Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Contemporary Art: Young And Hungry @ Con Artist, New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - Competition is everywhere. The market is flooded with artists who try to make their name. The Con Artist  gallery on New York´s gentrifying Lower East Side (119 Ludow Street conartist ) is one of the organizations which is supporting them. They have now a show called the "People´s Choice Award". Visitors can vote for one of the art works displayed there (award).

I like the selection. The paintings & collages are fresh. The titel are sometimes provocative and the prices are surprisingly low. The rock singer David Byrne lamented the other day that contemporary art is so expensive that just  the one-percent could afford it (driveby). This show proofs that this rant is ill-founded. It looks like that the displayed artists are all young and hungry.

I show here my favorites from around 60 works, as usual a very subjective selection.

On top of this post you can enjoy Ashley Thompson´s work, which is offered for $999.99, followed by Astrid Brucker`s "Random Blue Lady" (Watercolor) for just $180;

Caroline Yopes calls her painting "You May Not Suck My Titties" (Water and colored pencil on canvas). The price tag is $100. What do we get for $200?

Melissa Dowell named her works "Untitled I" and "Untitled II". You can choose which is which. Both are Screen print on 23 K gold leaf and cost S200 each;

Another "Untitled". This one is by Zoe Panya,  (Mixed media paper collage canvas), just  $50;

Sorry I lost the tag for the pic above, but it´s nice anyway;

Patricia Varela calls her painting "Self Portrait" (Graphite, colored pencil on paper;)

Above you can see Jon Mann`s "Summer Breeze" (Colored pencil on paper) $400;

This is Meirav Ong`s "Broken" (Oil, stick, graphite pastel on canvas), $600

                                                             Say Crack Again

Above  "I hear they live in crematoriums" by Georgia Hinaris (oil on plywood) $500

Emil Tibell`s "Carnal Christ" (Collage).

Danielle Nir has humor. She named her work "Say Crack Again" (Acrylic on canvas) $80.

Something to wonder at: Sean Sweeney`s "Untitled" (oil on panel), $500

Marine Assaiante named her work "Eight (8)" (acrylic on canvas) $200.


Economy: Inflation At The Door?

(Drivebycuriosity) - There is a huge discussion whether the Fed should hike interest rates or not. The anti hike front claims a raise isn`t necessary because inflation is far away. I believe they are wrong.

The core inflation (without energy & food) is momentary 1.8%. But it will climb soon because the labor market is tightening. Weekly jobless claims are on a historical low level, the job openings are on record high (stlouisfed), the unemployment rate dropped to 5.1% (economics)  and wages started to climb (marketwatch).  It is highly likely that the tightening labor market will drive wages and therefore labor costs upwards which should translate into higher prices for services and labor intensive goods. And we are already experiencing rapidly climbing rents and health care costs. Zero interest rates for too long could lead to an overheating labor market and push the core inflation rate higher.

The headline inflation rate (minus 0.1%) is momentary depressed because of the collapse of oil and other commodity prices. Today oil is around 60% cheaper than summer last year and gasoline prices at the pump dropped about 30%. But the diminishing price effect of dramatical reduced energy prices will disappear soon.

In the moment of writing international oil (Brent Crude) costs $48,50 that´s $2 more than the low from January ($46.59). So, since January oil didn´t get any cheaper! (trading) Next year the statistic will compare the oil price then with oil prices below or around  $50. If commodity prices recover in 2006 then their  advances would add onto the inflation rate.  I don`t expect oil prices as high as in the recent years thanks to the technological progress which is reducing the exploration costs and rising supply. But zero interest rates for too long could encourage the oil speculation. According to Bloomberg the hedge funds are already betting on climbing energy prices  (bloomberg). The oil price rally from late January through April, which drove the price for crude to $66 (plus 40%) is a warning.

If the Fed doesn´t hike interest rates soon then a heating labor market and climbing oil prices could drove inflation rate towards 3%. Then the Fed might respond with sharper interest rates hikes which could cause a recession. Better to fight inflation before it starts.

PS For illustration I choose one of Andy Warhol dollar signs from 1981.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Contemporary Art: Songs For The Witch Woman @ Jeffrey Deitch, New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - Visiting art galleries is sometimes bliss. I had this experience as I walked into the gallery Jeffrey Deitch in New York´s classy Soho district (76 Grand Street ). The art dealer shows works by Cameron (through October 17 2015 deitch.). The exhibition is called "Cinderella Of The Wastelands".

