORLD. ALONG THE WAY, HE STARTED THIS — SORT OF A NONPROFIT OPERATION TO HELP YOUNG PEOPLE IN SOUTH CENTRAL LA.>>I THINK FOSTER CHILDREN.>>THAT MAY BE PART OF IT. AT ANY RATE, HE DID THIS AS A GOOD THING, TO HELP HIS COMMUNITY. HE DID USE HIS MUSCLE THAT HE NOW HAD AS A WELL HIRING ARTIST TO INSIST THAT SOMEONE BUY TWO PAINTINGS INSTEAD OF ONE. THE VALUE OF THAT SECOND PAINTING, IF NOT THE ACTUAL PAINTING WOULD GO TO THE NONPROFIT, WHICH I THINK IS CALLED “ART IN PROGRESS.” IT HELPED POOR KIDS. THAT DOESN’T STRIKE ME AS DEVIOUS, MERELY CREATIVE.>>WHAT ABOUT THE COLLECTORS? WHAT ABOUT DON AND MERA RUBELL? THEY HELPED TO DEVELOPE — THEY HAD THE FOUNDATION — FOR FIVE WEEKS. JERRY SALTZ DIDN’T LIKE HIM VERY MUCH. FIVE WEEKS DURING THE SUMMER IN MIAMI AND THEN, EVERYTHING HE MADE BELONG TO THEM. ALMOST A SHARECROPPER ARRANGEMENT.>>INTERESTING WAY TO PUT IT. DON AND MERA RUBELL HAVE DONE AMAZING THINGS FOR THE GOOD OF THE ART WORLD. THEY HAVE THIS WHOLE MUSEUM IN MIAMI THAT IS A FORMER DEA WAREHOUSE. INSTEAD OF HARBORING DRUGS, IT NOW HARBORS ART. THROUGH THE YEARS, THEY HAVE COLLECTED ART, ALMOST ALWAYS TAKING CHANCES ON NEW, EMERGING ARTISTS WHO DON’T COST MUCH. THEY LIKE A BARGAIN. IN THE PROCESS, THEY HAVE BROUGHT ALONG MANY GOOD ARTISTS. THEY DO HAVE THIS RESIDENCY PROGRAM NOW WHEREBY IF YOU ARE A YOUNG ARTIST, YOU GO DOWN THERE, YOU STAY FOR SIX WEEKS, YOU DO ALL OF THIS ART, YOUR ACCOMMODATIONS ARE THERE FOR FREE, YOU GET FREE MEALS AND CREATE AS MUCH ART AS YOU WANT, BUT IT ALL GOES TO THE RUBELLS. I TALKED TO ONE ARTIST WHO DID THIS AND SHE SAID, YOU KNOW, IT IS OK BECAUSE I AM GETTING A LOT OF PUBLICITY FOR THIS, AND I CAN KEEP DOING ART, AND IF THEY SELL THE ART TO FANCY COLLECTORS, IT IS GOING TO INCREASE THE ART THAT I CREATE NEXT.>>AN INTERESTING FEATURE OF THIS POEM IN THE ART WORLD, AT LEAST CONTEMPORARY ART HAS BEEN THE EMERGENCE OF AFRICAN-AMERICAN ART. AND FEMALE ARTISTS AS WELL. IT IS ALMOST A POLITICAL CORRECTNESS ABOUT IT OR IDENTITY POLITICS ABOUT IT.>>YOU COULD SUSPECT THAT. I THINK IT IS PROBABLY TRUER TO SAY THAT THERE HAS ALWAYS BEEN GOOD ART CREATED BY BLACK ARTISTS AND WOMEN ARTISTS. IT JUST DIDN’T GET RECOGNIZED. THERE IS A GOOD STORY IN THE BOOK ABOUT ONE OF THE VERY MOST ADMIRED, IF NOT MOST ADMIRED ARTISTS TODAY, KERRY JAMES MARSHALL. A DEALER NAMED JACK, WHO IS WHITE AND ALMOST ALWAYS REPRESENTED ARTISTS OF COLOR BECAUSE HE IS INTERESTED IN THEM — SAW A POSTCARD ON A BULLETIN BOARD WITH A LITTLE NICE PICTURE ON IT. THERE WAS A REDUCTION OF AN ART PAINTED BY SOMEBODY AND THE GUY SAYS, OH YES, THAT GUY’S NAME IS KERRY JAMES MARSHALL. JACK TRACKED HIM DOWN. WENT FROM TEXAS TO CALIFORNIA TO CHICAGO. FINALLY FOUND THE GUY AND LOVED HIS WORK, VERY FIGURATIVE WITH THESE CHARACTERS WHO ARE VERY BLACK, STRIKINGLY BLACK, IN SORT OF CITY PLAYGROUNDS. HE SAID AFTER A WHILE, YOU ARE READY FOR A ONE-MAN SHOW. I WANT TO GIVE IT TO YOU. HE SAID I DON’T KNOW, I AM HAPPY IN CHICAGO. JACK PERSUADED HIM TO LET HIM HAVE A ONE-MAN SHOW IN NEW YORK. AT THE END OF IT, ONLY TWO PAINTINGS SOLD. JACK WAS CRUSHED. THIS WAS THE MID-1990s. HE WAS CRUSHED AND WENT BACK TO MARSHALL AND SAID, I’M SO SORRY. MARSHALL SAID, MAYBE YOU KNOW, MAYBE YOUR BUYERS AREN’T READY TO SEE BLACK FACES ON THE PAINTINGS IN THEIR LIVING ROOM WALLS. OF COURSE, HE WAS RIGHT. EVERYTHING HAS CHANGED SINCE THEN.>>NOW IT IS A PLUS.>>NOW, YOU HAVE P. DIDDY PAYING $21 MILLION FOR A KERRY JAMES MARSHALL.>>UNFORTUNATELY, WE HAVE TO STOP. QUESTION FOR YOU, SHOULD THE ART MARKET BE REGULATED?>>YES. IT IS KNOWN AS THE LARGEST UNREGULATED MARKET IN THE WORLD.>>SOM WE NEED MORE REGULATIONS. REGULATE FACEBOOK AND REGULATE ART WORLD. THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR COMING BY. WE COULD HAVE GONE ON FOR ANOTHER HALF HOUR. THANK YOU FOR COMING BY. TUNE IN NEXT WEEK FOR MORE “CONVERSATIONS.” I’M JIM ZIRIN. TAKE CARE AND ALL THE BEST. ♪ [THEME MUSIC] ♪

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