Archive for the ‘Art and the Internet’ Category

Well, I have been away from Bogota for a while due to traveling, work etc… but since I am back and we are in the full throws of ArtBo 2009 I thought it would be interesting (and a bit of fun!) to do a quick analysis of which Colombian artists are being searched for on the web WORLDWIDE.°

I decided to include some rules!

1. The artist must be alive and kicking!

2. The artist obviously must be Colombian (though I made a couple of exceptions.*)

3. The artist must predominately live and work in Colombia.

(again I may have been lenient in one or two cases given that I do not have all the facts).

Also, all results were confirmed, excluding possible name misinterpretations by the search engine, by confirming that of the first 10 results on the first returned Google search page – AT LEAST ONE of the websites  (10%) had to relate directly or belong to the artist in question and not just a namesake. Some of the artists actually occupied ALL of the 10 results!

So, for all you fuddy-duddies that say “What about so and so . . . they should be in the list!” well, based on the above reason I have left out of contention artists such as Fernando Botero, Carlos Jacanamijoy, and Omar Rayo – all three being well known Colombians artists who have predominantly lived and worked outside of Colombia.

So here is the list of the TOP 21 MOST SEARCHED FOR Colombian artists  – according to Google keyword tool which bases its results on monthly averages over the last twelve months:

 List of Top 21 Colombian Artists

To a large extent many of the names could have been predicted since the art scene in Colombia is still taking baby-steps with respect to other Latin countries such as Argentina or Venezuela – and as such most searches relate to the staple diet of names: Beatriz González, Maripaz Jaramillo etc etc.

What did surprise me though was the HUGE difference in the number of people searching for Beatriz González (6,600) and John Castles  (260) who is a close contemporary of the fabled Bumangues artist. Also it was interesting to see artists Jorge Riveros, Miguel de la Espriella and Rafael Penagos in the list as their work is not so commonly reported on in the Colombian press and media (at least as far as I have seen).

However, it is very interesting to note that Doris Salcedo is neck and neck with Beatriz González. Also interesting to note the number of women in the list – about 30%! Not bad I think considering art is often still a male dominated profession.

I would predict that Doris Salcedo will race ahead within the next few years if her career continues as well as it has. And who knows, maybe some of the “dark horses” at the bottom of the pack will race up the list too. Or perhaps some colombian artists we haven´t considered now presenting at ArtBo 2009 will make the grade!

° I had to use worldwide data as local search volumes in Colombia were just too low for most of the artists. This most probably does add in a factor that distorts the results if there are several people with the same name being searched for – but is the best data that is available.

* It should be obvious that I made an exception with Armando Villegas who is Peruvian but who has lived and worked in Bogota for pretty much the whole of his career as has Jim Amaral who is from the USA.

A number of other well known artists were also searched for but the search volumes were either way too low or they did not result in a first page result. If you think there should be other artists in this list please leave a comment – maybe it will be worthwhile repeating the excercise in a years time!


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So what do defaulted mortgages, foreclosures and art have in common?

Well, in the Wall Street Journal Americas it was recently reported that in order to reverse the problems created by the mortgage credit crisis that was created by the Federal Reserve, the Department of Treasury of the USA is looking to create a rescue fund to try and ensure an orderly way out of the mess that has been created.

They plan to do this by forming SIVs (Structured Investment Vehicles) which will be emitted as short term commercial papers ultimately backed by the banks. Anyway, the big question is how liquid will these commercial papers be in the market. i.e. will they be easy to sell as well as to buy?

And here of course many of you will understand how such a problem also relates to the art market – right?

Exactly – liquidity.

How To Bring Liquidity To An Art Market

One of the biggest problems that I encounter when deciding where to invest in art is being able to define if my purchase is likely to have liquidity. Often, if I am selling a piece of art that is also one of the questions that I get asked too. What do I mean by that? I mean are there or will there be sufficient people interested in buying the piece of art that I decide to sell at some time in the future such that it will be easily sold?

Well apparent from being clairvoyant you will need to be able to look at reliable independent data to see what is going on in the art market. Most galleries (and the artists they represent) will probably not tell you if their art is not selling too well. (Hey, sound like when the real estate companies couldn´t move their off-plans a while ago in Miami!) So where do you go to find out? Personally I use ArtPrice.

