Art Paintings From Your Photo

The market for Chinese contemporary art has developed at a feverish pace, becoming the single fastest-growing segment of the international art market. Since 2004, prices for works by Chinese contemporary artists have increased by 2,000 percent or more, with paintings that once sold for under $50,000 now bringing sums above $1 million. Nowhere has this boom been felt more appreciably than in China, where it has spawned massive gallery districts, 1,600 auction houses, and the first generation of Chinese contemporary-art collectors.

This craze for Chinese contemporary art has also given rise to a wave of criticism. There are charges that Chinese collectors are using mainland auction houses to boost prices and engage in widespread speculation, just as if they were trading in stocks or real estate. Western collectors are also being accused of speculation, by artists who say they buy works cheap and then sell them for ten times the original prices-and sometimes more.

Those who entered this market in the past three years found Chinese contemporary art to be a surefire bet as prices doubled with each sale. Sotheby’s first New York sale of Asian contemporary art, dominated by Chinese artists, brought a total of $13 million in March 2006; the same sale this past March garnered $23 million, and Sotheby’s Hong Kong sale of Chinese contemporary art in April totaled nearly $34 million. Christie’s Hong Kong has had sales of Asian contemporary art since 2004. Its 2005 sales total of $11 million was dwarfed by the $40.7 million total from a single evening sale in May of this year.

These figures, impressive as they are, do not begin to convey the astounding success at auction of a handful of Chinese artists: Zhang Xiaogang, Yue Minjun, Cai Guo-Qiang, Liu Xiaodong, and Liu Ye. The leader this year was Zeng Fanzhi, whose Mask Series No. 6 (1996) sold for $9.6 million, a record for Chinese contemporary art, at Christie’s Hong Kong in May.

Zhang Xiaogang, who paints large, morose faces reminiscent of family photographs taken during the Cultural Revolution, has seen his record rise from $76,000 in 2003, when his oil paintings first appeared at Christie’s Hong Kong, to $2.3 million in November 2006, to $6.1 million in April of this year.

Gunpowder drawings by Cai Guo-Qiang, who was recently given a retrospective at the Guggenheim Museum in New York, sold for well below $500,000 in 2006; a suite of 14 works brought $9.5 million last November.

According to the Art Price Index, Chinese artists took 35 of the top 100 prices for living contemporary artists at auction last year, rivaling Jeff Koons, Damien Hirst, and a host of Western artists.

“Everybody is looking to the East and to China, and the art market isn’t any different,” says Kevin Ching, CEO of Sotheby’s Asia. “Notwithstanding the subprime crisis in the U.S. or the fact that some of the other financial markets seem jittery, the overall business community still has great faith in China, bolstered by the Olympics and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010.”

There are indications, however, that the international market for Chinese art is beginning to slow. At Sotheby’s Asian contemporary-art sale in March, 20 percent of the lots offered found no buyers, and even works by top record-setters such as Zhang Xiaogang barely made their low estimates. “The market is getting mature, so we can’t sell everything anymore,” says Xiaoming Zhang, Chinese contemporary-art specialist at Sotheby’s New York. “The collectors have become really smart and only concentrate on certain artists, certain periods, certain material.”

For their part, Western galleries are eagerly pursuing Chinese artists, many of whom were unknown just a few years ago. Zeng Fanzhi, for example, has been signed by Acquavella Galleries in New York, in a two-year deal that exceeds $20 million, according to a Beijing gallerist close to the negotiations; William Acquavella declined to comment. Zhang Xiaogang and Zhang Huan have joined PaceWildenstein, and Ai Weiwei and Liu Xiaodong showed with Mary Boone last spring. Almost every major New York gallery has recently signed on a Chinese artist: Yan Pei Ming at David Zwirner, Xu Zhen at James Cohan, Huang Yong Ping at Gladstone, Yang Fudong at Marian Goodman, Liu Ye at Sperone Westwater. Their works are entering private and public collections that until now have not shown any particular interest in Asian contemporary art.

“The market hasn’t behaved as I anticipated,” says New York dealer Max Protetch, who has been representing artists from China since 1996. “We all anticipated that the Chinese artists would go through the same critical process that happens with art anywhere else in the world. I assumed that some artists would fall by the wayside, which has not been true. They all have become elevated. It seems like an uncritical market.”

One of the key artists buoyed by this success is Zeng Fanzhi, who is best known for his “Mask” series. Five years ago his works sold for under $50,000. Today he commands prices on the primary market closer to $1 million, with major collectors Charles Saatchi and Jose Mugrabi among his fans. Now preparing for his first solo show at Acquavella in December, he is considered one of the more serious artists on the Beijing scene because he works alone, without the horde of assistants found in most other artists’ studios in China. Still, his lifestyle is typical of that of his equally successful peers. When asked if he owns a mammoth black Hummer parked outside his studio, he answers, “No, that’s an ugly car. I have a G5 Benz.”

This success has blossomed under the watchful eye of the Chinese government. Movies, television, and news organizations are strictly censored, but on the whole, the visual arts are not. Despite sporadic incidents of exhibitions being closed or customs officials seizing artworks, by and large the government has supported the growth of an art market and has not interfered with private activity. In the 798 gallery district in Beijing, a Bauhaus-style former munitions complex that has been transformed into the capital’s hottest art center, with more than 150 galleries, one finds works addressing poverty and other social problems, official corruption, and new sexual mores. The icons of the former China-happy workers and peasants and heroic soldiers raising the red banner-are treated with irony, if at all, by the artists whose works are on view in these galleries, which are private venues generally not under the strict control of the Ministry of Culture.

On the eve of the Olympics, however, the government asked one gallery to postpone an exhibition until after the games. Considered unsuitable was “Touch,” a show by Ma Baozhong at the Xin Beijing Gallery of 15 paintings depicting important moments in Chinese history, including one based on a photograph showing Mao Zedong with the Dalai Lama and the Panchen Lama in 1954.

The Beijing municipality spent enormous funds to renovate the 798 district before the Olympics, putting in new cobblestone streets and lining its main thoroughfare with cafés. Shanghai, which has benefited less from government support, now boasts at least 100 galleries. Local governments throughout the country are establishing SoHo-style gallery districts to boost tourism.

One person who seems confident about the future of the Chinese market is Arne Glimcher, founder and president of PaceWildenstein, who opened a branch of his gallery in Beijing in August. Located in a 22,000-square-foot cement space with soaring ceilings, redesigned at a cost of $20 million by architect Richard Gluckman, the gallery is in the center of the 798 district. “We are committed to the art, and we wanted to open a gallery where our artists are,” says Glimcher. Adding that he normally eschews the “McGallery” trend of setting up satellite spaces around the world, Glimcher insists that it was necessary to establish a branch in Beijing because there is “no local gallery of our caliber” with which Pace could partner. He has, however, recruited Leng Lin, founder of Beijing Commune, another gallery operating in 798, to be his director.

Another Western dealer who has taken the China plunge is Arthur Solway, who recently opened a branch of James Cohan in Shanghai. “I started coming to China five years ago, and I was fascinated by the energy,” says Solway, who wanted to introduce gallery artists like Bill Viola, Wim Wenders, and Roxy Paine to Asia but, like Glimcher, could not find a public museum or private gallery that he considered professionally qualified to handle such exhibitions. James Cohan Gallery Shanghai is located on the ground floor of a 1936 Art Deco structure in the French Concession, a particularly picturesque section of the city. The building was once occupied by the military, and red Chinese characters over the front door still exhort, “Let the spirit of Mao Zedong flourish for 10,000 years.”

“From 1966 to 1976, during the Cultural Revolution, people had nothing, but now there are spas in Shanghai and people drinking cappuccinos and buying Rolex watches-it’s an amazing phenomenon,” says Solway, who believes it is only a matter of time before these same newly affluent consumers begin to collect contemporary art.

Chinese collectors-or the hope that there will be Chinese collectors-are the key draw luring these galleries to Beijing. As recently as two years ago, few could name even a single Chinese collector of contemporary art. It was a truism that the Chinese preferred to spend their money acquiring antiquities and classical works. Since then several well-known mainland collectors have emerged on the scene.

Most visible is Guan Yi, the suave, well-dressed heir to a chemical-engineering fortune, who has assembled a museum-quality collection of more than 500 works. A major lender to the Huang Yong Ping retrospective organized by the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis in 2005, he regularly entertains museum trustees from all over the world, who make the pilgrimage to his warehouse on the outskirts of Beijing. Now he is building his own museum.

Another noted figure is Zhang Lan, head of the South Beauty chain of Szechuan-style restaurants throughout China; she also has assembled an enviable collection and displays pieces from it in her chic establishments. The film actress Zhang Ziyi is representative of a new class of collectors from the entertainment industry, while Pan Shiyi and Zhang Xin, chairman and CEO of the mammoth SOHO China real estate empire, have commissioned projects for their upscale residential properties.

Two collectors who are cheerleaders for the Beijing art scene are Yang Bin, an automobile-franchise mogul, and Zhang Rui, a telecommunications executive who is also the backer of Beijing Art Now Gallery, which took part in Art Basel in June, one of the first Beijing galleries to appear at the fair. These two do more than collect art. They have hosted dinners for potential collectors, organized tours to Art Basel Miami Beach, and brought friends with them to sales in London and New York. Zhang Rui, who owns more than 500 works, has lent art to international exhibitions, most notably the installation Tomorrow, which features four “dead Beatles” mannequins floating facedown, created by artists Sun Yuan and Peng Yu for the 2006 Liverpool Biennial, which rejected it.

Zhang is now building an art hotel, featuring specially commissioned works and artist-designed rooms, outside the Workers’ Stadium in the center of Beijing. “I am trying to think of ways of changing my private collection into a public collection,” Zhang explained to ARTnews through a translator. It isn’t financially advantageous to do this in China, as no tax benefits accrue from donations to museums or other nonprofit institutions.

Zhang Rui represents the handful of Chinese collectors who are public about their activities and are building noteworthy collections. Far more typical of buying activity in China is the rampant speculation taking place in the mainland auction houses. There are 1,600 registered auctioneers, and their sales attract hundreds of bidders. Chinese buyers are more comfortable with auction houses, which have been in business since 1994, than with galleries, which weren’t licensed to operate by the government until the late 1990s.

These auction houses run by their own rules, generating what sometimes seems like a “wild, wild East” atmosphere. It is, for example, fairly common for a house to get consignments directly from artists, who then use the sales to establish prices for their works on the primary market. More often, now that China has hundreds of galleries, dealers come to a sale with buyers in tow, publicly bidding up works to establish “record prices” and advertise their artists. This kind of bidding ring would be considered illegal in the United States, but in China it is viewed as a savvy business practice. There is little regulation of auction houses and few developed legal norms in the field, so that even when buyers have grievances-with fakes and forgeries, for example-they do not feel they can resort to the law. Bidding is a social as well as a business activity, and buyers are happy to flaunt their status by paying record prices or quickly flipping artworks, not only for profit but so they can boast of their short-term gains.

As the domestic market for contemporary art matures, however, many of these practices are coming into question. “Two years ago it was more necessary for me to bring my artists to auction,” says Fang Fang, owner of Star Gallery in Beijing, which specializes in young emerging artists such as Chen Ke and Gao Yu. “Now that the gallery market has increased, I find it is better to keep my artists out of the auction rooms, and there is much less reason to sell there.”

