For Collectors of the Fine and Decorative Arts

Features From Previous Issues

From the Editor: Fifty Years Ago—and Tomorrow

As 2009 comes to a close (and not a moment too soon, for many in the art world), we are being asked, from several quarters, to cast our minds back 50 years to 1959. That’s not for nostalgic reasons, but in order to understand where we are today. According to author Fred Kaplan, 1959 was “the year everything changed.” Continue reading

Collecting: Made in the Shade

Mezzotint allows artists to portray the world in all its many shades of gray. The printmaking technique, invented in 1642, renders the infinite subtleties of the tones that lie between black and white in a manner ideal for reproducing oil paintings. “Most reproductive techniques until then relied on line,” says Sheila O’Connell, assistant keeper of prints and drawings at the British Museum. “Mezzotint allows smoother transitions between line and shade.” Continue reading

Books: Magical Realism

This book is about Giambattista Tiepolo, the superbly energetic Venetian master of frescoed ceilings and inheritor of the mantle of Paolo Veronese. But it’s also about serpents, symbols, sacrifices, Persian magi, Chaldean oracles and ritual magic. None of which should surprise anyone who is familiar with the delightfully subversive scholarship and essayistic verve of Roberto Calasso, the Italian book publisher (his firm, Adelphi Edizioni, is headquartered in Milan) and writer on a wide variety of cultural subjects. Continue reading

Books: A Kleptocrat’s Collection

The great complexities of provenance research are little known to those outside the profession. Claimants of looted art, lawyers, judges and most journalists, unaware of the difficulties, often think that the exact history of a work of art is easily found. In her extraordinary book on the paintings collection of Hermann Goering, Nancy H. Yeide, chief of provenance research at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., makes clear that that is not the case. Continue reading

The Visionary

In 1930, at the age of 37, Charles Burchfield was given a one-man exhibition by the Museum of Modern Art. While by no means indifferent to the honor and in no way dissatisfied with the way his work was presented, the artist didn’t trouble himself to make the trip from his home in Buffalo, N.Y., to attend his own show. To MoMA director Alfred H. Barr Jr., he wrote, somewhat sheepishly, “I wish I had been able to come to the exhibit, but found it was impossible just now.” Continue reading

Inner Strengths

This past June and July, a very interesting thing took place in the London salesrooms of Christie’s and Sotheby’s. The results for Old Master paintings surpassed those for contemporary art, and they came surprisingly close to those for Impressionist and modern art. To market watchers, this topsy-turvy state of affairs signaled a shift in art-world priorities in the wake of the global economic crisis. Continue reading

Financial Report: The Pawnbroker

If the art of business has revolutionized the business of art in the past decade, Tony Barreiro and Ray Parker Gaylord are firmly in the vanguard. The San Francisco-based company ArtLoan, which they founded in 2004, lends money against the value of art collections owned by individuals and galleries. Continue reading

In a Nutshell: One for the Road

The impulse to personalize a car is almost as old as the car itself. Lord Montagu of Beaulieu, an English aristocrat, is credited with inventing the hood ornament, also known as the mascot, when he affixed a statue of St. Christopher to his 1899 Daimler. Continue reading

Books: Hucksters and Housekeepers

The defining moment in the career of James Rorimer, the sixth director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, fell on Nov. 9, 1965, when a blackout shut down the northeastern United States. With a loaded gun in hand, Rorimer patrolled his museum from dusk until dawn. He was, in the words of one associate, “a housekeeper extraordinaire,” an administrator safeguarding the past against an uncertain future. Continue reading

Essay: The Winnerless Game

Among the few items remaining in Marcel Duchamp’s studio after he quit painting in 1914 was an unmounted coat rack that tripped him up whenever he passed. Rather than nailing it to the wall where it belonged, one day he fixed it to the floor and, declaring it a readymade, dubbed it Trébuchet. Continue reading