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How Brexit Is Still Impacting the British Art Market
At first, it was frustration, then it was confusion, and now… well, no one really knows. It’s been more than five years since the U.K. voted to leave the European Union (EU) and the U.K. art market, like the country as a whole, is still wondering what Brexit actually means.
Dealers are tired of talking about Brexit, but they also can’t ignore it as the British art market enters an uncertain 2023. That’s because, for collectors, gallerists, and dealers in the U.K., a combination of legislative, bureaucratic, and economic factors brought about by leaving the EU are making it more costly and less efficient to buy and sell art. The impact of Brexit, it turns out, is ongoing.
Not only does the U.K. begin the year facing the “worst and longest” recession of any country in the G7, but two staples of London’s art fair circuit, Masterpiece London and the Art & Antiques Fair Olympia, recently announced that they were canceling their summer editions. Both fairs cited escalating costs and a decline in the number of dealers, and both organizers mentioned the impact of Brexit as a contributing factor.
Installation view of Masterpiece London, 2022. Courtesy of Marc Straus.
The cancellation of Masterpiece, which is owned by Art Basel’s parent company MCH Group, felt particularly significant.
“It’s very sad for the London art world—and London more generally,” said William Summerfield, head of sales and a specialist in modern British and 20th-century art at the auction house Roseberys. “The fair had a very particular style that was entirely ‘Chelsea’ and I think a lot of non-‘artworld’ buyers and visitors were more comfortable with [it] than some of the other, larger fairs.”
It’s unclear what the spillover of the fair’s cancellation will be for the British art market more broadly. Yet, as Summerfield cautioned, “losing a major yearly event always has a knock-on.”
But there’s also the question of what this says about the British art market today. There were already signs that the European presence at Masterpiece was wilting, with stands from the continent falling by almost 60% between 2018 and 2022, according to the Financial Times. The cancellation may have been a shock, but it wasn’t a huge surprise.
“The organizers were rather circumspect, talking about less international attendance, but what that translates into is that the Europeans aren’t coming anymore,” said Gregor Kleinknecht, a partner at Keystone Law and specialist in art law and dispute resolution for clients that include collectors, galleries, institutions, and dealers. “That’s both the exhibitors and the trade who would normally take up stands at the fair, but also the collectors. There is less incentive to come to London with all the complications after Brexit.”
Masterpiece is the latest art world example of how Brexit is crystallizing and exacerbating difficulties for an already febrile British economy, which can no longer blame COVID-19 lockdowns for its woes.
“Effectively, the U.K. has pulled out of the world’s largest and most effective trade agreement and, predictably, that has consequently made trade more difficult,” said James Ryan, CEO of Grove Gallery, which has spaces in London, Switzerland, New York, and Australia. “Quite aside from the unpleasantness of directly rebuffing those nations we do the most trade with, it has served to reduce that trade, including the trade in art and antiques—which has been negative for all those involved.”
Brexit legislation is impacting the art trade in a number of ways, touching on everything from taxation to employment all the way through to data protection, dispute resolution, and copyright. It’s led to heaps of red tape, all amounting to the basic fact that the free movement of people and goods between the U.K. and EU no longer exists in the fluid way that it once did. Art—and artists—have become more difficult and more expensive to move across the continent.
The British art market is still adjusting to this new normal, but the impact has already been drastic. In the two years since the U.K. formally left the EU’s single market and customs union, its share of the global art market has plummeted to its lowest level in a decade. Dealers complain about extra VAT (value-added tax) and shipping costs, which can mean spending more than four times than before on logistics. Smaller galleries are overburdened with extra paperwork. Christie’s has noted a “drop-off” in EU consignments in London, and collectors are being disrupted, too.
Fiorenzo Manganiello, an Italian-based private collector and patron of the Lian Foundation, told Artsy that the administrative aspect of importing works from London has become “cumbersome” since Brexit: “I have experienced logistical issues and work being blocked sometimes for months at a time,” he said.
EU countries such as France, meanwhile, are seizing on the fallout. Last year was a banner year for the French market: The country hosted a shiny new international art fair, enjoyed record-breaking results at its auction houses, and enacted policies that, ominously, aim to “take up the challenge of the French reconquest of the art market,” according to the Art Law Review.
So far, so bleak for the U.K. art market. But is it all disaster ahead? While everyone that Artsy spoke to for this piece acknowledged the difficulties caused by Brexit, many were quick to find optimism in the reputation and heritage of the British market, as well as its enviable ability to produce top artistic talent. Galleries continue to open, museums continue to host world-class shows, work continues to sell, and London remains a leading light of the international art market, they say.
“For me, London is the place where innovations in art still take place, surrounded by top-tier art schools and universities,” said Manganiello. Britain still remains a “top-tier destination” to acquire artworks, meet artists, and discover emerging galleries, he added, noting that he’s increasing the number of works from London galleries.