Two mainland firms, Beijing Poly International Auction Company, and China Guardian Auctions Company, dominate the field of contemporary Chinese art. Their combined 2007 total of more than $200 million in sales represented nearly two-thirds of all auction sales in this category in mainland China for the year. Last spring Guardian achieved $142 million in sales of classical artworks, furniture, ceramics, silver, and coins, and $40 million in sales of contemporary material. The latter figure included the $8.2 million fetched by Liu Xiaodong’s Hotbed No. 1, a record for a painting sold on the mainland. In a similar range of sales last spring, Poly sold $130 million worth of works, including $27 million in a single evening contemporary-art sale. (These figures represent a slight decline for the year because both houses held benefit sales for Szechuan earthquake victims, raising more than $20 million to support relief efforts.)

Poly and Guardian reflect two vastly different perspectives on the domestic market in Chinese contemporary art. Guardian is the oldest and most respected auction house in China, founded in 1993 by Wang Yannan, daughter of Zhao Ziyang, the former Communist Party leader who was placed under house arrest after opposing the government’s use of force against demonstrators at Tiananmen Square in 1989. If Poly is known for its vast resources and willingness to make deals to nab consignments, Guardian is known for its respected specialists and long-term client relationships. For example, when the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, decided to sell 20 pieces of Qing dynasty porcelain in mainland China, it consigned the collection to Guardian.

The atmosphere of a sale at Poly or Guardian is surprisingly similar to that in the salerooms of Christie’s or Sotheby’s. The catalogues are identical in design, and the bidding proceeds in an orderly, even sedate, fashion, despite the crowds of spectators in the room.

“From our beginning, we studied what the principles of an auction house should be, and we stick to these principles,” says Guardian president Wang. She also serves on the board of the new nationwide auctioneers’ association, which hopes to enforce regulations on the auction market.

Poly is an enterprise within the China Poly Group Corporation, a $30 billion conglomerate that is the privatized branch of the People’s Liberation Army. Established initially to repatriate artworks and antiquities, Poly has spent $100 million buying objects such as the bronze animal heads from a water-clock fountain that were looted from Beijing’s Summer Palace by British and French troops in 1860; the pieces later turned up in the West. The repatriated objects are showcased in the Poly Art Museum in the sparkling New Beijing Poly Plaza, a glass-enclosed tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

The more freewheeling Poly is known for practices such as putting up for auction works from its own collection or having consignors guarantee that they will bring buyers to the sale to meet low estimates. Still, even here there are signs that the market is maturing and has become too expensive for casual speculators. “These collectors that you are talking about are actually quite small collectors,” explains Zhao Xu, senior consultant at Poly. “They bought for several years at very affordable prices, but now that prices are skyrocketing, the only way they can afford to buy is to sell. The collectors that I know already come from a high social status, and they can afford to buy pieces worth $1 million or $2 million and are looking for the best works, the masterpieces, to add to their collections.”

When asked if Poly follows the rules of the Western auction houses, Zhao sharply retorts, “Sometimes even Sotheby’s doesn’t follow the rules.” Or as Gong Jisui, an art-market specialist who is a professor at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing, says, “The Chinese learned this game of speculation from the Westerners who played it first.”

The incident to which both men are referring is the sale of the Estella Collection at Sotheby’s Hong Kong on April 9 of this year. The event reaped $18 million for 108 works. (An additional 80 works will be up for sale this month at Sotheby’s New York.) The collection was put together from 2003 to 2006 by New York dealer Michael Goedhuis for a group of investors that included Sacha Lainovic, a director of Weight Watchers International, and Raymond Debbane, CEO of the Invus Group, a private equity firm.

Last year the collection of approximately 200 works was sold to William Acquavella, who consigned it to Sotheby’s. Auction house officials will not discuss financial details, but Sotheby’s had a stake in the collection. After the sale it was widely reported that many of the artists were angered by the auction because, they said, they had sold their works to Goedhuis at discount prices in exchange for promises that the collection would remain together for public display.

“The idea was to keep the collection intact and to see it safely into some institution,” says Goedhuis, who denies that any promises were made. “The ideal situation was to see it with an institution in China, because there is no such collection.” The collection was published in a book, China Onward, with an essay by leading China expert Britta Erickson, and it was exhibited at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem shortly before the sale. According to Goedhuis, because of the rapid rise in prices, the investors chose to sell the collection with hopes that it would not be broken up.

“Since the museums in China aren’t mature enough nor are they rich enough to do an acquisition like this, my hope was that Steve Wynn would do so for his sophisticated casino complex in Macao,” Goedhuis says. He turned to Acquavella because, he says, he believed the dealer would bring the collection to Wynn; Acquavella paid a reported $25 million. Acquavella director Michael Findlay laughs at the suggestion that there was any indication that the collection would go to Wynn. “I think this whole thing is surrounded by so much rumor and speculation,” he says. “We bought a group of paintings, and we sold a group of paintings, and that’s the whole story.”

According to Maarten ten Holder, Sotheby’s managing director for North and South America, the firm received inquiries before the sale from several artists in the collection, wondering why the works were to be auctioned. There is disagreement about whether Goedhuis made firm promises to keep the collection together or merely made a sales pitch to artists that inclusion in the collection would enhance their reputations. Yue Minjun, who had two works in the sale, says no promises were made. And Goedhuis bought Zeng Fanzhi’s Chairman Mao with Us from Hanart T Z Gallery in 2005 for the asking price, $30,000, no discount given. It sold for $1.18 million.

“You have to understand that there was no market for this work when I was buying,” says Howard Farber, whose collection brought $20 million at Phillips de Pury & Company in London last October. Farber assembled 100 choice works by assiduously visiting artists’ studios in Beijing in the late 1980s, accompanied by the Beijing-based critic Karen Smith, a leading author and curator in this field. A work for which he paid $25,000 in 1996, Wang Guangyi’s Great Criticism: Coca-Cola, was sold at Phillips de Pury for $1.6 million. The buyer was Farber’s son-in-law, Larry Warsh, who bid on several works at the sale, according to newspaper accounts. “I really didn’t actually know I was going to buy the Wang Guangyi until that moment,” says Warsh. “Howard has his collection, and it’s not my collection, and there were many pieces I wanted from that collection that I would have wanted to buy but couldn’t afford.”

Many Beijing artists had agreements with Warsh to produce work for his collection and his art advisory business, which began in 2004, inspired by Farber’s example in the field. “I was enamored by China, and then I was enamored by the art of China as I learned about important artists,” says Warsh. “But what really hit me first was how the pricing did not make sense to me at all-everything was out of whack.”

Warsh, who amassed a collection of works by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring, and Kenny Scharf in the late 1980s, was the publisher of the now-defunct Museums Magazine, which he sold to LTB Media in 2004. He stated at one point that his collection totaled more than 1,200 works; now, he says, he owns approximately 400 paintings and photographs. Part of his collection is managed by his new business venture, AW Asia, which has a gallery in Chelsea and intends to assemble collections of Chinese contemporary art for museums and major private collectors. The Museum of Modern Art in New York recently acquired 23 photographs from AW Asia.

With Farber and Warsh circulating in Beijing for a variety of purposes, it was easy for Chinese artists to become confused about who was buying for whom and for what purpose. In recent interviews, several artists-most notably Zhang Xiaogang, who had an agreement with Warsh-pointed to him as an example of a speculator.

Warsh replies, “While some artists are not so pleased with their decision to have sold quantities of artwork at what was then their current values not so long ago, there are many artists who are not resentful and actually pleased that someone has taken an interest in their work.”

New York dealer Jack Tilton, who has worked with Chinese artists since 1999, says, “All of these artists are hoping that their work finds good homes rather than getting churned in the commercial market. But they have also played a part in this market, embracing capitalism more than we have, in funny ways. They are not naive about any of this stuff.”

When asked about the artists’ reactions to the sale of his collection, Farber was flabbergasted: “So what? Now I am the bad guy. That pisses me off!”

A number of major collectors of Chinese contemporary art who have been in the field for some time are holding on to their collections. Uli Sigg, Swiss ambassador to China, Mongolia, and North Korea from 1995 to 1998, has built a collection of key works that he has toured in the exhibition “Mahjong” to museums throughout Europe and, most recently, the University of California’s Berkeley Art Museum (September 10-January 4). Belgian collectors Guy and Myriam Ullens have used their resources to establish the first nonprofit contemporary-art center in Beijing, where they are currently exhibiting their historic collection. So far, collector Charles Saatchi has been hanging on to his purchases in preparation for opening his new gallery in London on the 9th of next month with a show of Chinese contemporary art; he has also launched a Chinese-language Web site on which mainland artists can post their works.

In comparison with Western buying, mainland Chinese participation pales. Though there are many rumors about the power of the new Chinese buyers, their presence has not been felt in the major auction houses, where most of the records are being set. “Hong Kong right now covers the global buyers, especially those from across Asia,” says Eric Chang, Christie’s international director of Asian contemporary art. “I am not really seeing mainland Chinese buyers-less than 10 percent-a drop from around 12 percent.” Dealers in China also have seen few mainland collectors among their regular clients. “I don’t know yet about collectors,” says New York dealer Christophe Mao of Chambers Fine Art, which recently opened a branch in Beijing.

Despite the current shortage of mainland art collectors, China is emerging as a major art center, having become a hub for buyers from South Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, Indonesia, and Southeast Asia, and for overseas Chinese from all over the world. Reflecting this diversity is the wide range of foreign dealers among the 300 galleries in Beijing, including Continua from Italy, Urs Meile from Switzerland, Arario and PKM from South Korea, Beijing Tokyo Art Projects from Japan, and Tang from Indonesia.

“In Beijing it’s getting increasingly difficult to talk about the Chinese market as a separate entity from the broader Asian art market or the international art market,” says Meg Maggio, an American who came to China in 1988 and ran one of the first galleries in the country, CourtYard, in Beijing, from 1998 to 2006. Now she has her own gallery, Pékin Fine Arts, where she represents an international stable of artists. “How do you describe the market for a Korean artist showing in China or a Chinese artist living in New York?” she asks, noting that her business can come from South Korean collectors visiting Beijing or European companies doing business in China.

One factor in China’s development as a center for contemporary art is the proliferation of art fairs. Beijing has two, the China International Gallery Exposition and Art Beijing; Shanghai has the newly created ShContemporary, now in its second year; and Hong Kong just launched ART HK. CIGE director Wang Yihan says her fair attracted 40,000 visitors this year, while the more high-toned ShContemporary brought in 25,000 and ART HK 08 had 19,000. These numbers may seem small in comparison with the 60,000 who crowd Art Basel, but dealers believe that the fairs in Asia are worthwhile because they attract new buyers and make Asian collectors feel more comfortable about acquiring art from galleries.

“Anywhere else, a fair is just a fair,” says Lorenz Helbling of ShanghART, one of the oldest galleries in China and a participant in Art Basel. “But in Shanghai a fair feels like so much more because only there can it make an impact on several million people.” He is referring not only to attendance but to the intensive publicity and official recognition given to ShContemporary in its inaugural year.

