Archive for the ‘Sculpture’ Category

I had hoped to have written before now on this exhibition of these two artists that is being held at one of Colombia´s best galleries: La Cometa. Fortunately the exhibition will continue till 9th December 2008! So if you are in Bogota I would recommend you take a an hour or so to get along to see it.

These artists have been married now for over 50 and have very different styles of work and this is the first time in 25 years that they have exhibited together in Colombia.

Jim´s exhibition is called “Meridianos” and his sculpture in bronze deals with concepts relating to sexuality and erotisicm. Meanwhile Olga´s exhibition called “Strata” presents work based on precolumbian fabrics and designs.

The works presented are part of their personal collections from various decades. As the artists say, it is “almost as if they were letting people into their home”.

Jim Amaral: Sculptor
Jim Amaral was born in the USA in California and came to Colombia over four decades ago, making Bogota his home. His works have been strongly acclaimed and indeed adorn the plazas and entrances to several of Bogota´s most important skyscrapers.

Further information on Jim Amaral can be found here.


Olga de Amaral: Textiles Artist

Surely one of the main reasons that keeps Jim in Colombia is his Colombian wife, Olga! A very well respected artist in her own right she is renowned for her pioneering work in taking pre-colombian textile designs and reforming them within her artworks. Her most recent works have included integrating textile pieces with gold leaf.


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Fernando Botero is one of the worlds richest artists. His workshop which manages the production of monumental which are placed worldwide employs around 100 people – now that`s hard to imagine – in Italy, so we are talking about paying people in euros not pesos!

With an average wage of around €20.000 per year then thats over €2.000.000 on wages alone – wow! I bet even Damien Hirst doesn`t get close to that sum for the people he employs. Anyway – to pay out so much money (and I would suggest that that sum could be doubled in relation to purchase of bronze and traveles and exhibition expenses etc) Mr Fernando Botero obviously has to generate quite a tidy sum of cash each year. I would suggest that it might be around USD $10-20.000.000. Big business indeed.

So . . . . . .

What Does Botero Do With All His Money?

Well he obviously has a very enjoyable lifestyle, but just recently it was revealed that Botero actually gives a lot of cash away. He is a philanthropist. Not perhaps in the league of Gates or Buffet but he is actually very generous with his cash.

Let me list a few items:

  • Botero Prize for Art (annual) : USD $50.000
  • He set up a Senior Home for older poor elder people in Bogota:Est. $300.000
  • He set up a system to pay for children’s food in the poor Choco province :Est. $20.000 / year
  • He donated $200.000.000 worth of artwork to Colombia for its people to enjoy.

Botero’s philanthropy, in fact, was often low-profile and most Colombians, apart form his museum donation and art prize would not be aware of his other philanthropic work. He most truly is a most wonderful person.

You can read more about this story and an interview by Daniel Chang with Botero at the link below.

Botero Interview on his Philanthropy


Find out more on Botero:

The Art of Fernando Botero


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The Graciela Gómez Foundation has a new art exhibition in Bogotá right now. It started just a couple of days ago and has already been seen by thousands of people. The exhibition consists of sculptures and is being shown at present in the plaza of the World Trade Center in Bogota (Calle 100 #8). Over twenty artists are showing there work and the include the likes of Alicia Tafur, Miguel de la Espriella, Camilo Pinto y Hernando Sanchez.

The exhibition continues until the 18th of December and has the objective of raising funds through sales of the sculptures for the foundation.

The Graciela Gómez Foundation helps families on low incomes who have children with Downes Syndrome and helps pay for their child´s rehabilitation and education.

Below area few of the sculptures exhibited and a photo of the founder of the foundation: Graciela Gómez.

Word Trade Center (Left) - Bogota

World Trade Center (Right) - Bogota

Miguel de la Espriella (”Baile de Cumbia en Familia”) Patinated Bronze

Sculpture by Miguel de la Espriella

Hernando Sanchez - (Marble Resin Sculpture)

Scuplture by Hernando Sanchez

Camilo Pinto - Corset

Sculpture by Camilo Pinto

Message from the Foundation

Did you ever stop to think at some time about what you are? About your achievements, your family, about all the privileges and gifts that you possess, that you enjoy and that have never been of your choosing but were freely given to you?

Graciela Gómez - Alicia Tafur

Graciela Gómez – Beside a bronze sculpture created by Alicia Tafur.


Telephone: (+571) 274-2952

Fax: (+571) 633-3492

Email: gragomez@yahoo.com

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. . . and here of course I do mean money – dosh – mulaah!!!! I am not talking about its aesthetic value.

