, June 16th, 2011

“SOLARIS (Notes and Sketches – Metaphoric Gaps/Voids)”
by Bjørn Bjarre

More info later.


, June 11th, 2011

I have always felt that what makes art art is that someone actually goes ahead and does it. Like creating a pickled shark, collecting NY City garbage or buying out a complete store:

Link: (Via Tsjalling)

Now, while I personally don’t care for pickled sharks (… diamond encrusted skulls or giant shiny rabbits, for reasons that probably have to do with big wigs), I just like the idea of buying out a store. Hell, what’s the reason for buying most things we buy? We want to buy them. Which is why I ordered from these guys, too.

What? On May 20th, 2011, Hal Kirkland, Gary Lachance, Jody Gnant, Matt Fidler and Kyle MacDonald bought out “Hercules’ Fancy Grocery” in the West Village of New York City.

PS: This is the second post in my new category called “I Like”. Just a bunch of links with the bare minimum of information.


, June 3rd, 2011

Certain concepts are just too good to abandoned, just because a new medium comes along. In this case, I love a man made algorithm fails to correctly interpret man made buildings. These roads, following the underlying topography of the terrain are simply beautiful and complexely inspiring. One could compare these liquified roads to the work of Dalí, but that would be boring, now wouldn’t it?

Thank you, Clement Valla, for finding these ready-mades on google.
Click here for the artist’s website: Clement Valla

Via: and Zeit Wissen.


, December 9th, 2010

Thank you, Art Investor for yet another extremely boring issue.

I’m sorry I’m a bit silent, but certain things keep me from blogging. One being that I don’t travel as much as I used to, another being that I didn’t see much great art lately.

But I’ll come around eventually.

Yes! @1000TimesYes

, August 23rd, 2010

Quite some time ago, I was stumbled across this project by music critic Christopher Weingarten (-> Link) by a fellow Independent Collectors member:

Christopher Weingarten had made the speach below at the “140 Characters Conference”, introducing his project of writing 1.000 album reviews on Twitter over the course of 2009.

Christopher R. Weingarten (@1000TimesYes) – Music Writer, and Village Voice
- Watch more Tech Videos at Vodpod.

Let’s just say he succeeded. He then went on to preserve his project for eternity, with the help of a service called Kickstarter, where ordinary people like you and me can help fund projects. This is the link I followed upon recommendation of the IC member, and I ended up here (-> Link).

Now, the prospect of getting my hands on a wodden crate, containing 1.000 hand-typed index cards with an album review each, that’s more than enough to make the mouth of any music enthusiast water. And, as for official validation of the “Tweetbox” as a piece of contemporary art, Paddy Johnson’s opinion over at ArtFagCity (->Link) is way enough for me. Not that I needed any to begin with.

For me, the “Tweetbox” is a bold statement about society in general today, not just limited to the music scene or even the blogger/twitter/whatever scene. Media is shying away from “the because” as a whole.

Plus the box is a work even Sisyphus would have a hard time completing. Writing next to three album reviews means he has to listen to three albums a day. He has to stick with it and then someone had to type all those tweets. As far as I know, 24 boxes have been made. That’s 24.000 cards. A lot of index cards.

Enough babble, here come the pictures:

Now get this: I live in a smallish German town between Stuttgart and Munich. How big are the chances that two of the 24 boxes would end up in my area? Small.

How big are the chances of me actually meeting the other guy who owns one at customs while picking the thing up, although he had received his two weeks earlier and just happened to be there picking up something else? Nil. Yet, it did happen.

Anyhow, I’m very glad to have this unique record of one man’s struggle to keep alive the idea of “reason & professionalism” in my home. Even if the gold paint is coming off … nothing a pair of gloves couldn’t fix. Back to listen to some music now.

PS: Weingarten on twitter (->Link)


, June 18th, 2010

While at Art Amsterdam, I met Melle Hendrikse (again), who is running a gallery in Bejing (→ link), as well as a space in the Netherlands.

Visiting him at his booth, I saw this work:

Insignificance, Carine Weve (→ link), 2010
It consists of 1547 index cards in seven index card cases on a table and a DVD.

I liked the look of it and I also liked the simple statement printed on each card:

useless piece of paper
got it for free, unasked
worthless to me
so tried to sell it, give it away
nobody wants it

Now what really got me was the story behind it. I will use Carine’s own words:

‘Insignificance’ is based on the true ‘story’ behind the sheets of photopaper I used for it. Buying value packs HP Printer ink, I always get 150 sheets of this paper for free. USELESS to me. UNASKED. And it’s true… I TRIED TO SELL IT (internet), GIVE IT AWAY (family, friends, colleagues) , and NOBODY WANTS IT.

