It must have been Spring 2020 when I watched a Sotheby’s auction on YouTube for the first time. The auctioneer was Oliver Barker from London, UK, and he opened with the words: „Welcome to Sotheby’s.“ And in the live chat, a handsome gay guy commented, „Welcome to my bedroom, Mr. Barker.“ Well, while not the epitome of class, I choose it as a captivating introduction for my article about the auction of the Emily Fisher Landau collection held yesterday evening in New York City. Furthermore, it stresses the magnetic presence and performance of this charismatic auctioneer.
An auction is not just a lil bid about action, positive drama, and entertainment as well; precisely this is a significant part of it, whether dealing with cattle or art. Today is about art, and yesterday was a noteworthy day, a wonderful night. The first evening auction I’ve ever attended, and I express a big „thank you“ – Sotheby’s knows why … Oliver Barker was the auctioneer, and everything went smoothly.
Emily Fisher Landau, “an era defined”, – to use the title used for the auction, was a female art patron with her own museum, who died this year at the age of 102 in Palm Beach, Florida. These American lady had a fantastic art collection, including the biggest American contemporary and modern art player. And not exclusively; the first lot was one by the German painter Josef Albers, born in Bottrop, later moved to New Haven. „Homage to the Square: Yellow Resonance“ was estimated between 1,500,000 – 2,000,000 and performed well.
The surprising artwork was one by Agnes Martin, Lot No 8, which doubled its estimate to 1,600,000. Other works by this artist in the size the sold lot had are a rare find, but you’ll get lucky in finding them in two museums in the US: one in New York, East Coast, the other one in San Francisco, West Coast.
Not so surprising was the Picasso, Lot 10, which was „estimated upon request.“ Pablo Picasso ist eine Bank im internationalen Kunstmarkt! Höchstpreise! Chapeau! The painting, inspired by Picasso’s young blonde lover Thérèse Walter, sold for 121,000,000 (without tax).
Buy me an island! five to ten ranches with horses and happy cows in the American Countryside! A significant Picasso in strong and clear colors. Other masterpieces, all by Americans, including Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, Jasper Johns with his double American flag, Calder, Indiana, more.
And I love to mention Ed Ruscha, who is one of my 5 all-time favorites. He becomes more and more unattainable. Three works by him were in yesterday’s Emily Fisher Modern Evening Auction, the first part of the Auction Trilogy, which sold for 6,000,000, 13,000,000, and 39,000,000 million dollars (with tax).
In total, the auction, consisting of 31 lots, generated 406.4 million.
Stay tuned! To be continued.
The 2nd and 3rd parts of the auctions will take place on November 13th and 15th in New York. A consolation, if you can’t join it in person, is that there might be the possibility to join the auction online. Whether you choose to read the comments there or not.
I by myself like New York a lot-lot, but might stay, this time, home, in LA. On the other hand you never know. Sometimes life’s an auction, too.
Jason Hackenwerth is a Florida-based artist, *1970 in St. Louis / MO, renowned for his balloon sculptures, and also his paintings. He was recently showcased at kcontemporary in Denver, Colorado, where I had the opportunity to witness his artwork for the first time, and he was currently creating a piece of art – an own little world – for a private party in sunshine-LA.
It’s all about joy. Everything! The process of creating these sculptures and the final result, because if there is any form of art that delights and inspires both children and adults alike, it is his art.
These balloons! These Leichtigkeit des Seins!
Color, crafted creatures, mythical beings, tactile sensations, the playfulness, your sparkling eyes, forgotten world troubles, moments of pure happiness, or rather,
hours of happiness for private occasions,
from galleries to museums ..
Jason’s artwork has been exhibited at the Guggenheim New York.
„It’s all about the process,“ he says when asked what it means for him to hand these sculptures to private owners, a party, knowing they might even be dismantled the next day.
For him, the process is what really fascinates, touches, amazes, him. To design, the sketches, the selection of colors. Balloons are inflated after buying around 10,000 or even 20,000 of them for an event like today’s.
And the music blares, while there’s dancing and laughter, and hundreds of balloons are loaded and linked to each other during a week of intense work.
When displayed in public buildings, these sculptures may last for three to five months, Jason says. Every day, they slowly lose a bid of air, and everyone has their own idea about when a sculpture looks the most appealing, at what level of inflation.
If a sculpture is robust and full of air at the start, its forms and colors gradually merge with time, just like in life: To be in awe, getting closer, more relaxed, and form deep connections.
And sometimes it is broken before that.
And this art brings joy to the table!
