leslierankow

Contemporary and Modern Art Advisory Service

Private collections open to the public, a philanthropic contribution and tax strategy

The Menil Collection 20th Century Gallery

The Menil Collection
20th Century Gallery

A CHARITABLE TRUST ALLOWS A GENEROUS DONATION TO A CHARITY OF YOUR CHOICE WHILE PROVIDING A TAX BREAK TO YOU AND TO YOUR HEIRS. THESE ARE IRREVOCABLE TRUSTS  THUS DEMANDING PARTICULARLY CAREFUL CONSIDERATION.  ONCE THE TRUST GOES INTO EFFECT, THE DECISION CAN NOT BE REVERSED AND YOU CAN NOT REGAIN LEGAL CONTROL OF THE PROPERTY IN THE TRUST.

WITH THAT IN MIND, IN LIGHT OF THE EVER EXPANDING PASSION FOR COLLECTING BOTH ART AND COLLECTIBLES, MANY CHARITABLY-MINDED HIGH NET WORTH INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES ARE TARGETING THIS TAX AND ESTATE PLANNING OPPORTUNITY.

Ken Griffin's collection showcased at Chicago's Art Institute

Ken Griffin’s collection showcased at Chicago’s Art Institute

IN SEPTEMBER 2016, LEGAL EXPERTS DIANA WIERBICKI AND PAUL ROY, OF WITHERS BERGMAN, AS GUEST EDITORS IN JANET NOVAK’S COLUMN AT FORBES ON TAX AND RETIREMENT PLANNING AND POLICY, CONTRIBUTED A CLEAR AND COMPREHENSIVE ARTICLE ON A NEW IRS REVENUE PROCEDURE  THAT MAKES A CHARITABLE REMAINDER TRUST AN EXCELLENT VEHICLE FOR PHILANTHROPIC ART COLLECTORS.

The Broad Collection Downtown Los Angeles

The Broad Collection
Downtown Los Angeles

 

NEW IRS RULE OPENS TAX SAVING STRATEGY TO ART COLLECTORS

Art and collectibles are subject to a 28% long-term federal capital gains rate, compared to a top rate of 20% for stocks and other investments assets.  Add on the 3.8% Net Investment Income Tax and state and local income taxes, and a New York City collector can end up paying up to 44% on gains; a California collector could pay up to 45%.

So understandably, collectors are always looking for ways to mitigate this tax burden. A new IRS Revenue Procedure makes using certain charitable remainder trusts (CRTs) as vehicles for tax deferral more viable for art and collectibles.  Moreover, this change comes at an opportune time, what with the Federal Reserve expected to increase interest rates later this year. (Charitable remainder trusts are most effective in higher interest environments.)

https://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-drop/rp-16-42.pdf

The Ellsworth Kelly Room The Fisher Collection at SFMoMA

The Ellsworth Kelly Room
The Fisher Collection at SFMoMA

The dual benefit of CRTs

The name “charitable remainder trust” suggests a charitable component, and not surprisingly, CRTs are typically used by those who are both charitably inclined and want to sell a highly appreciated asset without paying a big capital gains tax bill. If appreciated art is sold outright by an art collector, the collector would owe income tax on the gain in the year of the sale.  By contrast, if a CRT sells the appreciated art, the gain is taxed over time as distributions are made from the CRT. Meanwhile, the CRT, which is itself generally exempt from state and federal income taxes, can reinvest the full amount of sale proceeds unreduced by taxes.  Additionally, in the year the CRT sells art, the collector can take a charitable deduction on his individual income tax return — a deduction based on the remainder value of the CRT that is projected (based on formulas dictated by the IRS) to be left for charity.

de la Cruz Collection Miami, Florida

de la Cruz Collection
Miami, Florida

 How a collectibles CRT works

Typically, a collector transfers art to the CRT and the CRT’s trustee sells that art, reinvesting the proceeds in a portfolio of stocks and bonds.  As noted above, the initial transfer of art to the CRT and the subsequent sale of the art will not result in a current capital gains tax bill for either the art collector or the CRT.

