Wednesday, May 29, 2019



"Londres, século XIX. Há mais de duas décadas que vários estudiosos da Universidade de Oxford tentam criar um dicionário que, para além de definições rigorosas dos termos, englobe também a história e evolução da língua inglesa. Em 1879, James Murray, um escocês de cultura vasta e espírito inquiridor, torna-se responsável pela finalização do empreendimento. Para concretizar a tarefa, que a todos já parece impossível, Murray tem uma ideia: pedir a voluntários que compilem e lhes enviem palavras dos vários livros que leiam. É assim que William Chester Minor, um cirurgião norte-americano há anos hospitalizado numa instituição psiquiátrica para criminosos, se junta a Murray. Esta parceria durará anos e resultará numa profunda admiração e amizade entre dois homens muito diferentes mas igualmente geniais." 
c/p aqui

Thursday, May 16, 2019


A feira continua aqui
Um novo recorde obtido em leilão por uma obra de um artista vivo.
É bolha?
Não. É dinheiro a mais.


Jeff Koons (1986)


Jeff Koons' "Rabbit," the Brain, and Postmodern Art

With postmodern art, your thought is the medium.

Norman N Holland Ph.D. /This Is Your Brain on Culture/Posted Jun 25, 2010

Two approaches divide the world of neuroesthetics. On the one hand, neuroscientists like Semir Zeki and Vilayanur Ramachandran and William Hirstein argue that artists, probably unconscously, obey certain "laws" of the brain's perceptual systems and so achieve beauty. On the other hand, neuroscientists like Jennifer McMahon and Bernard J. Baars point out (correctly, it seems to me) that beauty is a feeling, and whatever perceptions we may have, only a certain feeling equals beauty. Notice that these theories invoke two quite different brain systems: posterior perceptual systems and the limbic system.
But what about the postmodern? No longer do we have a beautiful object. We have Andres Serrano's Piss Christ or Chris Ofili's The Holy Virgin Mary complete with elephant dung. I think that these works involve a kind of response that depends neither on laws of perception nor on a feeling of beauty. Postmodern art, it seems to me, works in an altogether different way.
As a sample of that other way, I offer a response of my own to a less controversial work but a work that is surely an icon of postmodernism: Jeff Koons' "Rabbit" (1986).
This sculpture comes to about half human size, in cast stainless steel, an exceedingly difficult medium to work. Koons has had a casting made of a cheap, inflatable--here, inflated--bunny such as one would give to a child as a worthless, throwaway toy. It is, a catalog tells me, 41 x 19 x 12 inches. That is, it would (like its original) stand about waist high if it were on the floor, but it is usually shown on a pedestal so that one is face to face with the object.
It is a big bunny. It consists of four large blobs, head, thorax, and two legs. On the head two projecting liferaft shapes form ears. On the thorax there are two horn-shaped bumps for arms. Attached to the rabbit's left "paw" is a carrot-like object pointed toward the "mouth" from which dangles a limp "leaf" which must have been plastic in the original and is a thin, crumpled stainless steel foil in the sculpture.
The surfaces of the object are shiny, shinier than a glass mirror, if that is possible. Exact silvery reflections seem to leap from it. At the same time the seams and dimples of the inflated plastic show as seams and dimples in the steel.
It is, of course, outrageous to make all this of an inflatable bunny, and I laughed out loud a lot when I was looking at "Rabbit." It is a joke! This is kitsch glorified, and kitsch that received its ultimate accolade when, in the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade it joined the neon signs in Times Square.
"Rabbit" in the Macy's Parade
But is an inflated bunny any more trivial or ridiculous than the half-eaten apples and spilled wine of a Dutch still life? I think "Rabbit" asks me to think about the ugly, the trivial, about kitsch. What is kitsch? Isn't it an attitude on my part? An attitude that Koons has turned around, asking me if kitsch doesn't also deserve some vague reverence as an expression, no matter how base, of the human spirit, of pneuma. Koons asks me to think, just as the Dutch still life painters asked me to look at the deserted table and the half-eaten meal and think that "In the midst of life, we are in death."
As I looked at "Rabbit," what I became most aware of was the reflection of me, the surrounding gallery, other Koons works, other art works. We were all doubly reflected, from the snout and from the belly. It occurred to me that Koons might be playing with the idea that art is a "reflection" of its surrounding culture. In any case the work of art is not self-contained. Rather, it represents part of its culture (something you could buy it in Toys R Us) and we are part of it. Kitsch and art and culture and us together forever.

