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Decorating with contemporary art

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Decorating With Contemporary Art Goop.

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This entry was posted in General Entries on October 14, 2011 by Joyce Rey.

The mother of all the art fairs is Art Basel in Switzerland, followed by her younger sister, the Miami Beach version. The galleries are all top-notch, the standards to qualify as an exhibitor are the highest, and honestly, it can be a lot of fun and everybody who attends can browse and hang out for hours (or days like I do) and find new and old talents in all sorts of price ranges and from all over the world. Frieze, Scope, Pulse, Red Dot and the Affordable Art Fair are also great fairs that occur throughout the year in different cities such as NYC, London, Berlin, Singapore, and Miami.

The bigger the piece is, the closer it should be to the furniture that is accompanying or enhancing (a sofa, a console table…). Separation from the furniture can range from four to six inches. (However, each case is different, in particular if the piece is too big or if the room has high ceilings)

And then there are market speculators. Speculators aren’t new at all, it’s just that some of them have decided to come forward openly and feel proud about their practices. For example, it is not unusual for these speculators to go to an emerging artist’s studio and make an offer to buy every piece of art that’s inside, for a third of the actual value (or less) in exchange for support, introductions, connections, media exposure, and occasionally to help with the inflation of a bubble-market that can’t be sustained for long. I’m not saying that “the chosen ones” aren’t good artists, in many cases they are, but it’s the way that the whole thing is manipulated (in some cases with the use of resources like ArtRank (see below)) that I find unworkable in the long term.

Interiors photography:David Lewis Taylor, Scott G. Morris, Maria Brito and Marni Salup.

Photographs from PurePhoto:Jessica Sara Wilson, Pink Car, Paris, France.Thomas Birke, Paris #21.

These photographs by Thomas Birke (above) and Jessica Sara Wilson, were Gwyneth’s favorites from Pure Photo

Los Angeles also has its fair share of alternative spaces including metro pcs in Chinatown, Secret Recipe (happening once a month in a garage in Echo Park), Traction Arts in Downtown, and Adjunct Positions in Highland Park.

Hang the art higher than what their hands can reach. This is my least favorite solution because of the visual effect that it generates but between having to live with no art and having art that is hanging higher than what it should, I take the latter.

Place the mismatched works on top of the paper the way you want them arranged on the wall.

I encourage people to have art in a variety of media that can range from acrylic on wood to photography to sculpture. However, I also suggest that there has to be a cohesive theme tying the artwork together, either a specific period of time when the artworks were created or works that belong to the same movement even if they are from different artists or works coming from artists from a specific region such as Latin America.

A lot of artists like to remain elusive, hard to grasp, and create art that is a bit ethereal and hard to collect. Commerce, however, always finds a way to package and monetize even the strangest forms of art—whether it is conceptual, immaterial, or incomprehensible. Perhaps the first experiments with digital art were aimed at uncollectibility. Things are changing in that arena. Fast.

There are three other important factors to think about when starting a collection (and don’t be scared by the word collection, as anybody with more than one piece of artwork has already started a collection):

Markets have no feelings, that’s absolutely right, they shouldn’t. The S&P 500 should not have feelings or subjectivities attached to it, that’s the premise. However, art has no empirically measurable or enough quantifiable properties to establish a fair market, much less to have a reliable investment index. Nobody can analyze an artist and his or her work and split the canvases, the oil tubes, and how many good press pieces they’ve had into equal measurements to turn them into a stock. Furthermore, many of the artist on ArtRank are in their 20’s or 30’s so the pricing is being calculated on future expectations and not at all on past performance. As an example, the dotcom bubble that burst in 2000, the toxic securities that poisoned the books of investment banks that declared bankruptcy in 2008, and the real estate housing crisis that followed were all triggered by expectations about the future.

Contemporary art, defined as “the art of today,” implies that the artists of our time not only have available all of the media used by their predecessors, but also are making use of up-to-date technologies including the internet, tracking devices such as GPS, data collected by technological devices, sound, video, social media, among many others. Therefore the variations in media existing in the marketplace also create many different art categories and many ways of collecting it.

The Beacon Arts Building in the area of Inglewood in Los Angeles offers 32,000 square-feet of studios for rent to local artists and exhibition spaces that host pop-up shows. The environment here is cool, fresh, creative, and collaborative.