Just a few years ago it would have been impossible to try to sell contemporary art to Asian buyers, let alone mainland Chinese collectors, in the public forum of an art fair. Now, with the astounding success of Chinese contemporary art, collectors from across the region-and more than a few from the United States and Europe-are targeting China as a destination. According to Nick Simunovic, who has opened an office and showroom for Gagosian Gallery in Hong Kong, it is only a matter of time before these regional buyers turn their attention to Western contemporary art.

“My sense is that wherever you have tremendous wealth creation, the collecting cycle goes through three phases,” he says. “First, people collect their cultural patrimony, and then they collect their own contemporary art. I think the final stage is when they gain a more globalized contemporary-art approach.”

Gagosian first considered opening an office in Shanghai but encountered obstacles to doing business on the mainland. The most formidable of these is a 34 percent luxury tax on art, which foreign galleries that participated in ShContemporary found difficult to avoid. Hong Kong, by comparison, is a duty-free zone. And Simunovic found that even Jeff Koons was a tough sell in Shanghai, whereas Hong Kong offers more possibilities for Western contemporary art. Just a year ago Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau paid $72 million for Andy Warhol’s Green Car Crash (Green Burning Car I). In May Christie’s brought a Warhol portrait of Mao, valued at $120 million and for sale privately, for viewing in Hong Kong. (At press time it had not yet been sold.)

“Sure, China is hot, but that’s just the peak of the iceberg,” says Lorenzo Rudolf, former director of Art Basel and cofounder of ShContemporary. “This is not just about a group of Chinese painters. It’s about a growing market going on in this continent.”

With the sheer abundance of galleries, auction houses, and art fairs in China, the larger art world is recognizing the power of the Asian market. Standing in an auction house in New York or London watching paintings by Chinese artists sell for millions, one can grouse about this boom and hint that it will turn out to be a bubble. But strolling in a bustling gallery district in Beijing, with students and tourists crowding the cafés and boutiques and filling the huge art showrooms, few would predict a downturn in the near future.

Art Therapy Wellness Solution

WHAT IS ART THERAPY?

Art therapy, as defined by the American Art Therapy Association, is the therapeutic use of making art, within a professional relationship, by people who have experienced illness, trauma or challenges that have caused varying degrees of dysfunction within their lives. Art therapy is helpful for people who seek personal development through creating art and reflecting on their artwork and the process of making art. Through art therapy an increased awareness of self is developed. The self that emerges through the creation of art in art therapy is enhanced and stabilized, enabling one to cope with challenges, stresses and trauma. The learning process is enriched through creating art and enjoyment of art making increases self awareness, cognitive abilities and defines the life-affirming pleasures of making art.

The American Art Therapy Association promotes established standards for art therapy education, ethics and practice. Volunteer committees composed of members and other experts in the field actively work on governmental affairs at the national and state level, clinical issues and professional development. The Association’s dedication to continuing education and research is demonstrated through its annual national conference, publications, its distance learning capacity which is in development and national awards recognizing excellence in the field of art therapy.

HOW ART THERAPY DEVELOPED

Throughout history, Visual expression has been used for the purposes of healing, but art therapy did not emerge as a distinct profession until the 1940s. Early in the 20th century, psychiatrists became increasingly interested in the artwork their patients with mental illness created. And educators were discovering that children’s art expressions reflected developmental, emotional, and cognitive growth. The work of many contemporary artists of that time used both primitive and child-like styles to express psychological perspectives and dispositions (Dubuffet, Picasso, Miro and Braque, for example.)

By the mid-century, hospitals, clinics, and rehabilitation centers increasingly began to include art therapy programs along with the more traditional verbal therapy techniques, recognizing that the process of creating art enhanced recovery, health, and wellness. As a result, the profession of art therapy grew into an effective and important method of communication, assessment, and treatment of children and adults in a variety of settings. Today, the profession of art therapy has gained importance in healthcare facilities throughout the United States and within psychiatry, psychology, counseling, education, and the arts.

WHAT DOES AN ART THERAPIST DO?

Art therapists, as defined by the American Art Therapy Association, are masters level professionals who hold a degree in art therapy or a related field. Educational requirements include: theories of art therapy, counseling, and psychotherapy; ethics and standards of practice; assessment and evaluation; individual, group, and family techniques; human and creative development; multicultural issues; research methods; and practicum experiences in clinical, community, and/or other settings. Art therapists are skilled in the application of a variety of art modalities (drawing, painting, sculpture, and other media) for assessment and treatment.

Art therapists are professionals trained in both art and therapy. They are knowledgeable about human development, psychological theories, clinical practice, spiritual, multicultural and artistic traditions, and the healing potential of art. They use art in treatment, assessment and research, and provide consultations to allied professionals. Art therapists work with people of all ages: individuals, couples, families, groups and communities. They provide services, individually and as part of clinical teams, in settings that include mental health, rehabilitation, medical and forensic institutions; community outreach programs; wellness centers; schools; nursing homes; corporate structures; open studios and independent practices.

An art therapist requires a license to practice art therapy. Art therapy licensing differs from state to state.

WHO BENEFITS FROM ART THERAPY?

Art therapy addresses a part of the brain that is often functional when other parts are dysfunctional or not functioning well.

Many can benefit from art therapy, including hospitalized children, teens, adults and the elderly. In addition, art therapy benefits the mentally ill. In many cases, those with depressions, fear and anxiety caused by trauma or developmental challenges have difficulty expressing their deep feeling. Creating art often allows them to begin to become released from their own dysfunctions.

The elderly, and particularly Alzheimer’s patients, suffering from varying degrees of memory loss, time and space dysfunction do to aging can respond to drawing, painting and sculpting and begin to take control and regain some of these lost capabilities.

Studies have shown that art therapy sessions with the elderly have encouraged memory and brain function–creative movement has reduced the risks of falls and accidents and encourages balance and movement. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has a program called “Meet and MOMA.” On Tuesdays, when the Museum is usually closed, group of Alzheimer’s patients and their caregivers tour the galleries. The stimulation of seeing and discussing artwork enriches their lives and stimulates them mentally. Since the establishment of this program, many patients have exhibited marked improvement in memory, cognitive awareness and self expression.

Art therapy helps prisoners address their angers, fears, and resentments. Through creating, they begin to see themselves and realize what motivated them to commit a crime. And art making gives many a chance to develop a skill that can enrich, not only their lives, but the lives of others.

Art and the creative process brings balance, self-esteem and enjoyment to anyone who is challenged by mental or physical disabilities. Through the creative process, deep-seated feelings emerge in an gentle, nurturing atmosphere. People are enabled to meet their worst fears, anxieties and challenges by doing artwork that expresses that challenge. When it is identified, view and discussed, often the overwhelming proportion is diminished. In a group, the participants realize that others have fears and problems also, just like them. Eating disorders can be addressed and in some cases, cured by creativity because the underlying cause of the disorder is often hidden and emerges through the art work.

HOW ART THERAPY WORKS

Art therapy, active in a professional setting, creates a sense of self, that which is often lost in the elderly, Alzheimer’s patients or those with mental illness. Sensory stimulation through art making fills in where there is a deficit of sense of self and sensory stimulation. This is proven through the use of any and all uses of art materials and skills, including painting, drawing, water color, collage or sculpture.

For example, collage creates a sense of putting things back together and connectedness. Creating a collage deals with the juxtaposition of identifiable images that resonate in the individuals’ experience and can bridge the communication gap between the anxiety or fear a person feels and the outside world. Making art externalizes and through discussion with an art therapist who can interpret what the art work says relative to the patient’s behavior and challenges, the patient can begin to identify that which impedes their thinking and balanced growth.

As evidenced by the Meet At MOMA Program, Alzheimer’s affects that part of the brain that makes memories. The parietal lobe is stimulated by art. When a patient looks at a painting, the painting encourages a dialogue with the viewer. Questions and interpretations of the visual response develop. Those that cannot remember their name or the names of their loved ones, can often, talk about what they see in a painting and be clear about their own interpretations of the painting. Often memories are stimulated as well, and things forgotten come into the dialogue.

When those in art therapy are given paints, pencils, clay, or collage materials, a here and now, active stimulation begins. Through work with the hands, imagination is stimulated and, it has recently been discovered that the imagination will be there when the rest of the brain is dysfunctional through a progressive disease such as Alzheimer’s.

There is an important need to get thoughts and feelings out in some way, especially in teens, adults and the elderly. It has been evidenced that very young children who have not yet learned how to express themselves verbally, will grab a crayon and begin drawing naturally. Older persons are challenged because they are at a loss to express themselves, but can find balance and enrichment in painting or drawing.

Art therapy demonstrates that creativity is a deep core need in all of us and that making a painting will help one remember, recall the past that had been forgotten.

There is another value to art therapy, as well. Institutionalized people, those in prisons, nursing homes and hospitals often feel they are just a number or a file. Art therapy gives them back their individuality. These people are given back a sense of control over their lives that they had to give up for going into an institutionalized environment.

And in a hospital setting, especially for people with a cancer diagnosis–it is often very difficult to talk about it. Art gives them an opportunity to express the way they feel, come into control and alignment with their feelings and give them, through the art therapist, a perspective on their life.

ART THERAPY ON A GLOBAL SCALE

In Saudi Arabia, a psychological and religious counseling program for militants has been developed incorporating art therapy for imprisoned Jihadists. This successful rehabilitation program came into operation today as the result of the Saudi’s commitment to lessening the production of home grown Jihadists.

The International Medical Corp provides clinical support for people on the front lines of disaster and uses art therapy to rehabilitate victims of war, famine, political upheaval, and natural disasters.

The National Geographic Society has supplied cameras to people in Uganda to take pictures of their lives and work through the pain and loss they have experienced through war. Ultimately, what we are discovering is that no one is safe from the anxieties, challenges and fearful factors of every day life. And, as we begin to realize that physical health and mental health often are integrated and dependent on each other, the role of the art therapist becomes more and more important in addressing our well being the development and maintenance of our total well being.

The Music Gallery: Can Music Ever Be Valued As Fine Art?

Introduction: The Highest Art Auction in History

Recently a Christie’s art sale became the highest auction in history. The sale included works by Jackson Pollock, Roy Lichtenstein and Jean-Michel Basquiat, among others and in total generated $495 million. The sale established 16 new world auction records, with nine works selling for more than $10m (£6.6m) and 23 for more than $5m (£3.2m). Christie’s said the record breaking sales reflected “a new era in the art market”.

The top lot of Wednesday’s sale was Pollock’s drip painting Number 19, 1948, which fetched $58.4m (£38.3m) – nearly twice its pre-sale estimate.

Lichtenstein’s Woman with Flowered Hat sold for $56.1 million, while another Basquiat work, Dustheads (top of article), went for $48.8 million.

All three works set the highest prices ever fetched for the artists at auction. Christie’s described the $495,021,500 total – which included commissions – as “staggering”. Only four of the 70 lots on offer went unsold.

In addition, a 1968 oil painting by Gerhard Richter has set a new record for the highest auction price achieved by a living artist. Richter’s photo-painting Domplatz, Mailand (Cathedral Square, Milan) sold for $37.1 million (£24.4 million). Sotheby’s described Domplatz, Mailand, which depicts a cityscape painted in a style that suggests a blurred photograph, as a “masterpiece of 20th Century art” and the “epitome” of the artist’s 1960s photo-painting canon. Don Bryant, founder of Napa Valley’s Bryant Family Vineyard and the painting’s new owner, said the work “just knocks me over”.

