MARCEL KATZ FEATURED IN FORBES ITALIA
MARCEL KATZ: FROM PR IN A NIGHTCLUB TO ART DEALER OF SALVADOR DALI, AT JUST 30 YEARS OLD
BY MARCO RUBINO, CONTRIBUTOR FORBES ITALIA - MAY 25, 2018
How to invest in contemporary art? What are the tips to start a collection? What is the future for art galleries? These are some of the questions we asked Marcel Katz, who at the age of 30 is one of the youngest and most influential dealers in the United States. Marcel, who recently jumped to the US headlines to become the youngest art dealer of Salvador Dali, founded a group that sees contemporary art and street art at the center: an online gallery, a pop-up store (Marcel Katz Art), an art agency (The Art Plug) and an art/lifestyle publishing house (Monsieur Marcel).
How did your job start as an art dealer?
I started dealing with art about five years ago. Until then, I had worked as a promoter for some of Miami's most famous clubs like Liv, Story and Mansion, where I developed my first contacts with creatives and artists. In 2014, while working for the Mokai (another of the famous clubs of the city in Florida) near Art Basel Miami, I asked the owner if I could take lead of the art direction for an event. After his approval, I immediately contacted AholSniffsGlue - the most famous street artist in Miami - and together we organized a very successful event. The event was also just days before the artist had a case with the famous retail chain American Eagle Outfitters. In this way, I found myself involved in the art world and since then, I have never left this sector. From that moment on, I started to add works to my personal collection and I widened the sphere of my contacts. Now I have an online gallery, a pop-up store, an art agency and an art / lifestyle publishing house.
How did you become the youngest Dali art dealer at the age of 30?
I received an e-mail from Bertrand Epaud, who runs Business Development in the United States for Dalí Universe, (the company created by Beniamino Levi, considered one of the world's leading experts in the art of the famous Spanish artist ed). I was a little surprised at being contacted so the first question I asked was: "Are you sure you called the right person?" After our first conversation on the phone, we met in New York and then I signed the contract through which I became an authorized dealer of Salvador Dalì.
How do you select the best contemporary artists in the world?
I follow my instincts. In fact, there is no proven business model for art. Art is casual, so you always have to take risks and trust your instincts. When I analyze an artist, I observe various variables such as sales, engagement and followers on social media, the talent, the versatility of expressing one's art everywhere, and references from other artists. Once identified as an interesting artist, I spend some time with him so I can get to know him closely, and only then do I sign a contract with him. A good relationship must be established between the dealer / gallery owner and the artist: If a good atmosphere is not created, the collaboration will not work. Talent is fundamental, but without a following and a personality, nothing is achieved. It takes a mix of skills to become a successful artist: some can be learned, others are not.
What are the five contemporary artists on which to bet?
Five tips for starting an art collection (not for millionaires)?
1) Do not just buy something just because it is fashionable. It is better to wait a couple of months to make sure that the work is still appealing to you. 2) Study and observe the moves the artist makes to understand what he is doing to advance his career and how he is building his own personal brand and which shows / shows he participates in. Nowadays the artist is just like a musician who goes on tour to build his own brand. It is necessary to perform in exhibitions / shows. 3) If you can not afford unique, original works, you can start a collection by buying prints / silk-screen prints. If you choose the right artists, the prints / multiple works will certainly increase in value. The important thing is to always buy prints / multiple works signed and numbered by the artist. 4) Pay attention, also thanks to social media, to what the established artists collect. 5) Have space to store the purchased works!
In your collection, is there is a work that you would never sell?
I would never sell the art that was given to me. I will never give up the first "Fake ROTHKO" made for me by CB Hoyo and the Picasso my grandfather gave me.
How do social networks influence the contemporary art market?
They are a great component. Sometimes social media tends to induce buyers to buy works of art with prices that are affected by speculation. Social media has certainly been an important part of the business for many artists, including Mr. Brainwash, Daniel Arsham, and Takashi Murakami, but there are many artists with the same amount of followers who can not get to their level. The younger buyer uses more social media to determine if he will buy or not. Most likely for an older buyer, this is not the case. Just because an artist has 500 thousand followers, does not mean that his works have the value of a thousand times higher than the one who has 50. It is about having the perfect mix and the right audience. We need to develop a community that is willing to support the vision of that particular artist. Social media is very important to me and I discover different artists thanks to Instagram, especially the emerging ones.
Some artists sell directly online (Kaws and Obey for example). Do you think that in the future we will witness the disintermediation of art galleries?
Yes, we will see a change in the tunnel system, for the urban and street art market more than in contemporary art. For this market segment, I doubt that the galleries will become obsolete: they will change and adapt to current times, but they will not cease to exist. The galleries have large customers, the network, and logistics to help artists achieve a good level of awareness.
Many artists are becoming independent and, in the future, many others will follow this path. There are already many who release prints through their website and negotiate the sale of their works with customers on social media and via e-mail. This phenomenon contains a positive and a negative element: if the artist finds a good agent, art dealer, or gallery that represents him, he will be able to grow faster. Obviously, however - and this is the negative - there are many agents and gallery owners not up to par, but the same goes for art. In addition, an artist can release his work directly online, but may not have the resources to promote himself correctly. Artists like Daniel Arsham and Takashi Murakami have their own galleries and publishing houses. But covering the costs of managing each of the steps required for successful publishing, from production to marketing to shipping and manufacturing, can be very difficult. Artists with a consolidated secondary market often find themselves having to sustain huge investments. And then finding the right people to work with becomes fundamental to accelerating an artist's career.
Do the Chinese and the Arabs influence the contemporary art market?
The Chinese market is the largest and fastest growing market and is also the most impulsive market. The Middle East market has a great recent interest in the contemporary art world and is investing heavily in the sector. They seem to be ahead of the growth curve, so they are the ones that will benefit the long term, as the art increases in value.
How is the art market going in the United States?
At this stage there are many young buyers / collectors. It is an impulsive market. Street art is going very well. The commercial art (art in collaboration with some brands like Louis Vuitton, Supreme or Chanel) - which I personally do not like - is going through a "hot" moment: New York, Miami and Los Angeles are the strongest markets. Every city is finding ways to show off even more unique art shows and exhibitions and this is raising talented artists. The US contemporary art market is developed and growing rapidly. The United States accounts for almost a third of the world art market.
Art Basel and Art Basel Miami are the main art events in the world. Is it really important for an artist or an art dealer to participate with an exhibition or a show?
Some of the most influential people in the art world come to Miami during Art Basel and this makes it the best place in the world for networking. I think it's crucial to see what happens, it's exciting and motivating. Art Basel is just one of over 20 international art fairs held in Miami during the first week of December, which is called "Miami Art Week". In addition to the fairs, there are thousands of galleries, shows, and pop-up events. There are so many opportunities. Last year, I organized a show called Mood Swings, with twenty artists from all over the world, and also at the SCOPE in Miami Beach. Very important is also Art Palm Beach, where I was invited to curate 5 attractions for a total of area of over one thousand square meters - the largest space of the fair. There, where we exhibited the works of art by CB Hoyo, we have adopted a non-traditional approach to a conventional art fair. In fact, it is not just about being present at art fairs, we must be in those places where there is full creative freedom. For example, we recently brought art for the first time to the world's biggest Hip Hop festival, Rolling Loud, setting up a space with art installations and live painting sessions with Nychos, CB Hoyo, Somehoodlum, Zevi G, Shawn Kolodny, Stillz, and LeftyOutThere.