Finally I decided to use these insignificant sheets of paper, their insignificant history to develope a new work. Seen from this context the text had to be similar for each sheet of paper, but by stamping it character by character they all become unique. So I gave them their own unique number starting with 0001 until 1547 today.

That’s right: Each letter on each of the 1547 cards is hand stamped by the artist (hence the DVD where you can see the process). Here is a coincidence turned idea turned reality with the help of Sisyphos. And I dig that sort of stuff.

Did I buy it? Nope. But …

Now, I stood there looking at the DVD for some minutes, which shows the table from the top. You can see the table (part of the work), covered with a piece of paper to protect it from the ink. You see the ink pad. You see, on the paper, the stamps for the individual letters. You the artists hands reaching for an index card, placing it in always the same spot. Then, taking one stamp after each other, stamping the same sentence on each card.

I immediately wondered: What happened to that piece of paper?

In the video you can see Weve stamping number 0601 – 0610 of the cards. And I noticed how the stamps leave little traces of ink on the paper, I saw how Carine used the paper to clean the stamps, how a space remained cleaner, because that’s where she placed the cards. I had the sense that she placed the stamps in a peculiar way …

As I found out later, she organized “… the stamps, to work as economic as possible. That’s how the working paper arose with it’s own logic related to my body and the text with her own economy. For example: the stamps with character ‘K’ and ‘M’ are completely left in the paper because they both occur only once in the text.”

I had the feeling that this piece of paper with its own alphabetical logic contained so much more of the artists work on the piece “Insignificance” than the finished piece itself. It is marked by the hours of tedious work and concentration (lamost like one of Karin Sander’s “Patina Paintings”).

So I thought, hell, let’s be a bit naive and blunt and ask the gallery owner a simple question: “What happened to that piece of paper?”

He looked at me, smiled and said: “I don’t know but I can find out.”

He called the artist there and then who said that she had indeed kept the paper, thinking about making it a seperate piece, because she, too, liked what happened to it. Sadly, I had to leave that day, but Carine took a picture of the finished paper (after stamping 1547 cards) and sent it to Melle who sent it to me:

It’s 32 x 48 cm large and titled “Insignificance; working paper”.

I think it’s absolutely beautiful! Luckily, my wife agrees.

Carine Weve wrote to me after we agreed on the deal, telling me the complete background of the work in her own words. Here is another quote: “At the bottom are little signs of my wrist or hand resting from time to time on the paper. For that matter you couldn’t have bought a more private work. The whole process, the total amount of characters I stamped, the time it took, my concentration (a certain level of concentration was needed), is hidden in this paper. I don’t know what you saw watching the DVD, but you’ve recognized ‘it’.”

Now that’s what a collector likes to hear, right?

So, gut feeling and a simple question led to this extremely awesome addition to my young collection. What do we learn from this?
Trust your gut and ask questions.

PS: What does HP learn from this? Nobody wants your paper. So you should really thank the artist for finally putting it to use.


, June 7th, 2010

For the 2010 edition, the Art Amsterdam (→ link) has come up with an interesting set of themes for their discussion panels: “The Age of the Collector”. They all deal with collecting and relation between collectors and the other partakers in the art market. The panel I was asked to attend was about the “pro-active” collector.

In the prep-talk with Renée Steenbergen, I arrived at a statement I completely failed to mention in the discussion:

“Collectors are by definition pro-active. They’re just making use of other tools now.”

From my point of view, collecting is an activity. Being a passive collector would be like being a passive football player. What would you do? Stand on the field until the ball ends up before you and then not kick it? Give your money to someone who buys art for you and you never take any interest in it? There may be such people but I really don’t want to talk about them right now.

So collectors are already active. But are they pro-active? If active means looking for art, discussing it, observing the whole scene, developing a taste or even a collecting strategy, then “pro-active” may mean all activities beyond exchanging money for objects.

I find it difficult to imagine a collector who does not, given the opportunity, like to talk about his collection, about certain pieces and artists or about art in general. I also find it impossible to imagine a collector who doesn’t enjoy seeing passion arise in the eyes of other people he talks to about his collection, if they are collectors or not. I believe that for most collectors, this is part of the experience.

Collectors are also scouts. They like to discover new artists and to suggest them to galleries and other collectors. Very often they suggest an artist they personally wouldn’t buy to other collectors who might. Collectors have always traded works among themselves. If another collector has what they want, they go after it. Going after something: highly pro-active. Also, collectors have always been making suggestions or extending commissions to artists. Very pro-active. And, last but not least: Collectors are donating their collections to specific institutions (which might not be pro-active) or they build their own museum (highly pro-active).

Collectors have been doing this before ebay and facebook. But as they became more comfortable with the new tools and as it became increasingly simpler to make use of the internet, the use of these tools also increases. There is no real difference between sending pictures by post or by email (apart from cost and speed) or between publishing a printed catalog or putting it online (apart from cost, speed and reach), between meeting like-minded people at a fair or an opening or in an online community (apart from reach, and speed).

