What Does ArtRank™ Tell Us
About “Net Art” and “Street Art” Markets?

March 24, 2014 | Marina Galperina

ArtRank™ (formerly known as Sell You Later) is a web site for collectors that suddenly went viral mid-construction, busting through its mysterious veil of mathematic algorithms and insider knowledge. Its detailed index “Quantifying the Emerging Art Market” provides metrics-based suggestions to collectors on whether they should buy, sell or liquidate works by hot and emerging contemporary artists.

ArtRank™ identifies prime emerging artists based on qualitatively-weighted metrics including web presence (verified social media counts, inbound links), studio capacity and output, market maker contracts and acquisitions, major collector and museum support, gallery representation and auction results.

Art F City recently interviewed ArtRank™’s founder Carlos A. Rivera, who spoke frankly about his prior experience with art funds, technology, taking advantage of the recession and gentrifying downtown Los Angeles. His prior, rather charitable venture CuratorCircle tanked, because no one cared.

I thought, ‘Well, you’ve got to be kidding. You’re treating art like money and you’re not supposed to do that.’ I hadn’t realized that even at the top of the game, everybody is treating this like money.

While we like to pretend to be untethered from the art market’s banality of economics and other soulless dramatics, that shit’s important.

Can we learn anything from ArtRank™? Right now, three names pop off the matrix for us. These are, let’s say, “net artists” (artists who sell physical work while a large part of their practice is rooted in the digital and its concepts) and “street artists” (sort of).

BUY NOW < $30,000
“One of us! One of us!”

This recommendation is not surprising because Vierkant has been in major art fairs and has two solo New York shows slated for 2014. But it is inspiring, because his work is good-looking and smart, whether in pixels or industrial machine-cut aluminum.

This is Vierkant’s most recent exhibition “Exploits” at the New Galerie in Paris. All of the work utilizes two pieces of patented intellectual property — US 6318569 B1 (Detachable Storage Rack for a Metallic Structure) and US 8118919 B1 (Air Filter and Method of Constructing Same).

The basis for the series Exploits is intellectual property, which I seek to engage with as a material to be used as any other. Existing intellectual properties–patents, trademarks, copyrights–are located, and a negotiation takes place between myself and the property owner for the purchase or license of said property, toward the fabrication of derivative works. The IP in question is taken as a set of negotiated guidelines within which physical works may be produced, but also as a set of norms to be deviated from. Each negotiation is unique: the property owner may set legal barriers to the contexts in which the IP can be presented, limit the amount of derivative works that may be produced to a set number, or to a period of time… In each case, the IP is one which has already been registered by another entity—Exploits is the process of locating objects which already exist as territories, and transposing said territories into another context through a transaction.

Buy Vierkant!

SELL NOW (peaking)
#4: KAWS

“Get the fuck out of here.”

Kaws is, literally, at the top of his game. With several recent high-profile commercial gigs (the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade balloon and the “reinvented”  Moon Man trophy for MTV’s Video Music Awards) and an unimpressive but prestigious recent solo exhibition at Mary Boone, this is DUH.

This is KAWSBOB. It’s an 18″ by 15″ and very Kaws. That is, it’s a popular cartoon, with Xs for eyes. Again. According to ArtNet, it sold for $50,000.

This street art-rooted career trajectory proves one ubiquitous myth about the art market: Once you hit, just keep doing the same shit, over and over again. Aimirite, companion? The approach gives Kaws a monetary edge over some of the more scrappier artists trying to make the street-to-“art world” transition, but it also saturates the still-adjusting market with a “merch.” It’s a consistent body of work communicating not much more than cheerful packaged memes; trendy mass production; brands; logos; vinyl toys; t-shirts. And people are really buying it. But they should sell it. Now.

But first, sell Banksy. ArtRank™ puts him at #1 in “LIQUIDATE.” As Rivera explained to Art F City, artists in this category “may not be in a downward spiral” but that their market might have gotten “too far manipulated, too saturated, and the values just went too high, too fast.”

Recently, Joseph Gross sang us a song about the “very interested” “very high-profile” potential buyer of the “grumpy” door from Banksy’s Better NYC “residency” (priced $400,000 at SCOPE). But Stephan Keszler couldn’t sell the Red Hook heart balloon wall piece and “Crazy Horse” car door at Miami’s FAAM auction house (starting bids were $200,000 and $100,000). While Banksy himself wasn’t going to profit from the sale of street art works ripped out of their locations, ArtRank™ is suggesting that the Banksy feeding frenzy is coming to a pause, at least for the third party speculators.

SELL NOW (peaking)

“LOL, ok.”

This is Parker Ito’s I Can’t Fuck You Tonight I’m Reading Proust (2014).

This exhibition consisted of two (30″x40″) dot paintings from left over scraps, 14 Hook-Ups posters monotyped with an image of Pepe Le Pew, 500 doublesided offset posters Liv and I designed, two paintings by my studio assistants (Orion Martion and Daniel Lane), 3 Agent Provocateur bags, 5 cattleyas ($50-$70), 2 vanity mirrors 5x magnification, a projection of a curtain blowing in the wind, one bottle of Krug rose, and one bottle of Yoohoo chocolate drink. *Everything but Daniel and Orion’s paintings were given away for free.

This is accompanied with many notes (excerpted):

Since, of the charm, the grace, the forms of nature, the public knows only what it has absorbed from the clichés of an art slowly assimilated, and since an original artist begins by rejecting these clichés, M. and Mme Cottard, being in this sense typical of the public, found neither in Vinteuil’s sonata, nor in the painter’s portraits, what for them created the harmony of music and the beauty of painting. ~ Swann’s Way (Marcel Proust via Lydia Davis)

~Pointilism uses paint to approximate CMYK printing, Inkjet paintings use ink designed for printing to make paintings (George Seurat: Painting is the art of hollowing a surface)
~Inkjet ink neglecting the mechanics of Inkjet printing
~silk designed to be printed on / inks designed to print, these materials redirected to a painting process
~exploiting the lustre/luxury of the materials, neglecting their purpose
~silk and its history of trade routes and the cosmopolitan impulse, an impulse that is brought to an extreme by the liquidity and profusion of data

Can we confidently deduce anything from Parker Ito and his transfigurations being so hot-shit? What’s changed since he was coming up a few years ago? Ito is still focused on “online vs offline” and “documentation as content” themes, but he’s eased up on the irreverence a little bit. (To DIS in 2012: “The timing was so perfect, as reflective material seems to be really trending in fashion right now. This makes me feel like I’m the artistic equivalent to hypebeast or something.”) In 2013, his entire show (and show.html) “Parker Cheeto: The Net Artist (America Online Made Me Hardcore)” functioned as an itinerary of all possible questions ever about the trendy transplantation of net art into the gallery space (“Is net art real?”) while keeping it Parker Ito-real (“The only criteria for being a net artist is drinking monster energy and having a Tumblr – now that’s trill”).

Maybe there is something that separates this most-“internet artist” of all ArtRanked™ artists from the other digital-born ones that aren’t quite hitting the mainline right now. Maybe it has sometime to do with the above bevy of explanatory Sparknotes that a collector inherits with each purchase. Self-reflective material seems to be really trending in art right now.

Maybe we don’t know how the fuck the art market works, but all this, even this, is much more interesting than ancient Chinese dishware and old paintings, and the rich people are into it. Good.