Scott Burton Rock Settee Pulitzer Arts Foundation St. Louis, MO

Scott Burton
Rock Settee
Pulitzer Arts Foundation
St. Louis, MO

The CRT then makes a series of annual payments to a non-charitable beneficiary, usually the art collector who created the trust (or a family member) for his or her life or for a term of years.  The annual payments to the art collector or family member will be made from the CRT’s portfolio of assets, and the amount will vary depending on the structure of the CRT.

GUEST POST, September 21, 2016, FORBES/Personal Finance#TakeATaxBreak with Janet Novack

Diana Wierbicki is the global head of art law at Withers Bergman. Paul Roy is of counsel at the firm. 

Rockefeller Center

Rockefeller Center

SLEIGH BELLS ARE RINGING, OR AT LEAST THOSE OF THE  SALVATION ARMY CAROLERS ON FIFTH AVENUE AND THE HOLIDAYS ARE RAPIDLY APPROACHING! ONE ANNUAL TRADITION AT THE LRFA BLOG IS BOOK EXPERT DOUG FLAMM’S CONTRIBUTION HIGHLIGHTING  SPECIAL ART PUBLICATIONS TO GIVE (AND TO REQUEST) ON YOUR SANTA’S WISH LIST.

DOUG HAS JOINED GAGOSIAN GALLERY TO DEVELOP AND EXPAND ITS BOOK STORE AND ENRICH ITS INVENTORY OF ARTISTS’ BOOKS AND RARE BOOKS. LOCATED AT 976 MADISON, MAKE IT YOUR FIRST STOP FOR THE HOLIDAY SHOPPING SEASON!

 

 

Another of life’s certainties: Art and Taxes, with legal art expert Diana Wierbicki

Sotheby's New York November 2016 Evening Sale

Sotheby’s New York
November 2016 Evening Sale

DESPITE THE TREPIDATION THAT FACED THE NEW YORK AUCTION HOUSES IN ANTICIPATION OF LAST WEEK’S NEW YORK NOVEMBER AUCTIONS, THE RESULTS WERE REASSURINGLY STABLE. QUALITY WON AND ALTHOUGH A MORE JUDICIOUS AND CAUTIOUS ATTITUDE PERVADED THE SALES ROOMS, AT THE SAME TIME, RECORD PRICES WERE ESTABLISHED IN IMPRESSIONIST, MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY SECTORS.

Claude Monet (1840-1926) Meule signed and dated 'Claude Monet 91' (lower left) oil on canvas 28 5/8 x 36 ¼ in. (72.7 x 92.1 cm.) Painted in 1891

Claude Monet (1840-1926)
Meule
signed and dated ‘Claude Monet 91’ (lower left)
oil on canvas
28 5/8 x 36 ¼ in. (72.7 x 92.1 cm.)
Painted in 1891

A NEW WORLD AUCTION RECORD FOR CLAUDE MONET’S GREAT WORK FROM THE GRAINSTACK SERIES WAS ESTABLISHED AT $81 MiLLION AND KANDINSKY’S 1935 OIL REALIZED SLIGHTED OVER $23 MILLION. AT SOTHEBY’S CONTEMPORARY EVENING SALE, GERHARD RICHTER’S A B, STILL TRIUMPHED AT $34 MILLION AND A NEW RECORD PRICE OF $11.7 MILLION WAS ESTABLISHED FOR ARTIST DAVID HOCKNEY’S MONUMENTAL WOLDGATE WOODS, 24, 25, and 26, OCTOBER 2006. 

AS THE ART MARKET CONTINUES TO HOLD SWAY AND RECORD PRICES ARE REALIZED AT AUCTION, THE PRACTICE AND FOCUSED SERVICES OF LAWYERS EXPERIENCED IN ART LAW, THE ART AND AUCTION MARKET AND MUSEUMS AND ART FOUNDATIONS HAVE GROWN IN GEOMETRIC PROGRESSION.

AS ALL PARTICIPANTS IN THE ART MARKET FACE ART SPECIFIC ISSUES OF OWNERSHIP, THIS TIMELY ARTICLE BY FORBES’ GUEST EXPERTS DIANA WIERBICKI AND SETH COHEN OF WITHERS BERGMAN FOCUSES ON THE TAX CONSIDERATIONS AND CONSEQUENCES OF THE ACQUISITION AND DEACCESSION AND ESTATE PLANNING OF ART IN THE UNITED STATES.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935. Oil and sand on canvas. 44⅞ x 63⅞ in Estimate: $18,000,000-25,000,000.

Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944), Rigide et Courbé, 1935.
Oil and sand on canvas. 44⅞ x 63⅞ in
Estimate: $18,000,000-25,000,000.

PART II

Timeframe for Resale

A factor generally reviewed by NYS when determining whether a purchaser is a reseller (vs. a collector or investor) is the amount of time it takes for the purchaser to resell the art. This is a challenging factor for sellers of art because art that is fresh to the market generally garners higher prices. For art to appreciate enough to result in a profitable resale, it cannot be sold immediately after purchase. Therefore, the turnover of items for resale in the art market is not analogous to the timing of resale in other markets. This is at odds with the traditional notion that the longer an item is owned, the more it looks like investment property instead of inventory for resale, and suggests that NYS should be analyzing the resale timing in the context of the art market structure. That being said, there is no guarantee that NYS will take art market nuances into account when applying their general rules. In case of an audit or investigation, it is advisable to highlight art industry differences as a way to counterbalance the importance of this factor. Since the determination as to being a reseller looks at all relevant facts and circumstances, it is prudent that a putative reseller with long periods between sales ensure that the other factors be legitimately in the reseller’s favor.

Gerhard Richter B. 1932 A B, STILL, 1986 oil on canvas 88 1/2 by 78 3/4 in. 224.8 by 200 cm.

Gerhard Richter
B. 1932
A B, STILL, 1986
oil on canvas
88 1/2 by 78 3/4 in. 224.8 by 200 cm.

A few of those factors are: (i) whether the purchaser maintains a gallery or specific place of business; (ii) whether the purchaser is an expert in the applicable area of art; (iii) whether the purchaser has employees; and (iv) how the purchaser reports and treats the income derived from sales (i.e., a purchaser cannot have it both ways – by claiming reseller status, while treating the income from sales as investment income subject to capital gains rates). In other words, a reseller operates a business and the more that business acts like a business, the greater the chance that it will survive unscathed by any NYS scrutiny. If investigated by NYS, having complete documentation as to these factors is key as many an investigator or auditor has been swayed by both the information contained in the documentation and the propositions for which they stand.

David Hockney WOLDGATE WOODS, 24, 25, AND 26 OCTOBER 2006 oil on canvas, in six parts overall: 72 by 144 in. 182.9 by 365.7 cm.

David Hockney
WOLDGATE WOODS, 24, 25, AND 26 OCTOBER 2006
oil on canvas, in six parts
overall: 72 by 144 in. 182.9 by 365.7 cm.

Selling Art off the Walls of a Home

There may be a valid business reason for displaying art in a personal residence, but by doing so, you invite a struggle with NYS. For example, a reseller’s home may be a great place to display art during orchestrated gatherings with potential buyers to show clients what the art looks like in a home environment. Nonetheless, despite valid reasons for home displays, NYS will highly scrutinize them and, to be frank, NYS is not without justification. NYS has the understandable view that a home display carries with it the purpose of personal use, namely the enjoyment of the art. This is not to say that home display is an automatic disqualifier, but a reseller argument where there is home display will likely be an uphill battle with investigators given their assumption that the reseller exemption is inapplicable. We note that, in some cases, having an area within the home used solely for business purposes has proved successful in defending against taxes and penalties in an audit and subsequent litigation.

 

Guest post by Diana Wierbicki and Seth Cohen, FORBES , May 10, 2016, in Janet Novak: Taxing Matters 
Diana Wierbicki is global head of art law and Seth Cohen is a partner specializing in tax controversies at Withers Bergman.

AND NOW, A WEEKEND OF FAMILY, FRIENDS, FOOTBALL, AND FOR SOME INCORRIGIBLE FEW, FITNESS! HAPPY THANKSGIVING FROM THE LRFA BLOG!

