Unstretched Canvas Helps to Shrink Illinois Debt

Unstretched Canvas Helps to Shrink Illinois Debt
  • “Past Times” painting could sell anywhere from $8 - $12 million

  • S&P projects Illinois budget deficit likely to eclipse $7 billion in fiscal 2018v

CBx Vibe: “Dark Knight Dummo” Trippie Redd Feat. Travis Scott

The Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA) of Illinois plans to sell a painting by Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall to help out a municipal authority in the state. Marshall’s painting was acquired in 1997 for $25,000 and could sell at auction for $8 - $12 million. Is black art a new play for states to get out of debt?

Why This Matters: If Marshall’s “Past Times” painting sells for $12 million, it would represent an increase of nearly 48,000% over its initial purchase price. The painting was a centerpiece of Marshall’s acclaimed traveling retrospective. It was bought by the MPEA for the South Building of its McCormick Square campus, which was completed in 1996, according to Sotheby’s. Cynthia McCafferty, a spokeswoman for the authority told Bloomberg, they used public money raised through project-expansion bonds to buy the art.

Illinois is the fifth most populous U.S. state and is saddled with debt. Moody’s Investors Service and S&P Global Ratings rank Illinois one level above junk at BBB-, the worst rating of any state. S&P projected the state’s budget deficit was likely to eclipse $7bn in its fiscal 2018 year. While this may only make a small dent in the states debt problem, Illinois needs all the help it can get.

Read More

African American Art Powerglides to New Sales Records

African American Art Powerglides to New Sales Records
  • Swann Galleries introduced sales dedicated to black art in 2007

  • 2018 overall sales from the auction was more than $4.5 million

CBx Vibe: “Powerglide” Rae Sremmurd

The thirst for black art is on the rise and Swann Galleries is the most recent beneficiary. At least 12 artists achieved new benchmarks when the gallery held its biannual African American Fine Art sale. Does the success of these art sales finally bring attention to the importance of black art contributions to an auction house’s bottom line?

Why This Matters: Swann Galleries introduced sales dedicated to black art back in 2007. They have increased the number of works by these artists since interest in African American art attracts a wider base of U.S. and international collectors. Also, a lot of black art purchasers are institutions pining to address deficits and widen their representation in the space.

The overall sales total from the auction was more than $4.5 million. This was a Swann record not just for sales in its African American Fine Art department, but for the entire auction house over the course of its more than 75-year history. A rare early painting by Elizabeth Catlett, “Head of a Woman (Woman),” sold for $209,000. “Tension on the High Seas” by Jacob Lawrence was among the most anticipated lots featured in the auction. The long lost panel sold for $413,000, four times the anticipated price.

Read More

Hip Hop Virgin Mary Blesses A New Museum

Hip Hop Virgin Mary Blesses A New Museum
  • “The Holy Virgin Mary" was sold for $4.6 million at Christie’s in London

  • Four black artists works were acquired for the MoMA

Chris Ofili’s “The Holy Virgin Mary" painting is getting the big city art treatment. It’s  entering the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) as a gift from billionaire hedge fund manager Steve Cohen. Is this acquisition of black art by a major museum more than a trend?

Why This Matters: In 2015, “The Holy Virgin Mary" fetched $4.6 million at Christie’s in London and it remains the auction record for Ofili. The painting stirred controversy at the Brooklyn Museum during the 1999 "Sensation" exhibit due to its depiction of a black Virgin Mary beside lumps of elephant dung. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani found the art so off-putting he sued the Brooklyn Museum to have it removed.

Now, MoMa has accepted the canvas originally created in 1996 during an acquisition curatorial committee meeting. “People look at our collection as a place that provides history of art in our time. And these artists and works are essential to art history, we belatedly realize," the museum’s chief curator of painting and sculpture Ann Temkin said to Bloomberg.

Ofili was joined by three other black artists whose works were acquired for the MoMA. The works include; "No Title (The Ugly American)," a painting by Herve Telemaque along with “Sweet Thang (Lynn Jenkins)," a painting by Barkley Hendricks. Lastly, a sculpture called “Leaning," created in 1980, by Maren Hassinger was amassed by the museum.

Read More

Black Art is the New Wave on Wall Street

Black Art is the New Wave on Wall Street
  • The art market was last valued at $45 billion in 2017

  • The Museum of Modern Art has secured 430 pieces by black artists since 2010

CBx Vibe:Back Then” Mike Jones

Wall Street titans are making a mad dash for black art. Billionaire hedge fund managers Steve Cohen and Kenneth Griffin both recently donated high profile pieces to the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), an apparent coup for the museum. What will it take for black artists to secure the same sale prices of their contemporaries in the industry?

Why This Matters: Like Mike Jones said, “back then they didn’t want me, now I’m hot they all on me.” Within the last decade, black artists have increasingly become a focus of the art world. Since 2010, the MoMA has secured 430 pieces by black artists. Last year, a painting by Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for $110.5 million, the sixth highest price for a piece at auction.

Curators like Derby English, who the MoMA brought on as an adjunct curator in 2014, and Zoe Whitley, who has been at Tate Modern since 2013 have helped to raise the profile of black art. Yet, the underpinnings of the $45 billion art market are quite narrow and don’t appear conducive to broadening the number of black artists who can secure high-dollar prices for their works. Twenty auction houses account for 70% of the public art market and 30 art dealers control a third of gallery sales, according to Rachel Pownal, Maastricht University finance professor.

What’s Next: Auction house Sotheby’s has an Impressionist & Modern Art auction on tap for May 14, though it has not yet listed the catalog of pieces. Watch out for the number of black artists whose pieces make the catalog and what they ultimately sell for.

Read More

A Reclaiming of History

A Reclaiming of History

CBx Vibe: "Black America Again" Common feat. Stevie Wonder

African American art is at a seminal moment in art history. We are seeing the gains of the Obama administration with regard to more museum and gallery exhibits by African American men and women. While at the same time, a reclaiming of history that has been sparked in no small part by the current administration.

Stephen Towns: Rumination and a Reckoning at the Baltimore Museum of Art is a must-see exhibit. Town reaches back into the history of quilt making and the incredible women of Gees Bend Alabama who created some of the most important pieces of American Art. "His quilting practice delves into the perspective of women and people of color and draws on that knowledge to interrogate the institution of slavery in American History,” said Cecilia Wichmann, Curator. This reclamation of history in this visual way is powerful and speaks to everyone who experiences it.

For more art insights check out Cheryl McGinnis (Curator, Flatiron Prow Art Space, New York)

Read More