Sunday, 10 July 2016

EDITO | July 2016 :: A retrospective of the Greek art’s future

Framed painting, oil on panel,
signed: Konstantinos Volanakis.
Dimensions of frame:
86cm (width) x 62cm (height).
Dimensions of artwork: 60cm x 37cm.
From the academia & the “Munich School”
to the present and the potential of the local market

The opportunity we go through in the current auction of July 20th, 2016 is very particular and rare, even for us, the auction people, whose eyes has seen “tides”, varying from Flemish Masters to items significant to our National heritage.

As these lines are written, I am sitting in my office which is separated from three very distinct neibourhoods only by 50 meters or less. In the one Volanakis’ paintings, sits along with his “friends” from the circle which is called “Munich School”  (1850 - 1914) and coevals in the Greek Art History,  Nikolaos Gyzis, Vikatos, Potamianos, Germenis, Nikiforos Lytras, Maniatis, Chatzis, and many others. In the vicinity  there is another very interesting area; it accommodates artworks  from the renowned Greek artists of today. Some of them are world-widely famous, such as Tsoklis, Xenakis, Sklavos, Vakirtzis, Marthas, while others are significant for their contribution  in art development in Greece or known in quite a few  countries out of their homelands’ borders, such as Manousakis, Alithinos, Mantzavinos, Kalfas, Katzourakis, Aidinis. Adjacent to this last neibourhood is yet another community of art. This one neither counts its success in Biennalles and International Art Fairs, nor endeavours to master with the trends they created themselves: its the youngest generation, looking to consolidate their own identity. Sometimes immature yet interesting, crude yet passionate, impressive yet imperfect, this last category of artworks and artists we accommodate in this section consists of the younger, high potential but less experienced Greek artists. However, they are the ones we have placed our hopes for the future on, so we have to support them so they can stand in their feet in an international market in which they would have to compete with hundreds of potentially strong artists.
Framed painting, mixed media,
bearing the title “Dia-fonal -Red label”,
signed: Constantinos Xenakis.
Dimensions of frame:
78cm (width) x 106cm (height).
Dimensions of artwork: 73cm x 100cm.

In addition, as many other auction events of Myro Antiques House include, there is a small in number, yet great in importance and collectibility, quantity of 18th and 19th century non-Greek art. The oldest painting in this good company is one which is certified by a Bonhams’  executive as Franciscus Xaverius (1740-1772), a Dutch painter, active mainly in Amsterdam and Rotterdam. Two “oil-on-metal” other paintings of this era loom out of this category.

The Munich School and its legacy
Actually, the “Munich School” is a group of painters who worked in Munich or were trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of Munich (German: Münchner Akademie der Bildenden Künste) between 1850 and 1918. In the second half of the 19th century the Academy became one of the most important institutions in Europe for training artists and attracted students from across Europe and the United States. The formative influence of teachers and examples of the Munich School shaped the academic naturalism in many European countries, e.g. the Greek academic art of the 19th century. Due to the historical affinity between Bavaria and Greece ath the time, as Prince Otto I was from 1832 to 1862 the first King of Greece, many Greek artists were trained in Munich. The Munich School in Greek art is the most important artistic movement of Greek Art in the 19th century with strong influences from the Academy of Munich. Among the leading artists of this school were Konstantinos Volanakis, Georgios Roilos, Nikolaos Gyzis, Polychronis Lembesis, Nikolaos Vokos, Nikiphoros Lytras and Georgios Jakobides.

Mixed media construction in plexiglass,
titled “Les remparts en bois sauvegardent”,
signed: Kostas Tsoklis, 1991.
Dimensions of arwork:
147cm (width) x 193cm (height).
Highly collectible established Greek signatures under a new light 
Greek artists to show original work of conceptual art, nouveau realisme, and pop art such as Xenakis and Tsoklis carry a heavy legacy  of sky-scraper prices which some might say have tumbled down the last few years. Though there is the common mistake that “prices fall in contemporary art”, its rather possible that auctions worldwide are the leverage for the market to rationalize, or for the prices of the established artists to balance, so as the new pioneers may arrive. In any case, as we had to review the odds for the all-star  Art Section of the 20th July 2016 auction, we have found out enlisted and catalogued most of the top artists’ artworks we present.

To name only a few, I will use the Piasa, France, Art Auction’s  catalogue as the most crrent source (May 2016) as a reference, in which I read the following estimated prices: €2000 for the Christos Kalfas’ painting  titled “C’est le desir l’ immoratalie” (our Lot 116, see page 5),   €5000 for Manolis Charos’ “August night” (our Lot 006, see page 6), €8000 for Giorgos Vakirtzis’ “Ironies and appeals” (our Lot 076, see page 9), €20000 for Kostas Tsoklis’ “Les remparts en bois sauvegardent”, (our Lot 076, see page  7). Other artworks to be put under the hammer  in this occasion are mentioned / have been auctioned before abroad in other events, and as this article is not about presernting those events or respectively the artworks themselves I will not extend any more on this.  Nevertheless you will observe in the aforementioned pages (or in the Contemporary Paintings category of the Art Section of our auction as it appears in that our Starting Prices are often half or less the estimated price; in this way we assist collectors and interestiing parties to decide the right price for them to enter the competition to acquire established Greek artists.

Framed painting, oil on canvas, bearing the title
“August night”, signed Manolis Charos.
Dimensions of frame: 114cm (width) x 94cm (height).
Dimensions of artwork: 99cm x 79cm
However, to which end? Is really the market free-falling? We trust these names will remain dominant  for the years to come in the international Greek Art scene, independently of the endeavour of a still-very-young generation of exceptional Greek artists to prevail. It is our conviction that the renowned Greek artists have nothing to fear competing the strong in the international arena, and we suggest that the downward revisions  will balance the market in the favour of the informed collectors. We sincerely anticipate to support those willing to make a fresh start in collecting quality Greek art of renowned creators and we subscribe  to the view that keeping art market constant and running with the best of breed now, is the best way to secure a bright future.

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