Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter's Fact & Fiction

Why Gstaad Is the Perfect Context for James Franco's "Resort Paintings"

02/22/2016 - 13:32


Hello Magazine, Art World Edition
After my recent article on the art and art scene in St. Moritz, returning with a piece on Gstaad, I am beginning to resemble an upstart art world Taki Theodoracopulos the social swirl chronicler, who happens to reside in Gstaad, the jet-setting abode that has at one point or another been home to Liz Taylor, Sir Roger Moore, Balthus, Roman Polanski, Steve Wynn, George Soros, and loads of others. But when a friend called with similar aged kids and offered—an invite is an invite—I would have been an idiot not to seize such a guesting opportunity in high season and jumped at the chance. Gstaad and St. Moritz, respectively French and German speaking, are poles apart geographically and in other ways.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter über Zombie Formalism

Dawn of the Dead

01/19/2016 - 13:20

Abstract paintings between boom and doom: Kenny Schachter investigates the market

The Foreground

Though it feels like it’s been forever upon us, Zombie Formalism is a recent breed of mostly male, mostly generic abstraction mostly expressed in paint on canvas; a generalization of meanings coined by artist and critic Walter Robinson, who as the founding editor of Artnet Magazine in 1996 and was my very first editor at the time before the vital, paradigm shifting net-news outlet was unceremoniously halted. Zombie Formalism (ZF hereon in) unlike Walter and myself, now long in the tooth, is like the commodity pits, a game geared towards youth. 

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter on the auctions in New York

The sky is falling on the art market, or is it?

11/26/2015 - 18:15

In last week’s New York auctions of Impressionist and Contemporary art, $2.3bn was transacted in two weeks and though less than the last spate in May ($2.7bn, a record high), nevertheless it was above the $2.1bn presale estimate. Any diminution in value this season compared with May is more indicative of the material coupled with inflated expectations than the overall market. Christie’s continues to beat Sotheby’s in contemporary except that it has gotten a little too cocky (greedy) this time around, so the margin is shrinking—or the perception of the gap—though not as precipitously as Sotheby’s stock price, and Phillips remains misguided. There you have it in a nutshell.

Post-sales, the press chimed in like Chicken Little that the sky was falling as the numbers came up short but I can remember when a $170m Amedeo Modigliani nude and $70.5m Cy Twombly scribble would be cause for celebration (both respective highs). Not to mention countless additional records dropping like flies in a Hirst vitrine. We are in a mature, healthy and broad market in rather rude health, thank you very much. Here’s how it panned out.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter

The Dirty Details Behind the Big New York Auctions

11/26/2015 - 17:47

I covered the fall New York art auctions—focusing more than usual on the art itself for a change—for another art publication, and the editors there knew full well in advance that my writing voice verges on…hysterical, littered with random gossip and innuendo that for the most part is entirely true no matter how cartoonish it may appear at first blush. (The last thing anyone wants to hear from me is my opinion about the actual art: only who's showing, buying and selling. Period.) I'm no Cindy Adams, who signed off her NY Post gossip columns: "Only in New York, kids, only in New York." But the art world is a not a place unto itself, kids, it's a veritable planet.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter

Adventures at the London Auctions and FIAC

10/27/2015 - 10:25

The Auctions
Vice Media dropped into my house in London a short while ago to shoot for an upcoming series on the art market that they're in the midst of producing for HBO; I was slated to appear in three episodes. There was a strapping buck of a presenter, a producer, and a handful of tech guys and gals who had just returned from pariah lands such as Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Afghanistan, and Yemen filming renegade pieces with little more than gumption. So obviously, they felt more than qualified to tackle the art market, admittedly having never entered a gallery or auction house. After batting away repeated questions on money laundering, sundry manipulations, and subterfuge, I commented that despite their fishing expedition, art dealing was nothing of the sort; rather, it's a much more mundane, well-trodden, and well-controlled field of commerce like any other. I wasn't asked back, needless to say, but let's see how they slice and dice my comments.

