Posts from art

Art Basel

The Gotham Gal and I just spent four days in Miami at Art Basel, one of the big global art fairs that collectors come to every year.

We have been collecting art as a hobby since we were in our mid 20s. We got a bit more serious about it in our mid 30s and have been collecting emerging artists ever since.

We have never sold any of our art and I doubt we ever will. We don’t approach art as an investment or a business. We approach it as something we enjoy doing together and enjoy having around us. We also enjoy knowing the artists and watching them develop their craft over time. We also have gotten to know and like a number of dealers over the years. 

Our focus on emerging artists is much like the angel investments the Gotham Gal makes or the VC investments my partners and I make at USV. We like to meet artists as they are starting their career and follow them, and collect them, as their careers develop.

We have bought art at shows that art students have done in undergraduate and graduate school. We have bought art at edgy underground galleries and shows where new artists and new styles emerge. I feel like these are like seed investments in some ways. 

We mostly like to buy art from the galleries that specialize in emerging artists and the art fairs that cater to this market. These are like Series A and Series B investments in some ways.

We have not participated in the more established artist sector even when the artists we have collected get there. We maybe should change that. Like USV did with our Opportunity Fund.

Over the past thirty years we have bought some wonderful pieces. We have them around us, in our offices and homes. And we get joy from them every day.

We bought some new work this week at Basel and may buy some more of what we saw in the weeks and months ahead as we think more about it.

Yesterday as we worked our way through one of the most edgy fairs down here, I asked the Gotham Gal about a sculpture we had seen about twenty minutes previously. She said “I have moved on from it”. But both of us were still thinking about another work we had seen around the same time. We ended up purchasing the latter one.

The same is true of seed and early stage investments. Sometimes when you meet a company and you like what you hear but a day or two later you aren’t enthusiastic about it. Other times you can’t stop thinking about the opportunity for days and weeks after the meeting. That’s how you know what early stage investments to make and the same is largely true with art, at least in the way that we collect it.

The Creative Independent

In a world full of click bait media and fake news, it is harder than ever to find authentic and meaningful content on the Internet. The utopian early days of blogging in the early 2000s, when this blog was started, seem long gone.

But the Internet is a vast place and there is quality content on it. Podcasts are a particularly bright spot right now and remain largely unpolluted.

The most exciting new entrant into my daily reads this year is The Creative Independent which quietly started publishing in late September.

The Creative Independent is a publication by artists for artists and is funded entirely by Kickstarter PBC and is advertising free. 

Their mission is to “is to educate, inspire, and grow the community of people who create or dream of creating.”

Each day a new post appears that is about a particular artist and it’s dives into something specific about them and their work. I follow The Creative Independent on Twitter and am taken into the world of art and artists every day. 

If you are looking for something a bit more meaningful to read every day or if you are an artist or have an appreciation for artists and their work, you may enjoy The Creative Independent as much as I do.

Paul Klee

If you haven’t noticed, I’ve taken up photoblogging this week. In an effort to inspire my daily posts, I am turning to my phone’s camera roll and finding a photo I took recently and using it to anchor my post.

The weekend before last, the Gotham Gal and I went up to the Met Breuer to check out a show by Kerry James Marshall that had gotten glowing reviews in the NY Times. Sadly that show was not yet open (why write about a show that is not open?). But happily, the museum had their collection of Paul Klee paintings on display.

klee

If there is one painter I would love to own a painting by, it is Paul Klee.

The wit and wisdom in his work lines up with my taste just perfectly.

I use his “Twitter Bird” painting as the background in my Twitter profile and have been doing that for as long as I can remember.

It’s not quite like owning a Klee painting but it works for me.

Visualizing Kickstarter

A visual data company company called Polygraph looked at over 100,000 Kickstarter projects in the US and wrote a really cool blog post about them.

This table shows the different character of the biggest cities on Kickstarter:

table

  • NYC over indexes for film, theater, and dance.
  • LA over indexes for film in a big way.
  • SF over indexes for art, design, and tech.
  • Chicago over indexes for publishing and theater.
  • Seattle over indexes for music, publishing, design, and theater.

Even more fun are the bubble charts that they created for all of the major locations on Kickstarter:

bubble_charts

Nashville is almost all red because its a music city. Atlanta produces some huge game projects.

