by Jen Ford
Cohort 11’s visit to Christie’s during the 2013 NYC Residency was a true testament to IDSVA’s quest for interdisciplinary thought. We walked into the space which was uncharacteristically devoid of art, leaving us to imagine what the next display of exclusive objects will look like. The hushed tones we used to file our way into the beautiful conference room, was also a stark contrast to the usual electric energy that a major auction night brings. However, the excitement and anticipation that my classmates brought to the discussion with Koji Inoue, the Vice President and Specialist Head of Evening Sales Post War and Contemporary Art, was matched by the interesting presentation and gracious question and answer period. Koji brought a unique perspective to the conversation as a former investment banker with an intense passion for the arts. He openly answered questions concerning creating artist brands, the different roles of the market “energy systems” such as the dealers, auctions houses, and gallerists, and how value is created in art through a series of checks and balances within the system.
This part of our NYC Residency was extremely important for my personal studies at IDSVA as I continue to question the relationship between the work of art and the monetary system or network that it enters into. It is easy to be dazzled and distracted by the $388 million record that Christie’s set for an evening sale in May, or the fact that it was broken just six months later for a Nov. sale of $412 million in the current state of the economy. We all wondered if the art market has become its own island separated from normal art market fluctuations. As Koji explained, “The basic rules of supply and demand do not apply to the art market.” At times it is difficult to make peace with a system which can either destroy or exalt a creative vision, but Koji was able to summarize why we all are drawn to this field and what we ultimately have to gain from our love affair with the art world. He says we are able to find “relationships with great people and the opportunity and privilege to see great works.”