Wayne Thiebaud Turkey Dinner For the cover of the New Yorker November 21, 2011

Wayne Thiebaud
Turkey Dinner
For the cover of the New Yorker
November 21, 2011

Art, a taxable commodity, with legal expert Diana Wierbicki

251068799_a9122c5bf3_m144

 

AS YOU BUY OR SELL A WORK OF ART, STAYING OUT OF TAX TROUBLE IS AS IMPORTANT A CONSIDERATION AS THE PROVENANCE, CONDITION AND PERIOD OF THE WORK.  SINCE ART HAS BECOME A GLOBAL, MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY, AND HAS BECOME A SIGNIFICANT CONTRIBUTOR TO A STATE’S TAX COFFERS, PARTICULARLY NEW YORK STATE, ART DEALERS AND COLLECTORS HAVE BECOME THE FOCUS OF SCRUTINY BY STATE  TAX AUTHORITIES. IN THIS VIGOROUS INTERNATIONAL MARKET, ALLEGATIONS HAVE SURFACED THAT ART TRANSACTIONS ARE SOMETIMES A MEANS TO LAUNDER MONEY AND AVOID TAXES.

AS NOVEMBER IS AUCTION MONTH IN NEW YORK AND WE ARE RAPIDLY APPROACHING MIAMI ART BASEL, A SPECTACULAR NUMBER OF WORKS SPANNING IMPRESSIONIST, MODERN, POST-WAR, CONTEMPORARY, LATIN AMERICAN AND AMERICAN WORKS OF ART WILL EXCHANGE HANDS. THE LRFA BLOG PRESENTS THIS TIMELY CONTRIBUTION TO FORBES MAGAZINE, POSTED IN MAY 2016, BY ESTEEMED LEGAL EXPERTS, DIANA WIERBICKI AND SETH COHEN OF WITHERS BERGMAN. DIANA WIERBICKI IS GLOBAL HEAD OF ART LAW AND SETH COHEN IS A PARTNER SPECAILIZING IN TAX CONTROVERSIES AT WITHERS BERGMAN.

Guest post by Diana Wierbicki and Seth Cohen, FORBES , May 10, 2016, in Janet Novak: Taxing Matters 

Given that the art market is a multi-billion dollar industry and that so many of the world’s art sales and purchases take place in New York State (at record breaking prices), it is no wonder that cash-strapped state authorities are broadly searching for instances of tax evasion in the art world. We are seeing a tremendous increase in audits and investigations in this area and two recent settlements show the investigations are resulting in the payment of millions of dollars to the state. With results this profitable, it is likely that NYS investigations of art transactions will continue.

NYS is currently focusing on the use of resale certificates (which exempt a purchase from sales tax) in connection with art purchases. Under New York’s tax law, items purchased for resale must not be used for any other purpose, meaning personal enjoyment is a prohibited use. A person need not have the intent to evade a tax to be in violation of this law and may innocently fail to comply with the law simply by not knowing its complicated rules. Bottom line? This type of mistake can be costly and, in an industry where reputation is key, serious damage can be inflicted on an otherwise pristine reputation.

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is on the hunt for tax abuses in the art world. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is on the hunt for tax abuses in the art world. (Photo by Eduardo Munoz Alvarez/Getty Images)

On May 3rd of this year, NYS Attorney General Eric Schneiderman released the following statement: “We are committed to rooting out tax abuses wherever we find them, especially in the art world, where the difference can be hundreds of thousands — if not millions — of dollars in lost tax revenue per sale. When art collectors don’t pay their fair share, law abiding New Yorkers should not be stuck footing the bill.” Strong words that are being backed-up with strong action.

 Damien Hirst ‘The Virgin Mother’ Lever House on Park Avenue. Photo Credit: Anthony Moore/Sipa Press

Damien Hirst
‘The Virgin Mother’
Lever House on Park Avenue.
Photo Credit: Anthony Moore/Sipa Press

The two settlements recently in the press involve the well-known real estate investor Aby Rosen and art sales executive Victoria Gelfand. It was reported that they each own companies essentially formed to buy and sell art using resale certificates; they purchased art that was used for something other than resale; and the conditions of their settlements with NYS include future sales and use tax compliance.In Rosen’s case, his companies were used to purchase and commission 200 works of art (all but one of which were acquired with a resale certificate) for a total of $80 million from 2002 through 2015. The art was used for the purpose of Rosen’s enjoyment at his personal residences and to enhance his real estate company’s brand by displaying the art in his offices. According to the Attorney General, Rosen should have paid sales tax on each artwork when purchased or, alternatively, if the art was originally intended to be resold, sales tax should have been paid at the point the use of the art “diverted” to an ineligible use. Rosen settled with NYS for $7 million.