A social community like Independent Collectors (→ link) is just another tool to meet and stay in touch with like-minded people. In terms of collectors, it is a place to share a passion, to present and talk about ones collection, to support or discover new artists, to “restructure” ones collection from collector to collector.

Who could be afraid of a pro-active collector making use of that? Galleries, because collectors are suddenly discussing, discovering, promoting, buying and selling works among themselves? Hardly. Collectors have always been doing that. Only the frequency, reach and speed may have increased. I believe that gallery owners who are voicing such concerns only do so because they now have to do their job properly. Educated customers are not harder to please, they are only harder to fool. My theory is that, in the end, it’s a lot easier to close a sale with them, though. And some gallery owners may be critical just because they are expected to.

So what is the point in discussing the topic at all?

Right now, many of the big, influential gallery owners and collectors have many many years of experience. Meaning: They are old. They witnessed the rise of the fax-machine. And it’s death. Of course they might discuss the arrival of a new tool and its possibly negative short term effects … instead of asking: What’s next? Can the increased pro-activity be used to enhance the quality of collecting and the collections? Can it be used to enhance the quality of art? Can it be used to spread the passion?

The latter seems to be a common core to many activities taking place right now. Galleries have big shop windows and advertise their shows outside the art world: They want to art to be seen. Collectors are lending works to exhibitions: They want the art to be seen. Collectors donate works or whole collections to institutions, open their own showrooms or build their own museums. They want the art to be seen.

And this is an interesting starting point: Twenty years ago, privately owned art was gone and invisible for the public. Now (2010), more and more initiatives are being started to keep it visible.

Imagine all the art ever sold could be explored, either in the flesh or virtually, like a huge interactive reference book, a catalog of art. Utopia? Maybe, but what an awesome resource to have!

  • How would you navigate?
  • What kind of filters could be used to guide you though?
  • How would artists, gallery owners and collectors cope with it?
  • What if you liked a work by Jonathan Monk and could explore all the references, influences and similar works by the click of a button? If you could see what else the owner of the work is collecting? If you could read why the collector likes this specific work?
  • How would this knowledge influence your own collecting strategies?
  • How would it influence teaching art?
  • And how would all of that influence the art produced by artists in twenty years?
  • These are the questions we should try to answer. In the end, we’re interested in art, aren’t we?

    PS: Thank you Art Amsterdam (namely Edo and Renée) for having me, and thank you Jeroen Wassink and especially Reyn van der Lugt for not only letting me share the panel with them, but for being so open and for sharing your insights.


    , June 2nd, 2010

    Above: An untitled work by → Han Schuil that I found to be funny. It actually does look like someone just whacked the artwork over the head. Some art could use a little whacking, I suppose …

    Below: “The Rediscovery of Monopolychrome” by V&B (Alex Jacobs en Ellemieke Schoenmaker ), which could actually be the title and cover of a Greatful Dead album. Also check out their work “The Depot” → here.

    Above: Just something I came upon.

    Below: “Schattenfischer” for 2.000 EUR. I wonder whether the price in pencil on that table is part of the artwork.

    Above: With the world championship coming up, this is a bit too much. Otherwise I like the look.

    Below: Words on string. “… heaven …” by Boukjie Hansen. I like the simplicity of this work. And there is more where that comes from. I will have to check some of it out.

    I saw this also at C-Space, the place I bought something from. Stay tuned …


    , June 2nd, 2010

    Taking a night train from Ulm, Germany to Amsterdam is actually a pretty good choice. If you have earplugs and can sleep in the adult equivalent of a baby-safe, that is. I also admit that a flask of Green Label and the entire Doors catalog on the MP3 player of your choice are a great help.

    After nine hours of pretty sound sleep, I arrive on the construction site, pardon me, Amsterdam Centraal. Crossing the street to get a completely useless 48hrs pass for the local transport (useless thanks to the VIP shuttle service I can use with my badge) and then into the first available tourist joint for a pancake and some coffee. The weather is sweet.

    On the tram to RAI, the fair location, I see not a single poster advertising the fair. Reaching the construction site, pardon me, the fair areal, I see the first big poster. Fortunately I don’t head for it, but follow a dude with a beard and an “Art-Amsterdam-coloured” badge, because the actual fair is quite a walking distance from the location of the poster.

    The VIP desk is subtly placed, or hard to find, which ever you prefer, the staff is busy but friendly. “Here is your badge. It’s a bit flimsy, so be careful.” It is, so I am.

    Leaving the VIP package and my bag, I enter the fair proper, taking a first quick stroll around the outer perimeter before I have to attend the first meeting. What I see is visually pleasing and caters to my tastes. Dutch fairs seem to have that ability, Rotterdam felt similar.

