This week for the Industry, we talk with Daniel Cooney of Daniel Cooney Fine Art who talks about his experiences with online auctions, his gallery and photography. His newest exhibition by Tim Roda, entitled Family Matters, opens today, September 10th, and runs through October 31st.
Tim Roda, April
Please describe the art and artists that you expose in your gallery.
It has been my mission since I opened the gallery just over five years a go to consistently show the best in emerging and under recognized artwork including lesser known bodies of work from established artists. Most of the shows I have are debut exhibitions or by artists that I was the first to show.
How do you feel about the various barriers of inclusion that exists between galleries and emerging new artists?
I know it can seem like an impossible feat to find the right gallery for an emerging artist but artists often don’t understand that a gallery is a business and taking on an emerging artist is a big risk. This is part of the reason that I and 4 of my colleagues have started an organization called Project 5. One of the benefits we offer to emerging artists is a portfolio review with New York City dealers. Our website is project5group.com
Tim Roda, Untitled #172
Do you see any paradoxes between the marketing industry and the promotional/networking side of the art industry?
Well, I don’t know a lot about the marketing industry but I imagine the basics are the same. You need to promote your gallery and your artists as best you can within the budget you have.
What advice would you give artist’s younger than 40?
As with any artist I always say that putting your work before everything is the key. If you spend your time making work the shows and exposure will follow. Unfortunately, many artists spend much of their time promoting themselves and not making the work.
How do you use auctions to sell photography?
I’ve been working with iGavel.com since they started over 6 years a go. We have been very successful in creating a niche in the photographic market that many of the live houses ignore. That is the under $5000 market. There is a lot of incredible photography in that range. This past fall I started the Emerging Artists Auctions which have also been very successful. All reserves are set at $200 and the work is really amazing. Many high end collectors have caught on to the auctions and we have successfully placed many emerging artists in very prestigous collections.
Tim Roda, Centaur
What are the upsides and downsides to selling online?
There is mostly just upsides. It widens my audience beyond what I would ever reach here at the gallery. I have clients in China, Belgium, England, Alabama, Iowa and Florida that never visit New York but I have solid relationships with due to the auctions. There is also a lot of cross over between my auction clients and my gallery clients. Many people find out about the gallery because they find the auctions and then start to buy the artists I represent in addition to the material I sell online.
How do you allow art to appreciate in the current economic climate?
If you can, it is a great time to buy and invest. There is less competition and just as much material available. Dealers are more likely to give more generous discounts now than a year and a half ago.
Do you find that with collectors who mainly focus on photography are interested in different mediums for collecting purposes?
I also show drawings here at the gallery and sell them in my online auctions. I find that photography collectors generally have no problem collecting drawings in addition to the main focus of their collection.
How do you know that a photo or painting is "beautiful"?
I only know what I like. I have often had other people tell me they thought something was beautiful that I just didn’t like. I’m sure I have thought something was beautiful and might have been the only one who thought so…
Grant Willing, Tree
What problems do you see with in the art world?
There are a lot of problems but there are also many wonderful aspects of the art world. One problem that has always bothered me is the people who are in it for the wrong reasons. People that don’t really love art but love the "scene." That can be artists, dealers, collectors etc.
How would you go about fixing these problems?
I think this is an issue that we have to live with.
How do you move along (or past) current art market trends to display new styles (or undiscovered styles)?
I keep looking. One of the best parts of my job is finding work that is unusual and fresh. It barely ever happens but when it does it is exhilerating. For example, I think that my fall show by Tim Roda is exceptional. He handles the medium of photography unlike any photograher I know. Additionally, the work is conceptually and emotionally strong. Perfect!
:: All images courtesy of Daniel Cooney Fine Art
This week, the Industry talks with Christian Viveros-Faune- ex-gallerist, critic and art fair organizer of VOLTA NY and NEXT. VOLTA NY will take place March 4th - March 7th, 2010 and NEXT will happen April 30th - May 3rd, 2010.
Please describe your professional aspirations.
