Wednesday, November 4, 2009

A Beginning

With this missive I begin, on a regular basis, to send a brief commentary on the art market, the art world, and on select works of art from our website.

There have been many noteworthy events recently and I thought I would comment on a couple of them.

The International Fine Art & Antique Dealers Show took place from October 16 – 22 at the 67th Street Armory in New York. To start at the punch line, it seems to have been a success! A most pleasant surprise since, in 2008, it took place just as Lehman Brothers met its demise leaving no one in a mood to buy art. Meanwhile, collectors have found some equilibrium in their lives and in the economy and are again looking. As one dealer said to me, “it seems that people needed to start collecting again”.
Earlier in the year I heard from several good dealers that they had done a number of fairs that had gone well in the past and yet had made no sales at any of them. The tide has clearly begun to turn. What I personally found most gratifying was that the art dealers had brought quality pieces to put on view. There were virtually no show stoppers, but neither was there an effort to show just easily saleable cheap goods.

Another turn of the tide took place at the beginning of the year when the great director from the Metropolitan Museum, Philippe de Montebello, retired after over 30 years at the helm of this country’s most important art museum and the young Thomas P. Campbell became the new director. Tom is a similar age to Philippe when he became director and clearly will be looking in new directions. Tom coming from a decorative arts background with his profound expertise in textiles and particularly tapestries and Philippe who was always a paintings person will have a different take on the art world.
I am sure there will be no revolutionary changes but slowly but surely we will see his own imprint on our great institution.

On October 19 the Frick Museum gave a gala dinner in honor of Philippe de Montebello. There have been many dinners given in his honor over the last 10 months, but this was certainly one of the most significant (so much so that several curators and the new director from the Metropolitan attended). During his tenure at the Metropolitan, Philippe became a most articulate and insightful speaker and I envy his students at the Institute of Fine Arts of New York University who will be able to hear him on a regular basis. What struck me most about his speech was the fact that he mentioned that two years have passed since he had made his decision to leave the Met, the first being a transition year and by the following year when he left he was on to new projects.
He is not resting on his many and well deserved laurels, but instead has become a teacher and adviser passing on his invaluable experience to others.

This blog is a work in progress.
Suggestions for future commentary are gladly accepted at (stiebel.ltd@stiebel.com).

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