ISTANBUL - Referans
International auction houses are trying to carve a niche in Turkey, with an eye to future growth in both artistic production in Turkey and interest in Turkish art overseas.
Officials from two of the world's biggest auction houses, Sotheby's and Christie's, have been combing Turkish galleries to collect works by local artists to promote internationally, an act seen by local experts as a new beginning for the Turkish art scene.
The market for Ottoman-era artists is already dynamic; however modern Turkish painters have been largely ignored.
A decade ago Sotheby's assessed the local market considering opening a branch in Turkey, but decided against it. The firm is now speaking to gallery owners and reevaluating the Turkish art market.
In the initial stage, Sotheby's intends to collect works by handpicked artists and exhibit them in an auction in London on March 2, 2009, and, depending on the success of the auction, will finally open a bureau in Turkey.
The owner of one of the seven galleries approached by Sotheby's, Yeşim Turanlı from Pi Artworks, said Sotheby's was especially interested İrfan Önürmen and Gülay Semercioğlu. She said, however, that no purchases have yet been made.
Turanlı said the firm was still in the process of conducting market research and had opted to work with galleries with long-term commitments to their artists.
“They said they were preparing for an auction, not to hold an exhibition. Depending on the results, they may open a bureau here,” she said.
Turanlı said she was optimistic about the developments. “Turkish artists will become known throughout the world within five years,” she predicted.
She also noted, however, that art, and consequently the hopes of Turkish artists, could be one of the principle victims if the credit crisis sweeping global markets gets any worse. The owner of Galeri Apel, Nuran Terzioğlu, who was also approached by Sotheby's, said Turkish artists were quite popular around the world except in Europe, asking, “Why should Sotheby's miss out on this potential?”
Christie's already part of the scene:
Christie's, Sotheby's biggest competitor, is already part of the Turkish art scene having had a bureau in Istanbul for some time.
Preparing for an auction it will host in Dubai in October, the firm is on the lookout for potential deals, planning to sell Turkish artwork to Arab investors rich in oil wealth.
The owner of Galeri Baraz, Yahşi Baraz, said he was approached by Christie's, noting that the firm was interested in several Turkish artists, namely Burhan Doğançay, Ömer Uluç, Mehmet Güleryüz, Adnan Çoker and Erol Akyavaş, whose works it wants to sell at an auction focused on Muslim artists.
Baraz said there was little international demand for Turkish artists, but that Christie's was trying to change that. “It will first use this auction to promote Turkish artists. Turkish art failed to make an impression in the European market, but it will do just that in Arabia,” he said.
He also noted most of those who will attend the auction in Dubai would be Western collectors.
Explaining the strategies of international auction houses like Sotheby's, Baraz noted: “It is impossible to create a demand for Turkish art with only 10,000 to 15,000 pieces. Only if international interest is generated, collectors will turn their focus on Turkey. And this in turn will boost the local market.”
He said the value of modern Turkish artwork has not appreciated because collectors have been almost exclusively Turkish. “With foreigners entering the market, there will be more competition and the prices will increase. The entrance of Sotheby's and Christie's will pave the way for other auction houses. Sotheby's and Christie's are professional firms and will not commit the mistakes that have been hurting the scene for the past 25 years. In this process, local auction houses will be just swept away.”
More auction houses eyeing the market:
ISTANBUL – Referans
The interest shown by international auction houses has led one local auction house to consider foreign partnership in order to capitalize on the growing dynamism in the sector.
Auction houses Banhams and Phillips de Pury are said to be following in the footsteps of Sotheby's and Christie's in establishing a presence in Turkey. In the face of growing foreign competition, local auction houses are considering foreign partnerships.
One such local auction house, Antik AŞ, is expected to form a partnership by the end of the year.
Antik AŞ executive board member Olgaç Artam said the company would soon finalize the negotiations, noting that its recent record-breaking auctions had made such a partnership possible.
“Auction results in Turkey has created a lot of interest from not only international auction houses but also from antique dealers and independent galleries,” he said.
Artam added that many firms had approached Antik AŞ with very attractive proposals. “These proposals show the confidence of foreign firms in the Turkish art market. We have decided to accept one proposal and discussions are continuing. I cannot divulge the name of the auction house we are in negotiation with because the talks are continuing. If a deal is reached, the foundation of a very nice partnership will be established.”
He said such developments were key to promoting the Turkish art market and local artists.
Founded in 1981 by Turgay Artam in Ankara, Antik AŞ was the first fully professional auction house established in the country. It began to hold auctions in Istanbul in 1987 and has developed a customer portfolio of 25,000 over the years.
One of its and Turkey's biggest sales was Osman Hamdi Bey's (1842-1910) painting “Kaplumbağa terbiyecisi” (Tortoise trainer), which fetched YTL 5 million in December 2004.