Next week the city of San Francisco will be flooded with art dealers and collectors, all clamoring to see the newest and brightest at the second annual artMRKT contemporary and modern art fair. The event’s opening festivities kick off this Thursday, May 17 and feature a preview reception benefiting the de Young and the Legion of Honor museums.
We recently sat down with artMRKT co-founder Max Fishko, a third-generation gallerist from New York City, to get his take on the contemporary art scene at large and in San Francisco.
Can you comment briefly on the state of art collecting today?
It seems to me that there is a tremendous amount of attention being paid to the visual arts right now, with particular emphasis on collecting as support for artists and artistic enterprise. I think that there is an overall consumer trend towards investing in the unique, the handmade and the personal. The marketplace for visual art is certainly benefiting from that trend.
Where do you see art markets within the overall cultural landscape, in particular vis-à-vis museums? For example, Andy Hope Diaz and Lauren Roth were featured in the 2011 artMRKT and are now 2012 de Young Artist Fellows.
I think that fairs as a marketplace are increasingly relevant for the curatorial and institutional community. [Fairs] continue to grow as platforms for development, catalysts for attendance and showcases for new work. It has been such a pleasure to work with the de Young and the Legion of Honor and I look forward to making the fair as useful as possible on all fronts. That Andy Hope Diaz and Lauren Roth are now de Young Artist Fellows makes me tremendously proud and happy. I hope we can continue to provide exposure for new and interesting projects and people.
Do you see a connection between the subject of Munch’s The Scream, which recently broke records for sale at auction, and the global economic climate? If not, what does that sale say about the ability of art collecting to weather the proverbial storm?
I see strength in quality. The Scream is one of the most iconic images in popular consciousness and that has translated into tremendous value. It reinforces something that I have believed for a long time: great art will hold its value. In the current climate, when the value of commodities and securities seem to fluctuate by the hour, it is comforting to see that great art is never worth nothing.
How does one build a collection? What is your advice to young people interested in purchasing art?
The answer to both questions is actually the same: Build a collection any way you can! As a rather young person myself (I am 29) I have neither a huge home nor a huge budget to collect. I have, however, accumulated a collection that I truly love, comprised of artists whose work I adore. When I see something that stops me cold, I always know. I love a lot of art, but the urge to own something and live with it is unique.
Once you know you want it, approach the dealer and find the price. If it is not something you can make happen all at once, most dealers are willing to let you pay over time. Make a deal that works for you and start collecting. A warning: Once you have something in your home that makes you happy to look at every day, it's tough to stop.
Can you talk a bit about MRKTworks and the role that art and/or art collectors currently play in philanthropy?
Our online/live auction program called MRKTworks allows us to work with a number of active nonprofits to raise money at the fair. Support for the community is central to what we do, we want to be a forum for people to explore every aspect of the arts and the nonprofit world is a big part of that universe.
I’m interested in the online auction aspect of MRKTworks. Can you talk a little bit about how new technologies are changing the art-collecting world?
The visual arts have been very slow to adopt new technology. One can spend a lot of time talking about why that is, but I think most people would agree it's nevertheless true. Web advertising and email marketing has changed the art business as it has changed almost every other. In discussions recently, I have been exploring how that has impacted the market. I think people feel a little overwhelmed, getting invitations every day from multiple sources to come look at art. We all have to be sensitive not to expose ourselves too much, so that when we do communicate we get the most attention possible.
What is your take on art collecting here in San Francisco versus the other cities in which artMRKT is held?
Every city is unique. San Francisco has a fabulous community of dealers, artists, institutions and collectors that help one another tremendously. San Franciscans are very proud of their city, fiercely so. I think that there is a civic pride and a dedication to the historical identity of San Francisco as both a city and cultural catalyst that helps define the community here for me.
Join Fishko this Thursday night for an exclusive, elegantly catered opening night preview of artMRKT, with proceeds benefiting the de Young and the Legion of Honor. To learn more about artMRKT and to purchase tickets, please click here.