Potboilers of a Crooked Age – The 30th portion of Képcsarnok’s stock auctioned | Overcoming Gravity – A Show by Panamarenko of Belgium | Mobile Architecture Started in Budapest – A Show by Yona Friedman | Interlocking Spaces – Works by Gabriella Csoszó, Josef Dabernig, Andreas Fogarasi, Ursula Mayer, Téreltérítés Munkacsoport (Space Diversion Work Group), Adrien Tirtiaux, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor | Fifty-sixers – A Show by Kriszta Nagy (aka x-T) | Stand here! – A Show by Csaba Nemes
Lajos Golovics: Potboilers of a Crooked Age – The 30th portion of Képcsarnok’s stock auctioned
This being the first auction of the autumn season, I left my library room on Saturday afternoon for the 30th Auction of Képcsarnok. I was also motivated by the company’s brand new Prestige Gallery established at no small sacrifice. I had expected some novelty, too, amid the barren landscape of the financial crunch. No such thing was in store. The auction itself was as drab as the weather outside.
There were 200 works on the list at a bidding total of HUF 5 987 000. Selling totalled at HUF 6 703 500. With an edge of HUF 716 500 and with the 23 percent provision this may be called a satisfactory result considering that all the proceedings could be pocketed by the company and its mother foundation since all the works were the property of the company itself.
Another advantage being that the company’s remaining stock of art was slowly seeping away.
On the other hand, there was no interest at all in 75 of the 200 works even though asking prices were set at an extremely low level. Also, 59 of the 200 works were sold off at their respective asking prices. Only 66 works aroused any bidding, and even that stopped after one or two stages.
True, two works by Dezső Váli did rise from HUF 150 000 to 750 000 and 550 000 respectively, but those hammer prices would be asking prices at any other commercial auction in Váli’s case. From the many thoughts circling in my mind one was particularly insistent, i.e. the issue of pricing. I want to be civilised and so let me just say that those works were created in a period when the price of a loaf of bread was HUF 3. Today, a loaf of bread fetches HUF 300, a hundred times more than in the 60s and 70s. To get back to the works themselves, they were offered at HUF 2 500 – 4 000 apiece, i.e. one month’s average salary. Today, they would have to fetch at least HUF 2 – 400 000. But their asking prices at the auction rarely surpassed HUF 20 000, and even their hammer prices remained under HUF 100 000 in most of the cases.
Shouldn’t they have followed at least the rate of inflation, one may ask?
Most of us buy art with the understanding that the purchase of art is an investment offering protection against the dilution of the national currency. But one cursory glance at the auction catalogue and the proceedings informs one otherwise. Only a fraction of the works offered up for sale on Saturday can be said to have been a good investment had they been purchased at their time of birth. So, how on earth could the buyer today have faith in all the other works even though they are offered at low prices? Anyone buying at Képcsarnok’s auction can be pretty certain of substantial losses over the next 20-30 years.
The whole affair reminded me of an off-season sale. The overwhelming idea was, I thought, to get rid of superfluous stock at any price. Storage was worth more than the stock stored.
A crooked age had produced a huge amount of art that was meant as potboilers at the time, and now the whole stock has proved its utter uselessness, whether as art or as investment, in no uncertain terms.
Overcoming Gravity – A Show by Panamarenko of Belgium
18 September – 7 December
MODEM – Centre of Modern and Contemporary Art
One of the greatest living eccentrics of 20th century art, Panamarenko of Belgium introduces himself for the first time in Hungary at MODEM. Born in 1940 in Antwerp, Panamarenko is hard to pigeon-hole. He is artist, engineer, poet, physicist, inventor, and visionary in one. He had spent full 30 years researching space, motion, flight, energy, force and gravitation. His works of art appear in such surprising shapes as aeroplanes, flying carpets, cars, saucers, submarines, and birds: strangely beautiful structures that are both playful and inspiring.
Mobile Architecture Started in Budapest – A Show by Yona Friedman
15 September – 30 October
Trafó – The House of Contemporary Arts
Architect, theory-builder, visual artist, thinker, an inspiration to other architects and city-planners, Yona Friedman was born in Budapest in 1923. For decades, she has been busy articulating the idea of a mobile architecture whose mobility lay in its ability to adjust to the way of life and behaviour of its dwellers. The gradually installed exhibit will be coupled by an international conference on 26 October entitled “The Architecture of Survival” with such issues in its front burner as participatory design, urban ecosystems and infrastructure, lessons to be drawn from slum living, etc.
Interlocking Spaces – Works by Gabriella Csoszó, Josef Dabernig, Andreas Fogarasi, Ursula Mayer, Téreltérítés Munkacsoport (Space Detournement Working Group), Adrien Tirtiaux, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor
14 September – 24 October
How do we perceive architectural spaces? What thoughts occur to us on inspecting an exhibition space deprived of its art objects? One of the most spectacular exhibits of the show is a temporary installation of a cliff-like wall that has to be climbed for the visitors to get inside the museum. Once inside, photos by Gabriella Csoszó introduce the vacuous spaces of the museum together with a reconstruction of its original design. Floor installations by Adrien Tirtiaux arouse surprising association while films by Ursula Mayer, Mona Vatamanu & Florin Tudor, Andreas Fogarasi and Josef Dabernig present aspects of the interrelated quality of remembrance and history.
Fifty-sixers – A Show by Kriszta Nagy (aka x-T)
14 September – 16 October
Scandalous contemporary artist Kriszta Nagy presents her new paintings and prints executed this year. This is how she speaks of them: “Ladies and gentlemen, Godot Gallery proudly presents works by Andy Warhol, eh…, by Basquiat, eh…, by Kriszta Nagy entitled Fifty-sixers, a show in which Kriszta Nagy reproduces paintings by Basquiat by hand because she has no money to spare on machinery, and they will be authenticated by her own signature. In the spirit of Warhol, and multiplying pictures of a friend of Warhol’s, Kriszta Nagy does not repeat herself but chooses to repeat Basquiat. Rather than painting Kriszta Nagy pictures, she now paints Basquiat pictures. Why not? Is she not allowed to do just that? Is theft forbidden in this country?”
Stand here! – A Show by Csaba Nemes
16 September – 24 October
Municipal Gallery – Kiscelli Museum
Csaba Nemes is becoming known at home and abroad of his growing inclination towards art with a social commitment. He realises his ideas in paintings, story boards, drawings, animation films, and videos. Over the last few years politics have poured into his subject matter dealing as he does with the tragic occurrences of the tension between the Roma and other Hungarians, and also the grey zone of indifference surrounding it.