Gelfand used her companies to purchase 30 works of art for a total of $1 million from 2005 through 2013. The settlement was paid only with respect to works that were displayed in her home. Of particular note is the following quote from the Attorney General’s statement: “Art buyers may not avoid sales or use tax simply by claiming that artwork they enjoy at home is intended for resale…that rule is clear, and my office is committed to ensuring the art industry follows it.” Gelfand settled with NYS for $200,000.

The following tips highlight a few important takeaways from these settlements.

Resale Means Exclusively for Resale

The sole purpose and intent of an art purchase must be to resell the art. For example, in P-H Fine Arts Ltd. v. New York State Tax Appeals Tribunal, the taxpayer, Bob Guccioni, purchased artwork to enhance his “image as a publisher,” as well as the image of his business. Consequently, although the taxpayer intended to resell the art, the court denied his resale certificate because reselling was not his sole reason for purchasing the artwork.

IN PART TWO OF THE LRFA BLOG, THE LEGAL DEFINITIONS THAT APPLY TO RESALE OF ARTWORKS IN NEW YORK STATE ARE DEFINED.

 

Diana Wierbicki Senior Partner Withers Bergman

Diana Wierbicki
Senior Partner
Withers Bergman

Guest post by Diana Wierbicki and Seth Cohen, FORBES , May 10, 2016, in Janet Novak: Taxing Matters 
Diana Wierbicki is global head of art law and Seth Cohen is a partner specializing in tax controversies at Withers Bergman.

 

 

Meredith Harper’s White Road: The estate of porcelain master Rudolf Staffel

 

White Magic: Robert Ryman and Rudolf Staffel Installation view David Nolan Gallery

White Magic: Robert Ryman and Rudolf Staffel
Installation view
David Nolan Gallery

 

IN THE WHITE ROAD, EDMUND DE WAAL, RENOWNED AUTHOR AND CERAMICIST RECOUNTS HIS PILGRMINAGE TO THE THREE MOST IMPORTANT SITES IN THE HISTORY OF PORCELAIN – JINGZEDHEN IN CHINA, NAZI DRESDEN AND CORNWALL, ENGLAND. A RAREFIED AND DELICATE MEDIUM, DE WAAL BRINGS ITS ALCHEMICAL MAGIC TO HIS READERS AND TO CULTURAL HISTORIANS, ARTISTS AND COLLECTORS OF THIS EVER MORE RECOGNIZED ART FORM.

“It’s really quite simple, a pilgrimage of sorts, to beginnings, a chance to walk up the mountain where the white earth comes from …I have a plan to go to three places where porcelain was invented, or reinvented, three white hills in China and Germany and England.” Three white hills, each yielding a white object.

-Edmund de Waal, The White Road, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2015

“It’s an inscrutable material,” he replies, slowly at first, “in the sense that it comes from earth but seems to aspire to something else. It seems closer to glass – closer to air – than the earth. So to me it’s utterly about a moment of alchemical change.” He pauses. “Does that sound b——-?”

He gives another little laugh. “Also, porcelain has an otherness, an elsewhere-ness, about it – it has come a long way, it’s part of a trajectory of a thousand years, and has mystery and mystique and all that stuff within it. There is no moment when porcelain ever becomes ordinary. It is always ‘best’.

-Edmund de Waal, New York Times Magazine Interview, November 29, 2015

 

TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS PLEASED TO WELCOME MEREDITH HARPER, ADVISOR AND CURATOR.  MEREDITH HARPER FINE ART REPRESENTS THE ESTATE OF RUDOLF STAFFEL, AN ARTIST IN PORCELAIN. IN A CAREER SPANNING MORE THAN SIX DECADES, PHILADELPHIA BASED STAFFEL ENJOYED AN INTERNATIONAL REPUTATION. HE LIBERATED A STRONG, WHITE CERAMIC MATERIAL INTO ONE OF TRANSLUCENCY AND SCULPTURAL FORM. http://www.rudolfstaffel.com/about/

http://www.harperfineart.com/MHFA1/About.html

MEREDITH,  STAFFEL IS  REALLY A SCULPTOR IN PORCELAIN.

