Phillips auction house gets its close up in today’s New York Times. The article rightly emphasizes that Phillips has moved into a new role. The auction house duopoly is so deeply ingrained in the art market, it will be interesting to see how the dynamic between specialists and business getters changes when there are three viable options across the three major sales venues of New York, London and Hong Kong.
Robert Manley hints at more moves to make women artists shine in the marketplace after setting a record for Carmen Herrera earlier this month:
“It was great to put these amazing women artists on a platform with Richter and Dubuffet and Calder,” Mr. Manley said. “Starting next season, we’re going to break down those boundaries more and more.”
Phillips is also taking an approach to auction catalogs that is different from its competitors, which tend to publish costly “huge tomes that are these pseudo-art-historical textbooks that increasingly few people will ever read,” Mr. Manley said.
“We try to focus on the information that really matters to clients,” he added.
Phillips doesn’t seem to be letting the relative success get them too excited. Here’s Jean-Paul Engelen with a sober assessment that suggests they’re really serious this time:
“We’re still in this phase when we get the sympathy vote,” Mr. Engelen said. “I don’t think it’s a giant leap. It’s just a good step to take.”
“As long as we have a seat at the table, that was the whole point,” he added. “Let’s get a seat at the table.”