Brett Gorvy, head of post-war and contemporary art, said “The remarkable bidding and record prices set reflect a new era in the art market,” he said. Steven Murphy, CEO of Christie’s International, said new collectors were helping drive the boom.

Myths of the Music-Fine Art Price Differential

When I came across this article I was stunned at the prices these artworks were able to obtain. Several of them would hardly evoke a positive emotional response in me, while others might only slightly, but for almost all of them I really don’t understand how their prices are reflected in the work, and vice versa. Obviously, these pieces were not intended for people like me, an artist, while wealthy patrons certainly see their intrinsic artistic value clearly.

So why doesn’t music attract these kinds of prices? Is it even possible for a piece of recorded music, not music memorabilia or a music artifact (such as a rare record, LP, bootleg, T-shirt, album artwork, etc.), to be worth $1 million or more? Are all musicians and music composers doomed to struggle in the music industry and claw their way up into a career in music? If one painting can be valued at $1 million, why can’t a song or piece of music also be valued similarly? Apparently, the $.99 per download price is the highest price a song is able to command at market value, no matter what its quality or content, and the musician or composer must accept this value as such.

The financial equation looks something like this:

1 painting = $37 million

1 song = $.99

Sometimes people say that a song can change the world, but no one ever says that about paintings. So theoretically, if people want change $.99 is the price we must pay for it.

Now here are a few statements that should help us clarify what the monetary or value discrepancy between painting and music is based upon.

(1) There are fewer painters than there are musicians.

(2) Musicians are less talented than painters?

(3) It is easier to create music than it is to paint.

(4) The public values paintings more than music.

(5) Paintings are more beautiful than music.

(6) Paintings are impossible to copy unlike music.

(7) Painters work harder than musicians and composers.

(8) Blah, blah, blah.

Hardly anyone agrees with all of these statements and yet all, or at least some of them, would have to be true in order for the price of paintings to so greatly exceed the cost of music. Moreover, I doubt that art collectors and great painters have to deal with as much legal red tape as do musicians when releasing their work into the public domain, so why aren’t the rewards equal, if not greater for musicians who have to work almost as much protecting their work as in producing it. Musicians and composers, however, actually must do more than authenticate their work and obtain accurate appraisals concerning what their work is worth, but they get paid less. The equipment costs alone for musicians is much higher than it is for painters.

Maybe it’s fame, and not money, musicians are after? That would explain why most musicians settle for the low pay they receive from record deals and digital downloads. Perhaps, that’s also why many of them are touring more often to increase their fame and not their fortunes. But wait a minute, that’s where musicians actually make most of their money from live performances and the selling of merchandise, but not the music. I guess this is why many musicians see themselves not as composers, but rather as performers and entertainers.

So what can musicians do, who don’t see themselves as entertainers, but instead as composers who create music as a fine art? Because they too have a strong desire to earn a living to support themselves in their chosen profession, thus there must be a specialized approach whereby they present their work to music lovers or art collectors in search of assets and curators for unique pieces to place in their private galleries. Imagine that, a recorded piece of music that few have ever heard which is displayed and played only on a specified music player in a private art gallery or collection.

In thinking about how a musician can follow the example set by painters in the fine arts, I’ve isolated 4 principles that should help to make the spectacular financial rewards they’ve reached possible for the musician. So let’s analyze some of the characteristics that govern the market for fine art and see how musicians can apply these concepts to their creative, production, and marketing processes.

The Ideal Vehicle for Music as Fine Art

Here are 4 principles and practical suggestions for musicians who want to elevate their music into the realm of fine art by following the example of the painters of the past and present.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections.

The composer must design experiments with sound or compositional techniques. Some music belongs in the realm of the public, while other music solely belongs in the realm of fine art. It’s really not that difficult to tell the difference. The difference is clear when one compares the environment of the nightclub and the music one finds there with the elevated environment of the ballet or opera and its music. The difference is not necessarily one in terms of types of music, but rather in the composer’s sonic fingerprint. In other words, not everyone thinks Jackson Pollock was a great painter, but everyone acknowledges that it took him years of development to reach a point where his style could be born. It’s the style of the artist or composer that will call out to the attention of wealthy patrons, the respect of peers, and the exclusive admiration of the music appreciator. In music, the style of the composer, regardless of genre, I call ‘a signature sound.’ It’s the signature sound that music and art collectors will want to own and for that they might be willing to pay or bid up the cost of ownership to a higher price.

2) Create a music gallery.

This could be modeled after the art gallery where one or several artist put their work on display. The difference with the music gallery is that you would have a hall filled with listening rooms or stations. These showings would not be live performances, but instead will be in effect sound installations. You could also separate one hall into several compartments for different composers. The music showing would be an exclusive event provided to serious music and art collectors who actively seek out sonic experiences and buy what they like. The purpose of the music gallery would be the same as the art gallery – to give the public a sample of the artist’s talent, to give critics something to write about, to have other composers comment on the work of a peer, and to create buzz in the art world. Always remember that it shouldn’t be the event that drives the buzz, but the music that makes the event.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset.

The obvious difference between a painting and music is that one is a tangible artwork and the other is not. In other words, one of the defining characteristics of a painting is that the medium and the art are one. Unlike music, where the music must be transferred onto another object such as a cassette tape, vinyl, CD, or mP3 player before it can be perceived, whereas with a painting (or sculpture) an object has been transformed into art. So how can it be or is it even possible for a cassette, CD, or download to be transformed into art? The cassette and CD are more akin to a photograph of a painting, rather than a true expressions where the medium and the art are one.

So one step a musician can take to elevate their music into fine art is by making your music and its medium one. The best way that I can think of to do this is by looking to the past. Ironically, the vinyl LP very closely achieved this quality with album art, its sizing, and packaging. Let’s quickly discuss some of the qualities of the vinyl LP and valuable marketing angles that I think opens up interesting approaches for musicians to turn their music into fine art at price appropriate levels commiserate with earning a livelihood.

Today there are several companies around that let you customize your LP vinyl album and artwork. This is wonderful because it gives you total control over the art direction your packaging takes. This is an expressive way to bring the personality of the artist, band, or project out into physical form. Many colors are available and unique mixtures are also possible to add a dimension to your music that isn’t normally possible with cassette tapes, CD’s, or digital downloads. Even split colored and glow-in-the-dark vinyl are available for bold composers looking for something with a bit more flair.

Etched Art and Your Album

Another fantastic way to elevate the music via packaging and presentation is to consider etched art in vinyl. Etched vinyl is an image pressed into the unplayable side of your record which has a frosted appearance. The etched side does not contain any grooves or music but adds a real touch of style to your music package. I don’t know if etched art can also be a hologramic look, but that would be another dimension that would enhance the visual component of your music package.

Art and LP Sizes

The last aspect I’d like to touch on is the size of the LP. Unlike the cassettes and CD’s, which both come in a single universal size determined by the media player, LP’s are played on phonographs or turntables whose arms can adjust to the different sizes of LP’s. In general, LP’s come in 3 sizes: 7″, 10″, and 12″. And because the album covers have to provide a sleeve for a large surface, they correspondingly must also be large. At a minimum the 12″ LP will require an album cover that’s 1 square foot. That’s about 4 times the size of a standard CD and anywhere from 8 – 12 times the size of cassette tape.

Understanding this gives you an additional angle to design artwork for the music package. There might even be a way to design a painter’s canvas which can house an LP within its frame to turn it into a cover. For those musicians and composers who possess multiple artistic talents, an original painting to accompany a music release could be another profitable approach to look into. If you think about it even further the size of the 12″ LP is actually the size of a small painting. Foldable or dual LP covers are also available which provide a much larger surface with which to more greatly present amazing album art work to dazzle customers. The dual LP album cover would give you exactly a 24″ x 12″ surface to work with.

The Non-Vinyl LP and other Miscellaneous Considerations

Other more sophisticated forms of the approach I’m describing here for the LP would keep the concept of the LP at the center of the music package, while removing the vinyl as material. Ideally, the perfect substance for a fine art music LP would consist of a material that didn’t warp, couldn’t be shattered, that would prevent grooves from wearing out, and that would be scratch-proof. So that would mean you’d need to do your homework and find out what’s possible with all known exotic substances, metal alloys, industrial metals, specialized plastics, and non-scratch surfaces to achieve the perfect substance for a fine art music LP. Moreover, this substance would play CD quality sound on any or a special turntable with a uniquely designed needle made specifically for this material and album type.

If a fine art music LP were to ever come into existence it would have to stand the test of time and survive usage, storage, and travel as it transfers custody from one owner to another over decades and even centuries. These are the main reasons why owners of fine art music LP’s will need to get insurance for the asset. A non-vinyl LP could also be manufactured to blow away the art collector, music enthusiast, and investor with something like an LP made of 24-karat gold or some other precious metal like silver or platinum. This one alteration could make such an LP worth a $1 million or more depending on the aggressiveness of the bidders. Overall you’ll have to do some research of your own to discover what your options are and can be in order to raise your LP into the class of an investment, a tangible asset (collectible), and fine art. In the absence of the existence of this ideal substance, we must aim for novelty to achieve appeal.

Exclusive Music

Another aspect to explore briefly is the exclusivity factor in regard to the ownership of fine art. Not everyone can afford a Picasso, but those who can, generally, aren’t willing to share it with everyone because they want exclusive ownership over the Picasso, that’s part of the package of owning fine art.

The way to provide exclusive ownership to interested parties is through contracts, so you’ll have to hire legal advice to shape the legal framework governing ownership of a music album or music as fine art. The contract can be shaped in any number of ways according to your wishes, but basically it should state what the owner has permission to do or is prohibited from doing with the work you are selling them. You want your buyers to know that they can transfer ownership of the album to heirs or sell it to other private collectors as you can with any other tangible asset. This is part of the process of owning fine art, which they’ve come to expect in their dealings with galleries and other collectors, so deal with them as a professional.

In addition, you’ll want to legally prohibit the buyers from broadcasting or disseminating the music from your fine art LP or other media. To preserve its value the music must be kept out of the public domain and remain in the hands of those who have the right to hear it. If the owners want to talk about it and even play it for a small gathering of people as a fine art music exhibit then great, but they should not be permitted to make copies or profit from your recordings.

The beauty of a limit supply and contracts is that together they will help you to track all of the owners over your lifetime and preserve the value of your work. If one of them can be found to be responsible for leaking the material out into public, you’ll have a lawsuit on your hands which you should easily win. But if a leak was to happen, the value (price) of the LP might drop precipitously and demand could even dry up completely. But really what’s the worst that could happen, that the price of your music ends up at the low end of the price scale – $.99 per track?

A Word on Supply and Demand

Similarly, the law of supply and demand must also be part of the equation for pricing your music as fine art. Basically, the law of supply and demand works like this: the greater the supply, the lower the demand and the lower the supply, the greater the demand. In other words, the more of something there is, the less it’s worth and the less of something there is, the more it’s worth. The law doesn’t always work out this perfectly, but as a general rule it works.

The problem with this law is that it only slightly takes into account mass psychology and the way demand is created, which is by advertising, marketing, and PR (public relations). Without these 3 factors working in your favor, there will be little or no demand for your fine art music LP, no matter how small your supply is. It’s only when these 3 factors are working in your favor and demand is fairly high that the price of your singular or limited edition fine art music LP, CD, or digital audio files can rise and skyrocket. So become fluent with hope to employ advertising, marketing, and PR and make sure the demand is there among your target audience prior to releasing your work so that you can be certain your album receives a high bidding.