In Los Angeles, Six01Studio was founded with the idea to create a dynamic, supportive think tank for artists. Here, in an open warehouse space, artists can rent studios and work in many multimedia projects.

Oh, the market. With its ups and downs and its sure-fire ways to make money out of everything (or nothing). The art market, being completely unregulated, is a bit dark to say the least. But don’t get me wrong, having an art market is absolutely necessary. Galleries have to pay their bills, artists who are good at what they do have to get compensated, and in a free market economy, market players are at their own will pushing prices as high as they can or liquidating assets that don’t serve a purpose anymore.

One of these hybrid places is Pioneers Works in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Founded and financed by artist Dustin Yellin, Pioneers is a building that has more than 24,000 square feet, enormous exhibition spaces with soaring ceilings, classrooms, artists’ studios, and multimedia rooms. It is all in the spirit of what Dustin aspired to create: a laboratory of ideas that can be executed, an incubator offering residencies for young artists, a space so massive that it offers an alternative to artists who work in large scale format and who would want to exhibit something big. Additionally, Dustin has been credited with revitalizing the otherwise remote and hard-to-reach area of Red Hook.

Carefully rip the paper off the wall and and voilà, there’s the gallery!”

The question for many who purchased or felt curious about collecting editions of digital art was: How do I live with this? Can this be displayed? Until a few months ago, I would have just told someone to be creative and to have a computer screen showing the edition or perhaps projected on the wall. That has changed now with the launch of Depict—a company founded by MIT engineers who created a super High-Definition glass/screen and frame that is connected to an app that displays and rotates the digital art that is shown on the screen/frame. People can have their previously purchased digital editions saved in Depict’s digital art storage (which will “virtually” stamp each piece with an authenticity watermark) and it is also possible to subscribe to an ever-rotating selection of digital art pieces that will change monthly.

Teach kids the value of living with good things. This is my favorite option and the one that I have been using literally since each kid came home from the hospital. Children who live with art (whatever media, whatever shape, color or form) and know how to appreciate it and relate to it early on, develop a sensibility and a perspective that those who don’t have this opportunity never get.

HomeStyleDecorating & DesignDecorating with Contemporary Art

The market is, generally speaking, composed of active players such as museums and other institutions as well as collectors, galleries, websites that sell art online, and auction houses. There are collectors who love art and have the money to really support artists at different stages of their careers. And there are more modest collectors who may not have as much to spend but who still actively make several purchases every year, especially supporting emerging artists.

Conceptually speaking, combining creative minds, artistic talent, and different platforms will always bring something fresh and exciting to the market. There is also something very special about taking the art to another group of people who probably would not have known about the artist had it not been for the partnership. The truth is that an artist who is willing to collaborate with creative companies releasing products like jackets or skateboards, designing sets for music videos, or shooting campaigns for shoes has to be very secure in who they are and very open-minded, because participating in these projects only increases their visual and artistic vocabulary. They can also be a lot of fun.

Size is key! In the world of contemporary art, bigger is usually better. I will always favor buying a larger piece because of the impact it can make, turning a room from blah to wow!

Bedrooms are also the place for smaller pieces. You don’t need the impact of bigger works.

Artspace is an extraordinary website for those who want to start collecting seriously at a very reasonable price point. It offers mostly limited edition prints and photography all from very reputable artists and big names from the contemporary art world ranging from Takashi Murakami to Nick Cave. Artspace has partnered with some of the best galleries and museums in the world to be able to bring this amazing selection to new and seasoned collectors who can’t resist the prices and the amazing art that they are reviving and reprinting from museum archives.

Generally speaking, great artists love to work with different media and create things that are beautiful and relatable. Collaborations provide the perfect environment for that, and even led me to work with artists I love on a limited-edition accessories collection.

Limited-Edition These objects aren’t numbered but will not be available for a long period of time. This is typical in fashion collaborations so that the prices aren’t as high as if the pieces were numbered, but the edition is still small enough to be considered exclusive.

In the ever expanding art world, there have been feuds fought on Instagram and Twitter; museums from all over the world have posted each and every one of their art pieces to communities on Google+, and long and interesting art discussions have been documented on Facebook.

