ART WORLD Q & A: Edition 3

ART WORLD Q & A: Edition 3


In this edition of Art World Q&A, LivWill Art is privileged to have Blair Clarke, founder of Voltz Clarke LLC, share her invaluable insight on the art market.

About Voltz Clarke:

Voltz Clarke LLC is an independent company spearheaded by Southern entrepreneur Blair Clarke. Focusing on the exposure of contemporary artists through private consulting and public exhibitions, the company has a particular emphasis on introducing international artists to the US market. Clarke’s experience combines over fifteen years of East coast gallery associations, curatorial projects and a consulting relationship with Sanford L. Smith & Associates.

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

Within the last 20 years, the art market may be more or less characterized by a fiscal “bubble.” Prices seem to keep rising alongside blockbuster sales, making artists like Jeff Koons or Francis Bacon very recognizably household names, with even greater prices.

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

I believe artists like Richard Prince, Yayoi Kusama and Alex Katz will all have a lasting impression on the art world. Not only do they have a palatable aesthetic, they’re making waves when it comes to social media, and that almost serves directly in their favor in terms of publicity and recognition.

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

I think that many believe that market and value are diametrically opposed in the art world; however, they are more alike than you’d think. Categorically, there are various points of contact in the market that is met with specific needs that create the values that the public takes notice of.

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

When buying new work, taste should most definitely play a part in decision making. Catering to trends and “investment” pieces is a bit of a catch 22. There’s a wealth of resources online that show you that some artists shoot to fame just as quickly as they can burn out–the gamble is a risk you’re either willing or not willing to take.

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

This may be biased, but with $10,000 I would definitely commission a piece from Bradley Sabin, one of Voltz Clarke’s ceramic artists who does wonders with his installations. For $100K, I would definitely move more in the way of Gerhard Richter or one of Damien Hirst’s Pharmaceutical paintings, for $1 Million, definitely would go towards several John Currins, as I absolutely love him.

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

Buying through the auction block, you oftentimes can snag pieces at their reserve, which is much cheaper than buying through a commercial gallery. However, it can also lead to much more inflated prices. The energy within an auction house can’t be beat, either.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

Technique is a big one – content is definitely another facet that I strongly look for. I am also keen on works with great aesthetic value. I am a strong proponent of works that speak on the surface level but draw you in with their content and theory.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

In pricing art, there are a lot of factors at stake. Particularly, an auction record or gallery show drives up price. Innovation and originality–the intellectual property of the work are two other major factors that contribute to pricing. Additionally, with the secondary market, is the work signed? Buyers will almost readily pay more for a signed work than an unsigned work.

9. What is long-term market value largely dependent on? How relevant is long-term market value with the fluctuation of auction prices going up or down each season?

Long-term market value works much the same as an economic practice. Supply and demand are directly related to the fluctuation of price, which will either sustain or bolster the artist.

10. What determines the commercial value of art?

The commercial value of art is, again, dependent on a number of variables drawn from auction records, reputability, materials, and concept.

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

Coupled with social media, the art fair has brought a newfound sense of education to the contemporary art market. Each and every fair is met with an influx of Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook posts that draw the public into a scene that was once otherwise privy only to those in the market. Actually, as the primary role of art fairs is to sell works, the compendium of support through the digital age has helped further the purpose and support of these events.

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

Buying online is fascinating! Especially with places like ArtSpace, Artsy and Paddle8, you can collect in as little as a click. Actually, two of our artists were just recently featured in a benefit auction for Baryshnikov Arts Center powered by Paddle8.

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

I wish I could collect more! Right now, my personal collection is bursting at the seams with works from artists in my roster. The thing about living in New York, space is so limited. Typically, for the artists that I bring on at Voltz Clarke, I like those who make me think, who challenge but celebrate their medium, and aren’t afraid to create what they feel passionate about. The last one is very important–nothing is worse than half-hearted art!

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

For the novice collector, I think that one of the best pieces of advice that I’ve been given is to collect what you love. That’s really quite true, if you’re going to be spending your time looking at it, why not opt for something that you like? At the end of the day, I don’t see the value in buying art that you’re not proud to display.