Thursday, February 28, 2008


A Ukrainian photographer, Alexander Krivitski, claims to have created a new art genre – PHOTOTHEATRE. He claims that all artists before him called 1 work of art, one photo, with a staged background and a posing model a phototheatre. What Krivitski has created is a series of photos that tell a story as a whole while each of the photos in a series can live a life on its own too.

How does he make his “photo plays”? Krivitski says it’s like a “flight of a soul”. His photos are not staged, he is there in the moment with the camera and he captures whatever is there in that moment.

Why phototheatre? The artist says that one photo is not enough to convey all the complexity of the story and emotions. Phototheatre allows the viewer to see more of the world and how the story develops within the phototheatrical play.

He also stresses that what he creates is not a photoset, it is a theatre because each of the photos can be taken out and viewed separately. His phototheatre according to Krivitski is a collection of photos – 2, 3, a hundred that are connected by the same plot from the first one to the last.

It is also important that all participants of the phototheatre are photo artists, i.e. both the model(s) and the photographer. Krivitski is sure that in order to make an interesting story models have to understand how photography works only then they will be able to perform at their best. If out of 25 participants even 5 are not photographers the quality of the result of the photo session will be totally different from what can be created by a team consisting of just photographers.

Krivitski creates phototheatre not only in the studio but also “en plain air” too. He says that there is no and should not be the leader in this process because everyone wants to create the same thing and works hard together to make it as best as they can. Phototheatre erases the difference between those behind the camera and in front of it.

This genre is gaining popularity in the Ukraine and Russia. A. Krivitski himself created more than a dozen “photo plays” which can be viewed at Most of the site is in Russian but there are bits and pieces about phototheatre on the left hand side of the homepage in English where you can see all of his plays. Below is an abstract from 1 of his plays - JaponaMOIKA - a short study on daily chores of a poor Japanese girl who likes day dreaming.

Monday, February 25, 2008


"Man will begin to recover the moment he takes art as seriously as physics, chemistry or money" Ernst Levy

Art fills many needs. Art and artists confer a 'coolness' factor onto neighborhoods, driving communities' economic growth. Corporations employ it as a way to motivate employees and lend bite to their brands, and hospitals utilize its transformative power to encourage healing. All of which helps to explain why, in concert with the current stratospheric rise in global wealth, art continues to attract a broader audience and deliver record-breaking auction results despite a worldwide economy just beginning to realize the effects of speculative excess and inevitable recession. However, even without a dawning realization of the myriad ways in which it impacts our lives, art would still be climbing because, particularly during times of economic distress, art is the asset that both pleases and prospers.

During 2007, America's financial institutions wrote off a whopping $120 billion in assets stemming from the still unfolding subprime mortgage crisis. S&P is forecasting mortgage-related losses above $265 billion when all is said and done, and well-known U.S. banks have already borrowed $50 billion from the Federal Reserve to shore up their reserves.

Meanwhile, the stock market is clearly unnerved by the prospect of a contracting consumer, with the S&P 500 having already lost 8% of its value year-to-date, with 6.1% of that coming in January, the biggest drop since September, 2002. Not to be outdone, the European Dow Jones equivalent lost 12% in January. And as a result of reduced U.S. interest rates aimed at dealing with the effects of the mortgage situation, the dollar continues to lose value, having fallen 9.5% versus the Euro in 2007, 37% in the last five years. What's increasing in value you may ask? The answer: the Euro, Gold, Silver, and ART.

"Nonfinancial assets form the greater part of world wealth and have been more stable in value during periods of financial and social turbulence." (Global Investing: The Professional's Guide to the World Capital Markets, Roger G. Ibbotson and Gary Brinson). On February 14th, 2008, Sotheby's hosted the Red Auction in New York City to benefit HIV/AIDS. The 75 donated works raised $42.6 million, almost $9 million above estimates, and pieces by 17 artists sold for the highest prices they'd ever received at an auction. Ironically, on the very same day former Federal Reserve Chairman Greenspan announced that the U.S. is on the precipice of a recession.