I also felt intensely that I was "facing" something: I was facing the rabbit and it was facing me. Eye to eye. I to I? No, the rabbit had neither eye nor I. The lines that would have been drawn on the original plastic to indicate eyes, nose, or whiskers were not there. There were no distinguishing features on the rabbit. This is a mass produced object. Or is it? "Rabbit" exists in three castings and an artist's proof. It is not itself a mass-produced object, although it represents one and in principle could itself be mass-produced. Is that important to its status as "art"?

Koons did not make this object. Some foundry did. All Koons did was have the idea and supervise the workers. Is that all an artist need do? Have an idea? Like conceptual sculpture? Isn't the idea more important than the necessarily fallible embodiment of the idea? Plato relevant here. What about Rodin? Who did his castings?
"Rabbit" has no face itself, but there is my face, staring out at me. Is Koons asking me to face myself? To face the objects of my culture? To ask what difference and individuality consist of? Has Koons created a work of art that will be physically different for every person looking at it? Can that be art? Is Koons, by creating this outrageous thing, "in my face"?
"Rabbit" is heavy. It must weigh a couple of hundred pounds. Think of the original. Ounces of plastic film and air. Is Koons talking about the "monumentality" of art? The way we use art to make the most trivial, empty (pun here) thing (all those half-witted Hapsburg princes, say) weighty, important, significant.

Like the Dutch still lifes, "Rabbit" got me to playing in my mind between the monumentality and the ephemerality of things. All the inflatable toys I ever had eventually, slowly deflated. The dimples got bigger and bigger until the thing got ugly and deformed. This one never will. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. A work of art like this is supposed to be permanent, timeless, plus it can endow with its own timelessness even such ephemerae as the dimples in a temporarily inflated piece of plastic junk.
It is also perfect. Koons has expressed a lot of interest in the "perfect" object, and "Rabbit" is surely that with its gleaming, shiny surfaces of an industrial perfection earlier ages could not even dream of. And it is also junk. And what is the difference, pray?
It is clean. The mark of a fingertip would show up as a profanation, a stain on this stainless steel. Again, I think of another artistic taboo: we are not to touch the objects in museums. I also remember that Koons is much interested in "clean" and "dirty," ranging from the antiseptic vacuum cleaner sculptures (also involving pneumatics) to the "dirty" pictures of him with La Cicciolina, his former porn star wife.

"Rabbit" is conspicuously without genitals, and genitals are another theme in Koons' work. There is an absolutely smooth surface where a real rabbit would have a penis. This too has a long tradition in art (no pun intended!), of representing women (but sometimes any creature) as having nothing whatsoever in the genital area. (I remember John Ruskin's shock on his wedding night. Would he have been happier with "Rabbit"?) Koons is said to be the only artist to have represented himself with an erection (in the sexual act, actually in the porn pictures with La C.) Yet shouldn't that be part of a self-portrait? Isn't sex, aren't genitals, important parts of us? What does it say about our culture that this child's toy has no penis, no vagina? Is that "clean"? Is it "stainless"?
"Rabbit" is a representation of an inflated rabbit which is a representation of a rabbit. Shades of Plato here. Sort of like my double reflection in the head and thorax. Which is at least as exact and perfect (although distorted) as either the inflated representation of a rabbit or the stainless steel one. And yet no one would say my reflection was "art"—or might someone?
What is distortion in art? Is the stainless steel bunny a perfect representation of the plastic bunny's imperfect representation of a bunny? Is not distortion intrinsic in every representation, including the mirror reflection of me which is me, moves with me, interacts with me? What is the relation between Picasso's distortions and, say, Sargent's?
And so on.
If you have followed me this far, you will have noticed that I am invoking neither of the two brain systems the neuroestheticians draw on. I am performing pure intellection, pure frontal lobe stuff with just the necessary perceptual information. There are no "laws of beauty" involved.

