Billionaires Splurge on Middle-East Art as Dubai Fair Rebounds From Slump

March 22, 2011, 10:56AM EST

Business at Art Dubai was up as buyers shrugged off worries about political unrest and natural disasters

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Billionaire collectors splashed out in Dubai as galleries reported stronger sales and a growing interest in Middle Eastern art.
Business at Art Dubai was better than last year, when the global economic crisis depressed sales, said dealers. Buyers shrugged off worries about political unrest and natural disasters that held back business at the world's largest art- and-antiques fair, Tefaf, taking place in the Netherlands. 

Art Dubai, a bellwether for contemporary and Middle Eastern art, this year featured 82 galleries from 34 countries. Fair organizers said "several hundred" galleries applied to participate, and 80 percent of them reapplied from last year. Artworks were priced from $5,000 to $1 million.
"Art Dubai is a meeting point for the international and Middle Eastern art communities," Antonia Carver, Art Dubai's director, said. "Dubai historically has been important as a trading point for the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Now, the same thing is happening for contemporary art." 

Traffic Gallery of Dubai reported 40 works sold for a total of more than $100,000. One of Ahmed Mater's "Evolution of Man" series (2010) was bought by a Saudi collector for $30,000 just before the fair opened. The light-box work shows a gasoline pump morphing into the X-rayed skeleton of a human holding a gun to his head. 

"There's a bedrock of collectors here from the Middle East and Europe," said Carver. "A lot of Middle Easterners come to the fair from New York and London."

Russia's Miami

Aidan Gallery of Moscow sold a work from Aladdin Garunov's "Zikr" series for $20,000 to a Middle Eastern collector living in Europe. It features shoes fastened to an oriental carpet. The artist is from Russia's southern region of Dagestan. 

"Dubai is Russia's Miami, and many of my Russian clients vacation here," said Aidan Salakhova, the gallery owner. "Last year Art Dubai was dead and we twiddled our thumbs: This year there's strong interest from serious potential buyers." 

Ayyam Gallery sold "Dream 40" by Safwan Dahoul for $300,000 to an "important public institution." Galerie Chantal Crousel of Paris said a Gulf collector bought "Intermission" by Jennifer Allora and Guillermo Calzadilla, who will represent the U.S. at the Venice Biennale of Contemporary Art that opens in June.
Artspace Gallery of Dubai reported sales including Nadine Hammam's "Got Love" (2010) that shows the silhouette of a female nude. It sold for $16,000 to a Dubai collector. The gallery also sold Zakaria Ramhani's, "Bye Bye Hosni," (2011) for $26,000. Its theme is Hosni Mubarak's recent removal as president of Egypt.
Art Dubai said 20,000 people attended, 30 percent more than last year. The British Museum, Victoria & Albert Museum and Royal Academy of London sent representatives. Serpentine Gallery co-director Hans Ulrich Obrist, Museum of Modern Art director Glenn Lowry and Richard Armstrong, director of the Guggenheim Museum, also attended, the organizers said. 

Art Dubai ended on March 19; Tefaf, the European Fine Art Fair, in Maastricht, the Netherlands, runs through March 27.
John Varoli writes for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are his own.

Holton Rower's Hypnotizing 'Pour' Paintings

Study Examines Difference Between Abstract Expressionist Masterpieces And Paintings By Children

First Posted: 03-28-11 04:13 AM   |   Updated: 03-28-11 04:13 AM

Before beginning to read this article, please look at the images above. Which was drawn by a child and which by a well-known Abstract Expressionist? The answer lies a few paragraphs down.

How often have you heard people describe artworks by artists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko or Cy Twombly as drawings that a 5-year-old child could have made? The answer is probably, very often. But is this true? Can children produce art whose perceived quality, as least by widespread artistic circles, matches that of renowned artists who sell their art for millions of dollars?