On February 5th, the Dow fell 370 points, the indexes' worst loss this year, and the eighth worst day for the stock market since 2000. It was also the day that Sotheby's held its auction of Impressionist and Modern works in London for a record total 116.7 million pounds, 40 million pounds over the prior record set just last June. The sale saw five records broken, with 88% of lots sold, a healthy outcome in any economy. It was also Sotheby's highest total ever for an auction of Impressionist and Modern art in London.

Just what explains these levels of spending on art at a time when, it could be argued, inextricably-linked worldwide economies are poised for a painful contraction? In short, because in some quarters, art is seen not as a discretionary luxury, but instead as the store of value that it has always been, especially during economically trying times.

A survey compiled by the U.K. research firm ArtTactic found that in the second half of 2007, 40% of respondents expected a correction in the art market. Given the market's unprecedented climb over the past eleven years coupled with the steep decline in consumer confidence relative to the woes of the credit market, that result was not particularly surprising. However, what only a few have known for quite some time is that art has often been one of the most stable, not to mention profitable, investments during uncertain economic times. In fact, when the stock market took a swoon in 1987 and again in 2001, outperformance by the art market was notable.

Two NYU economists, Jianping Mei and Michael Moses, developed the Mei Moses All Art Index. The index analyzes the repeat sales of over 12,000 works of art at auction since 1950 to generate precise return data. The pair reported in an article in Forbes that "during the armed conflicts of lengthy duration of last century, art indexes outperformed major stock indexes." When stock markets fell during World Wars I and II, art outperformed the S&P during most of those years, and by 1920 had risen to 125% of its 1913 value (versus 94% for the market). Further, while the S&P 500 increased 67% during the Korean War (1949-1954), art was up 108%, and during the Vietnam War (1966 to 1975) when the S&P 500 fell 27%, art rose 256%.

However, art's outperformance of the equity markets is not confined to times of war, but surpasses the more traditional investment vehicles as well when the markets are roiled by a troubled economy, exactly the situation we find ourselves in today. In an article in InvestmentU, Mei/Moses analysis of data from the 27 recessions since 1875 reveals that art does quite well in tough economic times. Investors want and need to invest their money but when confronted with volatility-producing uncertainty, the foundation of the bellwethers becomes rocky, and investors turn to art.

For example, in 2000, the U.S. economy was facing many of the same conditions as it does today: declining retail sales, reduced capital spending and tightening bank credit standards. The peak in the Dow Jones Industrial Average that occurred on March 10, 2000 was followed by a loss of almost $3 trillion in market value and an overall loss for the year above 10%. Results for art were much different however with the Mei/Moses Index gaining 16%. In addition to its outperformance, art has a low correlation with the stock and bond markets which makes it an excellent way to diversify a portfolio, and reduce overall risk. Far from being a luxury, it can be argued that art is an essential component of any portfolio.

Capucine Price
February 25, 2008Copyright 2008 Capucine Price. All rights reserved.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Indian artists are under attack from moral police

Indian media is currnetly widely discussing the events that shook the art world last May. Chandra Mohan, a student from the Department of Graphics at the Fine Arts College in Baroda has been arrested on 9th of May 2007 for making an allegedly controversial painting depicting nude figures with some religious motifs. The arrest followed the storming of the university premises by a group of outsiders. The work in question was part of a display in the college premises for assessment by a team of examiners for a Master's degree in Fine Arts.

Moral censorship related to creative expression is not something new in India. It dates back to the early 1950s, when Akbar Padamsee’s painting of a naked couple was confiscated by the police from an exhibition in Bombay on charges of obscenity. A court ruling however later declared that since the work was within the premises of an art gallery, it could not be deemed obscene.

It is really ironic that in the Hindu religious tradition, explicit pictures and sculptures (just have a look at all major hindu temples) occupy a central space, reference to nudity can so easily hurt sentiments.
Now the question arise how an artist can freely express himself and exhibit his works of art. Here again Internet plays a vital role - it can be a safe spae to exhibit one's creations bearing in mind the fact that the self-appointed moral police in India usually consists of representatives of lower (=less educated) classes.

Currently Capucines Boulevard on-line art gallery showcases the works of a half a dozen Indian artists who art not in any way discriminated and can use this safe haven to share there works of art with the rest of the world.

