Page 13 - Studio International - January 1965
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                                  'If you want to  invest 6000  livres in pictures.  capital!'   London  in  pre-1939  days  for  as  little  as  £20  without
                                  So  wrote  Voltaire  to  Bonaventure  Moussinot.  a  priest   finding  buyers-such  stories  are  not  all  apocryphal.
                                  and  Voltaire's  man  of business  to  whom  he  entrusted   But how is the ·green' purchaser to know 7  He cannot.
                                  his affairs while he was  on forced  exile from  Paris on   But if he makes an acquaintance with a dealer in a busy
                                  27  March. 1737.  Trust  was  certainly  implicit  in  large   gallery  it  is  extremely  unlikely  that  he  will  lose  either
                                  measure,  for  in  the  letter  Voltaire  expresses  no  choice   money  or  time  in  buying  works  sold  with  the  recom­
                                  of  the  artists  whose  work  he  would  favour.  As.  just   mendation of the gallery director.  But what 7  Beginning
                                  recently in  London.  the Institute of  Directors has been   at the bottom he can acquire British prints-lithographs.
                                  inciting its members to invest in the arts it might be of   etchings. linocuts. in editions of up to a hundred for as
                                  value to  consider in what artists  business  and  profes­  little as a few guineas from places like the  Print Centre.
                                  sional men might profitably and pleasurably invest in.   Going into the international sphere for the same media
                                   To begin with.  they should eschew  Old  Masters  and   costs  more  but  one  can  obtain  signed  lithographs by
                                  even minor artists of the antique schools. To buy names   Miro.  Chagall and others of the ilk at the  Redfern. the
                                  is  to  earmark  too  much  capital  on  too  few  objects.   Grosvenor. etc.  Drawings are unique and often the most
                                  They should  buy paintings  and  graphic  works  as  well   intimate  revelations  of  the  pictorial  genius.  Roland
                                  as  sculptures  that  are created  by  men  or women  who   Browse and  Delbanco.  the  Reid  Gallery,  the  Leicester.
                                  are alive today.  If possible the works should be bought   the  Piccadilly,  will  offer  you  choice  specimens  by
                                  by  people  who  are  acquainted  with  the  artist.  This  is   Rodin.  Epstein.  Herman or  Lowry at a price and a size
                                  not  difficult.  Most  artists  appear  at  their  own  private   that  is  the  most  convenient  for  transporting  visual
                                  views;  they  are  only  too  willing  to  talk  about  their   treasure.
                                  aims  and intentions to anyone  who  is  at all interested   Nearly all modern  galleries  in  London  put on  exhibi­
                                  in buying and a personal talk with the artist can some­  tions  by  British  artists  both  known  and  unknown  as
                                  time establish a sympathy and liking to a painting that   well  as  French.  American.  Italian.  German.  Spanish.
                                  taken  'cold'  can  fail  to  register  at  short  notice  even   Greek  and  Dutch.  The  British  artists  generally  come
                                  part  of  the  motive.  In  this  way,  too.  the  collector  can   cheapest  for  not  many  of  the  foreigners  are  without
                                  even  elicit  the  creator's  feelings  towards  this  or  that   reputations at home which come with them and inflate
                                  canvas  and.  indeed.  even  between  shows  a  collector   the  prices  Therein  lies  the  problem.  To  buy  a  young
                                  can  acquire  direct  from  the  studio  something  that  no   British artist who may never make a reputation abroad
                                  one else may have  seen. not even the dealer.  (Naturally   and  thus  lose the  capital  gain  or  take the  best  offered
                                  dealers  are  averse  to  this  procedure  if  they  have  an   from  a  foreign  artist  who.  one  suspects.  has  already
                                  artist  under  contract  but if the  price  is  one  the  dealer   disposed of the cream in his gallery at home.  But bold­
                                  agrees and he receives his 33½ per cent commission or   ness  can  benefit.  Example:  Kenneth  Armitage's  Little
                                  whatever it may be the transaction is not so unusual.)   Monitor  in  bronze.  edition  of  six.  width  15  inches.