Koons, it seems to me, is very postmodern in that he works more with my relation to the object he creates than with the object itself. ("Rabbit" is a joke. It flaunts its very triviality.) Even more than stainless steel, my thought is his medium. He prompts me to think about the nature of art, of our looking at art, of humanity, of our times, of myself. Of course, all art does that, but it seems to me that the postmodern art of our times does it far more explicitly, demandingly, and shockingly. And postmodern art quite dispenses with the "beautiful object," the oil painting or the marble sculpture. It is true, I think, as has often been said, that postmodern art may be the thinning end of a long line of development from the modernism of the early twentieth century. Sure, but so was Watteau the end of a long line. So is every artist. And so are we. But we still deserve attention.
I think we owe every work of art as much thoughtful and empathic attention as we can afford to give it. It is wrong esthetically and even morally to give no more than a hasty dismissal to another human's work. Following one's gut reaction or this or that notion of "what is art" is wrong to the artist, but also wrong to ourselves. Hasty dismissal deprives us of aesthetic experiences.
We may end up disliking Koons' work, but at least we will have enjoyed the experience of getting to that conclusion. We will have enjoyed exercising our own frontal lobes, and that, not beauty, is the way the postmodern makes its special appeal to us.
Items I've referred to:
Baars, B. J. (1999, Jun-Jul). Art must move: Emotion and the biology of beauty. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6(6-7), 59-61.
McMahon, J. A. (2000, Aug-Sep). Perceptual principles as the basis for genuine judgments of beauty. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 7(8-9), 29-35.

Ramachandran, V. S. (2000). The science of art: How the brain responds to beauty. In W. S. Brown (Ed.), Understanding wisdom: Sources, science, and society (pp. 277-305). West Conshohocken, PA: Templeton Foundation Press.

Ramachandran, V. S., & Hirstein, W. (1999). The science of art: A neurological theory of aesthetic experience. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 6, 15-51.

Zeki, S. (1999). Inner vision: An exploration of art and the brain. New York: Oxford University Press.


Wednesday, May 15, 2019



Claude Monet (1890)

Há uma bolha no mercado da arte?
Não. O que há é uma crescente concentração na acumulação de riqueza.

Mas há quem pense e teorize sobre a bolha. Por exemplo, aqui:

Is the art market bubbling or just casually simmering?

The search in Google for “art market bubble” renders more than 90 thousand hits, with top headlines screaming: “Could the contemporary art market bubble burst?”, “Is there a bubble in the art market?”, “Be cautious… the art market could be in a bubble” and alike. This sentiment is not new. Basically every year since the big crash of the market in 2008, some experts are warning that the art market is the new bubble and it is about to burst big time. Don Thompson in his book “The Orange Balloon Dog: Bubbles, Turmoil, and Avarice in the Contemporary Art Market” published in 2017 writes that there are various indicators, which all “point to the contemporary art market as a looming price bubble”. Before Thompson, there were Kräussl, Lehnert, and Martelis with their academic paper “Is There a Bubble in the Art Market?” (2014) claiming that in certain segments we were then right in the middle of a bubble (specifically in “post-War and Contemporary” and “American” art). Several years earlier BBC came out with a documentary “The Great Contemporary Art Bubble”, which named the art market the “longest lasting bubbliest bubble”. Then again, we are in 2019 now and no really big “bang” happened yet. Does it mean it is about to happen shortly, or on the contrary, does it mean it never will?

Let’s go back in time, shall we? September 15, 2008. On that date Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy, turning the US subprime mortgage crisis into an international banking crisis and the financial crisis of 2008 as we know it now. Ironically, September 15, 2008, was notable also by another event — the opening of the notorious single-artist auction of Damien Hirst’s works at Sotheby’s London with over 200 items selling for a total of over 110 million pounds. As Graham Bell had it: “when one door closes, another one opens”.The art market was not immune from the financial crisis, as sales in the contemporary art plunged by almost 60% in the period of 2008-2009, and yet overall the art market recuperated pretty fast. According to the UBS and Art Basel Art Market report, already in 2010, the global art market reached the pre-crisis numbers and a year later exceeded those numbers by $2.6 billion ($62 billion in 2008; $57 billion in 2010 and $64.6 billion in 2011). Since then, there were slight ups and downs, but nevertheless, in 2018 the global art market reached $67.4 billion, showing growth of over $5 billion in 10 years. Why is there a concern then?

