Inside the Art Market: Pictures at the Ballet

How many triumphant evenings, what miracles of artistry, what gasps of admiration, what beating hearts and clapping hands, what Arabian nights do these scenes and dresses represent, which are now to be sold to the highest bidder?

                                                                        —Richard Buckle, Sotheby’s Catalogue, July 1968

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The Value of a Letter

Inside the Art Market: The Value of A Letter

Writing to an acquaintance in a letter dated February 17, 1947, Diana Vreeland, the flamboyant fashion editor at Harper’s Bazaar, recounted a recent trip to California and all the wondrous sights she had beheld there. In sentences bursting with impressions thrown off like vivid, colorful splats on a canvas, she conjures up scenes of film stars on sound stages, homes of the rich and famous in Palm Springs and Santa Barbara, dress factories in Hollywood and socialites up and down the coast, art collectors with French pictures and, the most amazing of all to her, how in Hollywood everybodystars, agents, producers, directors, waiters, people in shops—has the most wonderful teeth.

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Inside the Art Market: Double Agents

Rummaging through the dim, cavernous room of art titles at a used bookseller in New England on a recent weekend I came across something that leaped out at me, if only for the author’s name on the spine. I pulled the book out and peered at its title on the drab blue dustjacket. Artistic Theory in Italy, 1450-1600, it read: something to quicken the heart of an art history doctoral candidate perhaps but surely no one else. But I bought the book anyway. At home taking a closer look I noticed on the flyleaf, penciled-in by the knowing bookseller just below the price and above a “Blackwell’s Oxford” stamp, this cheeky notation:


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Inside the Art Market: Promises, Promises

Having collected over the years many of the glorious catalogues published by the Museum of Modern Art going back to the 1940s—on a dizzying array of topics such as Futurism, Britain at War20 Centuries of Mexican Art, Americans 1942Bauhaus 1919-1928, New Japanese PhotographyBuilt in USA: Post-war Architecture, and any number of artist monographsI recently came across one published in 1958 that I had never seen before. It was a slim, paperbound volume in black-and-white of no stylistic distinction save for the magnificent Brancusi sculpture Blond Negress on the cover. This intriguing booklet was entitled Two exhibitions: The Philip L. Goodwin Collection and Works of Art: Given or Promised. 

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