Auctions rarely have big ideas that bring together the disparate objects on offer and in an era when art prices are down sharply from their peaks and no one wants to slaver over the same old multi-million-dollar works, a writer has to cast about for a theme. Kelly Crow chooses the idea that collectors have turned their back on the international art world in favor of local heroes:
Marjorie Ornston, a Los Angeles photography collector, has flown to art fairs in Paris and Miami Beach and belongs to the Photograph Council at the J. Paul Getty Museum. But last weekend she jumped at the chance to sift through bins of daguerreotypes, wanted posters, and California streetscapes offered up by struggling local dealers in a one-day sale at Dawson’s Bookshop in Los Angeles. She paid $475 for a midcentury color photograph of a young Mexican odalisque, a “great price” considering the work’s unusual history, she says.
The shift could be a cultural boon for artists in cities like Atlanta, Austin and Detroit that have been overlooked by the art establishment. In Austin, dealer Lora Reynolds seems like a market anomaly: Sales at her eponymous gallery are “much better” this year than before the market crashed, she says, in part because she expanded into a bigger space and broadened her base of Austin collectors. “We weren’t hit as hard by the crisis, and collectors here still want art,” Ms. Reynolds adds.
Crow certainly brings forth a number of other collectors to testify to this trend. But tying the thesis to the Fall sales in New York requires a fair bit of massaging. Crow says the auction houses don’t have any Indian or Chinese artists in these sales. But she knows well that Indian art is sold in separate sales that took place just last September and both major houses moved their Chinese Contemporary sales to Hong Kong before the credit collapse last September. (And just a week or so ago, there as a significant sale in London of a Chinese artist’s work.)
The Art World Goes Local (Wall Street Journal)