Absolutely — they’re sculptures that just happen to be made from porcelain, but also which by their very nature could only be made from porcelain.  They’re also like three-dimensional paintings … Rudi thought of himself as a watercolorist in clay, and I think this feeling and accomplishment is very clear in these works.  It’s not accident that the Staffel sculptures and the Ryman paintings in my White Magic exhibition had such a strong affinity. 

Sol LeWitt at MoMA

Sol LeWitt at MoMA

Staffel was trying to do the same type of thing that occupied many of the Minimalist artists who also found their voices in the 1960s, not just Ryman, but also Agnes Martin, and Sol Lewitt, etc.:  how to economize your means to create a deeper message, how to create an artwork that draws one in and inspires meditative contemplation, and how to reduce and manipulate the medium to its own pure ends.  Zen Buddhism was important here, for many of these artists.  They limited themselves to a set of rules, and the result was expansive — Rudi did so too, with porcelain, whiteness, and light.

Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim

Agnes Martin at the Guggenheim

HOW DO YOU INTEND TO REPRESENT THE ESTATE?

Rudi passed away in 2002 at the age of 91, and not long thereafter his primary gallery, Helen Drutt in Philadelphia, closed it’s day-to-day operations.  He’d had major retrospectives in the Netherlands in 1990 and at the Design Museum in Helsinki and the Philadelphia Museum of Art in 1996-97, but those were his last major museum shows. So for me in representing the Estate it’s not about establishing his reputation so much as reviving it, and exposing a new generation of collectors to his work.  I do that through my own work with it, and also by partnering with galleries such as for the White Magic exhibition at David Nolan Gallery.  We’re fortunate in that there’s now an incredible amount of much-deserved attention now being focused on ceramics, but what one of the things I explain to collectors less familiar with him is that Rudi has been a giant in that world for a long time … There’s not a significant book or exhibition on American studio ceramics that doesn’t recognize his sublime vision and contribution to the art form. 

David Nolan Gallery Installation view White Magic, 2014

David Nolan Gallery
Installation view
White Magic, 2014

TELL US ABOUT THE 2014 EXHIBITION AND WHAT INSPIRED YOU.

I had wanted to do an exhibition of Staffel and Ryman for several years — I think the affinities between these two artists is incredible.  Both limited themselves almost exclusively to exploring how to manipulate the color white, and when on occasion they did/do introduce other colors, they both limited that as well to base tones of blue, green or red.  They are both very interested in optics and our perception of light, as well as the fundamental properties and messages inherent to their media of choice — porcelain and paint. As we started bringing the works together for the installation it was even more exciting than I had imagined, as the works resonated so strongly together.  Although I’d know the works of both artists really well for years, having them together like that still taught me to see and appreciate new things about both, which I think was true for a lot of the visitors to the exhibition. 

https://cfileonline.org/exhibition-white-magic-robert-ryman-rudolf-staffel-david-nolan-gallery-new-york/

ARE THERE MANY WORKS IN THE ESTATE THAT COULD BE MADE AVAILABLE TO MUSEUMS AND COLLECTORS?

Yes, on both counts — there are many wonderful works still in the Estate.  Although Rudi is widely represented in museums collections, I’ve recently been working directly with museums in acquiring them.  The Newark Museum of Art recently purchased a gorgeous and very unique Light Gatherer, and there are some other acquisitions in the works. But I think that it’s just as important to place these in wonderful private collections where they can be enjoyed as a part of day-to-day life.  Many of the collectors who purchased works from the Staffel/Ryman exhibition are on museum boards, so it’s nice to think that they may end up as gifts one day.     

RUDOLF STAFFEL Light Gatherer, 1968 Translucent unglazed porcelain Handbuilt, incised, with vitreous elements and coal oxide 9 x 8 1/4 inches

RUDOLF STAFFEL
Light Gatherer, 1968
Translucent unglazed porcelain
Handbuilt, incised, with vitreous elements and coal oxide
9 x 8 1/4 inches

 

HOW DO YOU INTEND TO FURTHER RUDOLF STAFFEL’S RECOGNITION AS AN ARTIST?

Rudi had a very special vision that he channeled into his art.  I love seeing other people have that same “wow” moment that I had when I first encountered his work, and to continue to be moved by it.  So my goal is, through various means, to expand awareness of his work and make sure that this continues to happen: through exhibitions, the marketplace, and I’d love to do a major monograph sometime soon.

