Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Behind the Canvas - An Insider's Guide to the New Zealand Art Market

Auckland’s art crowd literally crowded Warwick Henderson’s airy Parnell gallery to celebrate the launch of his new book, Behind the Canvas, on Sunday afternoon. As one of the major events during Auckland Art Week, it didn’t matter that the sun was shining outside. Guests still came to hear art heavyweights Hamish Keith and Ron Brownson talk about the state of New Zealand’s art market, and endorse Warwick’s new book, which has just been published by New Holland.

Warwick Henderson, Gallerist and author of Behind the Canvas
Hamish Keith, writer, art curator, arts consultant
Ron Brownson, Senior Curator New Zealand and Pacific Art at Auckland Art Gallery
Photo - copyright  - Amalie Termannsen

Revealing the inside secrets of the art world to New Zealand

‘From the outside the art market might seem a difficult and dangerous place’, Hamish Keith writes in the introduction to Behind the Canvas: An insider’s guide to the New Zealand art market, the first book of its kind to explore the unknown territory behind the New Zealand art world.
While books on New Zealand art history are plentiful, Behind the Canvas delves into the art market sales history, tracking the changes against world trends. Before making a purchase, expert gallerist and author of Behind the Canvas, Warwick Henderson, says it’s essential to know how our New Zealand artists sit alongside the international crop and to have an understanding of our visual art market, so an informed purchase can be made, whether for a lifetime buy or acquiring an investment piece. Ranging from art societies, public galleries and key players through to crucial events such as auctions and art fairs, Behind the Canvas recommends how to pick up the skills to navigate the enigmatic art scene in New Zealand and understand the art lingo.

From making an entry-level purchase of an original print, buying a work from an emerging artist or looking at a good-quality reproduction of a well-known artwork, it can be difficult to make a decision in a market where taste is always fluctuating. Although as Andy Warhol mused, ‘There are two types of paintings – those that work and those that don’t’, it can be hard to differentiate what constitutes good and bad art now within the modern spectrum. With these trends and tastes evolving, mis-informed purchases can be a common occurrence. With the help of Behind the Canvas and your local dealer gallery, and a copy of an art magazine in hand, Warwick shows you the tools to make a knowledgeable art purchase or sell an investment piece. Warwick’s sought-after advice is now available to everyone in Behind the Canvas and his tips range from bidder etiquette at art auctions, how to work with dealers in recognising fakes and forgeries and even how to approach the world of controversial conceptual art.

Behind the Canvas is not solely for buyers and sellers, but also for the creators themselves. Instead of seeking to make their art commercially viable there are still many artists who function on the hope that their art will sell itself; art critic Hamish Keith re-iterates this, ‘as any artist soon learns the least valuable wall to hang their art on is their own’. Warwick gives advice to the artists about how to connect with dealers, how to sell their art and gauge the timing of trends.

The material in the book is intended to open a closed door on the art market and Warwick’s amusing anecdotes of purchasing situations are included to inspire and encourage readers, proving that the mysterious art bargain can be uncovered with some knowledge and creativity!
Illustrated throughout with works from emerging, lesser-known artists and some of the most significant New Zealand artists; Fat Feu’u, C F Goldie, Don Binney, Dame Louise Henderson, Colin McCahon, Milan Mrkusich and with two double-page spreads of contemporary art in a unique ’Around the Galleries’ visual treat, Behind the Canvas is an art world education for all.

Warwick’s top tips for making an art purchase
Get real about your financial parameters and look within that bracke
Buy a stand-alone piece! Avoid trying to work in the colour to match the curtain
Learn who the key players are and where our current art history sits international
Follow international trends; read art magazines, tracking big purchases, checking auction houses' websites
Establish a relationship with a dealer and get advice from them
Visit your local public gallery to see both permanent and temporary collection
Consider the advice – and take a risk! As the writer states, out there could be the next Colin McCahon or Bill Hammond!

About the author: Warwick Henderson initially studied art but embarked on a career in shipping but through a series of coincidences found himself rubbing shoulders with artists and auctioneers, who nurtured his interest in the art world. Eventually he shifted over from cargo to canvas, and in 1986 he established the first art fair in New Zealand (Artex™) and set up an award-winning gallery in Parnell, Warwick Henderson Gallery ( With over 40 years in the industry, his gallery has now hosted more than 250 exhibitions for leading New Zealand artists. He is also a licensed auctioneer. Since 1985 Warwick has written on art, antiques and collectibles for magazines including Home and Building, KiaOra, Personal Investor, Carters Antique Magazine (Australia) and Antique Toy World (USA). He has also written essays for the gallery in-house art catalogues. Warwick lives with his family in Auckland.

New Holland - $45.00


Keri Hulme said...

You know, those of us who buy works of art we absolutely love- totally ignore all this crap?
We find the artists, we buy from them.
End of story.

Anonymous said...

oompaWent to several Art week shows and events including this launch. Ross Brownson raved about it and justly so. Easy to read, cover to cover, informative for any creative – especially emerging artists. Warwick has done a great job bridging the gap between intellectual jargon and anecdotal rapport. It’s on my ‘prezzies to give’ list already.
R. Campbell