Boston College psychologists Angelina Hawley-Dolan and Ellen Winner's research, recently published in the journal Psychological Science, seeks to answer this question. When comparing artworks created by a child or even a monkey to that of an acclaimed artist, whether non-aficionados like a particular artwork or not, they can usually identify it as the product of human creativity.
To further understand this study and its significance on our aesthetic behavior, spoke with Hawley-Dolan about how people evaluate the skill in those who paint or sculpt non-representationally.
Here's the answer to the question: The image on the left was drawn by 4-year-old Jack Pezanosky. The image on the right shows a work by Abstract Expressionist Hans Hoffman.

What led you to research this and what significance does it play in psychology?
We began by asking ourselves - how do people evaluate abstract art, "pictures of nothing"? People have little difficulty judging the skill of artists who make representational paintings, but evaluating skill in those who paint or sculpt non-representationally is far more subjective. Works by 20th century Abstract Expressionists such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, or Cy Twombly have often been likened -- sometimes pejoratively, sometimes positively -- to children's paintings. Though critics such as Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times assert that the scribbles of Twombly are distinct from those made by children, the superficial similarity between abstract expressionist works and markings by preschoolers has led to embarrassing confusions. For example, in 2007, 5-year-old Freddie Linksy duped the art world into paying large sums for his ketchup paintings. In 2005, three paintings by chimpanzee Congo sold for over $25,000 each -- fetching more than did paintings by Warhol or Renoir.

You ask what the significance of this research is for psychology. Psychologists attempt to understand all aspects of human behavior. Aesthetic behavior is universal and goes back to the earliest humans. This research shows that even people untrained in art can recognize that abstract art (so often disparaged as meaningless and without skill) has intention and planning and thought behind it that distinguishes it from the superficially similar scribbling of children and animals.

What were your hypotheses?
1. In all conditions (no label, correct label, and incorrect label) we predicted that both art students and non-art students should choose professional works at an above-chance level in response to both the judgment question (which one is the better work of art) and the preference question (which one do you prefer). We reasoned that even though people think that works by abstract expressionists are indistinguishable from those by children and nonhumans, in fact, differences can be perceived, people see more than they think they see, and works by professionals are more highly valued.

2. That works should be chosen more often in response to the judgment than the preference question because judgments of quality should be responsive to perceived skill, whereas preferences are more idiosyncratic.

3. Compared with non-art students, art students should choose the professional works more often in response to both the judgment and the preference questions, because of art students' presumably greater experience analyzing images. They should also be more likely than non-art students to show consistency between preferences and judgments because their preferences should emerge from their analyses of the works.

4. Labels should affect judgments more than preferences. Correct labels should increase the frequency of choosing professional works in response to the judgment question, but incorrect labels should fail to depress such choices.
Artworks by (from left) Jackson Pollock, Cy Twombly, Philip Guston, Sam Francis

Please describe the methodology.
We paired 30 abstract paintings by famous artists with superficially similar paintings by children or animals (monkeys, chimps, gorillas, elephants) and asked people which they preferred and which they thought was better art. To find out if it mattered whether people knew who had made the works, we presented the first set of images without labels, and the rest with either correct (monkey as monkey, artist as artist) or reversed (monkey as artist, artist as monkey) labels. Half of the participants had no art training; half were trained in studio art.

Images of which artists did you select and why?
The professional works we chose for our study were painted during the Abstract Expressionist movement (which entered New York City beginning in the mid to late 1940s). We included the following artists in our experiment:
Karel Appel
Gillian Ayres
James Brooks
Elaine de Kooning
Sam Feinstein
Sam Francis
Helen Frankenthaler
Philip Guston
Hans Hoffman
Franz Kline
Morris Louis
Joan Mitchell
Kenzo Okada
Ralph Rosenborg
Mark Rothko
Charles Seliger
Theodoros Stamos
Clyfford Still
Mark Tobey
Cy Twombly

We chose these artists to represent our abstract expressionists because they are among the most famous artists of this movement. We chose artworks that were entirely non-representational and that were representative of the artists' styles, but not their most famous works.

