Art world's ripe for drama

The cast of The Art Of More includes (from left) Cary Elwes, Christian Cooke, Dennis Quaid, who is also executive producer, and Kate Bosworth.
The cast of The Art Of More includes (from left) Cary Elwes, Christian Cooke, Dennis Quaid, who is also executive producer, and Kate Bosworth.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • "At New York's biggest auction house," the announcer intones, "there are some who have it all - some who want it all - and some who will do anything to get it." So goes the trailer for the new series The Art Of More, which premieres on Nov 19. It is the first scripted drama from Crackle, a streaming-video unit of Sony Pictures Television.

The 10-episode series, which stars Dennis Quaid, Kate Bosworth, Cary Elwes and Christian Cooke, and bills itself as an "hour-long drama which delves into the underbelly and surprisingly cutthroat and glamorous world of premium auction houses", may reflect a growing interest in the art world as fodder for pop culture.

Ovation's original series Art Breakers ("Step inside the high-stakes world of art collecting"), a four-episode reality show that followed two art advisers, Miller Gaffney and Carol Lee Brosseau, as they found prized pieces for their clients, premiered on Oct 4. Other art-related reality shows have included Work Of Art: The Next Great Artist (Bravo, 2010-11), Gallery Girls (Bravo, 2012) and Street Art Throwdown (Oxygen, 2015).

Given the excitement that currently surrounds the art world - largely because of continually rising price tags - the subject area has become increasingly ripe for television.

"Because of these high prices, it's seen as a very glamorous place - the drama of auctions, the high spectacle of it," said Mr Brett Gorvy, Christie's international head of postwar and contemporary art. "We've got US$100-million paintings, celebrities in the auction room - DiCaprio - a cattle call of names, the sense that the art market is a very sexy place, a lot of conniving and innuendo that might be part of this. I'm not surprised it makes for a TV programme."

Chuck Rose, who created The Art Of More, said he was drawn to the auction world as an art buff but also because of the more basic questions it raises about human nature.

"What does this say about us - our need to collect, our need to own things?" he said. "There's just this powerful emotional connection with objects and I wanted to explore that."

To some extent, the show draws on actual events, such as Christie's auction of relics from Captain Robert Falcon Scott's ill-fated expedition to the South Pole, and the Northern California couple who came upon US$10-million worth of gold coins in 2013.

"There is mystery behind these things," Rose said. "What do they represent to somebody who wants to own them?" He said he had marvelled at the aspirational nature of sales like that of the US$10-million (S$14-million) vintage Ferrari once owned by Steve McQueen at the Ontario-based RM Auctions in August.

"These are the things dreams are made of," he said, adding of the car's buyer or buyers: "Did they think that would make them Steve McQueen? We really want to touch on a wide - forgive the pun - canvas. Auctions are not just about art."


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 02, 2015, with the headline 'Art world's ripe for drama'. Print Edition | Subscribe