DO YOU HAVE OTHER EXHIBITIONS IN MIND AND IF SO, WHAT ARE THEY?

I do … But they’re still for the moment, under wraps!

White Magic Robert Ryman and Rudolf Staffel David Nolan Gallery 2014

White Magic
Robert Ryman and Rudolf Staffel
David Nolan Gallery 2014

MEREDITH, THANK YOU FOR SUCH AN INFORMATIVE AND HEARTFELT CONTRIBUTION TO THE BLOG.

 

 

A curatorial perspective with Meredith Harper of Harper Fine Art

Cai Guo-Qiang: I want to Believe Installing at the Guggenheim

Cai Guo-Qiang: I want to Believe
Installing at the Guggenheim

A CURATOR IS AN INDIVIDUAL WITH A PASSION FOR WORKS OF ART AND THE TALENT TO CONTEXTUALIZE AND ORGANIZE SUPPORTING HISTORICAL AND AESTHETIC INFORMATION. THE EXHIBIT CAN EXPLORE MANY PERSPECTIVES:  A RETROSPECTIVE, A SURVEY OF A PARTICULAR PERIOD OR STYLE, AN ART HISTORICAL, POLITICAL OR SOCIAL THEME, OR PERHAPS AN INTRODUCTION TO NEW TRENDS. MUSEUMS ARE THE OBVIOUS STRONGHOLD OF CURATORIAL EXPERTISE SUPPORTING ACADEMIC AND HIGHLY TRAINED SPECIALISTS TO PROVIDE THE MUSEUM-GOER WITH NEW INSIGHTS AND APPRECIATION OF ART WORKS IN THE MUSEUM COLLECTION OR ON LOAN TO ENRICH THE EXHIBIT.

It’s worth thinking about the etymology of curating. It comes from the Latin word curare, meaning to take care. In Roman times, it meant to take care of the bath houses. In medieval times, it designated the priest who cared for souls. Later, in the 18th century, it meant looking after collections of art and artifacts.Today, curating as a profession means at least four things. It means to preserve, in the sense of safeguarding the heritage of art. It means to be the selector of new work. It means to connect to art history. And it means displaying or arranging the work. But it’s more than that. Before 1800, few people went to exhibitions. Now hundreds of millions of people visit them every year. It’s a mass medium and a ritual. The curator sets it up so that it becomes an extraordinary experience and not just illustrations or spatialised books.

HANS ULRICH OBRIST, Curator, Serpentine Gallery London

 

WHITE MAGIC: ROBERT RYMAN and RUDOLF STAFFEL Installation View David Nolan Gallery, New York 2014

WHITE MAGIC: ROBERT RYMAN and RUDOLF STAFFEL
Installation View
David Nolan Gallery, New York 2014

MEREDITH HARPER DID NOT WANT TO SACRIFICE THE CURATORIAL IMPULSE AND AMBITIONS WHEN SHE ESTABLISHED HARPER FINE ART. SHE HAS ACCOMPLISHED BOTH AND THE LRFA BLOG IS PLEASED TO WELCOME MEREDITH BACK TO INFORM US ON THIS ASPECT OF HER WORK.

MEREDITH, AS AN ADVISOR, DO YOU FOCUS ON PARTICULAR PERIODS OF ART?

I focus on the client’s specific interest, as long as it’s within my range of speciality, which is Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary American and European art.

Peter Alexander installation

Peter Alexander installation


Since I’ve gone out on my own, one area I’ve been doing a lot with for clients is the California artists of the 60s and 70s:  Peter Alexander, Craig Kauffmann, Doug Wheeler, Billy Al Bengston, DeWain Valentine, Laddie John Dill, Wallace Berman, Bruce Conner, etc.  I was introducing this work to collectors and buying a lot of great things for them before the market went completely crazy, in some cases finding some superb works that would be very difficult (as well as very expensive) to get now.  I also became friendly with a lot of the artists — they’re amazing guys with a lot of energy and vision, who made some really revolutionary work at the time.

Bruce Connor It's All True San Francisco MoMA

Bruce Connor
It’s All True
San Francisco MoMA

IN 2009, YOU ADDED ANOTHER ACCOMPLISHMENT AS EXHIBITION CURATOR.

