Philosophy of Art;Topics for art business conference;art world con;

http://www.firstthings.com/blogs/leithart/2015/08/the-modern-system-of-art

The introduction to Noel Carroll’s Art in Three Dimensions is as good a summary of the development of the philosophy of art as one is likely to find. Follow Paul Kristellar and others, he notes that Art-with-a-capital-A didn’t exist prior to the eighteenth century. Rather, there were various forms of art; there were arts, plural and with a humble lower-case “a.”

The highest arts were the cerebral ones, the ones that were suitable to freemen of leisure – poetry, rhetoric, grammar; the mechanical arts involved interaction with brute materiality. They were lower on the scale, as technicians and laborers were lower than freemen, but they were arts. There was an art to medicine, statesmanship, archery, navigation. Under the classical and medieval scheme, painting, sculpture, and architecture were lower-scale arts, involving manual labor.

The creation of the Modern System of Arts involved elevating some manual arts (painting, sculpture, architecture) to the level of the higher arts, especially poetry. Charles Batteux argued that painting, sculpture, dance, music and poetry were all forms of mimesis, whether of the beauty of the world or of the beautiful itself. Carroll writes that “Comparison between painting and poetry and between sculpture and poetry were ways of socially enfranchising these visual arts as something more than mechanical or manual arts and of raising the symbolic capital of those who practiced them” (5). This was presented not only as an elevation of status for certain kinds of activities and the artists who performed them, but as a discovery of something true about the arts themselves. It was discovered that all possessed qualities analogous to poetry.

But the Modern System was undermined nearly as soon as it was formulated.  At the time, the arts were indeed mimetic, but music rapidly departed from the mimetic norm: “Internal to the System, the growing popularization of absolute music, as explicitly distinguished from program music, threatened the unity of the System, since most absolute music imitates nothing. That is why it is called absolute music” (8). And music wasn’t alone in pressing the boundaries of the Modern System. It was hard to discover mimetic qualities to many forms of dance; this was solved by excluding folk dance from the realm of fine art. As painting and sculpture moved away from representational mimesis, they too put pressure on the System. Besides, the System was posited on the assumption that Art offered a path to knowledge of the world, and in this realm Science quickly outstripped it.

What Carroll calls “expressive” and “aesthetic” theories of art moved in to replace mimesis. Neither worked very well. It is hard to demonstrate that art works are expressive of the feelings of the artists; only a determined Romantic would take that as a given.

Aesthetic theories – at the extreme, art for art’s sake – had a more plausible claim, but didn’t work either. In a rather delicious moment in his summary, Carroll points to the inner connection between consumer capitalism and aestheticism: In earlier eras “patrons commissioned art works to serve important social purposes: to honor the king, to instill loyalty or obedience, to preach the commandments, to commemorate historical achievements and sacrifices, etc. In contrast, the rising bourgeois classes, with increasing amounts of leisure at their disposal, frequently looked to the arts as a delightful way of passing time.” The notion that the arts existed to give aesthetic pleasure “fitted the new patterns of consumption nicely” (11).

But Art isn’t just for pleasure. And it’s “vacuous,” Carroll says to insist that Art exists to provide something called “aesthetic experience.” Besides, the aesthetic theories of art excluded many of the dimensions of real-life art: “many of the unexplored, under-examined, or forbidden aspects of art under the analytic dispensation – such as authorial intention, art history, emotional arousal, morality, politics, etc., – have been exiled exactly because they are irrelevant from the perspective of the aesthetic theory of art” (12). As Cornelius van Til liked to quip, “What my theory doesn’t catch isn’t fish.”

Carroll argues for pluralism, not “the autonomy of art” but “heteronomy”: instead of a definition of art, like the aesthetic definition, we need genealogies; instead of the philosophy of art with a ‘Capital A,’ more attention should be paid to the philosophies of the arts, their effects, and the special problems they raise; rather than searching for uniformity across all the arts, respect differences. In short, let us endorse not merely pluralism, but pluralisms” (14).

Is sounds trendy, but in important ways this is return to the common sense of art before the Modern System, a common sense in which all human poiesis could be dignified as a form of art if done with excellence.

——————–

http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2015/aug/03/topics-announced-for-upcoming-art-business-conference/

Details have been unveiled of the second Art Business Conference to be held at the Church House Conference Centre in London on September 3.

Topics at this year’s one-day conference for art market professionals include: The practicalities of art finance loans; Instagram and the art market; What does the future hold for mobile technology and art e-commerce? and New Auto Enrolment Pension Law, is your art business prepared?

Over 80 of the UK’s leading galleries, auction houses, art advisors, fine art insurers, shippers, art lawyers and art market businesses are already registered to attend.

Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.

– See more at: http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2015/aug/03/topics-announced-for-upcoming-art-business-conference/#sthash.40RTt9hu.dpuf

Details have been unveiled of the second Art Business Conference to be held at the Church House Conference Centre in London on September 3.

Topics at this year’s one-day conference for art market professionals include: The practicalities of art finance loans; Instagram and the art market; What does the future hold for mobile technology and art e-commerce? and New Auto Enrolment Pension Law, is your art business prepared?

Over 80 of the UK’s leading galleries, auction houses, art advisors, fine art insurers, shippers, art lawyers and art market businesses are already registered to attend.

Antiques Trade Gazette is the weekly bible of the fine art and antiques industry. Read articles like this every week in the Antiques Trade Gazette or ATG app. Click here to subscribe today.