By which attributes did you match the paintings?
We matched the paintings with a team of artists and psychologists. We matched the paintings by attributes such as similarity in color, medium, line quality and brushstroke. Images had to be similar in at least two of these categories. We matched these in a holistic, qualitative way.

What are some of the most interesting results?
Turning to the results, all participants preferred and judged as better the artists' works at a level significantly above chance. Thus, despite the common cliches of the cynics, people can see the difference! Second, labels had only a minimal influence. Art students were completely unaffected by labels - their responses were the same no matter which labeling condition; undergraduates untrained in art were influenced by labels only when asked for their judgments. Correct labels boosted their choice of artist for "which is the better work," but most interestingly, reversed labels did not depress their choice of artists' works below chance. That is, they resisted choosing the animal/child works even when these were falsely labeled as by an artist! Third, and importantly, when people selected the artists' works, they were far more likely to justify this choice by referring to the mind behind the art than when they chose works by children and animals. Thus when selecting a painting by abstract expressionist Mark Rothko, they said that the work looked intentional and planned; when selecting a child or animal work, they said that the liked the colors or brush strokes.

What is your analysis of the results?
We conclude that we know more about abstract art than we think; we recognize the mind behind the art; and the world of abstract art is more accessible than we realize. If we were to speculate about why and how people can tell the difference our reasoning would be the following:
In abstract expressionist paintings, the appearance of realistic objects is entirely neglected: the style (use of color, space, figures) becomes the content of the piece. The art historian William Chapin Seitz points out that an abstract expressionist's style is created by the process by which the paint is applied, the formal elements of the composition, and the relationship of the elements (Seitz, 1983). In addition, he comments, "nonobjective painting, like that of the primitive, is built directly of lines, strokes and areas."

A commonly heard claim is that the works of Abstract Expressionists look much like the scribbles and finger-painting of young children (see the film, My Kid Could Paint That). In addition, people have been deceived into spending lots of money on paintings by a chimp (which are of course non-representational) thinking that the work was by a rising abstract expressionist. But our study shows that people can, in fact, tell the difference between a child's lines and strokes and those in a work by an abstract expressionist - if the two works are paired side by side. And this is NOT due to recognizing the different materials that a child might use vs. a professional artist, because our images were presented on a computer screen, and it was not possible to determine whether the colors were from cheap poster paints on newsprint or fine oil paints on canvas.

The finding that people were much more likely to talk about seeing intentionality, planning and "mindfulness" in the professional than in the child or animal paintings shows us that people are perceiving, perhaps unconsciously, the difference in the mind of the child/animal vs. the mind of the professional artist.
If you think about it, this makes a great deal of sense. Let's consider the statement by abstract expressionist painter Hans Hofmann who said that art is "The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak" (Hess, 1952). This statement indicates how much deliberation goes into an abstract painting (clearly considerably more than what a child or chimp would engage in). Mark Rothko's use of color layering is not random: it is patterned and planned. So are the drips of a Jackson Pollock. Hans Hoffman's book Search for the Real discusses the "push/pull color theory" where spatial dynamism is created not only by lines and shapes, but also by the interplay of light, color, space and shape. The spatial relationships among all these aspects create visual intrigue, volume and even movement. These tensions create a visual story, or a visual language. In short, as any artist or art historian knows, abstract expressionists were deliberately experimenting with spatial relationships, color tensions and pictorial structure.

By recognizing more planning and intentionality in the professional artworks, participants were able to recognize a "visual language" or artistic "footprint" within the content of the artworks made by professionals (in contrast to the more random markings made by children, apes, and elephants). What we are seeing in this study is that people are, perhaps unconsciously, picking up on this visual genre of art as having a structure, a method. People can pick up on the interplay of space, color and shape that Hoffman describes. People are responding to the fact that there are some images, out of all the images we show them, that have a pattern, expression, a visual language, even an intonation that the other images (child, monkey images) do not. While we might like one style, or "language" better than another, we can see and detect a structured visual language in the professional works. The people in our study saw the deliberations of the artist's mind.
Written by MutualArt staff

Artists helping Japan

In the wake of the horrific tragedy in Japan, we’ve seen a lot of artists donating their time and skills to help raise money. We’ve assembled a list of products whose proceeds are being donated to disaster relief in Japan. Please help out if you can.

