Renowned gallery dealer, Johann König, recently added auction insider, Lena Winter, to join his ranks. There is nothing necessarily new here: former auction specialists have crossed over to the primary market for ages, joining the likes of David Zwirner, Victoria Miro, Pace, Hauser & Wirth, you name it. But what was interesting about König’s move was the stated interest in having Winter oversee the co-presentation of primary and secondary artwork in a week-long fair, Messe in St. Agnes. According to Winter, “You have to open the borders between the primary and secondary market, because they need each other. The one market is not anything without the other.” Preach, Winter, preach. Simple–or even intuitive–as it may sound, this is still considered largely unorthodox, and it’s exciting and refreshing to see the primary market borrowing elements–not just artwork–from the secondary market (namely, price transparency.)
Similarly, South South just announced South South Veza, which will kick off with an auction on Feb 23rd, and segue to an extended online OVR from Feb 24 to March 7. The integration of an auction component into the fair makes sense. Auctions, after all, offer a sense of urgency and immediacy that is generally missing in art fairs for all but the most coveted and reasonably priced artworks. The sell-by date also prevents indecisive Libras (present company included) from hemming and hawing for weeks before deciding. Moreover, the price transparency inherent to all auctions ensures fairness and removes the at-times-intimidating need to request a price list. And lastly–let the bidders duke it out and may the last standing bidder win. Talk about democracy. It’s like RuPaul’s Drag Race, but with less Aqua Net. Presumably.
Greenhouse Auctions, of course, likewise operates in a hybrid space, albeit more neutrally. We are not focusing on any specific region in the world or any consortium of galleries. Nor do we feature any selling exhibitions. We are purposefully decentralized as we’re ultimately at the service of the entire primary market. Year round, we host thematic auctions of purely primary market artworks, with guest curators invited to visualize and build some of our charity auctions. That said, we would be remiss not to congratulate South South for their forward thinking and visionary approach, and their implementation of an innovative and exciting move to supporting artists and galleries. The art world would be better served by such integrative gestures. More, please.