I suppose my ultimate aspiration is to be able to come up with a practice that fuses my curatorial efforts and my art criticism into pretty much a seamless package. As NEXT Curatorial Advisor alongside my pal Kavi Gupta and our associate Jessica Cochran, we’re really looking to put together the best possible international exhibition of emerging galleries the country has to offer. That means, at this point, rejiggering the art fair model significantly from a supermarket for art to something more approaching an exhibition, complete with a bona fide edge and independent curatorial commentary (witness CONVERGE, our contemporary curators? forum, which we started in 2009 and are expanding in 2010). I think NEXT has been very original and forward-looking in this respect, and we owe it to the fair and our exhibitors to continue pioneering in that direction.
Where and when did you initially find yourself interested in art as a career?
I was hooked the first time I entered an artist’s studio. I was a young literary type and was bowled over to find that folks routinely shaped materials and smudged dirty cloth to arrive at the kind of meaning I found in books. As for a career, it took a while and I made all the wrong moves. I suppose somehow some of things I did stuck, and so here I am.
What is Art Chicago and NEXT?
Art Chicago is a major international art fair for largely established galleries. NEXT is the younger, hipper equivalent. We’re the jeans to their suit, the sports-car to their sedan, the kunsthalle to their Gehry museum.
What range of artists/art do you find there?
Most of the established, expensive art is with Art Chicago and their presentation is as it should be given the context, sober and polished in the best possible way. We’re scruffier by design, as what we’re often trying to register are new ideas shaped into newfangled expressions.
What is your role in these exhibitions?
I am the Curatorial Advisor for NEXT. That means, essentially, that I engineer a significant amount of the design of the fair, year and year out, both in terms of its ideas as well as the artists and galleries we bring in. Both Kavi and I do a significant amount of work to bring in artists and galleries that we think collectors, the city and its institutions will respond to.
How do you envision the current art scene here in Chicago?
It is alive and kicking. Chicago has great institutions, super art schools, terrific collectors, fantastic galleries, a long history of having produced important artists and a hunger to top itself that I think it has only begun to satisfy. As far as NEXT and Art Chicago are concerned, what we’re after is making sure that we play a significant role in expanding and enriching the Chicago art scene, in all its manifestations, as much as possible.
What benefits can exhibiting at an event like NEXT give to an emerging artist?
Simple. It can expose him or her to tons of attention from collectors, museums, other galleries, peers and the public at large. The unassailable truth about art fairs is that they often pack months or even years of activity and contacts into a single four day event. For this reason, art fairs remain inevitable.
What can you say about the passion that drives artists to continue to produce fantastic work?
That energy and the parallel passion of the other players in the art world- curators, collectors, institutional folks, gallerists is what makes our very global Lilliput go round and round. Without that, everything simply grinds to a halt. Bracket the Charles Saatchis and Richard Princes of the world, and there are always better, faster ways to make a buck. Artistic passion and the innovation it engenders is the best antidote to what would otherwise be absolute stasis given the present economy.
Are there any victims in the art world (it can be pretty competitive)?
Sure there are victims, but there are many more successes. Anyone who manages to make a living from culture or even come close to it should count him or herself a success. No one needs art, after all. It is not like bread or chairs or aspirin. It has absolutely zero use value. I really think this is a time to consider silver linings across the board in art as in other things, so I?d rather talk about successes. The only victims I know of are folks who somehow miss this logic.
What cities and neighborhoods do you feel offer the best environments for an artist?
Well, that depends of the sort of artist we are talking about. The folks we entertain at NEXT probably thrive best in certain supercharged urban environments where rents are cheap, companionship is easy and bars are plentiful. Still, there are folks who are capable of working in their barns out in the country. I always figure the exceptions confirm the rule. As Charles Starkweather once said, it takes all kinds.
Does art need to be shown, or do you think it just has to be seen?
Art needs to be exhibited. It doesn’t do anyone much good, the artist especially, if it just sits in the studio. Also, a Rembrandt painting is not the same object at the Art Institute as it is in a bus station toilet, for a host of reasons too complicated to go into here. Exhibition and art have gone together like bread and butter since before Lorenzo de Medici commissioned his first Madonna.