    I end up talking to Petra Nostheide Eycke (of the same → gallery) about the work of Mark Kramer (→ link) that I find mesmerizing:

    See larger versions at my flickr account (→ link)

    I will end up not buying it because it’s what I call “dead end art”. It doesn’t mean I think it’s bad, it just doesn’t leave me with any questions. It doesn’t inspire me. I dig the look. But I’m not looking for decoration.

    Leaving my meeting and the discussions during the Collectors’ Program to another entry in this journal, I progress …

    Continuing my stroll through the fair, I see more stuff that I like. And also a lot of things that make me check if I have my glasses on. I do. Then I check if it’s a Gerhard Richter. Turns out: The art is blurred on purpose. I make a note to come back the next day and take pictures of all the motion blur, gaussian blur and what have you. Here is a selection:

    See more evidence at my flickr account (→ link)

    Continuing I can’t miss the ghost in the carpet. Nice floor work throughout the fair, by the way. Keep your head down:

    Larger version is available. (→ link)

    Visual highlights include this artwork which is completely devoid of axes:

    (“Personality Disorder”, Arik Levy)

    And across the aisle, there is an untitled sculpture by Super A (clocking in at roughly 28.000 EUR) that could either be an Isaac Asimov memorial or be called “The Dude”. If neither rings a bell with you, I hope you have other stuff to make you smile.

    The “train lag” starts to hit me shortly after 6pm and I head out towards the shuttle service. No Citroen in sight. I consult with the VIP desk. The friendly girl tries to tell me where the taxis are. I know where the taxis are, I want to use the VIP shuttle. “Are you VIP?” she asks. My cheap H&M hat, t-shirt, washed out jeans and scruffy beard don’t seem to convince her. Flashing the VIP badge does. “Oh, you are VIP.” Yes, sorry.

    I wait for the car. The driver is a young guy, studies marketing. That late in the afternoon, I’m the fourth person he drives. The hotel is cute. My room a tight fit. I decide against going online and head out for some beer and some döner. It was not very good. But you can’t have everything …


    , May 26th, 2010

    Just before I embark on a small trip to Amsterdam, to get absolutely doped up on contemporary art, here is something I have posted over at the Independent Collectors discussion forum and have meant to share over here for ages. So here goes:

    “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble” by Ben Lewis, created in 2008 and 2009 is subtitled “The Film The Art World Doesn’t Want You To See”. Let me answer three questions swiftly, to give you an overview:

    Is the film worth watching? Yes, I think so. At least I enjoyed it.

    What’s good about it? Is is humourous, investigative and demystifying.

    What’s bad about it? If you have been in the art business for some time, you may not be surprised. And the movie could do with about 30 minutes less.

    Having said that, I will try and keep this concise.

    Ben Lewis Trailer on Youtube.

    The idea is an interesting one. Ben Lewis set out to investigate what actually is (or was) behind the contemporary art boom that catapulted it into the realms of tabloid interest. Naturally, his investigation has to concentrate on the peak of an iceberg most collectors will not even feel part of.

    Lewis collects statements from art professionals and billionaire collectors, who saw a bright future for the art market despite the economy’s downturn. It is actually quite amusing to see how their tone gets more subdued and how they try to avoid the filmmaker altogether as soon as the disaster really strikes. I say amusing because A) they probably haven’t lost that much money in their art speculation and B) because it clearly shows what they are after. How could they be so devastated, just because an artwork they claim to have bought for the love of it, fails to sell at a good price?

    The downside of the film is that is seems to be based on the assumption that the art business would function differently than any other billion dollar business. It’s almost as if Ben expected it to less riddled with manipulation and greed. Somehow I fail to see the reason why that should be the case.

    Many facts that Lewis and his interview partners reveal could be dismissed with a shrug: “Sure that’s the way it goes. What’s the news?” Of course one expects gallery owners and dealers, and especially the owners of the art works to try and protect and develop the price. Everything else would be foolish, surely. And it is commonly known that many billionaires buy works and sell them again shortly thereafter without even having unpacked the item once. It is also obvious that some people who happen to have a lot of money buy art not because they’re passionate about it, but because it’s a status symbol. Who would have thought?

    What is interesting, however, is why the protagonists of this circus chose to express such a dislike in Lewis capturing the fact on film that the financial development of the art market was helped along quite deliberately, if it is a commonly known fact, at least among most participants. Maybe that is also just part of their PR strategy.

    After showing that contemporary art can be a lot of fun (even in the realm of million dollar works) in his “Art Safari” episodes, Ben Lewis dismantles the contemporary art bubble and shows how the that burst had worked. And it is fun to watch. (Go to Ben Lewis, if you like: → link)

    I’m just glad that the part of the circus I thrive in remains extraordinarily unaffected by this.