– See more at: http://www.antiquestradegazette.com/news/2015/aug/03/topics-announced-for-upcoming-art-business-conference/#sthash.40RTt9hu.dpuf

————

art world con

the_art_of_the_con

Without question, attempting to pass off a counterfeit Rembrandt was an incredibly brazen move on Ely Sakhai’s part. But brazen he was, and he did have a certain advantage in his scheme: the legitimate ownership of the authentic painting that he had his artists copy. The authenticity of his Rembrandt, The Apostle James, was not questioned. Nor was the fact that it was purchased by Ely Sakhai from a reputable source. So when he would offer what he purported to be the painting for sale, it didn’t raise questions about authenticity, if only because those interested in the painting perhaps failed to imagine the nefarious scheme of the seller. Thanks in large measure to his travels in the Far East with his wife, Sakhai made it his mission to establish a steady clientele in Tokyo and Taiwan too. and in June 1997, he sold his Rembrandt to the Japanese businessman and art collector Yoichi Takeuchi.

Takeuchi had been a customer of Sakhai’s since 1992, when he started buying art from him in a complicated deal involving a third party who would later allegedly renege on their part in the purchase of the artwork, leaving Takeuchi with paintings he didn’t want. When Takeuchi accused Sakhai of a “fraudulent plot” against him, Sakhai replied that he, too, was the victim and had filed suit against the third party. Of course, he had not. The summons he showed Takeuchi was bogus. With a loan balance still due to Takeuchi, Sakhai made him an offer: he’d sell him The Apostle James for forgiveness of the loan plus $350,000. Takeuchi believed that the painting was authentic, and he would go on to say that he was influenced in his decision to purchase the painting at a dinner in New York with a person who claimed to be a branch manager for Citibank. The Citibank representative, said Takeuchi, certified that the Rembrandt was exhibited in the Metropolitan Museum. So the businessman accepted Sakhai’s offer and made the deal for the Rembrandt.

It stands as a testament to an art lover’s desire to believe that he has made a great find and executed a great deal that Takeuchi purchased The Apostle James from Sakhai. In 1992, near the beginning of their business relationship, Takeuchi was furious with Sakhai over another major purchase. Writing in November of that year, he said, “you have delivered about 500 paintings to us with the condition you provide a provenance and certificate for each painting. . . . We feel we cannot do business in trust with you anymore. . . . This case will become a court case in Japan soon. But we feel very sorry that our trust and friendship will end this way. We also point out that you have to provide provenances and certificates regardless of the situation. if you break your promises, you will be prosecuted as an international criminal.” Given this inauspicious start to the relationship, it is surprising that Takeuchi would continue to conduct business with a person he so described. Nevertheless, he would go on to make the Rembrandt purchase.

Shortly after the transaction was made, Takeuchi turned to two experts to examine his prized Rembrandt for the sake of appraising its value. The pair inspected The Apostle James and came to a clear conclusion: the painting was not what it was promised to be. Takeuchi contacted Sakhai to inform him of the news, but the con man remained steadfast: the experts were mistaken, he told his client. as he had done in 1992, Takeuchi wrote to Sakhai accusing him of selling a “forged Rembrandt piece” to him, threatening to contact the authorities and to file a lawsuit against the dealer. “As it was exactly like before,” Takeuchi wrote, “I was tricked again by your performance. . . . Prof. Tanaka has looked closely to examine the painting, and he concluded this painting is totally different from the one . . . Citibank certified.” Takeuchi added that he had “gotten the report of examination by IR [infrared] and X-ray from the world famous restoration authority, Prof. Kuroe. The result . . . also conflicts from what you said.”

Perhaps banking on the possibility that Takeuchi was bluffing and would not want to suffer the stigma of being played for a fool, Sakhai did not back down. Instead, he continued to deny that the painting was a fake. as Takeuchi would later describe, Sakhai “remained unruffled.” Remarkably, Sakhai played his dupe perfectly. Swayed by Sakhai’s stubborn denial of both Takeuchi’s accusations and the experts’ findings, and the fact that other well-known Japanese buyers had done business with the dealer, he backed down and held on to the Rembrandt. Takeuchi was also buttressed by the fact that Tanaka told him the painting was nonetheless worth about $4.75 million—a curiously high figure for a copy. After all, in 1997, Tanaka wrote to Sakhai, stating that the painting he had sold to Takeuchi was not the authentic The Apostle James and that “the differences between the two” were “easily” detected. So despite being exposed by experts and confronted by a powerful buyer, Sakhai was able to walk away from his sale of a copy unscathed. Tanaka’s unusually high valuation of the painting, perhaps a gesture intended to save his client any further embarrassment, also spared Sakhai an earlier comeuppance. But he was far from done, duping an untold number of buyers in asia and elsewhere. Federal prosecutor Jane Levine would later write that “Sakhai interjected hundreds of forgeries into the international art market.”

* * *

Call it karma or serendipity, but Sakhai would be undone by circumstances as simple as his scheme was complex. Not content to simply make enormous profits on the fakes he sold to unsuspecting buyers, Sakhai’s greed led him to sell the original authentic works too. When a few years had passed after he sold his fraudulent works, Sakhai would move to sell the real painting. Because he had used the original certificate of authenticity to sell the copies, he would need to have a new certificate issued. Armed with the real painting and clear title and provenance to support him, obtaining authenticating documents was relatively easy.

Advertisements