Georgina Adam is the Art Market correspondent at The Financial Times and Editor at Large of The Art Newspaper. She has been writing quite extensively about the ever-changing and expanding art market for a long period of time, and is one of the key figures in this field.
Arterritory.com had the pleasure to meet Georgina at the MARKET art fair in Stockholm, where she was invited to partake in an exceptionally difficult task (which she completed effortlessly) – to introduce the Nordic audience with the Global Art Market. Our interview takes pace in the peaceful library of the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts, after Georgina’s thought-provoking presentation.
How visible is Scandinavian contemporary art on the international scene today?
I think there is an interest in the Scandinavian art scene. No doubt about it. An example of this is the Armory Show, which will have a Scandinavian section this year. There is also the Helsinki School of Photography, and a group of galleries, like Anhava, regularly show at art fairs. So it’s not massive, but there is definite visibility. I think that it is also due to Scandinavian design. As there is quite an overlap with design, art becomes more visible. I couldn’t say the same about the Baltic art scene, but Scandinavia – yes.
You were present at India Art Fair and now you are here in Stockholm. How easy or difficult is to follow of the art market that keeps moving every day?
It’s really a problem. There are so many things I would like to go to, but you just can’t do everything. It is very difficult to cover the global market, to physically be everywhere. You have to be like Hans Ulrich [Obrist], who never sleeps (laughs).
Does he not?
No, I don’t think he sleeps. He doesn’t bother with sleeping or eating, or anything like that (laughs).
It would be great to have these superhuman powers.
Yes. It’s amazing. He’s amazing.
What does being an Art Market Editor for The Art Newspaper involve?
Well, because I am Editor At Large, basically every two months I do an analysis column for The Art Newspaper. Quite frankly, I just give them articles that I think are interesting and we discuss it. And I also work with them on the fair papers. I have been around for quite a long time, so I also give them advice if they need some historical perspective.
Do you think it’s essential to have art history knowledge to appreciate contemporary art?
(After a longer pause of thinking) I think it helps, but it’s not essential. It helps because then you’ll see references, things that have been done before. There is a lot of appropriation in contemporary art. So I think it helps, but I also think it’s possible to enjoy the contemporary art market without art history. Many people don’t have it.
Earlier in the presentation, you mentioned that art collectors with new money now rely on art advisors.
Yes, exactly. I mean, in the world of wealth, many people have advisors for everything – they have advisors for their wardrobe, advisors for their health problems and they have an advisor for buying art.
Do you think it’s crucial to rely on an art advisor?
These are people with a lot of money, but not necessarily time. They are money-rich, time-poor. I think that if they don’t have knowledge, then it makes sense that they should get proper advice. Whether it is the best way to build up a collection, that’s something else. I don’t think it is.
Do you mean that in the sense of buying as an investment?
No, buying as just to decorate your house. To actually collect art means to require things that are representative of the art world of your time, which is not the same as decorating your house.
Do you think that that’s what’s happening with many people with new money?
Well, they are also showing off to their peers. Showing off that they, too, can have a Damien Hirst. It’s cool, it’s hip and it’s a trendy thing to do.
For this to work, you would then need an artwork that every one of your peers recognized. But what happens if you work with an art advisor and you buy an excellent piece of art that your peers don’t recognize?
Well, that’s the problem. But the art advisors do figure out what exactly the client wants and they try to push the client towards buying the best possible example. Patricia Marshall is an art advisor who works for Eugenio López, who’s the president of Colección Jumex in Mexico, and he buys items she tells him to. But then he meets somebody, and he buys something else. She cannot control it entirely. Art advisors are very important. I should have mentioned it earlier. But I didn’t have that much time.
Taking into consideration the trend of blogging and information becoming ever-more quicker to access, how important is it tomaintain a newspaper?
(Sighs). It’s really problematic. But you know, we are in a library and I think that the libraries, hopefully, will still want to have the “real feel”. But what happens when they are all going to micro? I can’t answer that. I don’t know. I am worried about newspapers and we can’t make online work, not financially. And what’s the future of journalism, good journalism? If we can’t sell the papers, who is going to pay us?