At a party venue, it will hang above you as you sit there,
an adult, well-behaved at the lavishly set table, already secretly tapping your foot to the music’s rhythm, and it will catch your attention, whispering in your ear:
‘Play with me! Now! Tomorrow I might be gone!‘
Thank you, Jason. It was both a pleasure and a lot of fun to meet you in LA and work with you! Grateful for you and your team. May your sculptures bring moments of greatest joy to life, everywhere to everybody, and they undoubtedly will.
“ I shared with her that having been super optimistic for most of my life, I felt that with the advent of social media, which should have brought the world closer together, the exact opposite had happened. A Pandora’s box was opened and reawakened the worse demons of the 20th century. This led me to becoming for the first time quite pessimistic. She implored me to stay staunchly optimistic since with the way energy works and spreads our sole hope and solace will come from never giving up.
I have taken her advice to heart. Let’s focus our energy on empathy, soft power, positivity, love, compassion and tolerance.”
And I don’t mean the quiet science about art, in university or somewhere else. This quietness, this striving, this deep digging, breathing dusty books, for months, years. Circling around the same thing always.
Feel my weight!
I mean the art market. The art market is fake. A huge show. An even bigger entertainment. The hype is real! Everything is loud, even if the artwork might be quiet and super soft, behind this artwork, there’s nothing gentle. It’s business! often faster than the speed of light.
It’s oversaturated, indulgent, an insatiable huge wolf in sheep’s clothing, on a mission for art.
It’s the world’s Las Vegas!
It’s the class clown, who will later lead a far more successful, happier, and more colorful life than any diligent top student. Passing by real life, you sly one, breaking all the rules!
It’s all fake!
Is it the bear, the bull, the Wolf of Wall Street?
Gulliver’s Travels of conscience?
Peter Pan wonders about Alice in Neverland, and the other way round?
Planet of the Power Apes. And I love this world so much!
Be entertained, even if you hate being entertained in all its storytelling, this bottomless superficiality, seemingly creating value. Feel it, absorb it, this is the way to make it through!
Saying it’s all about the money? Well, we all know you love money anyway! And you can’t beat someone, something, tralala, that never gives up. Let me tell you, as much as science might be an overdose of „Sitzfleisch,“ the art market has an infinitely long breath. Breathe! And look at art. If it helps you look for the truth, the meaning, the sense behind it. It’s there too.
Greatest fun with a purpose!
The art market is like an Indian bareback racing horse, painted with artificial colors. Seen in Sheridan in July : The real horse. And in Denver lately : A painting.
To put it in a nutshell: The art market knows how to party!
Sheridan is a city in Wyoming, and my first-time-rodeo-Indian-bareback-horseracing-experience.
Once there was a time in my life when I was deeply drawn to the 19th century and the century before it, to its romanticism and beauty. I fell in love with the architecture, the literature, – especially the Russian one, the paintings, the romance, and I believe I’m still a romantic person at times, but there was always more.
As I began to study art history, embraced all things from the 19th century. Fortunately, by chance or fate, I lived in the dream town to do that .. reveling in a bygone era, in the German Disneyland of this century: Baden-Baden. Beauty never goes out of style. And, in my eyes, Baden-Baden is unmatched in its beauty.
New York, might be the city with a vibe unlike any other, defies comparison.
And so is Baden-Baden as a town, incomparable to anything anywhere, in its quiet beauty, a place that leaves you in pure awe for eternity
I’m someone who loves to ignite a fire from a spark, and Baden-Baden meant much more to me than just a spark, I think, for everyone. So, there was this immense love for the 19th century, too; it was a wonderful enchantment. And, fortunately, be it fate or coincidence, there was always more.
As I started studying and attended Art Basel in Basel Switzerland for the first time, it offered a completely different perspective from the insights and feelings I gained at university. Everything at university revolved around the history of European art, with a lot-lot of focus on Italy and less on Dutch, German, and French art and artists.
All about : The roots.
Des Pudels Kern. Des Teufels Eichhörnchen.
But in Basel, there were two artworks that captured my attention, my heart, more than any other artwork. It was September 2019. Well, yes, and it was actually one month before I began my studies. And I had no clue.
Two artworks by two completely different American artists. One was a painting by Robin Francesca Williams, based in Brooklyn, New York, represented at P.P.O.W. gallery, younger than me.
The other was an installation by Dan Flavin. Pink and bright, placed on the floor, not on the wall, as he preferred his artwork to directly face the viewer.
Dan Flavin, born in 1933 in New York State, lived until 1996, and is considered a minimalist artist, something I never quite understood because he was, is, able to evoke such strong emotions with his style of art. Vibrant!
Minimalism, but more is more, and less is a bore!
Do we really need to categorize everything we see, feel, and experience? But let it be as it is, – as a kind of art too. Philosophical. But with a far from minimal impact. Dan!