Interdisciplinary collaborations with artists aren’t really new. Picasso, for example, designed dresses for a company called White Stags, Dali combined his creativity with Elsa Schiaparelli to come up with perfume bottles and jewelry, and Warhol founded Interview Magazine in collaboration with journalist John Wilcock.

This is your chance to rearrange and experiment with the works until they look just right.

For your first acquisition, stick to what you love and don’t just make a random purchase; get sufficient information on the artist and the gallery.

Vignettes are also cool ways of making spaces look more alive. I love creating vignettes with anything that may fall in my hands at any given moment. For example, I may try to work around a small piece of contemporary art by adding a few books with colorful spines (never judge a book by its cover, but if you want to create an exciting vignette, then you need colorful spines!); an eBay or thrift shop object that is cool and interesting, and a vase with flowers or a vintage tin letter, the possibilities are really endless!

Zatista offers a curated selection of over 4,000 high quality works from sought-after artists in 20 countries worldwide. Zatista’s innovative online tools such as the “view in virtual room” feature creates an easy and informative online shopping experience and they even have a no-hassle return policy.”

It’s my mission to demystify the world of contemporary art and interior design and marry them both in a way that is attainable (and irresistible).

Pure Photo is a fantastic website perfect for photography lovers. It has all sorts of different images coming from artists who are either emerging or mid-career. The prices are unbeatable and the variety is amazing. I have been hooked from the day I discovered them!

Numbered Limited-Edition The edition is set from the beginning so it is clear from the outset if someone is getting number 1 or number 20 or whatever the amount of objects have been produced. The smaller the edition the more expensive the items will be.

The contemporary art market is simply humongous. Historically, people have been overwhelmed and terrified by the idea of buying art for a variety of reasons. People associate the word “art” with what’s in museums and have pigeonholed the whole notion as too highbrow. Not to mention that in the past 10 to 15 years, the auction houses have publicly reported astronomical figures every time they close a contemporary art auction, so a lot of people think that those are the average prices. Finally, there is the misconception that galleries are impenetrable by the average layperson or by those who aren’t wealthy. These are all myths that are simply untrue.

Multiples These are objects that aren’t numbered or limited. They are less expensive than the above and the partnership usually operates with a renewable license from the artist to the company, typically allowing the products to be available throughout seasons.

But that’s not the case anymore. Now, the artists whose pieces are sold at “hip and cool” auctions are in their late ’20s and ’30s (a time when they are supposed to be starting their careers and proving themselves) and they are owned by people who can’t hold an asset for too long without wanting to turn a profit on them. This is an excellent strategy for financial markets but not so much for the art world.

Contemporary art is the art of our times and the art that reflects who we are individually and as a society. It engages the eye and the mind and can open doors and windows to places as remote as Kyoto or as close as Brooklyn. It should not be difficult to live with such an engaging and interesting form of expression, and yet, as an interior designer and a collector myself, I see that not enough people are enjoying the opportunity to live with art.

There is an artist-built web platform for artists called Newhive where artists can create and experiment with new media without having to go through the painful process of knowing how to code. Newhive has curators who organize online exhibitions and those shows have the agility expected of a space that isn’t constrained by geographical or physical limitations.

Artsicle is super cool and focuses on the works of emerging artists in the NYC area. They can help you get art on loan and even help you discover what you’ll like! I love the edginess of the works they have.

It’s outside the scope of this piece to deeply analyze auction houses or any other “market-maker.” But it must be noted that auction houses provide, as of today, the only measurable and sort of verifiable data available to the general public to know if an artist has built enough interest so as to have a secondary market and learn how much the world is willing to pay for a specific work of art. Auction houses have been vilified and accused of artificially pumping prices, have been frowned upon for having too many artworks with guarantees in place, and have been criticized for having a business model that can get away with charging fees to both the buyer and the seller for the same transaction and leave it all under the same roof. The problem, in general, is that high prices typically reached at auction houses are usually very hard to match for the larger art market.

I go a bit more subdued in the bedroom because I subscribe to the idea that bedrooms should be restful sanctuaries.

We have so many questions about collecting contemporary art, and since this Maria Brito’s business, we asked her for some tips on how to start an inspiring and affordable collection.

