Scott Reyburn’s weekend column in the International New York Times is tour de force. The ostensible subject is the relative decline demand for great Post-Impressionist and Modern works compared to the demand for postwar works.
But Reyburn adds this little reminder that little changes in the world of art market speculation and some much-flipped artists end up lasting and gaining even more in value:
“Vue sur l’Estaque et le Château d’If” is likely to have been one of the paintings the Paris dealer Ambroise Vollard acquired when, like some earlier version of Charles Saatchi or Stefan Simchowitz, he bought the entire contents of Cézanne’s studio in 1897.
The historian Gerald Reitlinger describes Cézanne in his 1961 masterwork “The Economics of Taste” as “the greatest artistic speculation of the century.” Reitlinger records how an 1877 still life bought at auction for £760 in 1907 — the year of the seismically influential Cézanne memorial exhibition at the Salon d’Automne in Paris — was “flipped” for a tidy £2,180 in 1913.
Reyburn gives the last word to art advisor Todd Levin:
“The critics are out of the game,” said the New York art adviser Todd Levin. “These days it’s dealers and collectors who build value, and artistic value has become conflated with price. That’s the problem.”
Levin’s right about that being a problem. But there is a simple solution to the question of which works by which artists will ultimately have lasting value: time.
Auction of a Cézanne Highlights New Realities (NYTimes.com)