Which artists make your favorite art?
I have very catholic tastes and that is in no way to evade the question. I suppose in my job I have to, but smart work appeals to me independent of content or medium. I suppose like a lot of people I especially enjoy art that shows me something I didn’t know before, something new. At this time, for example, when folks seemed poised for some kind of breakthrough socially, politically- and why not artistically? I find myself looking for work that gives me a glimpse into tomorrow. That is, I realize, a very tall order. I keep looking, though.
::images courtesy of NEXT Art Fair and VOLTA NY
To jump start yet another new feature on myninjaplease- the Industry, we would like to introduce an interview with Lisa Hunter. Hunter is the author of a new book entitled The Intrepid Art Collector: The Beginner’s Guide to Finding, Buying, and Appreciating Art on a Budget and a resident blogger where you can find more information on art collecting. For those that don’t know (I’m not sure that I do), the Industry looks at the art side of business per say (whether it be in music, photography or even some sciences).
How do you value art?
I think art’s value is in how much it challenges you to think. It’s financial value is how much other people want it, and that’s not a great reason to buy something. Art isn’t this season’s "it" bag.
What challenges face the art industry today?
The recession is hammering dealers, and making it even harder for artists to get galleries. Meanwhile, collectors who need to sell aren’t necessarily getting top prices for their art, so really everyone is suffering. However, if you’re a collector who does have cash, this is a great time to buy and to support the art market.
When does an individual make the cross-over from being an owner of art, to being a collector?
Some people say it’s when you have more art in storage than on the walls. But I think there’s a certain personality type that becomes a collector. It’s usually people who collected other things from a young age. I’ll bet you that every single one of the ArtNews Top 200 Collectors have a collection of trolls or baseball cards or spatterware pitchers somewhere in the basement.
What advice would you give to the novice art collector?
Look around a lot before you buy — whether by going to galleries or reading art magazines. Collecting is like dating. After a while you know exactly what you want, and you recognize it when you see it.
Which places do you see as having the best new art?
I always enjoy art school exhibitions, especially the School of Visual Arts’ MFA show. I collect photography, and it’s staggering how many of my favorite artists went to SVA.
D&AD New Blood Exhibition
How do you view the emergence of websites/galleries that offer ‘prints’ of art for sale?
It depends on what you mean by "prints." If the artist creates a print, that’s a piece of original art worth owning. If someone else — a museum shop or poster store — makes a print based on a painting, that’s a reproduction. A reproduction isn’t bad per se, but shouldn’t cost more than any other decorative poster.
Which group of people do you feel should be buying art, that presently is not?
Anyone who loves art but thinks collecting is just for the rich.
What are some key attributes that make a successful artist?
Good question! So many how-to guides from artists are about mailing in your slides to a gallery with a cover letter. The art world is all about personal relationships and referrals. The best thing an artist can have is an advocate who’s taken seriously by galleries, curators or collectors.
What differentiates photographers-who use a machine, and other visual artists- who work by hand)?
Well, a lot of the artists who "work by hand" actually use somebody else’s hands. Today’s art is often highly conceptual, and many artists hire anonymous "fabricators" to make the physical object — sort of the way a director hires a cinematographer. So I don’t consider non-photographic art to be "purer." Photography does involve machinery, but it’s really about making images with light. And it’s just as hard to take a truly great photograph as it is to create a great painting.
Untitled Film Still #15, Cindy Sherman, 1978
What makes an art gallery profitable (there are so many struggling galleries now days)?
I have no idea, and that’s why I haven’t started my own gallery.
Are you a fan of online auctions that feature fine art?
Yes, IF you know and trust the source. I’m especially fond of Dan Cooney’s on-line photography auctions. He’s a real connoisseur with a blue-chip art background, and his selections are always interesting.
What do you think your collection will look like in ten years?
I don’t know, but I hope it has a Cindy Sherman film still.