Modern Art: Beauty is in the Eye of the Bidder

In the high stakes world of modern art auctions, things can change at a moment’s notice. One second you might be the toast of the artistic community, and the next, you’ll be scrapping pennies together to pay for a simple Gerhard Richter. Luckily, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. All you need to do is convince your fellow auctioneers how beautiful the pieces in your collection are, and you’ll be sipping Champaign and eating caviar at a gallery opening in no time.

In Modern Art, players take on the role of museum owners looking to acquire priceless pieces for their galleries, and sell off the works that have become passé. It is an update of the classic auction game by Dr. Reiner Knizia first published in 1996. Most of the core elements have remained the same, but this version of Modern Art features new pieces by five of the most talented and innovative artists in the world today. At the end of the game, you’ll be tempted to hang the components on your wall.

Over the course of four rounds, players take turns being the Auctioneer. They choose a Painting card from their hand and open up the bidding. The Painting card has a symbol on it that will determine what type of the five different auctions is held. Each round lasts until five paintings from one of the artists have been auctioned off. Then you assess how savvy you were with your sales and purchases and earn money based on your eye for beauty.  

The Painting card that’s put up for auction will determine which of the five types of auctions will occur. Each one leads to a different bidding method. The Open auction is a free-for-all. Any player (including the auctioneer) can shout out their bids in an effort to secure the painting. An Open auction ends when no one wants to beat the last bid made. The One Offer auction allows players to make one bid in clockwise order from the auctioneer. After all the players make their offers, the auctioneer gets the final bid or can pass. In the Hidden auction, players (including the auctioneer) secretly place money in their hands and reveal at the same time. The highest bid wins the painting. A Fixed Price auction gives the auctioneer a chance to assess the value of a painting, set the price they want to receive, and then, going clockwise around the table, players have a chance to pay that rate. The first one to pay the set price, takes the painting.  If all the players pass, the auctioneer buys it at the set rate. 

At the end of each auction round, the value of each artist’s work is calculated. The more paintings they sold, the more value each one is worth. From round to round the value of an artist’s work is cumulative, meaning that single pieces may garner an incredible return by the fourth round. Making shrewd decisions, when to bid and when to pass, can really create a name for you in the art world. 

This new version of Modern Art by CMON has kept the gameplay consistent with the original, but has added incredible artwork by five of the best modern artists in the world today. Players will be able to bid for pieces by visionaries like Manuel Carvalho, Sigrid Thaler, and Ramon Martins. Included in the rulebook is an artbook with biographies of the different artists and samples of their work. This game is not only a tense, fun, auction experience, it’s a crash course on what is going on in the modern art world today. 

They say “A picture is worth a thousand words,” but how many thousands of dollars it’s worth is up to the market. Modern Art is a beautiful update to a classic game by one of the master designers from the past 25 years. Fans of the original will love its new look, and those playing for the first time will quickly realize that beauty and value are subjective.

Modern Art will be available in your FLGS on July 28.

Find more information about Modern Art here.

This article originally appeared in GTM Magazine. More information here.

Modern Art: Beauty is in the Eye of the Bidder

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