Monday, July 5, 2010

The International Art World Meets

C.I.N.O.A., La Confédération Internationale des Négociants en Oeuvre d’Art (the International Confederation of Art Dealers), represents about 5,000 dealers in 22 countries, it is not, however, a federation of individual dealers but rather a confederation of associations (32 at this time).

The organization is celebrating it’s 75th anniversary this year having been founded in Belgium by a few of the outstanding dealers of Europe at the time. My involvement began in 1972 when I went to the board of C.I.N.O.A. to propose organizing a non-selling exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. It was approved and at the end of 1974 we opened “The Grand Gallery” with 300 works of art from dealers around the world. I have been involved ever since as a representative of several American associations, a board member, President, and most recently in my honorary position “Permanent Councilor”.

There are many objectives of C.I.N.O.A. but primarily it exists as the United Nations of the art trade. As such, it informs, advises, warns and protects not only the trade but also collectors, museums and artists.

Every year a general assembly is held in a different city. This year we were in Prague. As with all such trade organizations there are business and social components and C.I.N.O.A. always includes a cultural one. Our business meeting was held in the Lobkowicz Palace, a part of the Prague Castle which was begun in the 10th century with continuous updates and additions. We met in the concert room of the Palace and ate in the restaurant and visited the family museum.

A key element of the meeting are the market reports submitted by the associations informing the other members of the economic situation and the particular issues in their countries. For instance there is a new tightening of security regulations in the U.S. Though Customs has always had the right to inspect anything that leaves the country they are now doing it more but specifically for shipments by sea. Air shipments are usually left alone. The concern is that if you are a dealer, museum or collector this is a serious issue because it can put a work of art at greater risk. Damage in shipment most often occurs during packing and unpacking, even when it is done by professionals experienced in handling art and familiar with the particular pieces.

Droit de Suite (royalties paid to artists and their descendants every time a work of art changes hands) is another major issue. Those countries who have not enacted Droit de Suite such as the United States (with the exception of California) have a major trade advantage over those countries who have it such as France, Germany and Belgium; and between those countries the rates vary. Taxes such as Capital Gains and fees for import and export duties are still another concern since they vary from country to country. It is most helpful for dealers to understand these matters since many are active in the international art trade.

We heard three talks one by Mark Evans, Sr. curator of Paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London called, “Fakes vs. Forgery”. Another by Professor Claus Grimm, “Between Original and Copy: the Contribution of the Apprentices”. The third a report from Dr. Clare McAndrew of Art Economics in regard to a report she is working on for C.I.N.O.A. which will be published in the Fall. It will cover the way the art market and trade have changed over the years and continues to change.

After all the nitty gritty such as approval of Minutes and Treasurer’s report etc. we could indulge in some cultural tourism. We visited the St. Agnes of Bohemia Convent (built 1231-1234) where the curator toured us through their fabulous early collections from the 14th to the 16th centuries. There was also a leisurely river cruise where we could observe Prague’s historic architecture and bridges. Of course, such sightseeing has a meaningful bonus, allowing dealers and administrators to have informal conversations and develop personal relationships that will help, if not result, in some business.

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