Well let me start in the following manner – the PRICING of art and its VALUE are of course two different things. However, if markets are sufficiently transparent and geographically and culturally integrated then there should not be any great variation in prices – however the reality is much different – especially I would say for Latin American artists.

Cultural Factors in Art Pricing

This is probably the simplest to explain. If you are a born and bred latino presently living outside Latin America, perhaps in NYC, and you have had an interest in your countries art you will most probably be prepared to pay for a work by an artist that meets your cultural criteria. Whereas, an artwork that falls into a different cultural category, though it may interest you, would not stimulate that same desire to make a purchase.

However, if you were a native New Yorker, even if you had an interest in Latin Art, you would probably make the purchase based on additional recommendations from the gallery or dealer that had the work that interested you . . . plus you would probably look for a good discount!

Another factor that comes under this section is obviously what the artist paints (or sculpts or creates just to broaden the pool of opportunity) . Art that is typically Latin and reflects its authors “country / place of birth” will not appeal to everyone around the world – again it would probably be more appealing to someone from the same region. Take the work of Fernando Botero as an example. Here in Colombia his works sell very well and get the international prices that are well established and given the size of the economy and the general lack of wealth that is in the country this is rather surprising. Now, although many people who are non-latinos probably own works of Botero I am sure that apart from their enjoyment of the artists work they made their purchase under the assurance of a gallery or dealer of the works value. Whereas in Colombia, Botero is in many ways held in very high esteem and that is probably the determining factor in pricing in this market. However, there are other well-known latin artists here in Colombia such as Armando Villegas whose work may regularly sell for USD $10 – 50,000 in Colombia (Again in part for being well-known and respected) but whose work would command such prices overseas or outside Colombia only with extreme difficulty outside of the latino community. And this brings me on to my next factor.

Geographical Factors in Art Pricing

A well known and well quoted artist in terms of pricing within a select geographical zone will not always be able to sell their work outside of that zone at the same pricing levels and would probably have to drop their prices (which usually is not in their best interest) or just grin and bear it while the new zones to be marketed come up to speed with the artist and their body of work. Of course given the internationalization of the art world this in some ways has become easier to do but the contradictory effect is that so many people are doing so that supply is outstripping demand which of course means more effort and costs have to be put into marketing the artist and their work – which is where almost all profit would go . . . and not to the artist. Of course the artist does benefit from increased international exposure. But as ever, the human race being what we are, look to take the easy way out . . . and this bring me to the point of “universality” in art.

Universality as a Factor in Art Pricing

Now, given the history of the development of art and the hegemonic positions of European and American art, the tendency so far is for this type of art to obtain higher prices – particularly so now that conceptual art has developed so much and indeed captured the market in terms of higher prices. Also, this type of art has for many developed into the gold standard in art. What a great pity I say.

All European art is, is INDIGENOUS art from Europe. So, in order to sell around the world and take part in world pricing many artist from Latin America “buy into” the scheme that this is the only art to be created – and of course this too is what is taught in art schools around the world. Talk about globalization. What we really mean is homogenization – milk for the masses. I believe that real art has more to offer.

So unfortunately many young artists in Latin America are looking to become “universal artists” to help ease their work into the accepted body of world art. What a great pity I say again. Although universality in art can help enter an already broad world art market very few artists of this ilk tend to command high prices . . . and those that do usually have something else to offer.


Well, that raps up todays session.Just to say that if you want to find out more about how art prices behave in transparent international markets I suggest you go to ArtPrice. It is a site that I use and trust.

ArtPrice - International Art Prices

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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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The Colombian artist Doris Salcedo will be opening her new exhibition – I assume of one very large artwork – in the Tate Modern in London on the 9th of October. And, according to Richard Cork of the Financial Times, she plans to show her anger with Europe!

“I hate the high culture of Europe that’s used as a form of racism. This high culture is now supposed to be threatened by raw immigrants but it was built with labour from – where?” She hits the sofa with both hands. “And where does all this wealth come from?”

My dear Doris – do not be so angry! It takes time to build a country and the UK has been doing so for almost a thousand years and Colombia for only about five hundred (or fifty depending on how you want to look at it!).

Plus, Doris seems to think that the UK was built by immigrant slaves. Now, though it is obvious that the UK has a colonial past, I do not think it right to make statements – artistic or otherwise – that denigrate the results of the contributions of the many immigrants that came to the UK – of their own free will, I must add. Sure they helped build the country – but let´s not overdo it. If you had nowhere to go and had to visit a neighbour wouldn´t you help plough his land and build in exchange for new opportunities.