For those in the trade, meanwhile, a typically British attitude characterizes the current mood: Yes, Brexit is a pain, but things aren’t going to change anytime soon. We may as well get on with it.
“Frustrated? Yes. Pessimistic? Yes!,” said Katie Terres, COO of Artiq, a London-based art agency that curates collections around the world. While Brexit has added an extra layer of “frustration” and cost, the company, like many others, has had to adapt. “We’ve found ways of working with it and working within the regulations for our clients. We’re trying to make it as easy a process as possible.”
The cancellation of Masterpiece isn’t the first post-Brexit hurdle that the British art market has faced—others include EU funding cuts and unclear government guidance, to name a few—and it’s unlikely to be the last. But as long as the collectors keep coming, the auctions keep hammering, and the galleries keep selling, there’s no reason to write off Britain’s integral place in the art world just yet.
Children Who Are Exposed to Awe-Inspiring Art Are More Likely to Become Generous, Empathic Adults, a New Study Says – artnet News
Want to raise kind, generous kids? Take them to the art museum!
The feeling of awe inspired by great art, it turns out, can be a humbling experience that encourages kids to help others, rather than focusing on their own needs.
“In encounters with vast mysteries, awe makes individuals feel small, humble, and less entitled, thereby shifting their attention toward the needs and concerns of others rather than the self,” read a new study in Psychological Science.
Lead author Eftychia Stamkou, of the department of psychology at the University of Amsterdam, decided to investigate the effects of experiencing awe on children after realizing the feeling had been extensively studied in adults, where it led to less self-entitlement and greater generosity. Stamkou’s study, which included 159 volunteers aged 8 to 13, suggests the results are much the same for kids, reports Inc.
Participants watched short movie clips designed to elicit either joy, awe, or a neutral response—the wine-drinking scene from Fantasia, a clip from Song of the Sea in which a character turns into a seal, and an instructional video about painting walls or making coffee, respectively.
Researchers then asked the children to complete an easy but time-consuming task of counting items for a food drive for families in need, or, instead, if they would be willing to donate the art museum tickets or chocolate snacks they were supposed to receive for participating in the study to a refugee family.
“Children who watched the awe-inspiring video chose to count 50 percent more items for the food drive than children who watched the joy-inspiring clip and more than twice as many items as children who watched the neutral clip. Children in the awe-inspiring condition were also two to three times more likely to donate their study rewards than children in the joyful or neutral conditions,” the Association for Psychological Science blog reported.
“Awe, an aesthetic and moral emotion, helps societies flourish by making children more generous,” the study claimed. “Our research is the first to demonstrate that awe-eliciting art can spark prosociality in children.”
Though the researchers didn’t use famous paintings or sculptures to evoke awe in the study, they did note that their findings could help prove that art can offer benefits to society as a whole, not just to the individual.
If awe-inspiring art really does encourage people to act more selflessly, it would counter “the still-common perception that art has hardly any real-world consequences on human behavior because art experiences are bracketed in imaginary, non-real worlds,” read the study. “Our research provides concrete evidence for art’s behavioral consequences on outcomes that promote other people’s well-being.”
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The art of picking the perfect colour
Already familiar — and a fan of — the line’s loamy browns and friendly, versatile blues, and pitch-perfect stone, bone, and creamy neutrals, I started with a question about a new Melon shade — a departure for the brand but a delight for those who of us love peachy pinks.
There’s a mid-tone Wave blue that’s also new, and which can make a moody anchor or crisp accent, and compliment other blue-greys in the line.
In adding to the palette, Hoban considered the cheerful postmodernist colour blocking that’s gaining popularity, whimsical curved furniture, and Memphis movement elements that blend Art Deco and Pop Art.
A little Rococo design, she suggests, may be a natural reaction to hard times and humorless spaces. “The concept for 2023 was about being fun, playful —the feeling of lightness. As a collective mass, we were ready for optimism.”
Ms. Hoban is in the lucky position of constantly testing and trying new products. “Right now I have our new Bone brushed cotton and fresh cotton sheeting in Bone. Then Bone linen top of bed and shams. It’s all one colour but different fabrication, so it’s a sophisticated, layered look. And working with different colours and patterns all day, it’s nice to come home to something that’s just a little quieter but isn’t white,” she explains.
Homeowners can immediately refresh a space by switching out even small pieces like pillowcases, Amy Hoban says, advising contrasting colours for drama, or using the same tone in different textures and weaves to exude calm.
For extra comfort and colour, consider a plump body pillow with a Vintage Linen pillowcase in bold Cobalt blue. New colours in velvet covers coming this fall promise to be equally dreamy.
