2014: a roundup of the year ahead

   |  17 January 2014  |  AMA  |  Tweet  |  LinkedIn

Paris, 17 January 2014, Art Media Agency (AMA).

2013 proved to be a rich year – very rich. The art world showed no risk of growing stale, with record sales, major exhibitions, ever-expanding fairs, and legal and economic shake-ups from Munich to Detroit. Barely recovered from the events of last year, the art market’s major participants have begun to make promises of an equally spectacular 2014. Whilst the global economy is not at its healthiest, the evolution of cultural projects shows little sign of slowing down: new museums have opened their doors, and have rapidly accrued visitor numbers to match those of their more established competitors. Significant exhibitions have followed, with ever-more-ambitious shows having been met with unfailing public interest.

As far as the art market is concerned, the phrase “economic crisis” doesn’t exist. Whilst it’s difficult to predict whether the exceptional sales figures realised by auction houses this year will be replicated – or even surpassed – in 2014, there is every reason to believe that the demand for prestigious lots will remain high. If works of the same quality as last year’s re-emerge on the market, it seems likely that buyers will respond with enthusiasm – and high sums of money.

New art fairs have been appearing across the world, tempted by the business potential of art. Despite increasing competition – and despite the vast difference in scope between some newer fairs and heavyweights such as Art Basel, FIAC and Frieze – art market professionals remain tempted by the lure of collectors and amateurs with a desire to buy.

We took a look at some of the largest and most anticipated events for the forthcoming year. Whilst many may remain hidden in unwritten press releases, details of some of 2014’s initial openings seem to promise an interesting year.

New Museums

In Los Angeles, Elie Broad – the billionaire who founded the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (MOCA) in 1979, and a member of the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) – has, along with his wife, invested $140 million in the construction of The Broad. Dedicated to contemporary art, the institution is expected to open its doors at the end of 2014. Boasting a collection including works by John Baldessari, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Cindy Sherman, Robert Rauschenberg and Ed Ruscha, the opening of The Broad is set to be one of the most hotly-anticipated events of the year.

The building housing this museum is vast, measuring over 11,000 m2, conceived by architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro. The structure comprises three floors dedicated to exhibitions, as well as a section which is to hold works from The Broad Art Foundation – an organisation which, since its foundation in 1984, has lent over 8,000 works of art to around 500 museums throughout the world.

Autumn 2014 is expected to see the opening of Paris’s Louis Vuitton Foundation, whose designer, architect Frank Gehry, stated: “I dream of designing, in Paris, a magnificent vessel symbolising the cultural calling of France.” Costing €100 million to construct, Gehry’s structure is to house a vast collection of works, featuring pieces by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Cao Fei, Ryan Trecartin and Cyprien Gaillard. The impressive glass building is to be situated in the West of the French capital, in the heart of the Bois de Boulogne.

Also set to open in autumn 2014 is Massachusetts’ Harvard Art Museums, a Renzo Piano-designed structure, whose total cost has been estimated at $350m. A spokeswoman for the project has stated: “The project will unite the Fogg, Busch-Reisinger and Sackler Museums for the first time, creating new opportunities to use its outstanding collections to explore human creativity.” The new facility is also set to include the Straus Center for Conservation and Technical Studies.

Amongst other openings planned this year is Paris’s Picasso Museum; featuring a rich collection of 5,000 works, the institution is to reopen after five years’ renovation work and numerous delays – the surface area open to the public to double from 2,300m2 to 5,500m2. Anne Baldassari, the museum’s director, has promised that the works carried out will be a “real shock” to visitors familiar with the institution’s former incarnation. Other projects set to be unveiled in France include the Soulages Museum, to open in Rodez in 2014. The institution is to serve as the home for a donation of works by the eponymous artist.

Across the globe, Toronto is to become the site of the new Aga Khan Museum, a space dedicated to Islamic art measuring 1,000 m2, which will present over 1,000 objects dating from a period of over 1,000 years. Elsewhere, in the Netherlands, the Mauritshuis Museum – home to Vermeer’s famous Girl with a Pearl Earring – expects to welcome an ever-increasing number of visitors as of next summer, with a $35m renovation project having allowed the institution to double in size.

These, however, are not the only cities whose arts institutions are undergoing expansion or major redevelopment: in St. Petersburg, the new Fabergé Museum – set in three wings of the Hermitage Museum – is due to open in summer 2014. Its opening coincides with the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage Museum.

In the US, Washington’s Tacoma Art Museum has released details of plans to open a new wing in the autumn. This new space is to exhibit works from a collection of American art donated by the Haub family. Elsewhere in the States, the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado is to open a new building measuring 3,000m2. Forecast to open in the summer, the new building has been designed by Japanese architect Shigeru Ban.

Promising Programmation

From 25 April to 24 August 2014, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris is to host a major retrospective of works by the Argentinian-born, Italian artist Lucio Fontana, the founder of the Spatialist movement.

Realised in collaboration with Milan’s Lucio Fontana Foundation, the show is to place an emphasis on the diverse nature of the artist’s practice, which lies somewhere between abstraction and figuration, and his fascination with metaphysics, technology, utopia, kitsch, and amorphous subjects. His cracked paintings, which have become icons of modern art, will be placed side-by-side with his lesser-known works, notably his 1930s sculptures and ceramics, most of which have never been exhibited before in France. This exhibition, which is the most significant in France since 1987, is to cover the full scope of Fontana’s production, from the late 1920s until his death in 1968. 200 works will represent all his major areas of study, including: primitive and abstract sculpture, drawing, polychrome ceramics, spatialist works, paintings with holes, environments, TagliNatura, Fine di Dio, Venezia, Metalli, Teatrini.

