Art World Q & A: Edition 15


For this edition of Art World Q&A, I ask ArtMuse Founder Natasha Schlesinger to share her perspective on the current art market.

1. How has the art market changed over the last 20 years?

The market is a lot bigger now with more artists, more galleries and more collectors. It has become harder for beginning collectors to navigate and even for seasoned ones to keep up with. The galleries are also experiencing a very big shift in the way they operate, with many smaller ones closing their doors, moving, joining forces or reinventing themselves.  It will be a different art world five years from now.

2. Who are the contemporary artists that will stand the test of time and why?

There are too many to list here really but it will be those that either reflect upon the time with poignancy and relevance like Kerry James Marshall, George Condo or Mark Bradford or those who are also very strong in who they are as artists, exploring ideas and techniques, materials and art itself such as Teressita Fernandez and Frank Stella.

3. What is the difference between market and value in the art world?

Value is determined by the market. It is tested and can change based on the demands and mores of the market.  The value is set initially and will fluctuate depending on supply and demand but also on taste and fashion.

4. What role do you think taste plays in the decisions that important collectors make when buying new work?

Taste plays a role up to a point and that point is a price point. In the certain stratospheric point brackets, it is not about taste but only about investment value of the works.

5. What would you buy with $10k, $100k and $1 million?

 For $10k I would buy emerging artists’ works and there are many I have seen in recent months that I would readily buy.  Works by artists such as Sissi Farassat or Lala Abbadon. For $100k my first purchase would be an artist like Zaria Forman and on a different angle, a tondo by Nick Cave or a neon by Ivan Navarro.  For $1 million, I would look at Mark Bradford, Yayoi Kusama, Rudolf Stingel, Anish Kapoor. The list is too long.

6. What are the advantages/disadvantages of buying at auction versus buying through a commercial gallery?

At auction there is not as much of a personal relationship with either the dealer or the artist that can develop if you are buying from a gallery. You are also buying on the secondary market and not from the studio and for many collectors, it doesn’t have the same value. But it also depends on what it is that you are buying. If you collect Old Masters or Impressionist paintings, then I would recommend doing both. If you collect contemporary, I would opt for developing a relationship with galleries and artists and buying from them directly.  With an auction there is less certainty that you will get the work, it is more of a risk that one takes when buying from an auction.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

I use aesthetics, integrity, quality, content, where the artist is going and where the artist stands at the present time, what gallery he/she is with, what shows she/he has been in.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

The entire body of work of that artist and what it was a year or two ago versus what it is now.

9. What determines the commercial value of art?

The gallery sets the prices together with the artist and that depends on time put into the work, materials, production, artist’s career as a whole and how much has already been sold and what that demand has been like.  There are many factors and they can change over time.

10. How are art fairs shaping contemporary art? What is the primary role of art fairs?

Art fairs have dramatically changed the way the art world operates not always for the positive.  Many galleries have suffered because of the fairs and there is a fair fatigue happening now. We will see what happens but I believe there will be a reduction in the number of fairs, while at the same time there will be new ones in smaller cities.  Galleries have had to compete with the fairs so there is pressure on the commercial gallery world because of them. At the same time, it has enabled some artists and galleries to show in cities where they don’t have a presence so it has benefited collectors to an extent.

11. What are your favorite online venues for buying art?

I don’t believe in buying art online unless it is inexpensive. I believe in only buying what you see or know in person.  I believe in using technology, such as the one I created via my App called Discover Galleries and Beyond by Artmuse, to guide you to the art but I think its imperative to keep the brick and mortar operations alive and well.

12. What do you look for in the art you collect?

I look for impact on the eye and the mind, it can be composition or the effect of color or the narrative but it has to speak to the viewer.

13. What is the best advice you can offer to someone who is ready to start collecting contemporary art?

Try to see as much as you can at galleries and museum shows.  Educate your eye.  Try to get professional advice as well to narrow down your choices, to give you a better sense of where to look taking into consideration the budget, taste, space and the intent of collecting in general. Don’t be afraid to be bold in your choices!

About Natasha Schlesinger:

Natasha Schlesinger is an award-winning art historian and art advisor who has worked in the art field for over 25 years. Schlesinger began her career working at art galleries in New York and London. She continued as a specialist in European Furniture and Decorative arts at Christie’s auction house in New York before co-founding an international consulting firm, Meridienne LLC. She has lectured both at Christie’s and Sotheby’s and taught at the graduate program for the Study of Decorative Arts, the Cooper-Hewitt Museum, and New School. More recently, Schlesinger was appointed to serve as the Art Curator of The Surrey Hotel where she conceived and curated three successful exhibitions connecting The Surrey’s own permanent art collection to the most relevant themes in contemporary art today.

Schlesinger holds a Master’s degree in Decorative Arts and Design from the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Culture and Design. In 2005, Schlesinger received the Future Leaders of the Art World award from ArtTable, a national nonprofit membership organization for professional women in leadership positions in the visual arts. In 2017, she launched the Discover Galleries app to bring collectors and galleries together through a unique technology platform offering advice and consultation services.

Schlesinger speaks regularly at leading industry events, and is available for select panel and keynote engagements.


About ArtMuse:

ArtMuse is an international art consultation firm with over 25 years of experience. We provide art consultation, curation, education and brand collaboration services for corporate and private clients. With her extensive experience and knowledge of art history and the art market, ArtMuse founder, Natasha Schlesinger, guides, advises and facilitates the purchase and sale of artworks by leveraging her extensive network of established and emerging artists, galleries and dealers.

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