Bendor Grosvenor is disappointed by Christie’s recent decision to move its January Old Master sale to April in New York and combine the sales with other categories under the terms, Classic Art:
is Christie’s running up the white flag in its battle with Sotheby’s in New York? For the last few January sales, Sotheby’s has decisively won the contest, with higher sales figures and better offerings. I hope Christie’s are not blaming the calendar for their apparent inability to compete. But maybe Christie’s are hoping that by re-packaging their Old Master sales with more modern works, they’ll be able to persuade consignors that they have better access to a wider pool of clients.
What are we to make, then, of the re-branding of Old Masters to ‘Classic Art’? It strikes me as a little defeatist, but then I’m an old stick-in-the-mud when it comes to these things. The National Gallery in London, in its most recent blockbuster exhibition for Late Rembrandt didn’t refer to him as a ‘Classic artist’. He was/is an ‘Old Masters’. It’s a term everybody understands. Getting people to buy works by the likes of Rembrandt isn’t going to be made easier just by taking the word ‘old’ out of the equation. Is it?
Christie’s ‘Classic Art Week’ (Art History News – by Bendor Grosvenor)