A Digital Point of View

Some of the ideas I’ve presented here so far can be applied to music in digital formats as well. For example, a limited edition, gorgeously designed iPod or alternative mP3 player with your fine art music programmed into a locked memory is one approach. For example, high-end buyers there’s an iPod available that’s made from 22k gold and it features an Apple logo made of diamonds, it estimate price is roughly $120,000.

Something like this could work or even just a really cool looking, READ-only thumb drive could work. You just plug it in and enjoy exclusive access to an album that only one collector or a select few have in their possession.

The number one problem with a digital format is that it’s too easy to copy files from one device to another, which is why a locked or unhackable memory is crucial. Without the locked memory, the exclusivity factor cannot exist and undermines the creation of a fine art music digital device.

4) Put your music to auction.

Part of the reason why the paintings in the beginning of this article sold for so much money is because competing bids pushed the price upward. After you’ve designed an amazing fine art music collection and package, you’ll need to decide how to sell or auction your product.

Many options for auctioning items are available but probably the most well-known is eBay, but eBay is probably not the best place to sell fine art music this way. To start it might be a good place to test the concept, but you might not reach your target clientele. Another option could be Bandcamp or Amazon, but there’s no auctioning available with these companies. However, you could set a high price for downloads, CD’s or vinyl LP’s and sell few of them.

For example, downloads might go for anywhere from $15 to $200 per track and for the album maybe the price of a mid-range painting, perhaps $800 to $2,000+.

You could also set up a simple website where you present and sell your fine art music like painters, sculptors, sketch artists, wood workers, and artisans sell their work. On your site you can talk about your album on video, with a music blog, on internet radio, through interviews, on music or artists-oriented podcasts, and through articles, so that you can send all the traffic to your eBay page or personal website where all you’re selling are copies of your limited edition collection of fine art music.

The simplicity of this plan is that you, along with eBay as your broker, control the entire process. The idea here is as with most auctions which is to watch the bidders compete with one another as everyone watches the price go higher and higher.

Name Your Price: The Radiohead Experiment

The band Radiohead did something like this but differently. Instead of auctioning a one of a kind or limited edition exclusive digital album, they allowed their fans to pay what they wanted for their new release at the time. The experiment brought in mixed results but overall was a success for the band members who made more money personally than on any previous album. However, it’s been reported that 38% of buyers spent an average of $6, while the other 62% downloaded the album without paying anything at all – $0. Globally, the average price paid was around $2.26 and $3.23 in the U.S. Of those who did pay something, 17% paid below $4, but 12% paid between $8 and $12.

This approach is unlikely to work for lesser known artists who want to present their music as fine art. The main reason why it wouldn’t is because it fails to fulfill the factor of exclusive ownership. Everyone and anyone could get a copy of the Radiohead album, therefore it’s value is reduced because the quantity available was infinite instead of limited or rare, since the demand was high.

NIN and a Tiered Approach

Likewise, tiered fine art music packages whose prices range from a few dollars up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars is a much better way to entice collectors to buy music as fine art or music as an investment.

Here’s how Nine Inch Nail’s Trent Reznor made a small fortune with his “Ghosts I – IV” album release. In total 5 tiers are available.

The first tier offers a free download of the first 9 tracks from the album.

The 2nd tier offers a $5 digital download with a 40 page PDF.

The 3rd tier offers a 2 CD’s with a 16 page booklet for $10.

The 4th tier is a $75 deluxe edition which includes 2 audio CD’s, a data DVD with all 36 tracks in multi-track format, a 48 page book of photographs by Phillip Graybill and Rob Sheridan, a 40 page PDF book, and an accompanying slideshow on a Blu-Ray disc.

And on the 5th tier you get pretty much everything else on the lower tiers except you also get a 3rd book with art prints of imagery from Ghosts I – IV and each limited edition copy is numbered and personally signed by Trent Reznor. This limited edition was restricted to 2500 copies with a limit of one per customer for a grand total of $300. The $300 tier was known as the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package and is currently sold out.

The financials on the 5th tier look pretty good. With the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package, we know there were only 2500 copies and that each sold for $300. So, 2500 x 300 = $750,000. Imagine what prices could have been reached if Reznor had allowed the buyers to bid on the Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition Package. He could have started the bidding at or just below $300 and watched the prices go up from there. Interestingly, as fewer of them were available the prices might have started to get astronomical. He probably still would’ve sold every copy and his income might well have been closer to $1 million, but either he did a great job structuring his price scale as demonstrated by his results. And let’s not forget that our equation excluded the income he generated from tiers 2 – 4, which most certainly brought his total revenues far passed $1 million.

Review

As we end off let’s briefly review the factors that will lead to fine art music success.

1) Strive to make unique music or music collections. To do this you’ll need to experiment with unique methods, techniques, or styles that offer a signature sound. In the art world, this will be known as your sonic fingerprint. This is what art collectors will want to purchase and appreciate.

2) Create a music gallery. Come up with ideas for how to present your new compositions at a music exhibit. It should look and feel much like an art exhibit, but be adapted for music. This might include setting up private listening stations for individual art collectors or small rooms for a limited listening audience and where auctions can occur.

3) Turn your music into a tangible asset. Painting elevates the canvas and paint into art, whereas music can never elevate a cassette tape or CD into art. For music, the medium must be turned into art as part of the package for presenting music as fine art. Painting also elevates and transforms its medium, while music is usually transported by its medium, unless its digital, then it’s all about the music. Remember what we discussed about digital formats and the vinyl LP as ideal vehicles for selling music as fine art.

4) Above all, offer exclusivity as an essential part of the package of fine art music ownership, so find ways to guarantee this for your buyers. Art ownership is strongly based on its exclusivity, which for the collector means they are part of a very select group of individuals who have the right or privilege to receive exposure to your fine art music. If you can exclude the masses and create demand amongst a select few, then the prices you can attract will rise as few buyers try to outbid one another for exclusive ownership of your music.

5) Lastly, use an auction system to create massive profits. Keep the law of supply and demand in mind when building your music into a tangible asset and don’t forget the vital role advertising, marketing, and PR play in creating demand. There’s no purpose in creating a limited supply of anything for which there is no demand.

Conclusion

These are by no means all of the ways in which these ideas can be applied to your situation or in these formats, but whatever you choose to do you’ll need to formulate the right balance of factors that make the price of your fine art music rise. Many of you may be stunned by the extent of initial investment capital you’ll require to elevate your music into a fine art collectible, which is why you’ll have to amplify your people skills and take courses in sales training, marketing, investing and business. Several of the approaches I mentioned will require you to raise capital from a bank, institution such as a private equity firm, or venture capitalists to get you started, otherwise you’ll need to get access to personal or small business credit at low interest rates. This will give you more time to implement your program and generate your first wave of sales.

If your business plan for turning your music into fine art is solid and your sales presentation is thorough, then the money will find you as more investors see profit in the opportunity. Additionally, wealthy patrons may see your work as an important contribution to art history or your presentation may just resonate with an investor or group of investors that they may just give you money to finish your project. In either case, be business-like, get all of your agreements in writing and have them reviewed by a competent legal representative expert at intellectual property issues and financial transactions in particular.

Abstract Art Painting Studios – From Primitive Caves to Modern Lofts

Have you ever tried to remember the first time when you found yourself looking at an abstract art or an abstract painting? Do you remember the thoughts or feelings you had about what you were looking at?

This article is a reflection of some of my own personal and subjective viewpoints and realities as an artist about abstract art with certain references to facts that are in agreement with what I believe myself as to the nature, birth, growth and the evolution of the abstract art outside the boundaries of the esoteric terms of the art academia.

To have a basic and fundamental look at the subject, we should first understand what the word abstract means before we could tackle the understanding of “abstract art” itself; and we learn that abstract in this sense and as a verb means to extract or remove and surprisingly as an adjective means not easy to understand; abstruse. And as a transitive verb it means to take away, remove. It’s origin is from Latin abstrahere ‘draw away’ or ‘draw from.’

Thus, we can conclude that abstract, is generally viewed as a form of art that does not depict anything that resembled the objective or material world; instead it represented new creations that very subjectively were expressions of the inner substance and the spirit of the artist and often through a profound spontaneity that brings out the inner world of the artist.

So, abstract art, being the product of this very natural, uninhibited and unpremeditated impulse in the absence of any external stimulus, is intrinsic and belongs to the very basic nature and the make up of the artist, as the true influence behind his creations.

As I evolved through my own representational art and became more acquainted with the history of art, I learned that abstract art had its roots in the very early dawn of human history when man began to draw on the walls of his cave. These early abstract arts, abstract drawings and abstract paintings – sometimes embellished with organic dyes – often attempted to capture the essential nature and the quality of the objects rather than the actual appearance of them.

As the art historians and art critics formulated their opinions and ideas into prints, more esoteric terms spun off the subject under “non-objective art,” “non-representational art,” and “non-figurative art.” In the field of aesthetics, since none of the principles of creating art have been precisely formulated, this particular branch of humanities has its critics galore with many schools of divergent opinions and thoughts, where esoteric lectures and opinions are listened to with open jaws in lieu of reason, personal expressions suffers under the cloud of confusion.

Centuries long before the birth of abstract expressionism in America, highly figurative arts had existed in the East, namely in the Islamic culture, where calligraphy also as a non-figurative art is taught as a subject starting sometimes as early as in primary schools, as great emphasis is placed upon the pupils’ acquiring and developing skills in calligraphy, as the art of handwriting.

In the Western culture, abstract designs are found in many forms. But abstract arts are uniquely distinguished in composition form in relation to decorative art and fine art, where in abstract art, the results of creation, are spontaneous snapshots of the artist’s thoughts, emotions, and the introspection by which he creates his work of abstract art.

Abstract Expressionism, as we know it today, was born in America in the mid 20th century following a massive exodus of the European avant- garde artists to New York City, making the city the center of the art world; a title that used to be held by Paris. The contemporary American artists were immensely influenced by the influx of this new talent that brought forth the very welcoming freedom of personal expression through the vehicle of spontaneity in the absence of the boundaries and limitations of conventional forms.

The arrival of abstract expressionism in New York was the dawn of a new peaceful artistic revolution by which the artist began to rebel overtly against the status quo. He began a new era where he could freely create towards the future and change the existing scene for a better tomorrow.

Some of the pioneers in abstract expressionism, such as Jackson Pollock, Mark Rothko, Willem de Kooning, became synonymous with New York School and action painting as they played a significant role in what became deservedly known as avant-garde; a new realm of freedom for the artist to create and construct with an impulse that surmounted any rational and objective realm of reason.

On the more textural side, Jackson Pollock began to re-arrange his easel and painted as he pleased, expressing himself by pouring the paint from within unto the canvas, as he felt. Pollock, as one of the most mavericks of the era, used also his body as an instrument to paint with, as he moved rapidly around his large canvases on the floor, spattering interlacing patterns of paint, like an emotional roller coaster, drawing the viewer into its rhythmic flow of motion, apparently into an infinity of space.

In great contrast to Pollock, Barnett Newman’s color-field paintings, are open fields of vast empty spaces for the viewer to step into them and imagine what they wish to place in them.

