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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Inside the Art Market: Tastemakers

“Geoffrey operated from modest premises perched on a corner of Pimlico Road.  No one in London, however, had more original stock. His items were unearthed whilst scouring Britain in a Rover, and his beady eye missed nothing.”

Terence Stamp, reminiscing about the legendary English decorator Geoffrey Bennison

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Monet Marre Basse aux Petites

Inside the Art Market: An Empire of Expectations

“All the servants have gone from Polesden Lacey except for the housemaid, whom I have reengaged.  I met there Mr. Abbey of Christie’s who has completed the inventories of all the contents save the pictures.  I went round the rooms with Abbey who pronounced that there is hardly a piece of furniture of museum worth, the bulk of it being made up, or deliberate copies.  We ate sandwiches and drank tea in the servants hall after this depressing perambulation.”

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Celebrity Sale

Inside the Art Market: A Celebrity Sale

Sales at the old and venerable auction houses of Sotheby’s and Christie’s are often a sort of eulogy, celebrating the life and times of a prominent individual as glimpsed through an art collection.  The marketing and promotional rumblings that attend such sales, especially if involving a very famous name, can be noisy and theatrical.  And the public exhibition has to be dramatic and dazzling.  After all, the auction house is mounting a major production, with special lighting and design of the sort one might associate with a Broadway show.

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