The repetition of individual elements, combined into a single work, can be the minimal part.
The geometry, simplified, straight, often slender, can be the minimal part.
The tranquility, even with fluorescent light, sometimes in a multitude of colors in an artwork of this considerable dimensions, can be the minimal part.
Nichts ist so aufreizend wie Gelassenheit .. „Lack the look of history,“ these installations, as Dan once put it, „but are light itself.“ He wanted them to be recognizable in one way or another, an artwork that doesn’t dictate a specific direction but can be seen in various ways.
A suggestion rather than an explanation.
A guess in art.
An installation. A sculpture too? „I think Flavin wants … a particular phenomenon.“ „Lumination was, is, the phenomenon.”
A sense of wonder, an event.
I want that too!
By fate, coincidence or chance.
More is more. Less is a bore.
Inspired by Richard Shiff’s „Writing after Art“ . Zwirner Books . And, of course, Dan Flavin’s installations. I saw the last one in Denver, where I’m right now. Again.
Cheyenne in Wyoming, founded in the late 19th century, main capital, 65 000 people, and named after the Cheyenne Native American people, has an art scene. Of course it has! And artists!
One such artist is Brandon Bailey, a 39-year-old painter born in this city. He has always been deeply fascinated by the outdoors and has had the opportunity to travel to countries like New Zealand and Africa in the past to study their flora and fauna. This practice mirrors the traditions of 19th-century painters who ventured abroad to enhance their skills, gain new perspectives, see something new, unexpected, unpredictable.
Brandon’s western art is magnifique!
– and that’s French, while his themes represent the American dream and freedom, along with his own passions, because in the past he used participate in competitive bull riding events.
„I figured if I can ride a two-thousand pound wild farm animal, there is nothing I can’t at least try to overcome.“
American mindset, as American as his paintings.
In Cheyenne, Brandon is represented by the Gallery Deselms Fine Art & Custom Framing. This gallery also features other notable artists such as Cathy Nicholas, whose distinctive style captures the essence of farm and ranch life using a variety of color hues and painting shapes from another world, absolutely not the countryside ..
Mick Shimonek is another artist. Fell in like and love with his wide-brushed landscape paintings. And there are many more talented artists to explore at this gallery who you could love or fall for.
Gallery Deselms Fine Art & Custom Framing is most well-known for its bronze sculptures displayed throughout Cheyenne. These sculptures can be found in more than 70 locations across the city. Accessible by car, or you could go on foot, lustwandeln!
– and this is German, while the themes of the sculptures are distinctly American, representing its wildlife, its visions, and its realized dreams.
Furthermore, I recommend the Cheyenne Artist Guild, and the Manitou Galleries.
It’s wonderful to witness the thriving art scene in Cheyenne, which celebrates the city’s heritage, its connection to the American West, and its appreciation of the arts. This artistic vibrancy enriches the cultural life of both residents and visitors alike.
All photos of the paintings, detail photography, too, taken in the mentioned galleries, or in the street, in and around Cheyenne. For information about the artists, contact me via email email@example.com
We can’t compare art represented by artists, galleries, and museums in the countryside with art represented by the big players in the market, with their galleries in New York City, Los Angeles, and the art metropolises in Europe. But why not?
In every single gallery in the U.S. countryside, there could be an artist who has the potential to become a superstar in the future, and the galleries in the art metropolises, especially New York City, would compete to represent them. These artists could be presented by one of the large mega-galleries that would prefer to poach top artists from each other and often do so when the opportunity arises.
Today is today, and the world can look very different tomorrow. Especially in the USA, where, as a European, I get the impression that everything happens particularly quickly. In the cities.
Attract attention! Get hyped!
Fall! Be forgotten?
In the countryside, as I was recently told on a ranch, time moves slowly. I felt that and can feel it. Nevertheless, if one of the artists from the countryside makes it to one of the metropolises, success can come quickly.
It’s an amazing game.
The artists know that. The market knows that.
Now, Salt Lake City is not exactly countryside, and it’s fantastic that I was able to get an overview of the local artists‘ art there, besides all the art I’ve already seen in Montana, Wyoming, Washington State, Arizona.
In the summer that has just passed, I visited MOMA in New York and was delighted to find a wallpaper with pink cow head motifs on bright yellow background on the first floor, created by Andy Warhol, star artist of the pop art area. And on one of the other floors, there was a simple, well-bound rectangular hay bale. The sign on the ground: do not touch! So, enjoy with your eyes, haying season has passed ..
Same. But different?
Sometimes only in price.
Sometimes time can change everything.
We are coming closer together! City and country.
Enjoy art by artists from Utah. Scroll back to the top.