The anxiety might be the result of the peculiarities of the market ruled by information asymmetry and consequently imprecise conclusions. The ArtTactic Art Market Confidence Indicator shows that by the end of 2018 the confidence in the contemporary art market has dropped. Again. Far from the fall in confidence occurred in late 2008, but still showing much lower confidence than it was registered even at the beginning of 2018. Moreover, last year the major auction houses boasted quite some surprising and question-provoking records. David Hockney’s Pool with Two figures sold for a noncompos mentis $90,3 million; Edward Hopper’s Chop Suey sold for a comparable $91.9 million, and the Portrait of Edmond Belamy (claimed to be the first AI work sold at auction) rendered almost half a million as opposed to its modest pre-auction estimate of mere $7 thousand. Those are objectively insane numbers and logically they cause questions as to how long can this last. Bubble suspicions are luring. On the other hand, as above mentioned Don Thompson said: “You only read about the successes. No one ever promotes the work that was bought for $25million and sold for $6million.” Like, for example, at the height of the market in 2014 one of the “rain paintings” by Lucien Smith sold for over 200 thousand pounds, while four years later a comparable piece was sold for 10 times less that amount (and this information did not hit the front page headlines). Does it mean that the bubble popped? Hardly. More accurately would be to say that there was some sort of ongoing price correction. Moreover, price corrections happen all the time. In The New York Times article of almost thirty years ago (16.12.1990) “The Art Boom: is it over, or is this just a correction?” Peter C.T.Elsworth cited Milton Esterow, saying: “What has crashed in the art market is all the speculation”, adding that art auctions “constitute a secondary market, often dominated by speculators, as opposed to the primary market of artists, galleries and collectors, where, some dealers say, prices are holding up”.

Worth stressing again that the big numbers everyone knows are numbers from public auction sales. Big and heavily promoted public auction sales to be precise. This information is heavily skewed and most of the times fails to represent the actual trends of the art market in general. In October 2018 in the article at Vox “Why art is so expensive” Gaby Del Valle rightly notes that: “a small group of collectors pay astronomical prices for works made by an even smaller group of artists, who are in turn represented by a small number of high-profile galleries.” In other words, could it be that a feared bubble is actually a small particular bubble in the small particular part of the art market? In cooking, there is a term simmering, which is used to describe the state of heating when the water (or food) is gently bubbling, but the temperature stays just below boiling point. That is to say there are some tiny bubbles, but no overheating and no boiling. Could this analogy be used to describe the art market?

Are the art market bubbles even possible? The real-estate bubble (at the outset of the financial crisis), the same as the dot-com bubble and even the Tulip mania of the 17th century were all following the classic five stages of a bubble. It starts with the (1) displacement, when there is an excitement about the asset and it starts dramatically going up in value; followed by (2) take-off (or a price boom) when the speculation on the future value starts, reaching (3) euphoria, then (4) the critical stage, when some investors realize that it is time to cash out, and ultimately (5) the pop, burst, panic (whatever you call it), when everyone realizes how insane it all was and prices plummet. Even if one assumes that the art market (or better — a particular part of it) reached euphoria stage of the bubble, it seems highly unlikely that collectors would be cashing out any soon, and even more so, that the realization of insanity would lead to plummeting prices. Likewise, according to the classic definition “during a bubble, prices for a financial asset or asset class are highly inflated, bearing little relation to the intrinsic value of the asset” (Investopedia). However, when it comes to the intrinsic value of an artwork, the bubble discussion in the essence exhausts itself.

Of course, tastes (or call it — fashion) change, and the perceived intrinsic value of particular artworks changes as well, but it is doubtful that this can ever be extrapolated to the whole art market. Not even to the specific market for Contemporary Art; only perhaps to individual artists. Here again, some artists might be “bubble-vulnerable”, while others are “bubble-proof”. In the “Mornings with Maria” at Fox Business channel, art advisor Michel Cox Witmer commenting on the sale of Alfred Taubman’s art collection rightly pointed that, for example, Picasso is bubble-proof; he will always be there. What about “not-Picassos”? The simple answer would be: the market will correct itself in a while. It is indeed possible that certain young hyped artists are not going to be there in 10 years and hundreds of thousands paid for their artworks will never be possible even to recuperate; though this comes down to the reasons behind the purchase of artwork in the first place. If a collector bought a piece rather because of its intrinsic appeal than because of the investment potential, even if the latter fails to materialize, so be it. On top of that even in the case of young and hyped it is not about all young and even not about all hyped. Some of them will enter the art history and their works will still be worth a lot of money, while others will disappear, and this is perfectly normal.

