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February 03, 2009

Yet another "news" story about NYC Art Gallery Closings...

Yet another "news" story about NYC Art Gallery closings...

Cindy_sherman_clowns_04 Today Bloomberg news decided it had to also have their own Art Recession news story.

Just a few MAO thoughts on the material points in this "news" story..

1. So, ONLY 4 NYC art galleries have closed since Sept.

This is a Big deal? It sounds like Art galleries are doing considerably better than most industries in NYC.  Did you see this blog post, listing the HUGE number of  NYC Restaurants which have closed, over 40 just since Jan 1?

2. Imi Knoebel works priced at Mary Boone Gallery for $170,000 to $325,000 had not been sold.. Hello.. SO? Did you see this show? Are they crazy???? MAO would call that, Total Common Sense.. not the result of a recession.

3. Hiroshi Sugimoto photographs at Gagosian Gallery have had their prices reduced from $450,000 to $360,000.    Gasp... like what is that?  

Even at $360,000, MAO would consider that price to be totally RIDICULOUS for a new Sugimoto photograph! While MAO loves some of Sugimoto's work.. there's NO WAY in any sane world, anyone but a total fool  would pay $360,000 for a single Sugimoto photograph.

We love this Gagosian press release quote..

In 1980 he began working on an ongoing series of photographs of the sea and its horizon in locations all over the world, using an old-fashioned large-format camera to make exposures of varying duration....  

By returning to the same subject repeatedly, he reveals the subtleties that he.....

Perhaps, That "HE," Sugimoto, hasn't managed to do anything new or original in years? Except raise his prices beyond reality? Ok.. maybe MAO is being a bit harsh.. So no disrespect to Sugi...but we're just saying...Hmm..it's something to think about.   Should a single newly printed Sugimoto photo sell for more than the average price of a house in most parts of the U.S. ?  Maybe MAO is missing something..?  like an extra $360,000 to burn on a new and dull Sugimoto photograph.

4. Cindy Sherman's last show at Metro Pictures wasn't the sellout it would have been a year ago. Actually.. this was Cindy's best work in years.. but still not that great.   So MAO is glad they sold some.. but again.. selling out photo editions for over $100,000/print by a living and printing artists, should never have been the norm. No? 

(Photo #1, by Cindy Sherman, Untitled, 2004, c-print)

OK.. well.. Offically, for the record, We at MAO are very sad to see the Guild & Greyshkul Gallery go bye-bye. We always loved their gallery.. and we wish them all the best in their futures endeavors.   

But just seeing a few (4+) art galleries close over the last few months in NYC is just not that bad nor that big a deal.   There were perhaps a few too many anyway. 

Plus.. Now, just think...  How many multi-billion dollar financial institutions have totally gone bust in the last few months..? Well, Here's one hint.. it was MORE than 4 !!  Can you say.. Bye bye, WAMU, Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Wachovia, etc.. MAO will miss you all ! 

Well..What do you think? Agree, or Is MAO just too old and bitter negative?

Anyway.. Here's the silly  Bloomberg news story from Katya Kazakina.


Gagosian’s $360,000 Photos Linger as Empty N.Y. Galleries Shut
2009-02-03 05:00:01.1 GMT

By KatyaKazakina
     Feb. 3 (Bloomberg) -- Guild & Greyshkul, one of the most
vibrant galleries in downtown Manhattan, is shutting down on Feb.
15, the latest casualty of the collapsing art market. Yet it
won’t go quietly.
     The Soho gallery’s last hurrah begins Thursday: a four-day
extravaganza featuring the work of 120 artists. The show is a
fitting end for an exhibition space known for nurturing young
     “I wake up at night thinking of what will happen to all the
people who do more experimental work, artists who are in the
beginning phases of their careers,” Johannes VanDerBeek, 26, one
of the owners, said. “We’ll be as flexible as we can be with
prices to get our artists a cushion of money.”
     Guild & Greyshkul’s financial woes, a result of slowing
sales and tanking prices, are growing commonplace in the art
world. Since September, four galleries have shut their doors:
Roebling Hall and Cohan and Leslie in Chelsea; Rivington Arms in
the East Village and 31 Grand on the Lower East Side.
     More established galleries are hurting, too. They’re firing
staff, dropping out of art fairs and extending their shows for
months in an attempt to cut expenses.
     “Galleries are just hanging on with their fingernails,”
said Matthew Armstrong, who curates the collection of Donald B.
Marron’s Lightyear Capital, a New York private equity firm.
     On a recent visit to Chelsea, Armstrong stopped by eight
     “I was the only person in at least seven of them,” he
said. “I wish the best to these guys, but it’s a little scary.”
     Two weeks into its show of veteran German artist
, Mary Boone’s Chelsea gallery hadn’t sold any of the
seven works, priced between $170,000 and $325,000.

