Blog: Following in their Footsteps (sort of)

Christine Alfery

Posted on April 27 2020

Blog: Following in their Footsteps (sort of)

An exciting thing happened in the art market recently. The Wall Street Journal, in their April 7, 2020 edition wrote an article about selling the collection of a lifetime high-end art collector. What makes it so exciting is that the collection will be sold through private galleries rather than the usual large auction houses. Pace, Acquavella and Gagosian are going to sell over 300 works by well-known contemporary artists from the 60’s. These galleries have never been known to work together and have been competitors for major art works for a long time through the art auction house. According to the article:

“The galleries are longtime rivals, but said they decided to team up for the first time to “make a point” that galleries can compete with auction houses for blockbuster estates, said Marc Glimcher, president and chief executive of Pace and the deal’s architect.”

I find this change exciting. It stirs the pot and offers change in an art market that has been overwhelmed by “matchy-matchy wall décor” and “millennial pink.” 

I sense a trend that is reflected in this sale - galleries and auction houses continue to gravitate towards the contemporary works of the 60’s. Why? Because they understand the impact that generation had on art history – they recognize the power of the change represented by that time.

That change was reflected in artworks that were shocking, different, and new. Unfortunately, many galleries and artists continue to chase the idea of that change while missing the concept of creativity that permeated the 60s artists work. Trying to re-create the shocking, the different, and the new just for the sake of new misses the concept of creativity that resulted in the powerful change represented by that time. The uniqueness of ideas represented by artists from the 60s is something that many artists struggle to create today, yet many galleries and auction houses seem to value.

Take the Abstract Expressionists as an example – where art was suddenly, and shockingly, defined as part of the artist, rather than entangled with notions of culture and government. It is this notion of uniqueness that inspires me and other artists today who seek notions of independence, individualism and uniqueness. It is this idea of newness that that inspired me and others to scream in their own voice. 

Perhaps as the art market continues to change we will see a trend toward valuing those who collect and create for themselves rather than following the ideas of others, or ideas of the past. Perhaps we are starting to see a step toward the freedom that will allow art to, once again, be unique. 

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