Consumers are ready to invest in bedding as the idea of responsible indulgence takes hold, suggests Ms. Hoban. “Self-care is a huge trend, as it should be. People are more educated about which fabrics and construction will provide a good night’s sleep,” she says, adding that consumers also care that the brand doesn’t use harmful chemicals, pays fair wages, and uses sustainable, traceable sources for flax and cotton.
Amy Hoban hopes customers experience and enjoy the positivity new colours are meant to express. In the meantime, she says she’s “just grateful to have fun along the way, and to show customers it doesn’t have to be too serious.”
Vicky Sanderson is the editor of Around the House. Check her out on Instagram@athwithvicky, Twitter ATHwithVicky and Facebook.com/ATHVicky.ca
Mix of contemporary, historical Indigenous craftwork in Winnipeg exhibit shows art ‘still living and thriving’
A new exhibit in Winnipeg blends the old with the new to show that while Indigenous craftwork has a rich history, it’s also still very much a living artform.
The exhibit, called Gathering, features Indigenous beadwork, embroidery and quillwork from five contemporary artists alongside pieces from the collections of 11 Manitoba museums — with some items dating back to the 1800s.
Mixing contemporary pieces in with the historical ones is an important element of the exhibit, says Margaret Firlotte, a Red River Michif artist and the exhibit’s project manager.
“This art form is not gone, it’s not archaic, it’s not archived. It’s still living and thriving today,” she said.
The exhibit — presented by the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library in partnership with the Ross House Museum — also offers a rare opportunity to see some of the historical work on display.
Smaller museums in Manitoba often have Indigenous craftwork that’s not on permanent display, or which requires a one-on-one appointment to view, Firlotte said.
“We wanted to honour those pieces, and bring them to light, and just give them the proper space and respect that they deserve.”
Andrea Reichert, the exhibit’s curator, said an important part of the outreach for it included informal viewing sessions of the pieces for Indigenous communities.
“It was an opportunity for them to see it up close, to compare things side by side,” she told CBC.
Preparation for the exhibit began about a year ago, but Firlotte said she wouldn’t call her work on it a “labour of love.”
“Labour is the wrong word, because if you enjoy beadwork, working alongside with these pieces and with the communities, then it’s not really work,” she said.
Putting the exhibit together involved extensive research and outreach to museums and Indigenous communities in western and northern Manitoba.
Artwork from museums in Dauphin, Portage la Prairie, Souris, The Pas and Winnipegosis is displayed in the exhibit, alongside works from several Winnipeg museums.
The exhibit, which opened on March 3, has drawn visitors from Alberta and British Columbia who came just to see the artwork, along with strong local support, said Firlotte.
“Opening night, just seeing the community come together to welcome and celebrate these pieces, it was really great. It just made it all worth it, for sure.”
Exhibit may help put names to work
The exhibit is the first time Tashina Houle-Schlup’s work has been displayed in an art show. Her quilled moccasins are called Abinoojiiyens Makizinan, which translates to “baby moccasins” in Anishinaabemowin.
The Ebb and Flow First Nation member has been making quillwork since she was a child. She began to sell her pieces as a teenager, but never imagined being featured in an art exhibit.
“It’s kind of a surreal feeling and it makes me want to do more of these,” she said.
The mix of contemporary and historical pieces in the exhibit shows that Indigenous crafts aren’t going anywhere, Houle-Schlup told CBC.
“Quillwork is still thriving. There was a point where quillwork was nearly disappearing.”
Her moccasins were made in honour of Indigenous children, “as they are the future of our people,” says Houle-Schlup’s artist statement, as well as in “remembrance of our babies and children that were lost to residential school.”
Reichert says in addition to offering historical perspective, the exhibit may also help curators learn more about some of the pieces.
The names of the artists behind many of the historical pieces — such as an embroidered smoked-hide jacket made by women from Norway House between 1910 and 1920 — have been lost, which is not uncommon, Reichert said.
QR codes are displayed throughout the exhibit that will let people submit any information they may have on the historical pieces or the artists behind them.
“When the works go back to the different museums, the research that we’ve collected will go back to those museums as well,” said Reichert.
“Reconciliation and decolonization is an important part of the museum community, and being able to interpret the works with correct information is a really important first step.”
Public programming and a long-term website with photos and research collected on the pieces are also part of the exhibit.
The exhibit has a particular focus on pieces made before or around the early 1900s, because the artistic patterns from that era contain many cultural, familial and regional ties, according to Firlotte.
“You’re able to tell which pattern comes from which community, which is really cool,” she said. “You’re able to tell if a piece is probably more Métis than it is Dakota, or if it’s Cree or Anishinaabe.”
Response to the exhibit has been fantastic, said Reichert.
“All of the people who come have just been blown away by the work, and the breadth of it, and seeing it all in one place.”
Gathering is on display at the C2 Centre for Craft at 329 Cumberland Ave. until April 29.
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