From 15 January to 23 March, London’s Whitechapel Gallery is to present Hannah Höch, a pioneering German collage artist, who was a member of the Dada movement. Also in the British Capital, the National Gallery is set to present a retrospective of works by Italian Renaissance painted Veronese, one of the most significant artists to have produced work in Venice during the 1500s. Featuring approximately fifty of the artist’s works, lent from museums across the world, the show – entitled “Magnificence in Renaissance Venice” – is to be the first monographic display of Veronese’s works ever to have been held in the United Kingdom.

Moving away from the National Gallery’s more historical approach is the Tate Modern, which, between 16 April and 7 September, is to host an exhibition dedicated to Henri Matisse. Entitled “The Cut Outs”, the show is being marketed as “the most comprehensive overview” of Matisse’s cut paper works, with Tate director Nicholas Serota having commented: “For many people, it will be one of the most beautiful, evocative and compelling exhibitions ever seen in London.” After its close in the capital, the exhibition is to travel to New York’s MoMA, before being exhibited in private galleries and insitutions across the world.

Across the pond, New York’s Guggenheim promises to be the venue for one of the city’s most captivating exhibitions: “Italian Futurism (1909-1944) Reconstructing the Universe” is to present – for the very first time in the United States – a selection of zorks taken from across the Futurist movement. This multi-disciplinary display is to retrace the history of Futurism, which began with Marinetti’s 1909 mani- festo, before disappearing at the end of the Second World War.

Organisers of this momentous exhibition have worked to bring toegther a total of around 300 pieces – in genres including painting, architecture, design, ceramics, fashion, cinema, and photography – spanning a period of production from 1909 to 1944.

The lure of the fair

As noted – both in our introduction, and in this week’s interview with Michael Peppiatt, the number of art fairs world wide seems to be undergoing a rapid – and seemingly unceasing – rise. 2014 is set to see the first edition of two events in Silicon Valley: between 10 and 13 April, Silicon Valley Contemporary will take place, to be followed, in the autumn by Art Silicon Valley. The latter is to gather a selection of 80 international galleries, whilst Silicon Valley Contemporary will feature 60 exhibitors, amassed under the roof of the San Jose convention centre. Focusing on works of art created since the 1980s, Silicon Valley Con- temporary aims to be at once “unique” and “accessible”, according to fair director Rick Friedman, also President of the Hamptons Expo Group. Commenting on the project, Friedman stated: “We think that’s in sync with Silicon Valley. We want it to be cutting edge, but accessible to people.”

And what of the art market?

The activities of auction houses – which produced some remarkable, often surprising results over the course of the past year – seem certain to go on developing in 2014. Private sales have allowed auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Christie’s to realise not insignificant figures, with the two auction houses having reported sales figures of $1 million in 2012 – a promising result which seems likely to inspire the houses to continue. For both auction house and collector, private sales offer an appealing anonymity: whilst buyers remain hidden, the auction house selling the work also benefits from a decreased vulnerability, with any failed sales creeping under the radar of marketing materials.

It remains to be seen how auction house sales will affect galleries: certain auction sales of the past year have appeared to tap into a market otherwise destined for gallerists – a trend which might threaten to destabilise the work of the latter. This has been particularly true for sales of street art, but has recently been witnessed, quite prominently, in Asia: here, in 2013, Christie’s sold works issued directly from the atelier of a Hong Kong artist.

For Sotheby’s, the year 2014 promises to be something of a test. Despite good results, and notable development in Asia, where the auction house last year realised sales totals of $947 million (a result comprising $496 million, realised during Autumn sales in Hong Kong), the house has seen a number of changes in its management. Notable members to have left the Sotheby’s team include Tobias Meyer, former worldwide head of contemporary art. Other events to have shaken Sotheby’s include the much-discussed active investment from Third Point LLC, the company directed by millionaire Dan Loeb; with Loeb currently holding a 5.7% stake in the business’s capital, many commentators have expressed concerns for Sotheby’s future evolution. Other upheavals are to come, with 2014 set to be the year in which Sotheby’s New York headquarters relocates to a new location in the city.

2013 also saw Amazon’s arrival on the art market, with the giant joining businesses such as Paddle8 and Artspace to enter into online art sales. It remains to be seen whether 2014 will be the year in which online sales, such as these, begin to present valid competition to their more traditional rivals.

A recent article from Forbes reveals the conclusions of a debate organised in the UBS AG: the speakers tried to determine if art was an asset or an investment. The majority’s conclusion was that art is actually an asset with an important investment potential. Over these last years, art has increased its value by becoming an asset or a capital in the portfolio of its owners. The point is to know how much art will bring you benefits, and how much you are ready to pay for this. Indeed, art’s aesthetic, cultural and historical worth is unlimited, not to mention its financial value. Many artworks owners have seen a piece purchased years before reaching the double of its initial value, and even more. However, it is not as simple as it seems. This is an exception, rather than something usual. One cannot know or predict in advance if this work or that one will have their value increased throughout the years. Some persons having the fortune of possessing artpieces whose value has increased does not immediately mean acquiring financially promising artworks is something easy and simple. On the art market, a “wild” place says the Forbes journalist Kathryn Tully, investors must not be fooled by the simple appearance of some things, or else they will make mistakes, and therefore lose money.

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