The New York Times marvels at the trend toward publishing massive, expensive art books, including a reissue of the Picasso catalogues raissoné written Christian Zervos and now republished by Staffan Ahrenberg. Although Ahrenberg insists he’s trying to run a commercial venture, the project was never a money-spinner when first published in the late 20th Century and still won’t be even priced at $15-20,000 this time around:
Mr. Ahrenberg bought the publishing rights, and the gallery is now reissuing “Pablo Picasso,” or as art world denizens call it, “the Zervos,” the most prominent catalogue raisonné of Picasso’s paintings and drawings. Comprising 33 volumes and more than 16,000 images, it was the result of an intense four-decade collaboration between the artist and Mr. Zervos.
“Zervos served Picasso very well, and Picasso was very grateful,” said John Richardson, the Picasso biographer.
The pre-order price will be $15,000 for the set; upon the work’s release in November, it will climb to $20,000. While the price tags may startle, in Mr. Ahrenberg’s view they are “irrelevant” to his target audience: “You can’t buy anything original by Picasso for less than $500,000, or maybe a couple hundred thousand dollars, that’s any good,” he said in an interview in Manhattan.
And he says, the price is a relative bargain compared with vintage sets, which themselves are collector’s items routinely selling for around $60,000 at auction and going for close to $200,000 in pristine condition.
A Tome to Rival the Artist Himself (NY Times)