In any case, I think Doris should not export the anger that she feels surely as a result of the internal problems in her own country that haven´t been solved in 40 years to the UK or anywhere else.

At the White Cube gallery she is showing shoes of the dead and dismembered or mentally attacked victims of the conflict here in Colombia. Does that really get the message across that the only reason that the conflict exists today is because the FARC has no real political agenda and is just protecting its business much as Al Capone did his? I think it is just too much of an artist dwelling on the past – when we should all be living in the present and looking to the future.

But hey, maybe it´s me being cynical.

If yo are in London, go see the new work by Doris Salcedo at the Tate Modern and write back with your comments.

Doris Salcedo in Financial Times Article

PS: Doris – do not worry too much about European wealth – better, ask yourself why Colombia can have two (almost three) USD BILLIONIARES when much of the country is still searching for its daily bread!

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So here we are, 2007, and we had the grand launch of Equus Arte which is organized by the “Corazon Verde” Foundation. The objective of this biennial presentation of artworks is to raise funds for the widowed families of police personnel killed in the line of duty. I support that cause 100%. However, I have a few comments to make later on about the way this years operation was run.

Equus Arte

As the name suggests the theme of the event was equine and all of the artists were basically given the task of decorating a fiber-glass horse (which really had a great design – see photos later). Now I am not trying to be mean when I say decorate the horse, especially as some of the artists who were “selected” to enter the event are VERY well known in Colombia and some also at an international level. However, rather than present great art – many only were able to muster, at best, great decorating talents – and some did not even manage that.


As is normal in Colombia, an analysis of the list of artists whose works were “chosen” to be included in the offering of artworks had a tendency (20 – 30%) to form part of the same-old, same-old group of artists, wifes/husbands of artists, sons, grandsons, daughters nephews etc. The actual figure may even be higher than 30%. In any case, it is quite a closed group and in this respect I would say that there are similarities with the way ArtBo 2007 seems to be being run this year. Now, I am not saying that this necessarily means the art is if lesser quality – though I do believe some of it to be as I will point out later – but I do think it limits the opportunities that a popular and well-known program like this could offer to younger or not so well-known mid-career artists.

Christies Auction

As ever, the artwork was auctioned off by Christies – not this year (surprisingly) to the huge fanfares given to the presentation of previous auctions. Normally the auction of the artwork was limited to being sold off as part of a social event and bought by such-and-such a person pertaining to the higher echelons of Colombian society. No. This years auction event was actually under-reported in my opinion – and maybe that was to its good. At this point I still have not seen a reference to the sales in any major periodical so I do not know how much money was raised for the police foundation. I do, however, hope it did well.

Art for Arts Sake – Money for God´s Sake

As the refrain goes. This year it was more like “Art because it´s this time of year again when we have to be seen to be artists helping a common good cause” sake. There are VERY FEW works that I can honestly say were inspiring, intelligent, moving, interesting or even simply well done.

Rather than focus on the poorer efforts – of which there were far too many – I will highlight some of the works I believe actually merit mention – and not because of who the actual artist may be or to which “social group” he/she may belong to. Heck, I am even going to award them “prizes”:

                         First Prize: Lorenzo CASTRO        Lorenzo Castro - Equus Arte

               Second Prize: Joaquin RESTREPO         Joaquin Restrepo - Equus Arte

Third Prize: Augusto RENDON         Augusto Rendon - Equus Arte

Honorable Mentions:         Adriana VASQUEZ         Adriana Vasquez - Equus Arte

Carlos SANTACRUZ         Carlos Santacruz - Equus Arte

Claudia HAKIM         Claudia Hakim - Equus Arte

Patricia ESGUERRA         Patricia Esguerra - Equus Arte

Artists such as David Manzur, though his work was interesting was done in a totally different format (as in the last biennial) – as such it is impossible to compare and include his work. Also, Omar Rayo made two horses and I believe he should have chosen just one to show. In any case, I am not going single out any artist for poor quality work (they know who the are – shame on you !!), but let me put it this way. When I went to see the works in the Parque 93, a shoe-shine boy sidled up to me and said “some of them haven´t even painted their horse”. Yes, your ordinary man on the street can tell good art from bad – no matter what the curators and dealers and museums want to tell you. So there you have it!

If you want to see all the horses, click here, Corazón Verde-Equus Arte.

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