Kipton Art is the pioneer of online art sales. The site has been around for six years and aggregates more than 1,800 artists with more than 10,600 artworks from all over the world. It offers works in 13 different media ranging from sculpture to video art to acrylic on wood and everything in between.

In 2014 the website ArtRank came to the surface. According to their own FAQs, they are “a multidisciplinary partnership between a data scientist, a financial engineer, and an art professional” and they developed an algorithm whose “intent is to quantify deep industry knowledge and grant access to both collectors and institutions interested in the emerging segment… providing actionable recommendations that are based on a calculated intrinsic value rather than the easily manipulated market valuations created at auction.”

The newest and probably one of the easiest ways to buy art these days is through online galleries or websites that are revolutionizing the way art is sold and collected. These are some of my favorite sources:

People willing to start buying and living with art usually know their own tastes: Is it photography and the boldness and neatness that it conveys? Is it the mystery of having an abstract piece completely open to a thousand interpretations? Is it art with a political context? Or what if someone gravitates time and again toward bright pop-style neons?

Pay attention and learn as much as you can before committing to a piece.

5. Multimedia Art Communities, Alternative Art Platforms & Artist-Run Galleries

Mana Contemporary, a massive complex in Jersey City, provides one million square feet that are distributed among artists studios for rent and also for residencies, dance studios, exhibition spaces, framers, printing companies, art storage facilities, and the incredible museum that contains all of architect Richard Meier’s models. It’s worth the visit especially when booking a private tour guided by their own staff.

Pay attention to the artist’s career: Obviously emerging artists (not necessarily young but generally in the first five years of his or her career) have artworks with price points that are lower than those who are mid-career or established.

Finally, a word on art and kids: I’m the mother of two very intense, very active boys, and we somehow happily coexist with my art collection, and all the bells and whistles that come with living with the things that I love. Lots of my clients are moms and most of my friends are moms. All of them worry about buying art because the kids will mess with the art. I think that you have several options in this situation …

It’s always important to give context to art because since prehistoric times, humans have used art to communicate ideas around them, react to their environments, and express their feelings on current issues (social, political, cultural, racial).

Super edgy or super large photography looks best mounted in acrylic or Plexiglas.

Consider the medium: Prints, editions, and photography are more accessible than originals. There are cases, for example, where mid-career or established artists who usually work with oil or acrylic or mixed media on canvas decide to release a limited edition of prints that are a fraction of what the originals would cost. I love prints and photography and recommend them to a lot to my clients because you can get large, graphic works without breaking the bank. Note: Whenever possible, buy limited editions rather than open editions.

While I don’t necessarily agree with everything he says or posts, Jerry has expressed his point of view with humor and candor and without the need to shield himself with pseudonyms or fake accounts. The way Jerry is working his social media gives us a glimpse of a man who not only can amuse and laugh at himself but who, being the embodiment of what a critic should be, gives us a chance to think, react, and see things differently.

Video art, as one of those mediums difficult to collect and difficult to show, found a stalwart supporter in curator Rita Pinto, who, combining her passion for nail art and video art, opened Vanity Projects: a nail salon with locations in New York and Miami where she not only gets the best nail artists from around the world to have residencies but she also curates a selection of videos made by emerging and more established artists that anyone who’s getting their manicure or pedicure done would necessarily have to watch (you can look the other way or close your eyes, but the videos are too interesting and sometimes too crazy to miss).

“In general, if you buy art from a gallery, it’s best to follow their framing or mounting suggestions which are usually also the artists’ wishes for a particular piece.

From the bathroom to the kitchen, anything goes. I don’t think that there is a space that isn’t game for contemporary art. In fact, I love to try daring combinations and incorporate art in unexpected places. It’s a treat that delights both the owners and their guests.

If you are unsure of your tastes and preferences, art fairs are also an excellent source to see a lot of contemporary art, take a crash course in visuals, and do some price research. They have proliferated so much that there seems to be a new one in every corner of the world. They are generally crowded, non-judgmental places where people can browse comfortably without being intimidated by the empty hallways and rooms of a gallery.

Web-based, purely digital art is, obviously, sold online, and has sprung forth from several platforms like S[edition] and more recently Daata Editions, which offers great pieces created specifically for their site by artists such as Amalia Ulman and Takeshi Murata, starting at $100.