ArtPrice is a company based in France and brings in independent data from all the important art auctions around the world and makes it available to the public for a small monthly fee or one-time annual payment. It has a lot of free info too.

Art Price - Art Auction Prices

Well, just as those SIVs may turn out be pretty illiquid for awhile – what can be done to help bring liquidity to the art markets?One of the biggest problems that the mortgage credit crisis had (and in part one of the reasons that it has become a crisis) is that the mortgages when they were packaged and sold as securities were not properly marked to market – and the companies that bought these “securities” should have known this. The reason they didn´t was because there was little transparency and perhaps a little (!) gullibility and greed on their part.

Transparency of realistic prices in the market is important and today there was a recent report that at major international auctions many contemorary “western” artworks were not sold or were sold at low prices – whereas oriental and in particular chinese contemporary art is starting to fetch record prices . . . so it is important to understand how the art market periodically changes too.

The best way to bring liquidity to the art market is to have more public auctions and/or more transparency in the sale prices of artworks in galleries.

Of course the main problem with either of these methods is that the market (especially a small one) can always be manipulated and of course the quality of different works even by the same artist can vary – which is a factor that buying bit of paper or SIVs tends to even out.

So, ideally we need transparent pricing and factors such as evening out the works of an artist over the sale of different art pieces and creating some kind of index, right!

Well, you can find that too at ArtPrice. So if you are interested in art markets and the prices therein I suggest you check them out!

Art Price - Art Auction Prices


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So here we are. It is 2007 and we are at the PINNACLE of conceptual art.

Doris Salcedo has just created a hole in the Tate Modern in London in the shape of an earthquake crack on its floor and people are staring into it. It is rumoured that Saatchi is thinking of buying the hole but he is not sure where to put it: on the floor at his warehouse, or perhaps have it installed on one of his mansion walls. What to do, …!

Yes – there you have it. Conceptual art has bared its all and what we find is Doris Salcedo – naked on the floor of the Tate Musuem – shivering shibboleth.

Shiboleth - Doris Salcedo - Tate Modern If Doris had really wanted to make a statement about the world she should have taken the money the Tate gave her and donated it to an appropriate charity and left the floor as it was – Now that WOULD have been conceptual art at its best!!!!

All we are seeing here is the limited knowledge of the artist as to how the world has developed exposed for all to see. This empress has NO clothes and the world has seen her crack – does “art” whether conceptual or not have to be so shameless.

Sure there is inequality in the world – sure there is a lot yet to be done – but creating a useless hole in the ground that can be found in any Bogota street (and I really mean ALL despite Armando Calle) will NOT solve the problem. Nor in my opinion odes it raise awareness – because as I repeat the point of view (and that is all it is) of the artist is not valid at all. As I have said before – and this story proves it – architects are trying to take over the world of art. It is time to fight back.

Read some more on this story at the Times Online .

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I decided to drop a quick note for all the artists that may be popping in to read my comments.

Guys! I have seen so many art websites that are just so beautiful, but are so image rich using flash that probably NO-ONE every finishes allowing the flash to download to actually get to site! A chance visitor would click away in SECONDS instead of waiting the 20 – 30 seconds or so (or sometimes more – flash web designers, puleeeze, think what you are doing to the art market of the poor artist you are supposedly trying to help).

One of the best flash designed sites I have seen – but one which also has an unbearably long download time is that belonging to the Colombian artist Al Vivero. Al, whose artwork is well quoted in international circles, is a great guy and an excellent artist – one who really lives and breathes his art. Now, I am sure he is 100% satisfied with his website – it IS well done. But the question is, for all the MILLIONS of pesos that he spent in creating it – will it give him a return that is measurable and fulfill the PURPOSE that it was created for – to get more people around the world to see, enjoy and comment upon his artwork.

I DOUBT IT!!!!!!

There I said it. Sorry Al! (I am still your friend, really, but I need to be honest.)

In any case there are a number of ways to remedy this not totally intractable problem.

So if you are an artist in a similar situation click on the next link to see how you can improve the distribution and recognition of your artwork via the Internet without getting bogged down with a flash web site – even if you already have one.

For those of you with the appropriate patience please click on the next tag link to see Al Vivero´s really EXCELLENT flash website. Just be prepared for the wait while it downloads his beautiful art!!!

America, Magia y Mito by Al Vivero

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