Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Face off

With their virtual online catalogue (the pages flip as you click), Webb’s have made another move to present themselves as the hippest auction house on the block. Both Webb’s and Art + Object feature videos of their staff ruminating over the excellence of their offerings, and both publish smart, surprisingly-shaped catalogues. But what does all this tell you, apart from the fact that people have stuff they want to sell to other people? From the promotional material put out by Webb’s you might think that they had moved house to avant-garde land. The sculptural piece If I move forward I will destroy myself by et al. is an unusual feature in this sort of publication. In the end though, the Webb’s catalogue doesn’t really live up to what its presentation promises. Like most New Zealand auctions the majority of the works are paintings and most of them by men.

Here’s a quick and dirty breakdown of the latest Webb’s and Art + Auction offerings.

Webb’s male artists 65% - Art + Object male artists 89%
Webb’s 3D works 20% - Art + Object 3D work 15%
Webb’s figurative 50.5% - Art + Object figurative 54%

And while in Art + Object’s catalogue around 90% of the artists are over 50, Webb’s has packed its offering with wet-off-the-wall works by youngsters in or just out of art school.

Image: The sculpture If I move forward I will destroy myself et al. that Webb's have featured on their ads