                                   Another important factor in buying is to be early and   executed 1961 was bought by the late Mr. Walter Ross
                                  be bold.  Early in the sense of seeing as many first one­  from  Marlborough  Fine  Art  in  1962;  at  Parke  Bernet
                                  man  shows  as  possible  and  even  spotting  winners  in   New  York.  on  21  October  last  it  fetched  $2.800
                                  mixed 'accrochages.·  Dealers themselves are frequently   (£1,000).  There are  British collectors who reading this
                                  on  the look-out for talent at exhibitions such as those   item  can  feel  pleased  they  supported  Armitage  earlier
                                  of  the  London  Group.  the  Young  Contemporaries  and   when  he  was  producing  even  more  interesting  sculp­
                                  even  of prize winning  and diploma  works  by  students   tures.  Even  the thief who  stole  his  Woman  with  arms
                                  of  the  Royal  College  of  Art.  the  Slade  and  the  Royal   raised. a  bronze  thirteen  inches high. from  Gimpel  Fils
                                  Academy  Schools.  One  Harley  Street  doctor  is  well­  Gallery  where  it  was  on  view  in  October  1957  and
                                  known  for  his  compulsive  purchasing  of  inexpensive   priced at  150  guineas.  must  be  regretting  that  he  did
                                  paintings-from  Heath  Street.  Hampstead,  'against the   not have  the foresight  to  invest  in it honestly.
                                  fence.' from  Hyde  Park.  the  Flea  Market and the  Place   Time  and  even  politics  can  exert  influences  of
                                  du Tertre in  Paris.  He has a great deal of junk but now   importance.  Kurt Schwitters who died in  England was
                                  and  again he has  a 'find'.  At  best.  he  buys  a  genuine   laughed at by fellow artists not twenty years ago yet his
                                  work of art for next to nothing. at the worst he provides   Merz collages have soared in price. The vacuum left by
                                  several  square  meals  for  an  impecunious  dauber.   the  Nazis  in  German collecting finds itself being filled
                                   But not every one has his taste or the time to indulge   by acquisitions  of the works  of  the preceding  Expres­
                                  it.  For  the  desk-bound  City  man-or  woman-his   sionists  and  even  those  'degenerates·  who  painted  in
                                  resources  must  be  channelled  through  a  gallery  or   secret  or  in exile  during the war.
                                  galleries. of which there are many.  Bond Street and its   But  the  dealer  is the  key figure.  Artists  come to him,
                                  environs are the centre in  London's West  End and here   collectors  must  seek  his advice.  There are many  good
                                  you may  buy the  art  of the  world  or  covet  it.  For less   ones.  some  brilliant.  some  safe.  some  speculative.  If
                                  than  £100  you  may  buy  a  painting  up  to  four  feet   you look ahead and think that Soviet art will become a
                                  square by a young man who may well please even your   sought-after  commodity you  will  go to  the  Grosvenor
                                  untutored eye.  If you buy a painting such as  this from   Gallery,  if  U.S.  hard-edge  heraldic  is  to  be  a  lasting
                                  a good dealer you have the assurance that he is inter­  phase you cannot avoid the  Kasmin. If you believe that
                                  ested  in  establishing  a  reputation  for  his  artists  and   Cornwall. having nourished Ben Nicholson and Barbara
                                  inseparably for himself.  It is not unknown for a  dealer   Hepworth.  is  not  yet  'dry'  you  had  better  call  at  the
                                  to comment somewhat ruefully that his collectors have   Waddington.  The  list  is  legion.  the  pages  of  Studio
                                 made enormous capital appreciation from what he sold   International reflect the variety. The result is up to your
                                 them  while  he  has  made  only the commission  on  the   eyes-and your feet.                   ■
                                 sale. The same dealer can also point to occasions when
         Studio International    he offered collectors works  that gained appreciably in
         Volume  CLXIX  No.  861   value and neither party gained a penny.  Paul  Klee is a
         January,  1965          famous example of an artist whose work was offered in
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