9 Aug 2016

Interview: Albrecht Behmel - This is the Era of the Artist

In a discussion with Art Scene India, Albrecht Behmel, the well known German artist, novelist, historian and award-winning playwright shares his views on the art market, the future of art criticism and the relevance of marketing in the Internet age.
Albrecht Behmel in conversation with Art Scene India
NM: How would you briefly describe the art scene in Germany?

AB: There is a lot of talent around here. Great people like Christian Awe with a unique vision. I love to follow careers such as his from street art to major creator. There are great art-dealers and collectors here, like Jenny Falckenberg and Frieder Burda.
So that side of the scene is healthy and well. Galleries are in trouble as everywhere else with the internet taking their place more and more every year. Just imagine what Google did in the last years to make all the museums of this world accessible online using big data. I know that personal relations are what keeps a gallery alive but I am not sure most of the galleries are aware of how massive the pressure will become.

NM: What inspires you as an artist?

AB: Two things: nature and the movies. I am a huge fan of both. I live in the country with my wife, two kids, a brother in law and a mother in law. It is brilliant when an extended family can live together in harmony. Nature is near, there is a lot of wild life. that inspires me. And I love the movies, so I did a series of super heroes whose outlines I filled with silhouettes of other heroes, monsters, villains, victims etc. That is fun! I especially love the Marvel Series and a Star Wars series I created. I can totally lose myself in these paintings. On another level I am inspired by colors that make me happy, powerful deep red, massive yellow or turquoise and so on.
Batman by Albrecht Behmel, In conversation with Art Scene India

NM: What is your take on art critics? Do you think their relevance is waning or on the rise in the contemporary context?

AB: Well, If you mean professional art critics, I am not sure they have much of a future in the era of social media. Instagram, Pinterest are such powerful platforms for artists to create their own tribes that I am not sure how traditional criticism can survive without major adaptation. Yet I don’t really see this happening. I am convinced that in the future they will lose much of their power to “fanboy99” who comes out of nowhere but manages to entertain better because he understands how the internet really works. Long articles in newspapers are surely not the way of this century.

NM: How important is it for artists to remain current on trends and stay updated on global markets in general?

AB: It is 100% vital to understand the market if you depend on the market, i.e. if you want to sell. Funnily, having said that, prices are not the main thing here at all but marketing is. I always study the latest developments, I go to as many art fairs as I can manage, I read a lot and I follow auctions. That doesn’t mean I have to change my work or my style. It means that I try to understand what makes other artists remarkable. There is so much to learn.

NM: What would you advise upcoming artists?

AB: Feel good about charging the right price, don’t undersell, and know your numbers! That’s about the only advice I can give because as far as the art is concerned there is so much talent out there, so much passion and innovation! This is the era of the artist. It has never been so easy to become a creator as it is today. Everything a young artist needs today is totally in reach, all the knowledge, the exposure, the materials - most of which is free! But if you want to make a living, or better if you want to thrive: make sure you are not cheap but expensive.

Albrecht was born in 1971, studied arts and humanities in Heidelberg and Berlin, Germany and founded his own painting technique The Magic of the Swarms in 2012. This style is also called abstrahistic because it merges figurative shapes into abstract forms. A frequent and generous donor to international charities, Albrecht has recently supported Evelina Children’s Hospital in London, Al Madad Foundation London, Dolphin Aid, Rotary Clubs and university clinics in Germany. Albrecht co-authored international bestselling books like “The Successful Kid” as well as 20 other titles, novels, non-fiction, games, etc. He lives in the German Black Forest not far from France and travels a lot. 

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