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter Lays Bare the New Auction Season

Who's Up, Who's Down?

10/08/2015 - 16:07

I know this sounds like a set-up for a Richard Prince joke painting but it's true: I went to a shrink to help cope with anxiety issues last week and when he found out what I did for a living, all he could ask about over the course of the next hour was art market advice; including who bought the Picasso for $180 million and whether or not Wifredo Lam's (1902-1982) recent Pompidou Centre show would improve his market (still not a strong buy).

I knew art was a religion to some but now realize it's become everything to just about everyone. It was time for a new therapist, though not before I asked him to put me in touch with some of his well-heeled clients—for a fee share of course.

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Kenny Schachter

Killed deals, crashing markets, failing flippers: What does it all mean?

09/10/2015 - 16:56

Kenny Schachter on the summer past and the season ahead

Could we be in for a rough ride this fall in the high-flying, gravity-defying top end of the contemporary art market?

That was the billion-dollar question on the lips of the summer art crowd from St. Tropez to the Hamptons. August brought Sotheby’s second-quarter results, declared by new CEO Tad Smith as "rather bumpy," which in translation means weaker than expected by Wall Street analysts, with profits off 7% and revenues down 1.1%.

At the time of this writing, Sotheby’s shares have been under another kind of hammer—down more than 25% since the third week of June from just shy of $47 to $34 on the close of business before Labor Day; and with slimmer and slimmer margins I can’t see how that will change anytime soon.

But the sky isn’t about to fall…not yet anyway… 

Summer:

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Kenny Schachter

Don’t be afraid of management consultants

09/01/2015 - 11:28

Berlin based entrepreneur Magnus Resch recommends in his new book "Management of Art Galleries" that galleries could take even more money from their artists. "The Art Newspaper" asked me to comment this. Here is what I think:

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Kenny Schachter

Kenny Schachter's Fact & Fiction

Flipper’s Market Is Officially Dead

07/07/2015 - 15:19

The school year for the international art world stretches from Frieze London in early October to the London contemporary auctions, which this year, due to the crowded-out calendar that included the Venice Biennial in addition to Art Basel, pushed the calendar uncomfortably into July.

It's a long year for the art world.

The British summer heat wave, still underway, was not the only drain affecting the mood in the London salesrooms over the past week or two. There were numbers missed, excessive estimates that choked off bids, and a dearth of energy that gave the whole undertaking an underwhelming feel. All in the face of the greatest year in the greatest world art market that ever was. Mmmmmm…

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Kenny Schachter

Just Crashed

06/24/2015 - 12:09

About 4 or 5 years ago I bought a work by an emerging artist in Berlin through a friend that was in progress. By the time he finished, the painting was unrecognizable and ultimately scrapped. Every so often I’d ask the dealer for a replacement or something to settle up, and only just a few weeks ago he offered a small Dirk Skreber sculpture which I readily accepted after so long a wait.

Having forgotten completely over course of the last days, it arrived yesterday. Resembling the taxi van I just crashed in, it certainly comes imbued with a new layer of meaning … not necessarily good. But i like it all the same.

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Kenny Schachter

Art Basel 2015

Why Art Basel Left Me Mentally and Physically Damaged

06/24/2015 - 12:03

Art Basel 2015 was a story both thrilling and catastrophic, ending with a real bang. Literally.

The only necessary accessory for a fair besides a fully charged camera phone (they need a booth selling electricity) is plenty of mints. These are manic social gatherings with plenty of chitchat, so no use stinking as many do.

Getting into the door on the first of two VIP openings is like the jostling at a '70s Who concert. Once in, hitting the floor running, it doesn't take long before I have a series of sharp physical reactions in experiencing certain works of art, replete with erect hairs and goose bumps. The effect is often instantaneous, too.

This reminds me of the US Supreme Court definition of hardcore porn in the landmark 1964 case where Justice Potter Stewart said he couldn't describe it in words, "but I know it when I see it."

I saw plenty.

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