Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Where upon I repeat myself that Gérald Fillion knows absolutely nothing about Le marché de l'art and it shows


Yesterday I posted a video from RDI of Gérald Fillion talking to Simon Blais. As I hit the 'publish' button I thought I should explain myself. But then I figured "naw! It's self-explanatory." Plus it was likely to take an hour or two, which seemed a little excessive for a six minute video.

Ooops! my bad. M. Fillion (or someone signing his name to a comment) asked for an explanation. So first off, here's the video again (and thanks again to Eric Bolduc and Ratsdeville for bringing it to my attention).

And here's what's wrong with it:
0:08 seconds. The Quebecois art market was not affected by the worldwide recession for the same reason that the dollar pizza place on the corner wasn't affected by the worldwide recession - it is small in size and value and completely, utterly and 100% local.

0:13 seconds. Internationally, very few artists make a living from their art. What does this comment have to do with anything?

0:17 seconds. Simon Blais runs one commercial art gallery in Montreal. There are over 400 art galleries in Montreal, speaking to one person about their personal views should be labeled as such. He is not an objective observer either. It is the equivalent of talking to the bus driver of the 9h15 Sherbrooke street bus about public transit in Montreal.

0:32 seconds. Is the Quebecois Art Market doing well? Give me a break! Isn't their a better opening question that M. Fillion could have thought of? And especially since M. Fillion didn't follow it up with a question such as, "how do you define 'doing well?'"

0:51 seconds. So M. Blais' business suffered a decline of 25%, during the same time period he mentions, about 10 new galleries opened up. Maybe he just didn't know how to do business in 2009/10?

0:55 seconds. "But nothing catastrophic"? Just how does M. Fillion define catastrophic? If the TSX declined by 25%, I'd say it was a catastrophe. If sea levels declined by 25%, I'd say it was catastrophic. If it was my business, I'd say a 25% decline in sales was catastrophic.

0:57 seconds. Hundreds of galleries in the United States closing is a tiny percentage of the number of art galleries in the United States. And as M. Blais states, if four or five (although he first states, he doesn't know - which I would venture as a guess was closer to the truth) closed that would be less than 2% of all the art galleries in Montreal.

1:10 minutes. Showing uncredited art (that I assume was filmed at M. Blais' gallery) is just flat out bad journalism. And of questionable ethics as well.

1:23 minutes. M. Blais was referring to the worldwide art market crash in the 1990s. M. Fillion's question about the differences between now and then has absolutely nothing to do with the Quebecois (or Montreal) art market.

1:30 minutes. If it was a complete loss of confidence in the art market, why did people continue to buy extremely expensive art all through the 1990s?

1:32 minutes. Fundamental Economic Changes? Like what? Did people suddenly become less greedy? And M. Fillion didn't even (again) think to follow up on such a statement. And once M. Blais starts on the property market, do you think is he talking internationally? Or locally? And wouldn't that be the equivalent of listening to the bus driver talk about Formula One cars?

1:49 minutes. Did M. Blais suddenly forget what happened to property values in Montreal when the Parti Quebecois came to power?

2:13 minutes. If M. Fillion wants to know why it is difficult for an artist to make a living, wouldn't it be better to talk to an artist?

2:30 minutes. Calling Quebec art a small part of the Canadian Art Market is patently false. Just because art made here gets sold in Vancouver doesn't turn it into BC art. And responding, to M. Fillion's question by blaming it on a 'small' market is even more incorrect. (And why doesn't the artist painting on two-thirds of the screen get his name written across the bottom?)

2:34 minutes. There is a humongous and tremendous tradition of supporting art here in Quebec. It's called taxes. In 08/09 CALQ gave away $90 million. And then there's Heritage Canada, The Canada Council, the Montreal Arts Council and, and, and...

2:58 minutes. Another ridiculous question. Asking about 'potential.' Only a slug or a cretin would answer: "No."

3:07 minutes. If whatever people M. Blais is referring to, have only been interested in art for 20 or 30 years. Then how and when did Riopelle become famous and his paintings so expensive?

3:13 minutes. "We're going to win." Ummm, what's the competition?

3:21 minutes. So his clients are getting smarter. That does not mean that everyone else's clients were as dumb as his 20 years ago.

3:37 minutes. His client base has grown by 50% in 10 years, but he suffered a 25% drop in sales last year. There is something very strange about those numbers.

3:48 minutes. Another ridiculous question. Imagine what would happen to M. Blais' credibility if he responded negatively.

3:54 minutes. What's the difference between "investments" and "absolute value"?

4:09 minutes. The first statement by either M. Blais or M. Fillion that I have agreed with completely, wholeheartedly and 100%.

4:24 minutes. Utter claptrap and nonsense. If the price of the art is dictated by the size of the economy, then why isn't that the case for cars sold in Quebec? Shirts sold in Quebec? or any other product that is sold in Quebec?

4:36 minutes. What the heck is showing on the right hand side of the screen and how is it in any way related to Quebecois art?

4:56 minutes. Another ridiculous question. I presume that M. Fillion speaks to stock analysts, does he ever ask why their estimations for a stock price aren't attained? I also presume that he knows about betting on sporting matches. Does he ever ask why their estimations for the outcome of a game don't happen? And then if he were to ask, wouldn't it be better to ask the person who made the estimation? Instead of someone else?

5:11 minutes. So am I to understand that M. Blais just said that Heffel couldn't recognize a crappy Riopelle painting if it bit them? And what's with the mouse on the Simon Blais website? That's just flat-out annoying.

5:20 minutes. This is where I completely lost it. M. Blais stating that the 'private' sales are a better judge of market than an auction. If that is the case, why doesn't the TSX just close up? In situations like this, I am always reminded of the phrase "There's a sucker born every minute." And after he said that an auction was not a good judge of the market and you accepted it - I realized that neither M. Blais or M. Fillion knew a gosh darn thing about the art market.