You can learn some interesting things.

Here are the places that over index for table top games:

table-top-games

And here are the places that over index for comics:

comics

The Polygraph blog post is super interactive (unlike this post) and if you want to dig into the data, you can do it there.

Creativity is alive and well all over the world and you can learn a lot about it by studying what goes on on Kickstarter.

Takeaway Art Exhibit

The Jewish Museum in NYC, which is a terrific art institution, is doing a show next month in which forty contemporary artists will create over 400,000 artworks that visitors will be encouraged to “take away” with them when they visit the show.

This exhibit was inspired by a similar show that took place at the Serpentine Gallery in London in 1995.

To help fund the production costs of all of this takeaway art, the museum has launched a Kickstarter, which the Gotham Gal and I both backed yesterday.

Backers can select from a number of these takeaway art works as rewards. There are also some great in person talks with the show’s curators in the rewards.

Here’s the project video in case this project interests you like it did us.

If you want to participate in the funding of this show, you can back the Kickstarter here.

Funding Friday: William Kentridge On The Tiber River

So I’ve decided to start up another friday theme (fun friday, feature friday, etc) called Funding Friday. I will post projects of all sorts (not just Kickstarter) that are seeking funding that I think are worthy.

We will start with an ambitious art project that is closing today.

The renown artist William Kentridge will create a mural called “Triumphs and Laments” over Rome’s Tiber River and is using Kickstarter to help fund the effort.

Here’s the video:

This is the kind of project that Kickstarter was created to support. Public art is the best kind of art, open, free, and available to all.

I backed this project when it first launched and I urge all of you to join me in helping to get this project over the line and funded.

You can do that here.

Artificial Art

Last week we opened up a new thread on USV.com to think about and discuss the intersection of creativity (art) and artificial intelligence.

We have seen a lot of interesting companies in this area but have not yet made an investment.

Of course, the entire notion that machines will help us make art or even make it without human intervention gets to the essence of what art and creativity are.

Last summer I posted an art project by Ian Cheng that my daughter was involved in. The cool thing about that art project is that it evolves over time based on rules provided to a machine. The art is initially made by humans but it evolves and changes over time using a machine. That is one of many interesting ideas that artists are exploring at the intersection of creativity and computing.

An existential question that society is grappling with right now is how humans and machines will co-exist in the future. And one of the roles of art, maybe it’s most important role, is to force us to confront issues like this.

So while the idea of using a machine to make a song or an image or a novel or a sculpture without human intervention is at some level disturbing, it is also revealing. We expect that artists will push the envelope of what is possible with technology and we also expect that technologists and entrepreneurs will be willing collaborators in this effort.

Whether this will lead to interesting investment opportunities is anyone’s guess, but we think it might. And so we are going to spend some of our time and energy thinking about it and we’ve created a public space to do that. If you are interested in this area you can follow the thread and contribute to it here.

Video Of The Week: Something Thinking of You by Ian Cheng

This is an art project by Ian Cheng that is livestreaming on YouTube this month. My daughter Jessica helped Ian get this up and streaming. She works for Ian part-time.

What is cool about this art project is that it is machine made, meaning that the scenes are being created by a machine, and the project evolves over time. If you check in tomorrow, it will look different from what it looks like today because it has evolved over time.

We’ve been running this on the monitor in the USV lobby along with some other video art this month, so if you’ve been by our office you’ve probably seen this already.

Fun Friday: Office Art

We have some fun office art at USV. The most recent addition is an Electric Objects digital frame.

Here’s a short video of it in action.

If you have cool art in your office, or home, please share it with us.

Photoblogging: Tour Eiffel

As my extended vacation comes to an end, the question of how I was going to blog during it also comes to an end. For the most part it was the same as usual. There were a few reblogs on the days I didn’t want to blog. And some vacation oriented posts. The photoblogging experiment was largely a failure but I am going to give it one more shot before the vacation is over.

I saw this painting today at the Paris Museum Of Modern Art. It was painted by Robert Delaunay in 1926. It is called Tour Eiffel. I really like it and thought I would share it with all of you. I hope you like it as much as I do.

tour eiffel