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When an event’s marketing manipulates the market and information

Art Market | While Christie’s advertised the “first” artificial intelligence artwork produced by the Obvious collective, Sotheby’s presented a “guaranteed event” with the sale of an artwork by Banksy that “self-destroyed in public”. The issue : the news released by the media created expectations around these events that were not in line with reality.

L’oeuvre ‘‘Girl with Balloon‘‘ adjugée 1.185.000 € lors de la vente Sotheby’s Londres du 5 octobre 2018 © AFP
L’oeuvre "Girl with Balloon" adjugée 1.185.000 € lors de la vente Sotheby’s Londres du 5 octobre 2018
© AFP

Sotheby’s London evening sale on October 5, 2018, around the Frieze fair, totaled 33,865,900 GBP. For the first time, hacker Banksy joined the circle of renowned artists to have reached millionaire sales in auctions such as Cy Twonbly, Fontana or Roy Liechtenstein… The lot Girl with Balloon was described in the catalogue as a unique piece acquired by its owner directly from the artist in 2006. The piece, a spray and acrylic painting on canvas, was mounted on a frame with a programmed mechanism that could lacerate part of the canvas while enlarging its original dimension, without destroying it. However, the international press unanimously relayed false information, announcing the destruction of the artwork.

The Portrait d’Edmond de Belamy created by an Artificial Intelligence algorithm, the GAN (Generative Adversarial Network) was auctioned by Christie’s on October 23 and 25, 2018. The Obvious collective created the painting, sold for more than $ 400,000; the image was built by using 15,000 portraits from the 14th to the 20th century. However, despite the technology used and the communication buzz around it, the work is far from reaching the current potential of artistic research on the matter. It is also worth noting that none of Obvious’ founders have an artistic training : two of them come from business schools while the third one is a PhD student in Machine Learning at Cachan’s ENS.

In the wake of the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi at Christie’s in 2017, auction houses have developed a strategy around events, focusing on special sales. They create the conditions to spread the buzz through the media and social networks on the sole basis of the event. This new phenomenon has led to the blurring of reference points and to the alteration and even manipulation of the art market.

Nina Rodrigues-Ely
Publié le 31/10/2018
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Version française

L’oeuvre “Girl with Balloon“ adjugée 1.185.000 € lors de la vente Sotheby’s Londres du 5 octobre 2018 © AFP

L’oeuvre "Girl with Balloon" adjugée 1.185.000 € lors de la vente Sotheby’s Londres du 5 octobre 2018
© AFP

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