As any other index, ArtRank categorizes in its first four columns what they consider to be “buy artists” but as the index moves to the left, the last two columns become “Sell Now/ Peaking” and “Liquidate.”

The artist-run gallery isn’t something new but, perhaps in an effort to empathize closely with other artists and to offer alternatives to the more commercial, dealer-run space, there has lately been a large resurgence of these spaces. There’s something very cool and very powerful about artists supporting other artists in this way. They usually put together very exciting, daring group shows.

For people who are just getting their feet wet, auction houses are not good places to buy art. To start with, buyers have to pay premiums. The adrenaline rush that may come along with wanting to win may push you to pay more than you can afford. Most importantly, the education you get from buying art through galleries or consultants is truly invaluable.

Artists have also embraced social media, especially the darling of everyone: Instagram. Some artists have developed an entire different body of work that’s only been created and shown (for now) exclusively on Instagram. For example: Olaf Breuning (funny faces created with food or other materials) and Ryan McGuinness (conceptual white-font words or quotes on a black circle background).

I love creating rooms that are aesthetically compelling, some of them with an edge, some of them a bit more traditional, most of them with color (either a lot or with a good amount of accents), but all of them with some form of contemporary art (roughly anything created between 1947 and today.)

When presented with a collaboration be aware that there are different levels that also determine the price:

Part of me feels that it is necessary to have art indexes that include much more data than the information released by auction houses. But part of me feels like ArtRank coupled with speculators are acting a bit like a boiler room trading desk who pumps and dumps—buying for themselves (or their “insiders”) early and quickly and building up an artist’s career until it’s time to sell (or technically liquidate) as they aptly say. I don’t think this is beneficial for artists at all.

Start by making a blueprint; Take a roll of paper the size of the wall (or paste paper panels together) that is to become a gallery and then put it on the floor.

In the past few years there has been a proliferation of alternative places to show and experience art in a variety of different contexts. Whether the spaces are conceived by artists for artists, by curators, or by creative entrepreneurs, the truth is that change, edginess, and uniqueness is always needed.

I am attaching an example of her most recent newsletter that covers the topic “Decorating with Contemporary Art”.  I recommend reading this article and subscribing to her newsletter! She is just fabulous.

Maria Brito is an interior designer and an authority on mixing contemporary art and interior design. Maria lives and works in New York City with her husband and two sons.

The idea is that the piece should be at eye level and not too high above anything that serves as a point of reference.

I love creating galleries with a lot of small pieces that have mismatched frames and styles. In fact, I think it’s the only time where a lot of mismatched frames and styles work well. Hallways are perfect for this kind of display.

There used to be a time, not that long ago, where the price of the art being sold at auction got higher and higher because a) either the artist was dead and therefore unable to keep producing (i.e., scarcity, uniqueness and past performance drove prices up), or b) the artist was alive, worked at his/her own pace and the collectors who owned pieces didn’t want to part with them, therefore making it harder and harder to get anything by that artist.

Interestingly, I know that every time I get an obsessive series of emails/texts/phone calls from one or more of my clients about a specific emerging artist, I already know that it is because that artist has shown up somewhere in the “buy” columns of ArtRank.

Art advisor Maria Brito spends most of her days navigating the art world and all of its iterations—it’s a landscape that changes incredibly fast, as the digital world makes it accessible to everyone. It’s a fascinating scene, and so we asked her to outline some of the basics of collecting—she also gave us her list of 15 emerging artists she’s watching closely. (Meanwhile, you can see her piece on decorating with art here.)

I have always focused on creating rooms and I’m drawn to places that feel like real homes. Thus, I love layering pieces and adding colors, textures (wood, fabrics, rugs, glass, metal), and patterns (flowers and stripes) as well as mixing modern pieces of furniture with vintage finds. This is when the contrast becomes all the more interesting. Here are a few ways of tying it all together:

Five years ago it was unthinkable to imagine museums, galleries, and art institutions posting and having open conversations on every social media platform that exists. Today, it isn’t only necessary but is part of the everyday dialogue between big and small players in the art world.