                         Reduced Prices

     At the Gagosian Gallery on West 21st Street, Japanese
photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto’s exhibition, which opened on Nov.
6, 2008, has been extended through March 7. The prices of some of
his meditative seascapes have been reduced from $450,000 to
$360,000, with plenty still available, the gallery said.
     Cindy Sherman’s November exhibition at Metro Pictures did
well, said gallery co-owner Helene Winer, but it wasn’t the
sellout it would have been a year ago.
     “Some of our big collectors said they weren’t buying, and I
was shocked,” she said.
     Since its founding in 2003, Guild & Greyshkul has attracted
an eclectic community of artists, collectors, curators and
critics. The partners -- VanDerBeek, his sister Sara VanDerBeek,
32, and their friend Anya Kielar, 30, -- are all artists with
successful careers.
     “They built a very culturally relevant program of both
critically and commercially well-received artists,” said New
York collector James Dorment, who has bought works by the
gallery’s artists Ernesto Caivano and Trenton Duerksen. “I tried
to see most of their shows. To me they were one of the most
interesting emerging galleries.”

                          No Profit

     Although Guild & Greyshkul has served a broad collector base
and put up new shows every four to five weeks, the gallery never
made a profit, VanDerBeek said. All the extra money went right
back into producing artists’ work.
     “We managed always to keep even,” he said. “And as we
were progressing, our exhibitions were getting more ambitious.”
     In 2007, Guild & Greyshkul began doing shows that
transformed the exhibit space. Artist Lisi Raskin installed a 30-
by-20-foot ceiling that hung 7 feet off the floor. Coupled with
orange light and a long apocalyptic drawing stretching around the
entire space, the installation completely distorted the gallery
     The gallery’s overhead has averaged about $25,000 a month in
the past three years. Since September, covering those costs has
become increasingly difficult, VanDerBeek said.
     “Sales when they did occur were at steep discounts on works
that were mostly under $20,000,” VanDerBeek said. “People said
they loved the pieces, but they were just not buying them.”

     (Katya Kazakina is a reporter for Bloomberg News. The
opinions expressed are her own.)


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You are such a Negative Nancy!!

Actually, I'd rather have a new Sugimoto photograph then some house in dull suburban middle america!

Those of us in the artwork all know of well more than four galleries that have closed since last fall. My list is three times that number.

And yeah, I would rather own a new Sugimoto than live in some scary suburb of Denver!


Reporters have a narrative to tell, so they find whatever evidence to fit the story. If the writer had a bias in favor of the art market, she could have fashioned an equally persuasive story on just the galleries that are doing really well and not closing. The gist: trust your own eyes and ears...and even then be skeptical.

I love Sugimoto's work and while I knew the gagosian prints were going to be out of my league I was left breathless when the desk clerk told me their price. Am curious if following Apple's lead, gagosian will be partially refunding the price difference to those clients that had already purchased the higher priced prints.

I think you hit the nail on the head there MAO. Many in the art world still don't get it. The work is more over priced than real estate was in 2007. That price for a Sugimoto is bonkers. I don't know how else to describe it. And (not to discrespect anyone's hard work in the art world) but I think we need to see quite a few more galleries close before things start to get better.

I think the article's too anecdotal to be a good trend piece. But I think the conclusion is probably right anyway.

like your article very much.

I agree with you and don't think that you're just being negative. Having only four galleries close is not as big of a deal that they seem to think it is. Yes, it's not a good thing, but think of how many business have gone under already! Although I'm in Indy for school, my family is from Elkhart, IN and (apparently) it is one of the poorest cities right now. It's a HUGE RV industry and all of those are just suffering, assuming they are even still around. Four art galleries closing is almost nothing compared to a whole city going down. And having to lower overly priced art is not much to complain about. I never fully realized how expensive art can sell for, but I for one approve of the lowering prices! Maybe if they have to lower their prices down to a reasonable price, more people would be able to buy and enjoy the art. If an artist wants to share their work shouldn't they be making it more affordable anyway?

Great post MAO. I agree that the art industry has not been heavily impacted by the recession, especially compared to other areas of business.

One of the reasons for this may be that artists and galleries are moving their work online and becoming more efficient by utilizing technology and software, like Masterpiece Solutions and our currently converted Masterpiece Online gallery. (www.masterpieceonline.com)


Emily (Masterpiece Solutions)

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Business has slowed across the board. The Fischbach Gallery believes the art boom is definitely over.

I hate Masterpiece Solutions Emily. Art buying, like NYC in general, is soooo over.


Cut to the quick - Art=Money.

If you doubt it, look at all the media coverage at the Art auctions. Hmmmm?. If it's a matter of supply and demand I guess the demand has been satiated for a while. 360K for a photo? absurd. I hope they sell a lot of em. I had a brick from Carnegie Hall I picked up on the street when they did the renovation many years ago. I gave it away.


Having just looked at IMI i'm looking at paint chips that you pick up at the
hardware store. So what else is new. Have you seen any good nudes lately?
They are all of young bored teenagers. Ok thats all for today.

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