Now, for the sake of simplicity, we could categorize art into only representational art and abstract art. Representational art being what we instantly recognize in association to familiar objects, vs. abstract art that requires our thought to perceive the composition of the art and the comparison of our observation with the conclusions we have made in the past, in order to arrive in the immediate instance, where we are. Thus, in our observation of abstract art, the presence or the absence of any emotional responses, brought about as the result of understanding the abstract art, raises the question of, what is truly an abstract art and when does it become successful.

Let’s imagine that we are looking at a representational art, a scenery where it depicts a mossy wooded area cloaked in a low fog with a cascading shallow stream running through it. We can all agree with what we are looking at, appreciate the quality of its beauty, and some of us become awestricken by its magic, and even feel the mist in the air and smell the moss. We like to look at it as a pleasant experience. We sense that it is peaceful, because it has the tendency to make us feel good. It helps us – even if it is for a brief moment – forget our troubles, and transforms our disturbances into a new level of calm, to the point that we could be there, in our imagination. We walk away from the painting and look at other paintings that does not produce the same thoughts and feelings, and we turn and look at it again and again, wanting to have more of the same pleasant experience. Pleasure is what we are experiencing.

This is the emotional reaction we feel towards this very representational art that we fully understand. It communicated to us a certain message within the boundaries of its technical expertise, by which it was created. The technical expertise wasn’t the initial visual attraction, however. It was the message that it communicated to us visually, that attracted us. The virtuosity by which it was created becomes secondary to the significance of the message and the quality of its delivery. Although the message doesn’t have to have the same meaning for every viewer, it is the combination of both, the message and the technical expertise that brings about an understanding that causes the viewer to respond emotionally.

From sketching and carving with sharp stones on the walls of his cave, to the magnificence of today’s technology, man has journeyed through an incredible evolution in the arts among many other dynamics of life. From those who have accepted the boundaries of their culture and environmental factors, have remained true and faithful to what they were permitted and expected to create in the form of various representational and figurative arts. But the more precocious, who had an awareness of higher form of existence and true potential, wanted to move beyond the obvious with no tolerance for suppression and entrapment. They became the visionaries who escaped and sought freedom of expression elsewhere, where the attainment of that freedom was possible.

A great number of European artists and teachers such as Joseph Albers and Hans Hofmann moved to America in mid 20th century and made New York the new Art Center of the world by leaving Paris behind. They brought with them that very freedom of spontaneity to create paintings that became what we know today as abstract expressionism. As unique as our finger prints, each expression, became a new aesthetic signature to reckon with.

However, the basic roots of the transition from representational art to abstract art and expressionistic paintings had begun to grow in the later part of the 19th century in the form of impressionist and neo-impressionists when art had begun to change its face, while still retaining a good degree of resemblance to what it meant to be; and by the time post-impressionism had arrived on the scene, the field of art had already gone through a noticeable change and well on its way towards a major transformation.

Prior to the arrival of this new transformation, and certainly before post-impressionism, the artist was primarily engaged in the natural depiction of the landscape, rather than attempting to tap into the depth of his own emotions by way of his canvas, and connect to the psyche of his audience.

Nothing is more powerful and significant than the birth and the power of a new idea. Nothing can or is capable of stopping an idea. Once an idea is conceived, it cannot be stopped, suppressed or harnessed; because an idea has no mass or form to occupy a physical space and become subjected to the opposing forces, and become vulnerable. A new idea, once conceived, takes on a life of its own, by being nurtured in the powerful lofts of imagination and carried forward in the arms of those who embrace it.

Hans Huffman who became recognized as the father of the abstract expressionism has this to say:
“An idea can only be materialized with the help of a medium of expression, the inherent qualities of which must be surely sensed and understood in order to become the carrier of an idea.” The idea of self-determinism, to permit oneself the ownership of freedom of expression is a luxury that is not for sale, but to attain; a faculty innately available to a few, but attainable by the masses. For some it arrives quickly, and the rest come to embrace it through hardship.

The evolution of art from representational to abstract expressionism required a tremendous level of liberalism and acceptance by those whose help and economic support were instrumental in the survival level of the abstract expressionist painters.

In an essay, very revealing of his philosophy of art, Johannes Itten says: “If new ideas are to assume any artistic forms, the physical, sensual, intellectual and spiritual forces must all be equally available and act in concert.” Truly speaking, Itten says what it takes to create a good artistic expression in terms of the wherewithal necessary to transmit an idea, which is something imagined, felt or pictured in the mind, into the canvas as a successful work of art, which can be sensed and understood by the viewer.

This above criteria outlined by Itten in the early 20th century was a big philosophical bite that required lots of chewing and digestion before earning acceptance and support; so the abstract artists had to endure a very endearing plight in earning and preserving their livelihood.

Before the arrival of the European pioneers and their fortitude, in bringing their very precious gift of abstract paintings, representational artists had no clue as to what freedom of artistic expression really meant to open the door into a new realm of practicing art, which opened a new door and an extension of their inner self.

Faced with the sever opposition of the traditionalists who rejected change, the abstract artists began to express their soul, on their new canvases, with their own newly created rules. In the world of art, where art is traded as a luxury and not a necessity and dependent upon the discretionary money of a few, the arrival of the abstract art in general and in particular abstract expressionism threatened the axles on which the art market was pivoted.

Change became inevitable, and traditionalists broke rank with futurists at the expense of the modern art; but the abstract expressionists became busily involved in experimenting and exploring the various physical entities and invented new tools by which they could apply paint to their canvases.

Suddenly the conventional means by which the artist had painted changed into an ever-changing process of exploration, creation, experimentation, and more creations; each time giving birth to a new technique. The canvases, paints and the studio tools extended far beyond the boundaries of the artist’s studio and into the realm of collage and found objects.

Jackson Pollock was the quintessential action painter, who struggled badly with acceptance, began to use his body as a painting instrument around his vast canvases laid out on the floor and danced with his splashes, drippings and spattering of paint; he developed and mastered the technique of action painting and enjoyed some of the sprouts of a great new fame and fortune before he fell victim to the demons of his culture at the ripe age of 42. He left a great legacy behind, which continued to inspire many abstract artists through the variety of great canvases which he left behind.

This is what Pollock have said in part about his paintings: “It’s all a big game of construction, some with a brush, some with a shovel, some choose a pen. The method of painting is the natural growth out of need. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them. It doesn’t matter how the paint is put on, as long as something is said. On the floor I am more at ease. I feel nearer, more a part of the painting, since this way I can walk around it, work from the four sides and literally be in the painting. The modern artist is working with space and time and expressing his feelings rather than illustrating. When I’m painting, I’m not aware of what I’m doing. It’s only after a get acquainted period that I see what I’ve been about. The painting has a life of its own. Every good painter paints what he is.”

Another great artist and contemporary painter from the abstract expressionists group is Robert Rauschenberg. Rauschenberg created collages with found objects on the streets of New York City and defied every conceivable traditionalist’s rule as he progressed through his career, which became quite deservedly rewarding, earning him the recognition, notoriety and financial success in the past few decades. He later moved to, Florida to get away from New York City, where he continue to create his art on the quiet and affluent shores of Captiva Island.

One of the most inspiring techniques of Rauschenberg worth remembering, is his concept of leaving enough to chance for the sake of discovery, where the artist enjoys the serendipity of unexpected happenstance.

The two most prominent style of abstract expressionism, were the action painters engaging use of textures, spattering and drippings of paint throughout, gesturing the mood of the artist, and the color-field painters who expressed their work through the unified fields of color and shapes, while many other painters made use of both styles in their work.
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Entering Art Competitions – Nine Tips to Making Your Experience Rewarding

When you are ready to enter your artwork in local art competitions, here are nine art tips that can help make this a great experience.

Art Competition Jurors

One of the favorite pastimes of entrants is trying to predict the kind of artwork a particular juror will accept, based on that juror’s painting style. Sometimes picking your entries in this way works and you get in, but I’ve also seen jurors choose an eclectic mix of styles and subjects, only some of which were like their own.

Art Tip # 1 – My advice is just enter your best work – art that shows skillful use of your painting medium, a well-designed composition and an image that shows creativity. These are three important criteria of most jurors.

When you enter your best artwork, you are showing your strengths. After that, it is up to the juror and his or her viewpoint. And you’ll just have to accept the vagaries of the judging process. As a more extreme example of what can happen, I once had the same juror for two different shows. I entered the same painting in both art competitions and the juror rejected it from the first show and gave it an award in the later one. A nationally known artist told me a similar story about a painting of his. It was rejected from one national show and won Best of Show in another. I’m pretty sure he didn’t have my juror.

Photographing Your Art

Art Tip # 2 – The second most important factor you control, after painting a great piece of art, is taking a good photograph of it. This is what the juror sees to judge your art; it needs to represent you well.

The picture should, of course, be in focus and show colors that closely match your art, so become proficient at shooting your own work or find a professional to do it.

What people who take pictures of their own art may not realize is the lighting conditions affect the color of your picture. Just like the old film cameras, shooting pictures with a digital camera using incandescent light bulbs will turn your picture more orange. Using fluorescent lights can turn the pictures greenish. Shooting outside when the sky is overcast can create a bluish tint, so look at your pictures closely before entering them.

A lot of people make the mistake of leaving their digital camera set on Automatic. To get the color in your picture to match your artwork, you need to understand how to set the White Balance. Every time you shoot under different lighting conditions you should reset the White Balance. Check your manual for how to do this on your camera.

Another award and entry killer is not submitting your entry in the required format with the required information. Always read the art contest prospectus. It’s amazing how many people don’t follow instructions, which instantly converts their entry fee into a donation.

Art Tip # 3 – Film is going away, so my advice is to become familiar with how to prepare and send digital pictures.

Art competitions that require digital entries often want your pictures to be formatted in a specific way. The prospectus will often say your entry should have a black background and be X number of pixels square. If you don’t want to buy software (like Photoshop or Photoshop Elements) that will help you do that, there are free internet sites you can also use to format your pictures.

Framing your art

Okay, you’ve been accepted into an art competition. There is another important decision to make. How well are you going to frame your work?

Art Tip # 4 – Often, the juror doesn’t pick the award-winning art until he or she can see the actual work. Your whole presentation affects that decision.

Matting and framing your art well are very important for two reasons.

Reason 1: If you have a nice piece of art surrounded by a cheap-looking frame or a frame that’s scratched or dented, you’ve just reduced the award-worthiness of your work in the eyes of the juror.

If you also have your art surrounded by gaudy or inappropriately colored mats, you’ve lowered your chances of an award even further. It’s best to be conservative. Use white or off-white mats.

Reason 2: If an art buyer likes your art and would consider purchasing it, he or she often wants to be able to take it home and immediately hang it on their wall. If she feels she needs to spend more money to re-frame your art more appropriately, she is likely to decide it isn’t worth the wait, the cost, or the hassle.

Art Tip # 5 – My advice is to frame your work as well as your budget will allow. If your work doesn’t sell, you can always reuse the frame for other art in other shows…but take into consideration Tip # 6.

Art Tip # 6 – Ask yourself: How experienced are the people hanging the show?