W+K Studio

Help Japan Poster -

Zac Neulib

Help Japan Poster -


Help Japan Necklace -

Matt Spangler

Take Care Japan Shirt -

Corter Leather

For Japan -


Help Japan Poster -

Editions of 100

Japan -
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All about the subject, and not the artist.


This morning the National Portrait Gallery launched a campaign to raise money from the public to go towards the total cost of £554,937.50 to buy a portrait of Ayuba Suleiman Diallo. He's hardly a household name, but he is important.
Portrait of Ayuba Suleiman DialloThe painting according to the National Portrait Gallery (NPG) is the first known portrait that honours a named African subject as an individual and an equal, and thereby gives a useful insight into Britain in the 18th Century.
This statement tells you all you need to know about what makes the NPG different from and, from the perspective of social history, more interesting than other art galleries. It makes clear that the sitter is more important than the artist. The NPG doesn't want this painting because it's an exquisite example of 18th Century British art, but because the story of the sitter and its significance is so compelling.
Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, or Job ben Solomon as his English friends liked to call him, was a west African slave trader. The phrase "what goes around comes around" probably wasn't in much use in those days but, had it been, perhaps the wealthy Ayuba might have been more on his guard.
One day on a business trip to sell some slaves down the River Gambia, he suffered the indignity of being captured and enslaved himself. He was put onto a British ship bound for Maryland where he was sold to work on a tobacco plantation. An English lawyer and missionary called Thomas Bluett met him and decided he was "no common slave", so in the early 1730s he whisked him off to London and introduced him to high society.
Black, Muslim, highly-educated individuals were not common in those days, leading to Ayuba becoming something of a celebrity. His friends arranged for a portrait to be painted of him and chose the artist William Hoare of Bath, a founding member of the Royal Academy.
Ayuba was a religious man and didn't really go for the idea of a portrait, worrying that people would worship the picture. Or, as Thomas Bluett put it in his memoirs:
"Job's aversion to pictures of all sorts, was exceeding great; insomuch, that it was with great difficulty that he could be brought to sit for his own. We assured him that we never worshipped any picture, and that we wanted his for no other end but to jeep us in mind of him. He at last consented to have it drawn; which was done by Mr Hoare."
In fact it is the earliest known painting by the artist. The picture was painted in 1733 and, apparently at the sitter's request, has him in traditional dress and carrying a copy of the Qur'an around his neck.
And since then, till now, it has not been seen in public. It was thought to be lost and was only known about though Bluett's memoir, but then it turned up at auction in 2009 where it was bought by a private collector who wants to take it abroad. The exports committee stepped in and now it is on show, for all to see at the National Portrait Gallery, while they attempt to raise the funds to secure it for the nation.
It seems likely they will, as they have already raised over £500,000 with contributions from the Heritage Lottery Fund, the Art Fund and the NPG's own contribution.
Back in the mid-1700s the money was raised for Ayuba Suleiman Diallo to be released from slavery and sent back to Africa. Whereupon he started up in business again. As a slave trader.

Live Fast, Die Young: 20 Great Artists that Never Reached 30

Live Fast, Die Young: 20 Great Artists that Never Reached 30

The phrase Live fast, die young and leave a good-looking corpse, originally spoken by actor John Derek in Nicholas Ray's Knock on Any Door (1949), emphasizes how unfulfilled promises have always been fascinating and intriguing for many of us. While some great artists lived up to their full potential, sometimes through decades of fruitful careers, others have passed away long before that, leaving many of us wondering which masterpieces might have lost along with their elder years. Following are 20 great artists that enlightened our souls with their art for a short time, but signed-off to rest in peace before reaching the age of 30.

