ART WORLD Q & A: Edition 6

3/28/2017

For this sixth edition of Art World Q&A, LivWill Art is fortunate  to have Los Angeles based art appraiser and gallery owner, Michael Maloney, share his extensive knowledge of the current art market and what to look for when starting your own collection.

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

There has been a dramatic shift in the manner in which people view and consume art over the past decade. Art fairs and the major New York auctions predominate and attract a large portion of contemporary art buyers. Today, viewers are more likely to scan gallery exhibitions online, make email inquiries and visit the gallery to see their new purchase. The days of spending Saturdays leisurely gallery-hopping with friends seems to be a quaint exercise from a bygone era.

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

Ed Ruscha, Mark Bradford, Christopher Wool, Mark Grotjahn, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat, Damien Hirst, Jeff Koons, Gerhard Richter, Cindy Sherman, Yayoi Kusama, Vija Celmins, Beatriz Milhazes, Georgia O’Keefe and many others….

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

The market is an aggregate of trends and prices in the art world. Value is subjective: what does an artwork mean to you, personally.

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

Taste is Illusory: One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Look at Sterling Ruby….!

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

$10,000:

A painting by Evan Nebitt, Samantha Thomas or Martin Basher
Or, a Picasso print

$100,000:

A sculpture by Thomas Houseago

$1,000,000:

Paintings by Mark Grotjahn, Mark Bradford, Andy Warhol, Jean Michel Basquiat
Or, a good Picasso drawing

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

Galleries strive to protect their artist’s market by presenting a reasonable price structure, based on supply and demand, and maintain stability of pricing within the artist’s market.

Galleries provide in-depth expertise, education and understanding of any given artist’s work and the artist’s relevance in the current art world. Often, a viewer will come to understand the nature of an artist’s practice through studio visits arranged by the gallery and by watching the progress of any given artist’s work through sequential gallery exhibitions.

The auction house will sell to the highest bidder.

The auction process is transparent. A buyer can seek the advise of an auction house specialist, who will provide insights into the artwork on offer, procuring history of ownership, condition and insights into the relevance of the artist to the contemporary art market. A buyer will see and hear the bidding on any given artwork in the auction room and know precisely what is being paid, or not.

7. What criteria do you use in judging art?

For me, personally: artworks which have some personal resonance. Artworks which move me in some significant way.

For me, as an art appraiser: artworks which have a track record of sales either in commercial galleries or at auction. As an appraiser, I do not judge art, I simply place a dollar value on each work of art, based on the above criteria.

8. What criteria do you use in pricing art?

As an art appraiser, I look at the history of sales in the recent past, both in retail commercial galleries and the auction history for artists who have a ‘secondary market.’ In the absence of auction or retail sales history, artworks are valued on “decorative merit.”

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?

Fluctuation of auction market prices is normal. Many factors can contribute to a downturn in any given artist’s auction history. Condition issues are most commonly associated with poor sales results. Too much of an artist’s work being offered at one time can contribute to poor performance.

Long-term value can only be analyzed through the lens of time, knowing the factors which might contribute to a fluctuation of price and the ongoing stature of any given artist.

Long-term value is speculative. No one knows the future, or which artist’s work will truly stand the test of time: 2-5 decades from now. Artist’s fall in and out of favor. Tastes shift and markets evaporate for many artists. One can only determine the long-term value of an artwork by looking backward.

10. What determines the commercial value of art?

Fair Market Value is defined as the price at which an item would change hands between a willing buyer and a willing seller, neither being under any compulsion to buy or sell and both having reasonable knowledge of relevant facts.

In a gallery setting, prices are established by a discussion between the dealer and artist, both having an understanding of the market for the artist’s work, the artist’s stature in relation to his or her peers and price structure in relation to the gallery’s and the artist’s buyers.

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

They are where the artworld comes together. The full spectrum of the artworld is represented at any given art fair: artists, gallerists, fabricators, shippers, promoters, party planners and financial institutions. Art fairs provide one-stop shopping for buyers. To some, they are a form of entertainment. To most galleries and artists, however they are the most important place for commerce.

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

Artnet, Paddle8, Artsy, Christie’s online

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

Works of art which I have a visceral response to, either because of my connection to the artist and understanding of his or her studio practice or, simply because I like it and can afford it. My personal taste tends to run toward reductive, minimal abstraction.

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

Educate yourself:

Go to museums and galleries and enjoy the pleasure of seeing artists’ work without the pressure of the marketplace. Buy monographs on the artists that interest you, and read the essays. Go to galleries and ask questions. Go to the art fairs and ask questions.

If you do not have confidence in your own choices, seek the advice of a professional art advisor.

Join the “curator’s circle” at any given museum, which provides access to the curatorial process of artist selection and exhibition planning, artists’ studio visits, travel to museums and collections nationwide and the social advantages of experiencing art with other individuals and couples with common interests.

About Michael Maloney

Michael Maloney is a certified appraiser of 20th and 21st century art and is certified by the Appraisers Association of America. Since 1997, Michael has appraised works of art for charitable donation, equitable distribution of property and insurance purposes. The service has been used by private collectors, museums and institutions to determine the value of important works of art from modern and contemporary master paintings to prints, photographs and contemporary art installations.
A specialist in all original works of art created in the 20th & 21st century, Michael is also certified to appraise fine art prints and photographs. Michael possesses in-depth knowledge of the art market and extensive experience valuing works of art. In determining an accurate appraisal of art works, Michael not only reviews auction records but also consults with the dealers most familiar with the artists work. Michael has long standing relationships with art dealers throughout the United States and the international art trade, which provide access to private sales information that is often vital criteria for valuation.

For more information please visit http://www.maloneyfineart.com/appraisal-services