Let me explain. At one time I used to enter some of the smaller local art shows. The problem that changed my mind about this was I had so many frames scratched and ruined because they were badly handled. I use nice frames for my art – not the really high-end ones, but not the cheap ones either. In the smaller shows, what happened at times was the art was stored with the back of one piece of art leaning against the front of another. When that is done the screws on the back of one frame can easily scratch the frame or artwork behind it.

Small art shows and small organizations may have volunteers who have little or no experience handling art. In these small shows especially, you have to make a judgment call as to how expensively to frame your work.

I am much more trusting if the show venue is a professional gallery, since they have experience handling and hanging art.

Glass for Your Frame

If you create art that needs to be framed under glass, you’ve got another decision to make. Do you use regular glass or the more expensive, non-reflective glass?

Art Tip # 7 – Use the best glass you can afford.

As expensive as it is, let me explain why I’m a strong proponent of non-reflective glass. Some years ago I was accepted into an art competition at a gallery. Normally, galleries have track lighting that can be positioned to reduce reflections.

Unfortunately, my art (under regular glass) was hung on a wall facing the front windows. When the sun was shining on the street outside, the scene outside was all you could see reflected in my glass. This is a very effective way to guarantee you get neither a sale nor an award.

But, being a slow learner, I continued using regular glass until a weekend a few years later. I had registered to display my art in an art fair. Now in an art fair, the artist pays for space to set up his canopy or tent to show and hopefully sell his work.

Tents for this use are almost always white, as was mine. The white walls of my rented tent set up a reflective situation that the lights I was using could not overcome.

Standing in front of some of the art was almost like standing in front of a mirror. Again, the only way to actually see the art was to stand off to the side. I had one sale that weekend.

I may be a slow learner, but eventually the lesson does sink in. Since that disastrous weekend I have used nothing but non-reflective glass. It is almost as expensive as gold, but it works very well and eliminates a very important headache.

Shipping your art

You might decide at some point to enter an art contest in another area, where you will need to ship your art.

Art Tip # 8 – Total all your costs before you enter a competition, because the costs add up quickly.

First, you need to buy a sturdy box to ship your painting. Air Float Systems (www.airfloatsys.com) carry boxes made especially for shipping art. The boxes are very sturdy, but they are not cheap. Or, you can build something similar to the Air Float boxes by purchasing a mirror box (available at U Haul and other packing stores) and some foam.

Second, the art group organizing the show will designate a local shipping agent to receive your entry. The agent will unpack your art, deliver it to the show venue, pick it up after the show, repack it in your box and ship it back to you. The fee for this may be several hundred dollars in addition to the expense of your box and your original shipping costs.

Art Tip # 9 – Never enter more pieces of art than you are prepared to deliver.

If you call the art show organizer and try to weasel out of shipping one or more of your pieces that got accepted, you are not going to get a sympathetic ear. Or, if you just don’t deliver all of the art that was accepted, you could, depending on the rules of that art competition, be banned from entering for several years.

So remember: Do your planning well ahead and follow these tips you are much more likely to have a rewarding experience when entering art competitions.

Key Art Concepts in Various Ages – An Insight

Art is a human creative skill or talent, which is demonstrated through imaginative designs, sounds, or ideas. Key Art Concepts have always been an integral part of our histories. Lifestyles, Events, and Cultures, of an era or civilization have been the Key Art Concepts, depicted through the prevailing art forms of those times.

Different Key Art Concepts have evolved thorough different eras, with the changing artists’ perceptions of processing, analyzing, and responding to various art forms. Their creative expressions have been explored by their creation, performance, and participation in arts. Each historical era has given novel contribution of historical and cultural contexts for developing the Key Arts Fundamentals of the relevant period. Visual Arts help artists assimilate the Key Arts Concepts of Symmetry, Color, Pattern, Contrast and the differences between 1 or more elements in the composition. The Key Art Concepts of Visual Arts help understand and distinguish between the dimensions such as, Symmetry & Asymmetry, Positive & Negative Space, Light & Dark, Solid & Transparent, and Large & Small.

A perusal of different ages, throws light at the diverse Key Art Concepts prevalent in those times. The Pre-Historic Art / Paleolithic (2 million years ago-130000 B.C) Key Art Concepts can be deciphered from the Stone Carvings on the ancient Cave Walls. The art works depict hunting, nomadic life, and the flora & the fauna of that age. Greek and Roman Key Art Concepts were considered the epitome of Art in the ancient period. The traditional Greek Key Art Concepts spread throughout Central Asia, due to the conquests of Alexander the great. This affected the existing Art Concepts of Central Asia for the next few centuries. The Hellenic influence in those times was extremely strong in these regions. Key Art Concepts of this phase include but are not limited to Column Bases and Architectural Details (typical of Greeks), Numismatics, Ceramic, Plastic Arts, and Terracotta figurines of semi-nude Greek and local deities, heroes, and mystical characters.

Medieval and Renaissance Art runs from Byzantine Period, to Romanesque, to Gothic Styles, to the beginning of Islamic Art, to Renaissance and to the acceptance of Christian Art.

The history of Modern Art started with Impressionism and continued its revolution with time. These artists preferred to paint outdoors and studied the effect of light on objects. These Key Art Trends continued until the early 18th century. Vibrant colors were introduced to Art to bring pictures to life. This Key Arts Fundamental was called Fauvism. Expressionism was the German version of Fauvism. The subsequent Key Art Concepts revolutions were Art Nouveau and Art Deco Movements. They were novice Art concepts with high decorative styles.

The Art Nouveau Concept stresses on decorative art. It was later termed as first modern Key Art Concept. For the first time, art dealt with modern Psychology and Sensuality. Art Deco was a design style, which was a follow up of Art Nouveau. These Key Art Fundamentals dominated the mass production of fashion, furniture, jewellery, textile, architecture, and interior decoration artworks.

Anon came up with Cubism, where images were converted to cubes, or other geometrical figures. Surrealism followed, emphasizing on the unconscious mind and the interpretation of dreams. A potential Key Art Concept, Abstract Art, then reached this. Abstract Art is all about creativity with abstract joining. Pop Art Movement and Optical Art Movement brought art back into the daily lives of masses, through simple sketching and comics. They considered abstract art too sophisticated and elite for the general masses to appreciate. Modern art gave way to Photography, Visual Graphics, and 3D Animation in the later years.

Through ages, Key Art Concepts have been in charge of the various art forms. These Art Concepts reflected the influence of Cultures and Psychology of all times. The Key Art Concepts help artists understand how the critics & the historians go about their practices, how they make selections, interpretations, and judgments.

Wildlife Art – Its History and Development

Summary

Some of the earliest of all known art (pre-historic cave and rock art) features wildlife. However, it might be more properly regarded as art about food, rather than art about wildlife as such.

Then for a lot of the rest of the history of art in the western world, art depicting wildlife was mostly absent, due to the fact that art during this period was mostly dominated by narrow perspectives on reality, such as religions. It is only more recently, as society, and the art it produces, frees itself from such narrow world-views, that wildlife art flourishes.

Wildlife is also a difficult subject for the artist, as it is difficult to find and even more difficult to find keeping still in a pose, long enough to even sketch, let alone paint. Recent advances such as photography have made this far easier, as well as being artforms in their own right. Wildlife art is thus now far easier to accomplish both accurately and aesthetically.

In art from outside the western world, wild animals and birds have been portrayed much more frequently throughout history.

Art about wild animals began as a depiction of vital food-sources, in pre-history. At the beginnings of history the western world seems to have shut itself off from the natural world for long periods, and this is reflected in the lack of wildlife art throughout most of art history. More recently, societies, and the art it produces, have become much more broad-minded. Wildlife has become something to marvel at as new areas of the world were explored for the first time, something to hunt for pleasure, to admire aesthetically, and to conserve. These interests are reflected in the wildlife art produced.

The History and development of Wildlife Art…

Wildlife art in Pre-history.

Animal and bird art appears in some of the earliest known examples of artistic creation, such as cave paintings and rock art

The earliest known cave paintings were made around 40,000 years ago, the Upper Paleolithic period. These art works might be more than decoration of living areas as they are often in caves which are difficult to access and don’t show any signs of human habitation. Wildlife was a significant part of the daily life of humans at this time, particularly in terms of hunting for food, and this is reflected in their art. Religious interpretation of the natural world is also assumed to be a significant factor in the depiction of animals and birds at this time.

Probably the most famous of all cave painting, in Lascaux (France), includes the image of a wild horse, which is one of the earliest known examples of wildlife art. Another example of wildlife cave painting is that of reindeer in the Spanish cave of Cueva de las Monedas, probably painted at around the time of the last ice-age. The oldest known cave paintings (maybe around 32,000 years old) are also found in France, at the Grotte Chauvet, and depict horses, rhinoceros, lions, buffalo, mammoth and humans, often hunting.

Wildlife painting is one of the commonest forms of cave art. Subjects are often of large wild animals, including bison, horses, aurochs, lions, bears and deer. The people of this time were probably relating to the natural world mostly in terms of their own survival, rather than separating themselves from it.

Cave paintings found in Africa often include animals. Cave paintings from America include animal species such as rabbit, puma, lynx, deer, wild goat and sheep, whale, turtle, tuna, sardine, octopus, eagle, and pelican, and is noted for its high quality and remarkable color. Rock paintings made by Australian Aborigines include so-called “X-ray” paintings which show the bones and organs of the animals they depict. Paintings on caves/rocks in Australia include local species of animals, fish and turtles.

Animal carvings were also made during the Upper Paleolithic period… which constitute the earliest examples of wildlife sculpture.

In Africa, bushman rock paintings, at around 8000 BC, clearly depict antelope and other animals.

The advent of the Bronze age in Europe, from the 3rd Millennium BC, led to a dedicated artisan class, due to the beginnings of specialization resulting from the surpluses available in these advancing societies. During the Iron age, mythical and natural animals were a common subject of artworks, often involving decoration of objects such as plates, knives and cups. Celtic influences affected the art and architecture of local Roman colonies, and outlasted them, surviving into the historic period.

Wildlife Art in the Ancient world (Classical art).

History is considered to begin at the time writing is invented. The earliest examples of ancient art originate from Egypt and Mesopotamia.

The great art traditions have their origins in the art of one of the six great ancient “classical” civilizations: Ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, Rome, India, or China. Each of these great civilizations developed their own unique style of art.

Animals were commonly depicted in Chinese art, including some examples from the 4th Century which depict stylized mythological creatures and thus are rather a departure from pure wildlife art. Ming dynasty Chinese art features pure wildlife art, including ducks, swans, sparrows, tigers, and other animals and birds, with increasing realism and detail.

In the 7th Century, Elephants, monkeys and other animals were depicted in stone carvings in Ellora, India. These carvings were religious in nature, yet depicted real animals rather than more mythological creatures.

Ancient Egyptian art includes many animals, used within the symbolic and highly religious nature of Egyptian art at the time, yet showing considerable anatomical knowledge and attention to detail. Animal symbols are used within the famous Egyptian hieroglyphic symbolic language.

Early South American art often depicts representations of a divine jaguar.

The Minoans, the greatest civilization of the Bronze Age, created naturalistic designs including fish, squid and birds in their middle period. By the late Minoan period, wildlife was still the most characteristic subject of their art, with increasing variety of species.

The art of the nomadic people of the Mongolian steppes is primarily animal art, such as gold stags, and is typically small in size as befits their traveling lifestyle.