From the press release: "Cameron (born Marjorie Cameron in Iowa 1922, died in Lost Angeles in 1995) was one of the most fascinating figures in California`s mid-century counterculture. Her paintings, drawings, writings and performances linked the heritages of surelism with beat culture and the occult".

I indulged into the exhibited paintings which reminded me of the surrealist masters like Max Ernst who`s work I have admired in Berlin (surreal). I show here my favorites from the exhibition, a subjective selection as usual.

On top of this post you can see Cameron´s "Peyote Vision" (1955, Ink, Paint on paper). The painting is one of the most powerful visualizations of lust I have ever seen.

Above  "Untitled" (Portrait of Crysatl), (1959, Ink and gold paint on fiberboard)

The painting above - "Winged Angel", 1958, (White Ink on paper)" - looks like the visualization of Bach`s "Air on a G string".

"West Angel, N.D.", (Graphite, ink, and gold paint on paper)

"Sun Horse", 1953, (oil on fiberboard) reminds me of Paul Klee (klee).

"Doctor Dee", (1946, Oil on canvas) as well

                                                       Songs For The Witch Woman

Above a part of the  "Witches Diptych, N.D."  (oil on canvas)

The paintings above belong to the series "Songs for the Witch Woman, N.d." ,(Ink on paper)

"Spinx, N.D.", ink on paper


Monday, September 28, 2015

Economy: The Begin Of A Golden Epoch?

(Drivebycuriosity) - It seems that everybody is pessimistic. The stock markets are tanking and negative headlines rule in the media. But I think that the gloomy zeitgeist is ill-founded. I believe we might even be at the begin of a golden epoch.

The reason: Oil and other commodities are much cheaper than a year ago, interest rates are close to zero and the labor market is recovering. The situation reminds me of the mid 1980s. Then the oil price also collapsed and commodities stayed cheap through the year 2000. Cheap commodities in combination with falling interest rates and a technological revolution (Internet) lead then to a period of prosperity (with the exception of 1992 as the first Iraq war caused an oil price spike which lead into a mild and short-lived recession), the longest boom in U.S. history (factcheck). In this period the Dow Jones climbed from 1,000 points onto 10,000 points.

The Wall Street Journal compared the collapse of the oil prices in the 1985-88 period with the recent oil price crash (screen shot below wsj  the article may be behind a pay wall. If you copy the link into Google search it should function)

I think it is highly likely that we will experience another prosperous period like the epoch 1985 through 2000.  Oil and other commodities should stay cheap (oil price way below the $100 plus of the recent years) thanks to the technological progress which is reducing the costs of oil exploration significantly, amplifying oil production  (economics21). Advances in technology are reducing the costs for farming and mining as well. The demand for commodities should be restrained because cars and other machine are getting more energy efficient. The rising use of solar- and wind energy should also put a dent into the demand for oil.

Cheap commodities and the influence of the Internet (more competition, many services are for free) will curb inflation in the coming years. The Fed may soon hike her interest rates, but the raises will be moderate because of the curbed inflation.

Like in the 90s we also should get some tailwinds from the technological progress (Internet of things, cloud computing, 3D-printings, robotics and more driveby).

I think that the combination of cheap commodities, low interest rates and technological progress will fuel company profits and inspire consumer spending as they did in the boom from 1985 through 2000. Welcome to a new golden epoch!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Contemporary Art: With A Little Help From Atari @ Gallery Richard Taittinger, New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - Computers are everywhere. Some artists use these machine for creating their paintings. Gallery Richard Taittinger in New York`s fast gentrifying Lower East Side (154 Ludlow Street richardtaittinger) shows now works by Nassos Daphnis. The exhibition is called "Pixel Fields" (through October 25, 2015 exhibition).

The late Greek-American artist used graphics produced by an Atari ST as starting basis for his paintings. The geometric structure of the works in this exhibition shows clearly the computer influence. Who is the artist?

I show here my favorties from this exhibition - as usual a very subjectice selection. Let the pictures speak for themselves.


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Economy: Beware Of The Crowd

(Drivebycuriosity) - Often I read the term "Wisdom of the crowd". It claims that a large group is smarter than a single person. History shows that this claim is wrong, the reality is quite contrary. Crowds behave unpredictable, irrational and dangerous.

This week we heard that more than 700 people got killed in a Mecca stampede (cnn). The authorities knew this risk because stampedes happen frequently there. The Saudis invested billions of dollars into anti-stampede infrastructure and crowd-control technology (businessinsider). But all these precautions didn´t`t help, the crowds found a way to destroy themselves.