Note: Avoid auction houses (at least if it’s your first time)

Furthermore, Instagram has created such a massive reaction in the art community that established artist Richard Prince appropriated Instagram pictures taken from other people’s accounts complete with some of the comments below the image. The whole thing grew to outrage when some Instagram users saw their photos (and selfies) turned into art by Prince, unveiled at Frieze New York this past May and sold by Gagosian for $90,000 each. Celebrated by some, discredited by others, Prince’s pieces captured a very specific moment of our time, cleverly created public buzz, and never once broke the rules of Instagram or fair use.

For those of you who are unfamiliar, the gorgeous and talented Gwyneth Paltrow runs a blog and newsletter called GOOP where she talks about anything from her favorite LA restaurants to the behind-the-scenes moments of her life.

Tape the paper on the wall and put nails in the places where you want each piece to hang.

I think it’s worth highlighting how smartly this card has been played by the ultimate art critic provocateur, Jerry Saltz. He was quick to jump on the bandwagon when he opened his Facebook page to the public and has been very vocal about how much he has learned from, and enjoyed the discussion and comments posted by art enthusiasts, gallerists, artists, and others. Last December, Instagram shut down his account during Art Basel Miami Beach because Jerry, notorious for never attending Art Basel, posted a picture of Charles Ray’s MoMA-owned sculptural masterpiece of four nude figures holding hands, American Romance, and captioned it mocking some of the ABMB parties and their exaggerated money-fueled scenes. Instagram brought his account back and blamed the outage on a random algorithm. Then Facebook banned him because some of his own followers were outraged by Jerry’s numerous posts on ancient Roman and Greek art and medieval art, saying he depicted images that were too raw and brutal to take. This last episode prompted Jerry to write an explanatory article in New York Magazine and his account was reinstated shortly thereafter.

Black and white or sepia photography, watercolors, and mixed media works that incorporate some pastels and softer colors are usually a good bet.

Additionally, the fluidity and dynamism of art these days has democratized art to a level where the conversation has expanded way beyond the galleries, museums, big shot collectors, and newspaper critics. This is in part due to the internet, including all social media platforms and the advent of millions of blogs and art websites (editorial, sales, auctions, news), and in part due to the fact that there seems to be an art fair in every big city in the world almost every week.

HomeStyleDecorating & DesignContemporary Art 2.0: A Buying Guide

There is also the “collector-altruist” who has been able to build something big enough over the years so that, at some point, their collection can be turned into a foundation of sorts. Some of these foundations may very well be of great help for some artists and can also put together beautiful shows to be enjoyed by the public, but some others are just narcissistic, self-indulgent projects that, besides a power-trip, also provide tax incentives for their “altruistic” owners.

The best place to start buying art, to obtain a good foundation and education, and develop an understanding for why you fall in love with specific artworks, are definitely the local galleries, in particular those that have a program for artists and represent them exclusively in their city.

Manhattan and Brooklyn are sprinkled with these galleries. Some of my favorites are: Essex Flowers (Lower East Side), Storefront (Bushwick, Brooklyn), Canada Gallery (Soho), Regina Rex (Lower East Side), Greenpoint Terminal (Greenpoint, Brooklyn), Bodega (Lower East side), and 47 Canal (TriBeCa).

When buying art, there are so many other factors than just looking at it as a purely financial investment. I’ve tried explaining to my clients that since it is the intrinsic nature of art to be as unique and special (unless we are talking about editions) as the artist who creates it, and artists are so very different from one another, then the data collected by Artrank, when compounded and analyzed, seems to be a bit flawed. And art, no matter how much Artrank wants to create a market, isn’t really a liquid commodity. I’ve known so many collectors that while trying to sell certain pieces, have gone for months from galleries to brick-and-mortar to online-only auction houses only to end up without a buyer or even a decent offer for what they have.

One tip that works for most rooms is to try to develop a contrasting color scheme that goes well together (for example, grey and yellow) and then incorporate a third color that will add punches of colors here and there (in the example above, red, magenta, and purple go particularly well). The art that you put on the walls doesn’t have to match the colors of your furniture or accessories, but I tend to find that most people gravitate toward the same color scheme over and over again and so it’s not that unusual to find that people select artworks that have a similar palette to that of their décor. The idea is to get an overall design that makes visual sense and is not overwhelming to the eye. If you feel there’s too much of a particular color, then you’re probably right and you’ll be better off taking a few pieces out.

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