Swapna Malvade, "Live Together Forever"

Monday, February 4, 2008

Russian art trends

Recently I found another interesting article in a Russian newspaper "Vedomosti" about trends in Russian art. Here is a summary of the 3 main trends described in the article:
1. It is difficult to find Russian art exhibited in galleries and museums abroad because on the one hand the galleries are interested but on the other not sure how to present the Russian art and if it will attract big audiences. Therefore the galleries tend to go with an easier option of Italian or Spanish artists (if they have to choose European art for exhibits) because they know that the latter are always popular.

2. The most popular genres of Russian art today are contemprory art and photography, especially photography. The prices for contemprory works of art based on photography are growing incredibly faster than the prices for any other types of art.

3. In general the prices of Russian works of art are astronomical, especially at the major foreign auction houses. In most cases the prices are artificially inflated.

An Internet art gallery has the freedom to avoid the aforesaid pitfalls: Capucines Boulevard gallery currently exhibits 8 Russian artists (out of more than a dozen Eastern European artists in total) and the prices are realistic and affordable including those popular works of art based on photography. Here are some examples of fine art you can find at

To view more works of art, please, visit the gallery website.

Friday, February 1, 2008

The Best Places to Work

The arts are a workplace and living hub. The presence of art and cultural events is naturally attractive, particularly to a younger demographic, and often deterministic when it comes to choices about where to live and work. The true value of art derives from this innate understanding of art's key, but often unspoken, role in many of the most important choices that we make, i.e. where to live, work and congregate. Those choices in turn propel economic activity.

In his groundbreaking book, "The Rise of The Creative Class," Richard Florida employs exhaustive research to determine that "places with a flourishing artistic and cultural environment are the ones that generate creative economic outcomes and overall economic growth." That in fact it is easy to extrapolate an area's degree of innovation and the penetration of high technology industries, as well as its employment and population growth, based upon the resident number of artists (painters, sculptors, photographers, dancers, actors, writers, ect.).

Of the 350 public art programs across the U.S., the average size is just under 800K. In total, the programs fund $150M annually in public art with a decidedly upward trend. The genesis of these municipal programs is traceable to the National Endowment for the Arts' decision to establish its program, Art in Public Places with the belief that art in highly-trafficked locations can serve as a balm to the spirit, while encouraging camaraderie and group gatherings.

There's an understanding that attracting a younger, educated workforce requires that an area possess a certain creative 'buzz'. Supporting the arts therefore is crucial, hence the types of programs that exist in Lucas County, OH, or Manchester, England, or Columbia, MO. These types of programs foster the flourishing of the arts and cultural opportunities, and ultimately result in an enhanced quality of life.

In Lucas County, OH, the new Art Assist program provides 1% loans to residents to purchase art from area galleries with price tags between $500 to $2,500. The program's ultimate aim is improvement of the county's quality-of-life by enhancing its art scene and thus attracting highly sought after younger, educated workers. The program was modeled on that put in place in Manchester, England, a once vibrant factory city in need of redirection in the technology age. There, civic leaders also came to view a thriving arts scene as vital to its rebirth.

In Atlanta, GA, a new condo tower called Gallery is being developed complete with a 1,200 square foot art gallery featuring rotating exhibits anchoring the ground floor. The tower is expected to attract residents interested in creative clustering, not to mention the fact that each unit includes original contemporary art loaned to residents.

In Columbia, MO, a unique arts program encourages businesses to purchase new artwork from area artists every year. Organizers believe that original art has a strong impact on businesses' ability to attract and retain employees. The feedback is that these businesses are perceived as offering a more cutting-edge, innovative atmosphere.

When an area requires revitalization, the first tool in the governing body's arsenal should be art. In recognition of this reality, the state of Maryland in 2002 established the nation's first Arts and Entertainment Districts designed to bring together artists and arts-related venues in order to spur development.

The data are clear that in terms of job creation, household income and governmental revenue, the arts are an invaluable industry. Therefore, the primary decision for cities and states must center around anchoring the arts.

Capucine Price
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