Friday, August 1, 2014

"I don't want all that college stuff."
-Mr. S

The other day, when I was making a write-up for one of the paintings, Mr.S told me to make sure that I included "that thing at the end with all the books."  To which I asked for clarification; "do you mean the bibliography?"  In a huff he retorted, "No, not a bibli-... what is that!? I don't want all that college stuff!  I just want you to list the books at the end."

I think that I already mentioned that Mr. S's approach to art and research is slightly less academic than my own.  Mr. S never went to college himself and is of the opinion that, aside from landing a person their first job, there is little to be gained from a degree, or academic knowledge in general.  I suppose that if I try to view the world from the point of view of someone with his experience that is understandable; he is now a millionaire with a gallery full of priceless works of art.

What he doesn't seem to understand though is how much the work of those in academic fields have contributed directly to his success.  When this gallery was still new in the 60's and 70's, and in the decades before, the academic institutions were singing the praises of the modern artists, post modern artists, expressionists, cubists, and just about everything that was the opposite of the 19th and 18th century Rococo, Belle Epoque, and Preraphaelite painters that were the bread and butter of this gallery.  As a result collectors were more interested in Warhol and Pollack than they were in Bouguereau and Tadema, and Mr. S was able to buy paintings by such artists for a song, at least compared to today's prices.

Mr.S credits his success to his own foresight in buying these types of paintings, and perhaps he was able to correctly figure out that it was only a matter of time until such pieces would regain popularity.  The fact of the matter though is that this rise in popularity can once again be tied to the academic institutions.  It was about at this time that colleges and museums curated by and catering to the academic fields gave these artists a popular comeback, and in so doing drove the prices up through the roof.

So, Mr.S was able to buy low due to academia, and sell high, also due to academia.

The problem now, though, is that prices are still high and all the Bougeureaus and Tademas and paintings by other especially famous artists have already been sold.  The gallery can't buy them for the prices that it once did.  We have other wonderful artists of similar styles, but the name is the thing.  I'm not exactly sure what would give the gallery the same bump that it had through the 80's and 90's; maybe if this gallery was going to start selling like crazy again we should be begging, perhaps bribing, the academic institutions to start pushing the popularity of some of these other artists.

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