the Press@money for the arts #3

Posted on ianuarie 25, 2012


Making the headlines of national and international press around money and the arts this week were, again, mainly two things: top authors or sellings in the arts market and, as a subgenre, present-day auctions which stand out because of the authors of the works of arts or the amounts paid by the buyer.

In the national press, Mediafax calls Mircea Cărtărescu the best-selling Romanian author of Humanitas publishing house, having sold almost 500.000 copies in the last 19 years. Second comes Gabriel Liiceanu, the director of the publishing house, followed by Andrei Pleşu and Neagu Djuvara. If Mr. Cărtărescu is a novelist, the other writers are philosophers of ideas, historians, people whose professional expertise would most likely be considered to be preferred by a niche audience. Nevertheless, apparently, they managed to sell, and did sell quite a lot.  Same subject, different magazine, Hotnews has a text about the overall amount of Humanitas books published in the last 20 years in Romania, a total of 2 mil. copies. (Humanitas is the first publishing house established after the fall of the dictator Ceauşescu in 1989 and his communist rule). Nicoleta Bănilă for Capital ventures for some more general (and informative) data about the Romanian book market, and provides some interesting statistics. The book market fell by 10% in 2011 compared with 2010 (10% less books bought) and plans for 2012 seem to go towards foreign authors in translation, as this is what seems to be the best bate for the buyer. Internationally, George Gene Gustines writes for the New York Times who the best-sellers graphic books were on the US market this last week . Can you guess? It’s X-Men: Schism.

Sharp dive into the auction frenzy, and we find the Romanian „Golden Age” in the spotlight of Adevărul, with a beautiful pair of silver doves in the side picture of the article (a present from Iran to Ceauşescu) and other juicy details inside. Advertising art-auctions for Forbes magazine, Mihaela Pantea puts the spotlight on „accesible art” sold on the market in the last year. Will it work? Most likely, yes, especially if we consider that readers of Forbes magazine are usually people that are a bit (or a lot more) well-off than the average Romanian. A misconception? It has always been like this, hasn’t it. For prestige and maybe less for marketing, Mediafax writes about two works by Brâncuşi, which are to be auctioned by Artmark on the first auction of the year, dedicated to the Avantgarde and Expressionism movements. One of the post-cards sent by Brâncuşi has on one side a picture of a statue Brâncuşi had destroyed himself because it no longer represented his artistic vision.  So, whoever buys that, would have a 2D replica of a work of art that was not meant to exist in physical form by wish of the artist. Same auction, different selection of information, Senica Micu for Capital writes that this is the first time that Artmark is selling works by Brâncuşi and that the Romanian art market has grown alsmot by 100% from 2010 to 2011. And, more-over, Artmark owns more than 3/4 of this market. Woohaa…!
On one of the Arts Journal official blogs, Judith H. Dobrzynski writes the story of a Steinl ivory sculpture, how it gained values in less than 2 years from 120.000 $ to 3,8 mil $ today. And the New York Times impresses us with the story of a Stradivari cello bought by an unknown Canadian „patronness of the arts from Montreal” and lent to a young promising musician. Would love to see this work here in our beloved Carpathian gardens, wouldn’t you?

Some singular events: Kodak declares bankruptcy and its shareholders are selling its patents. A company that once dominated the photo industry and which Capital writes that it has even invented digital photography, did not manage to keep the pace with its competitors. That’s money and the arts alright… Evenimentul Zilei writes about why was Kodak important, having made photography accesible by 1900, among others, with cameras as cheap as 1$ a piece!

Sergiu Nicolaescu is back on the big screen with his latest movie, „Ultimul corupt”, notes Mediafax. My personal satisfaction is that the funding comes from MediaPro Pictures, so no longer public funding for the prodigious director…

And the public works for the largest real-estate project from the centre of Bucharest are about to begin…again. The former-planned Casa Radio will become aparently a new…office building, according to Ziarul Financiar. Much like culture, the managers say that it is not a matter of expecting a need for such a huge offer for rented space, but that the need is created by the offer. Do you agree?

El Pais
quotes Salman Rushdie when he says that paid killers were on his track if he were to attend a literature festival in Jaipur.  The reason is the one we’ve already kind of gotten used to: the interpretation of his literary work, the Satanic Verses.

You must have heard already about „The Artist”, the Globe-winning movie. Apparently some asked for their money back once the movie started, having been appealed that it lacked the voice of the actors, writes, quoting an article from the Guardian.

It’s not everyday that you read about a cultural project in a text which includes its budget. Some exceptions to the rule do apply, and such is the case of the „Cities on Stage” European project with a budget of 4,5 mil. EUR, among its organizing partners being „Radu Stanca” National Theatre from Sibiu, writes Hotnews.

The Romanian official Day of National Culture almost went unnoticed in the press, if it was not for Mediafax which this week quotes president Traian Băsescu speaking on this occassion about the need to invest in education, as a means to provoke quality culture. Do you agree with his vision?

Adding the money for arts institutions, El Pais has asked the directors of major opera institutions in Spain how they intend to maintain quality while dealing with budget cuts. A very good piece and indeed something that Romanian cultural managers deserve to be asked  as well.  And apparently the actors of Comedie Francaise have ended the strike, writes Liberation, the ceasure of activity being caused by the demand of a better share of profits (now 16,5% for the employees and pensioneers).

Last but not least, Florin Lăzărescu, Romanian writer and photographer in an interview with Elena Vlădăreanu in Suplimentul de cultură writes about how he’s managed for two years now to earn a decent living from his writing, stress-free from the bosses with the long-term contracts.

It’s not the press, but is circled Facebook: the Bucharest rioters have a message to the Romanian president: „Money for culture, you gave it for booze”.