1) Jean Vigo

French film maker Jean Vigo contributed to poetic realism in film in the 1930s and influenced the French New Wave of the late 1950s and early 1960s. He died of Tuberculosis on October 5, 1934 when he was 29.
More about Jean Vigo
Picture: lucidscreening

2) Egon Schiele

Austrian painter Egon Schiele is well known for his twisted body shapes repeating in many of his paintings and drawings. Schiele became one of the notable exponents of Expressionism but died of Influenza on October 31, 1918 when he was 28.
More about Egon Schiele
Picture: myspace

3) Janis Joplin

In 2004 American singer and songwriter Janis Joplin was ranked by the Rolling Stone magazine #46 on a list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time. She was a heroin addict and died of heroin overdose on October 4, 1970 when she was 27.
More about Janis Joplin
Picture: herbgreenefoto

4) Kurt Cobain

American musician, singer, guitarist and songwriter Kurt Cobain was co-founder of the Seattle based rock band Nirvana and their leading singer. Even though there are many different versions for what really happened with that shotgun on April 5, 1994 the official version is that Cobain shot himself to death when he was 27.
More about Kurt Cobain
Picture: justnevermind

5) Brian Jones

British musician Brian Jones was a founding member, guitarist and multi-instrumentalist of British rock band The Rolling Stones. Jones drowned in his own private swimming pool in Sussex, England on 3 July 1969 when he was 27.
More about Brian Jones
Picture: preciousstones

6) Jim Morrison

American singer, poet, songwriter, writer and (frustrated) film director Jim Morrison, also known as The Lizard King and Mr. Mojo Risin', was the founder, leading singer and lyricist of the legendary rock band The Doors. Considered by many as the greatest, most charismatic and influential figure in rock history, Morrison ended up with very few friends and a heart attack while bathing in a Paris hotel room on July 3, 1971. He was 27.
More about Jim Morrison

7) Jimi Hendrix

American guitarist, singer and songwriter Jimi Hendrix is considered as one of the greatest and most influential guitar artists in rock music history. According to Dr. Bannister who attended the star at the time of his death Hendrix was drowned in his own vomit, almost entirely red wine served at an earlier party. The full circumstances which led to his death, however, have never been fully uncovered. Hendrix was 27.
More about Jimi Hendrix
Picture: guitarch

8) Jean Harlow

American film actress Jean Harlow was one of the most prominent sex symbols of the 1930s. Also known as the Platinum Blonde and The Blonde Bombshell, Harlow starred in several films, mainly designed to showcase her magnetic sex appeal. She died of uremic poisoning and kidney failure on June 7, 1937 when she was 26.
More about Jean Harlow
Picture: doctormacro

9) Sharon Tate

American film actress and Golden Globe-nominated Sharon Tate was one of Hollywood's most promising upcoming stars even before her marriage to genius film director Roman PolaƄski. She was murdered on August 9, 1969 by the Charles Manson gang. Tate was 26 years old and two weeks from giving birth at the time of her horrific death. This famous photo (from John Gilmore and Ron Kramer's Manson: The Unholy Trail of Charlie and the Family) shows Tate on the murder day.
More about Sharon Tate
Picture: lehigh

10) Georg Heym

German poet Georg Heym is known for his outstanding groundbreaking expressionist poetry. He drowned in a frozen lake during a skating trip while trying to save his friend Ernst Balcke. It was January 16, 1912 and the genius poet was just 25.
More about Georg Heym
Picture: wikimedia

11) James Dean

Double Oscar-nominated American film actor James Dean became a cultural icon following his roll as Jim Stark in Nicholas Ray's monumental film Rebel Without a Cause. He played two more pantheon rolls (Cal Trask in East of Eden and as the Jett Rink in Stevens' Giant) but was killed in a car crash accident at the age of 24. Dean was one of the most talented and original style actors Hollywood has ever seen. He was the first actor to receive an "after death" Academy Award nomination for Best Actor. Actually, Dean the only actor ever received two such nominations.
More about James Dean
Picture: smu

