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Where Is the Art Groovier?

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Conrad Shawcross, London's newest Saatchi-collected, Vogue-profiled art star, with studiomates Nathaniel Rackowe and Sophie Hunter.  

London is in thrall to its self-created superstars and self-appointed tastemakers more than New York is,” says Robert Bound, culture editor of Monocle. “New Yorkers are better able to enjoy art without a brand name attached to it, whereas in London, all you have to do is annoy the Daily Mail and you get snapped up by Saatchi and sold at auction for more than you’re worth.” Still, as Amanda Sharp, co-director of the Frieze Art Fair, notes, “Tracey Emin is a household name in England, but I’d be pushed to name an artist who’s a household name in the U.S. or even in New York.” ArtReview editor John Weich points to record-setting City bonuses, Russian oligarchs, and Middle Eastern petro-cash as fuel for London’s white-hot art market—“Where there’s money, there’re art dealers”—but London’s boom looks different from New York’s, in part because its museums are at the top of their game, too. “MoMA’s collection is better,” says Weich, “but the Tate Modern is producing better shows. It isn’t afraid to be criticized for forging new paths.” London dealer Kenny Schachter agrees, noting that “they seem to put on more shoot-from-the-hip, challenging shows. It’s like having the center of the city littered with half a dozen P.S. 1s.” On the other hand, as British Whitney curator Chrissie Iles puts it, “Both cities are terrible for artists. They are two of the most expensive cities in the world. That’s why so many have moved to Berlin.”


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