Aristotle (384-322 BC) suggested the concept of photography, but this wasn’t put into practice until 1826.

The Medieval period, AD 200 to 1430

This period includes early Christian and Byzantine art, as well as Romanesque and Gothic art (1200 to 1430). Most of the art which survives from this period is religious, rather than realistic, in nature. Animals in art at this time were used as symbols rather than representations of anything in the real world. So very little wildlife art as such could be said to exist at all during this period.

Renaissance wildlife art, 1300 to 1602.

This arts movement began from ideas which initially emerged in Florence. After centuries of religious domination of the arts, Renaissance artists began to move more towards ancient mystical themes and depicting the world around them, away from purely Christian subject matter. New techniques, such as oil painting and portable paintings, as well as new ways of looking such as use of perspective and realistic depiction of textures and lighting, led to great changes in artistic expression.

The two major schools of Renaissance art were the Italian school who were heavily influenced by the art of ancient Greece and Rome, and the northern Europeans… Flemish, Dutch and Germans, who were generally more realistic and less idealized in their work. The art of the Renaissance reflects the revolutions in ideas and science which occurred in this Reformation period.

The early Renaissance features artists such as Botticelli, and Donatello. Animals are still being used symbolically and in mythological context at this time, for example “Pegasus” by Jacopo de’Barbari.

The best-known artist of the high Renaissance is Leonardo-Da-Vinci. Although most of his artworks depict people and technology, he occasionally incorporates wildlife into his images, such as the swan in “Leda and the swan”, and the animals portrayed in his “lady with an ermine”, and “studies of cat movements and positions”.

Durer is regarded as the greatest artist of the Northern European Renaissance. Albrecht Durer was particularly well-known for his wildlife art, including pictures of hare, rhinoceros, bullfinch, little owl, squirrels, the wing of a blue roller, monkey, and blue crow.

Baroque wildlife art, 1600 to 1730.

This important artistic age, encouraged by the Roman Catholic Church and the aristocracy of the time, features such well-known great artists as Caravaggio, Rembrandt, Rubens, Velazquez, Poussin, and Vermeer. Paintings of this period often use lighting effects to increase the dramatic effect.

Wildlife art of this period includes a lion, and “goldfinch” by Carel Fabrituis.

Melchior de Hondecoeter was a specialist animal and bird artist in the baroque period with paintings including “revolt in the poultry coup”, “cocks fighting” and “palace of Amsterdam with exotic birds”.

The Rococo art period was a later (1720 to 1780) decadent sub-genre of the Baroque period, and includes such famous painters as Canaletto, Gainsborough and Goya. Wildlife art of the time includes “Dromedary study” by Jean Antoine Watteau, and “folly of beasts” by Goya.

Jean-Baptiste Oudry was a Rococo wildlife specialist, who often painted commissions for royalty.

Some of the earliest scientific wildlife illustration was also created at around this time, for example from artist William Lewin who published a book illustrating British birds, painted entirely by hand.

Wildlife art in the 18th to 19th C.

In 1743, Mark Catesby published his documentation of the flora and fauna of the explored areas of the New World, which helped encourage both business investment and interest in the natural history of the continent.

In response to the decadence of the Rococo period, neo-classicism arose in the late 18th Century (1750-1830 ). This genre is more ascetic, and contains much sensuality, but none of the spontaneity which characterizes the later Romantic period. This movement focused on the supremacy of natural order over man’s will, a concept which culminated in the romantic art depiction of disasters and madness.

Francois Le Vaillant (1769-1832) was a bird illustrator (and ornithologist) around this time.

Georges Cuvier, (1769-1832), painted accurate images of more than 5000 fish, relating to his studies of comparative organismal biology.

Edward Hicks is an example of an American wildlife painter of this period, who’s art was dominated by his religious context.

Sir Edwin Henry Landseer was also painting wildlife at this time, in a style strongly influenced by dramatic emotional judgments of the animals involved.

This focus towards nature led the painters of the Romantic era (1790 – 1880) to transform landscape painting, which had previously been a minor art form, into an art-form of major importance. The romantics rejected the ascetic ideals of Neo-Classicalism.

The practical use of photography began in around 1826, although it was a while before wildlife became a common subject for its use. The first color photograph was taken in 1861, but easy-to-use color plates only became available in 1907.

In 1853 Bisson and Mante created some of the first known wildlife photography.

In France, Gaspar-Felix Tournacho, “Nadar” (1820-1910) applied the same aesthetic principles used in painting, to photography, thus beginning the artistic discipline of fine art photography. Fine Art photography Prints were also reproduced in Limited Editions, making them more valuable.

Jaques-Laurent Agasse was one of the foremost painters of animals in Europe around the end of the 18th C and the beginning of the 19th. His animal art was unusually realistic for the time, and he painted some wild animals including giraffe and leopards.

Romantic wildlife art includes “zebra”, “cheetah, stag and two Indians”, at least two monkey paintings, a leopard and “portrait of a royal tiger” by George Stubbs who also did many paintings of horses.

One of the great wildlife sculptors of the Romantic period was Antoine-Louis Barye. Barye was also a wildlife painter, who demonstrated the typical dramatic concepts and lighting of the romantic movement.

Delacroix painted a tiger attacking a horse, which as is common with Romantic paintings, paints subject matter on the border between human (a domesticated horse) and the natural world (a wild tiger).

In America, the landscape painting movement of the Romantic era was known as the Hudson River School (1850s – c. 1880). These landscapes occasionally include wildlife, such as the deer in “Dogwood” and “valley of the Yosemite” by Albert Bierstadt, and more obviously in his “buffalo trail”, but the focus is on the landscape rather than the wildlife in it.

Wildlife artist Ivan Ivanovitch Shishkin demonstrates beautiful use of light in his landscape-oriented wildlife art.

Although Romantic painting focused on nature, it rarely portrayed wild animals, tending much more towards the borders between man and nature, such as domesticated animals and people in landscapes rather than the landscapes themselves. Romantic art seems in a way to be about nature, but usually only shows nature from a human perspective.

Audubon was perhaps the most famous painter of wild birds at around this time, with a distinctive American style, yet painting the birds realistically and in context, although in somewhat over-dramatic poses. As well as birds, he also painted the mammals of America, although these works of his are somewhat less well known. At around the same time In Europe, Rosa Bonheur was finding fame as a wildlife artist.

Amongst Realist art, “the raven” by Manet and “stags at rest” by Rosa Bonheur are genuine wildlife art. However in this artistic movement animals are much more usually depicted obviously as part of a human context.

The wildlife art of the impressionist movement includes “angler’s prize” by Theodore Clement Steele, and the artist Joseph Crawhall was a specialist wildlife artist strongly influenced by impressionism.

At this time, accurate scientific wildlife illustration was also being created. One name known for this kind of work in Europe is John Gould although his wife Elizabeth was the one who actually did most of the illustrations for his books on birds.

Post-impressionism (1886 – 1905, France) includes a water-bird in Rousseau’s “snake charmer”, and Rousseau’s paintings, which include wildlife, are sometimes considered Post-impressionist (as well as Fauvist, see below).

Fauvism (1904 – 1909, France) often considered the first “modern” art movement, re-thought use of color in art. The most famous fauvist is Matisse, who depicts birds and fish in is “polynesie la Mer” and birds in his “Renaissance”. Other wildlife art in this movement includes a tiger in “Surprised! Storm in the Forest” by Rousseau, a lion in his “sleeping Gypsy” and a jungle animal in his “exotic landscape”. Georges Braque depicts a bird in many of his artworks, including “L’Oiseaux Bleu et Gris”, and his “Astre et l’Oiseau”.

Ukiyo-e-printmaking (Japanese wood-block prints, originating from 17th C) was becoming known in the West, during the 19th C, and had a great influence on Western painters, particularly in France.

Wildlife art in this genre includes several untitled prints (owl, bird, eagle) by Ando Hiroshige, and “crane”, “cat and butterfly”, “wagtail and wisteria” by Hokusai Katsushika.

Wildlife art in the 20th Century, Contemporary art, postmodern art, etc.

Changing from the relatively stable views of a mechanical universe held in the 19th-century, the 20th-century shatters these views with such advances as Einstein’s Relativity and Freuds sub-conscious psychological influence.

The greater degree of contact with the rest of the world had a significant influence on Western arts, such as the influence of African and Japanese art on Pablo Picasso, for example.

American Wildlife artist Carl Runguis spans the end of the 19th and the beginnings of the 20th Century. His style evolved from tightly rendered scientific-influenced style, through impressionist influence, to a more painterly approach.

The golden age of illustration includes mythical wildlife “The firebird” by Edmund Dulac, and “tile design of Heron and Fish” by Walter Crane.

George Braque’s birds can be defined as Analytical Cubist (this genre was jointly developed by Braque and Picasso from 1908 to 1912), (as well as Fauvist). Fernand Leger also depicts birds in his “Les Oiseaux”.

There was also accurate scientific wildlife illustration being done at around this time, such as those done by America illustrator Louis Agassiz Fuertes who painted birds in America as well as other countries.

Expressionism (1905 – 1930, Germany). “Fox”, “monkey Frieze, “red deer”, and “tiger”, etc by Franz Marc qualify as wildlife art, although to contemporary viewers seem more about the style than the wildlife.

Postmodernism as an art genre, which has developed since the 1960’s, looks to the whole range of art history for its inspiration, as contrasted with Modernism which focuses on its own limited context. A different yet related view of these genres is that Modernism attempts to search for an idealized truth, where as post-modernism accepts the impossibility of such an ideal. This is reflected, for example, in the rise of abstract art, which is an art of the indefinable, after about a thousand years of art mostly depicting definable objects.

Magic realism (1960’s Germany) often included animals and birds, but usually as a minor feature among human elements, for example, swans and occasionally other animals in many paintings by Michael Parkes.

In 1963, Ray Harm is a significant bird artist.

Robert Rauschenberg’s “American eagle”, a Pop Art (mid 1950’s onwards) piece, uses the image of an eagle as a symbol rather than as something in its own right, and thus is not really wildlife art. The same applies to Any Warhol’s “Butterflys”.

Salvador Dali, the best known of Surrealist (1920’s France, onwards) artists, uses wild animals in some of his paintings, for example “Landscape with Butterflys”, but within the context of surrealism, depictions of wildlife become conceptually something other than what they might appear to be visually, so they might not really be wildlife at all. Other examples of wildlife in Surrealist art are Rene Magritte’s “La Promesse” and “L’entre ed Scene”.

Op art (1964 onwards) such as M. C. Escher’s “Sky and Water” shows ducks and fish, and “mosaic II” shows many animals and birds, but they are used as image design elements rather than the art being about the animals.

Roger Tory Peterson created fine wildlife art, which although being clear illustrations for use in his book which was the first real field guide to birds, are also aesthetically worthy bird paintings.

Young British Artists (1988 onwards). Damien Hirst uses a shark in a tank as one of his artworks. It is debatable whether this piece could be considered as wildlife art, because even though the shark is the focus of the piece, the piece is not really about the shark itself, but probably more about the shark’s effect on the people viewing it. It could be said to be more a use of wildlife in/as art, than a work of wildlife art.

Wildlife art continues to be popular today, with such artists as Robert Bateman being very highly regarded, although in his case somewhat controversial for his release of Limited-Edition prints which certain fine-art critics deplore.