Thus, no significant bubble would probably pop in the art market at large, however, this “frog” might still be boiled. Currently, there are a number of significant alarming trends and some inspiring evolutions which all combined have a potential to seriously alter the game field. Now, that might be a reason for anxiety. First of all, the guarantees — this hybrid of a speculative gamble and a risk hedge. Harry Smith, the executive chairman at Gurr Johns said in this respect: “Guarantees have the potential to be the next big art-market scandal if they are not carefully managed”. In the sense of “careful management” there are quite some issues: from the discussion about the role of an auction house turning into financier to the pure money speculations (like in Modigliani’sNu couché, which despite being the highest realized price of 2018 at $157 million, was hardly profitable for Sotheby’s exactly because of the guarantee. The actual bid was almost $20 million less.) Secondly, the gap between the top of the market and all the rest seems to be extremely wide. For example, while large mega-galleries are opening more locations around the world, smaller galleries are actually almost massively closing down. The same goes for artists. According to the Artnet report, nearly half of all contemporary auction sales (in the first half of 2017) were made by 25 artists. ”The rich get richer and the poor get poorer”. Thirdly, while on one hand a positive development, yet on the other, an alarming one — banks are increasingly offering loans against art. This, of course, enables more capital to be freed up, but raises many discussions related to proper art valuation and, surely, to the attitude towards art as an investment only, locking it up in freeports out of sight of anyone, collector (read: investor) including.

At the same time, there are also, as I called them, inspiring evolutions. More and more initiatives appear with the aim of democratizing the art world, of making it accessible to the general public as opposed to the super-rich only. There are possibilities of fractional ownership of artworks (offered by e.g. Maecenas, Feral Horses, etc); there are many digitalization projects, like for example Artland where people can visit galleries in three dimensions on their phones; also more and more ventures emerge with an aim of breaking down the barriers of buying art (e.g. Singulart, RiseArt, etc.). The increased interconnectedness and the general trends of sharing economy also shift the perspective of ownership. As John Bailey said in one of his articles: “You don’t need to own the work to experience it”. If the concept of ownership eventually transforms into supporting, participating and engaging (where it seems to be heading), this has a huge potential to change the art market. It does not mean, however, that the very top of the art market will reform drastically. As the opening quote for the BBC documentary (perhaps a bit harshly) went: “At any particular times, a great deal of stupid people have a great deal of stupid money” (Walter Bagehot, Economist 1859) and some of it undoubtedly will be floating around in the art world. However, the big chances are that the astronomical art prices will  see some corrections and the art market of the future at large will develop into a different, possibly more inclusive, game field.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


De nós.

João Miguel Tavares junta-se hoje no Público ao coro de condenações pela desfaçatez, pelo desplante, pela falta de vergonha de um burlão que, segundo as notícias, tem uma dívida de mil milhões à Banca, principalmente à Caixa Geral de Depósitos, ao BCP e ao Novo Banco, que não paga porque argumenta que, ele, não deve nada, e de uma fortuna avaliada em 589 milhões de euros, a nona do país,  nos registos de propriedade não lhe encontram mais que uma garagem no Funchal. 

De que se ri Joe Berardo?
Do facto de a lei proteger outros implicados, com curricula formalmente semelhantes. 
Se na Assembleia da República não se votam leis que impeçam estas vigarices é porque há  quem, maioritariamente, lá dentro beba da canalhice. José Gomes Ferreira disse o mesmo há dias, na Sic, por outras palavras. 

Era assim tão difícil de prever o que ia acontecer? Obviamente, não era. vd. aqui
Aconteceu o que eles, os implicados, nesta e noutras burlas, queriam que acontecesse. 

(Para poder ler o texto de J M Tavares clique na imagem)   

José Manuel Rodrigues Berardo ComIH • GCIH (Funchal4 de Julho de 1944), habitualmente conhecido como Joe Berardo, é um empresário e conhecido coleccionador de arte português.
Joe Berardo é um coleccionador compulsivo. Desde menino que juntava selos, caixas de fósforos ou postais de navios que atracavam na sua ilha. A revista Exame avaliou a fortuna de Berardo como a nona maior de Portugal, estimando um valor de 589 milhões de euros.[1] - aqui
Em 1985, foi agraciado com o grau de Comendador, pelo qual ficou conhecido, e, em 2004, foi elevado a Grã-Cruz da Ordem do Infante D. Henrique.[2] No ano posterior, foi intitulado como Cavaleiro da Ordem Nacional da Legião de Honra, a mais alta condecoração de França.[3]


"Os accionistas de referência do BCP não se entenderam; Constâncio insinuou, e tanto bastou para os blocos se desmobilizarem. E como a generalidade dos conflituantes é fortemente estado-dependente, o Governo toma conta das rédeas e a caravana prossegue.

O BCP não será nacionalizado; será governamentalizado. O Governo toma conta do BCP e Berardo & Cª. tomam conta do Governo.

Trata-se, portanto, de um negócio vantajoso para ambas as partes.
Nós, os outros, pagaremos a factura." aqui - 2007/12/26