The deadly incidents happen too often. On December 31, 2014, a deadly stampede occurred in Shanghai, where around 300,000 people had gathered for the new year celebration (wikipedia). In July 2010 at least 18 people died at the Love Parade music festival in Germany when they were crushed inside a tunnel during a stampede caused by panic (theguardian).

Stampedes are known form cattle which sometimes panic all together and trample down everything which is in their way.  Lemmings are another infamous example of self-destructive crowd behavior. Stampedes are a violent form of herding behavior, the members of a group suddenly behave all in the same way.

I remember a visit at a huge rock concert in Germany, Rock am Ring 1993, where I got caught for some minutes in a maelstrom of people who moved stubbornly between the stages. I got the impression that stubborn, ruthless and aggressive behavior by individuals, like shoving and pushing neighbors, can accumulate into a deadly force.

Financial markets are influenced by aggressive herding behavior as well. Sometimes falling stock prices induce more people to sell, others follow which leads suddenly to a spiraling snow ball effect. Most of these flash crashes are relatively harmless and very short lived (wikipedia).

But sometimes herding behavior leads to nearly apocalyptical consequences. In the years 2007 and the first half of 2008 prices for oil and other commodities went sharply up, because the crowd believed that oil production has reached a peak (peak oil) and commodities are in super-cycle. Climbing prices attracted more buyers, who jumped onto the bandwagon, which amplified the price gains. In summer the price of oil price peaked at $147 (more than triple of the average price of the years before  macrotrends) which aggravated the recession considerably (econbrowser). In autumn 2008 the fall of Lehman Brothers caused a panic selling on the stock market - amplified by massive short selling by hedge funds - and the herding behavior caused a stampede of pessimism which lead to the most severe post war recession.

 I try to avoid huge crowds since my "Rock am Ring" experience. Beware of the crowds!

Friday, September 25, 2015

Economy: E-Books - How The Publishers Ruined Their Own Business

(Drivebycuriosity) - E-book sales are tanking, reports Fortune Magazine  (fortune). In the first five months of 2015, publishers’ revenues from e-books sales fell 10% to $610.8 million, writes the magazine.

I am not surprised. tried to sell e-books cheaper, way cheaper than printed books. Many e-books were priced at $9 and below. But the majority of the publishers want to keep high prices and to sell e-books for the same price as printed books, even that virtual books has much less costs.

Last year Hachette, Macmillan and other publishers started a war (books), supported by New York Times, Atlantic Magazine, "The New Yorker" and other media (economy). The publishers won the war. Now the publishers set the price for books sold on Amazon, not the online company. The result are higher prices for e-books.

Recently I noticed that a Chinese author won this year`s Hugo Award, the Oscar for Science Fiction. I tried to by the book, "The Tree-Body Problem" by Cixin Liu online,  but in the moment of writing the e-books costs $12,99, more than the (printed) paperback version ($12,29  amazon). The kindle price is set by the publisher Macmillan.

Thank you Macmillan, you can keep the book. I don´t pay more for an e-book just because you say so. It is clear that the consumers responded to price hike as they always do - they reduced their purchases. Most customer have just a limited budget and expenses for books are competing with expenses for movies, traveling and other purposes.

The publishers won a pyrrhic victory. Now they control the e-book prices, but their sales are shrinking. Readers are losers as well, they have to pay more and they read less.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Contemporary Art: Hermann Nitsch @ Marc Strauss Gallery, New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - Hermann Nitsch is an ambitious artist with a wild history (artnews). The Austrian became famous with his ritualistic performance art, most prominently “The Orgien Mysterien Theater" and made headline with "Dionysian performances are replete with religious sacrifices, mock crucifixion, blood, entrails, robes, dance and nude participants" (nitsch). Nitsch indulged into pagan ceremonies with a lot of sex & violence. In 1962 he cruzified a slaugthered lamb in the name of art.

The ambitous Marc Strauss Gallery on 299 Grand Street, New York`s unofficial borderline between the Lower East Side and Chinatown,  has now an exhibiton with works by the master - a survey of three decades of painting (through October 18, 2015  marcstraus). I didn´t see any nudes there, instead a series of powerful paintings.

I really enjoyed the majestic monochrome work. Here you can see my farovites from the show, as usal a very subjective selection. The tiny images on your screen can gvie you just a weak impression of the magnificents works. If you are near New York you might enjoy Nitsch´s work by yourself. But the pictures speak for themselves.

The selection starts with "Schüttbild", 1983, oil on canvas.


The following paintings also are called "Schüttbild". Schütten means in German "pouring", maybe Nitsch refers to the technique he used for creating these works. They look indead like he had poured color onto canvas. But the results are WOW!