Without showing any concern related to overexposure, he is not ashamed to embody the role of pop star of Brazilian art. Call to create silk scarves for a luxury label? He will do it. Posing in New York with his third wife, Malu Barreto marketing executive for an advertising campaign for a mall? He’s in. Not to mention festivals, lectures, ceremonies, awards, writing a book of children’s stories, create a logo for Fantastico and works for a novel. Vik Muniz, in fact, wants it all.
Vik Muniz, the artist
The point is that this exhibitionist behavior, which has earned him the nickname Vip Muniz, has aroused suspicion and veiled criticisms of dealers, auctioneers and more seasoned collectors. Former student of advertising that immigrated to New York, he always found himself at ease in the role of drawing attention to himself. It became apparent in his efforts to publicize the successful retrospective held at MAM in 2009, when the city flooded on ad exposure. Since then, self-promotion gone beyond the bounds of reasonableness. The film Garbage Extraordinary, Oscar nominee for best documentary last year, which shows the artist in the midst of scavengers at the landfill in Gramacho, Rio de Janeiro, is considered by its detractors a monument of self-centeredness.
For someone who observes the cold numbers, the trajectory of José Vicente de Oliveira Muniz, 50 years and happy resident of the Gavea neighborhood in Rio, is an unqualified success. His paintings, in fact photographs of images produced with unusual materials, cost on average $ 40,000 if purchased directly in the galleries. Often even worth five times more at auction – and the curve is ascending. The average price in auctions has grown from $ 33 400 in 2010 to $ 50,500 last year, according to the site MutualArt specializing in this type of assessment. This is a value above 56% which is recorded by their peers. Taking as a basis of only what was to hammer their work last year grossed 3.12 million dollars, $ 16,000 more than was achieved with the works of the Rio Adriana Varejao, another Brazilian star in the constellation. However, there are differences between the two critical. As he reached his performance with the cap of 66 pieces, she obtained a similar sum with only five. There is also a change in the profile of those who buy his works in Sao Paulo. Much of it is acquired by neophytes in the art world, fascinated by his media ubiquity. “Every aspiring collector begins with Vik,” explains an auctioneer who prefers to remain anonymous. “But as he produces much, anyone who wants to can have a picture of themselves. Over time, this may prove a shot in the foot. ”
The rarity is often a deciding factor to lend value to a work of art. In general, the dynamics obeys the same laws of any market: the high demand, combined with low supply, the price does rise. Not coincidentally, painters small production and high artistic quality, like the Dutchman Johannes Vermeer (1632-1675), reaching stratospheric figures in international auctions. Because only 34 are recognized as works of authorship, the screens, when they appear, are disputed bid to bid. In 2004, one of them reached 42 million dollars. The choice of Vik Muniz and quantity, however, is far from unprecedented, and some times it is successful. One of the most prolific artists in history, Andy Warhol (1928-1987) produced about 10,000 works, including polaroids, reproductions and even scribbled on napkins in restaurants. Despite the huge collection, the U.S. is in the pantheon of twentieth century art, with paintings dear. But today the institution in charge of managing his estate faces a tricky mission: to defeat the greatest possible number of pieces signed by him. All to maintain its prestige (and values) on the rise.
Owner of notions of good marketing, Vik Muniz knows the strategies for promotion. In recent weeks, he has devoted himself to preparing a new series of photographs. Enthusiastic, he says he will return to the concept that gave him notoriety, this time using electronic gadgets and luxury cars in place of brown sugar or chocolate syrup. To some experts, this is an indicator that he begins to reduce its work to a formula. For today’s standards, the worst thing that can happen to an artist is to repeat itself, ” cautions the critic Fernando Cocchiarale. It is difficult to be so sure. A maxim frequently mentioned in the art world reminds us that “only time will tell whether it is a great artist or not.” In the case of Vik Muniz, however, begins to take shape to that version, if it does not take a brake, time can be harsh with his legacy.
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