12) Judy Tyler

American film actress Judy Tyler appeared in the 1957 film Bop Girl Goes Calypso but is mostly remembered for her co-starring with Elvis Presley in the movie Jailhouse Rock. After completing her part of the Presley movie filming Tyler and her husband Greg Lafayette went on a vacation. They were killed July 4, 1957 in a car accident north of Rock River, Wyoming. Tyler was only 24 when she died. She was so young she never got to watch any of her only two films.
More about Judy Tyler

13) River Phoenix

American film actor River Phoenix was an Academy Award and Golden Globe nominated and was listed on John Willis's Screen World, Vol. 38 as one of twelve "promising new actors of 1986". On the Halloween morning of October 31, 1993 Phoenix died of speedball (mix of heroin and cocaine) overdose outside a Hollywood night club named the Viper Room. He was 23.
More about River Phoenix
Picture: freewebz

14) Ian Curtis

British vocalist and lyricist Ian Curtis joined the new wave band Joy Division in 1976 and quickly became their undisputed leader. Years after his death Curtis is still a major source of inspiration and a subject for many other artists. Curtis hanged himself in his own kitchen on May 18, 1980 after watching Werner Herzog's Stroszek and listening to Iggy Pop's The Idiot. Amongst suggested reasons for his suicide are epilepsy related problems and failure of his marriage. He was 23 years old.
More about Ian Curtis

15) Dominique Dunne

American actress Dominique Dunne appeared in several made for television movies, television series, and films but was most known for her role as Dana (the oldest daughter) in Poltergeist (1982). Dunne was strangled into coma on November 4, 1982 by her ex-boyfriend John Thomas Sweeney after she refused to reconcile with him. Sweeney, then a popular Los Angeles chef, strangled Dunne in the driveway of her home. She died a few days later, at the age of 22.
More about Dominique Dunne
Picture: nndb

16) Buddy Holly

American singer-songwriter and rock and roll inventor Charles Hardin Holley aka "Buddy Holly" is considered one of the most influential artists in pop music history but only lived to see about one and a half years of success. He was described as "the single most influential creative force in early rock and roll" and in 2004 ranked #13 on a list of the 100 Greatest Artists of All Time by the Rolling Stone magazine. He died in an airplane crash on February 3, 1959 on his way to Fargo, North Dakota. The plane took off in light snow and gusty winds at around 12:55 A.M., but crashed after only a few minutes.
More about Buddy Holly

17) Sid Vicious

British punk musician John Simon Ritchie also known as Sid Vicious was the bass player of the Sex Pistols and one of the most prominent prophets of the punk-rock decade. He died of heroin overdose on February 2, 1979 at the age of 21.
More about Sid Vicious
Picture: dubhthachsidheag

18) Charles Sorley

Scottish war poet Charles Sorley volunteered for military service in England during World War I and arrived at the Western Front in France as a lieutenant in May 1915. He ranked Captain at the very early age of 20 but was shot in the head by a German sniper at the Battle of Loos on October 13, 1915 and died instantly.
More about Charles Sorley
Picture: thelondonseason

19) Divya Bharti

Indian film actress Divya Bharti born Divya Om Prakash Bharti was a popular Indian film actress in the early 1990s. Bharti was already a shining star in 1990 when she was just 16 years old. In 1992 she appeared in more than 14 Hindi films which was at the time a record for a newcomer to the Hindi film industry. Bharti's career was ended in April 5, 1993 when she mysteriously accidentally fell off a 5-storey apartment building in Mumbai. She was 19 when she died.
More about Divya Bharti
Picture: treklens

20) Tara Correa-McMullen

American actress Shalvah McMullen, better known with her stage name Tara Correa-McMullen, was mostly famous for her role as gang member Graciela Reyes on the CBS TV series Judging Amy. McMullen had just about enough time to co-star with Martin Lawrence in a first feature film - Rebound - but was murdered on October 21, 2005. She was just 16 when she died.

More about Tara Correa-McMullen
Picture: minorcon

Enjoyed this article? See also: 20 (More) Great Artists that Never Reached 30