Even though I became independent, I didn’t want to stop organizing exhibitions.  Having a lot of strong connections with gallerists give me opportunities to curate exhibitions at galleries with similar interests.  In 2009 I curated an exhibition of Giacometti drawings at Peter Freeman Inc in New York.  Giacometti was an incredible draughtsman in addition to being a sculptor, and it was a part of his oeuvre that I wanted to showcase.  The exhibition was a mini-retrospective, with works from the 1920s through 1960s, and included portraits, interiors, still-lifes, sculpture studies, and landscapes.  I was focused on quality, so only about 35% of the show was for sale and the rest we borrowed from some wonderful private collections.

Curated by Meredith Harper Alberto Giacometti: Drawings Peter Freeman, Inc., New York 1 May-27 June, 2009

Curated by Meredith Harper
Alberto Giacometti: Drawings
Peter Freeman, Inc., New York
1 May-27 June, 2009

Later that year, I put together an exhibition for Ubu Gallery of collage by and inspired by the Victorian print assemblages of Max Ernst, which also included works by Cornell, Jess, and Bruce Conner, and a lot of obscure but fascinating German Neue Sachlichkeit and Dada artists.  And in 2014 I curated White Magic:  Robert Ryman and Rudolf Staffel at David Nolan Gallery.

THE LRFA BLOG INVITES YOU TO VIEW THE PANOTOUR OF THE WHITE MAGIC EXHIBIT AT DAVID NOLAN

courtesy of Meredith Harper Fine Art and Tom Powel Imaging

http://www.rudolfstaffel.com/blog/2016/10/14/white-magic-robert-ryman-and-rudolf-staffel-360-panotour

YOU REPRESENT THE ESTATE OF PORCELAIN CERAMICIST RUFOLF STAFFEL WHOSE WORK YOU CLEARLY REVERE. WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST INTRODUCTION TO HIS WORK?

I first encountered Staffel’s porcelain work at the Philadelphia Museum of Art when I was a teenager, and from the moment I saw it, it blew me away.  The combination of form and spirit that each of his works embodies is incredibly powerful.  Still, decades later, I never cease to find them incredibly inspiring to be around.  That, to me, is the test of time that great artworks can stand up to.

RUDOLF STAFFEL Light Gatherer, 1968 Translucent unglazed porcelain Handbuilt, incised, with vitreous elements and coal oxide 9 x 8 1/4 inches

RUDOLF STAFFEL
Light Gatherer, 1968
Translucent unglazed porcelain
Handbuilt, incised, with vitreous elements and coal oxide
9 x 8 1/4 inches

WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT ASPECTS OF HIS WORK? WHAT ARE THE WORKS THAT RESONATE THE MOST STRONGLY WITH YOU AND WHY?

Rudi was probably the most important American ceramic artist working in porcelain in the 20th century:  he took it to a completely different level with his Light Gatherers, as his mature works are known.  These vessels are all about playing with light and form in the most magical, abstract way.  They reference traditional porcelain shapes (bowls, vases) and can run the gamut from very organic and expressionist to pure and sublime, but the common thread among them was his constant searching for this transcendent intersection between light and form.  Because of the inherent delicacy that porcelain has to begin with, made even more precarious by the thinness and light-conducive qualities he was trying to achieve, Rudi said that the works that made it out of the kiln without collapsing were the miracles!

HOW DID HIS WORK EVOLVE OVER THE YEARS?

I would say that it just kept becoming more refined and more nuanced, and more about finding the light.  You can see in his work of the 1960s the influence of artists like Fontana, Miró, Hans Coper and Lucie Rie, and some of the Scandinavian studio ceramicists. But also the influence of painters, including Hans Hofmann, who was one of his teachers.  There’s a strong sense of push/pull in his works and that came from Hofmann, and really changed the possibilities of what he thought he could create in porcelain.  And there’s a purity and focus on form that derives from his interest in Zen Buddhism and Asian whiteware.

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, WE LEARN ABOUT THE REMARKABLE PORCELAIN WORKS OF RUDOLF STAFFEL AND HER PLANS FOR THE FUTURE OF HER BUSINESS IN GENERAL AND OF STAFFEL’S ESTATE IN PARTICULAR. PLEASE JOIN US!

 

Meredith Harper, private dealer: the next logical step

Reuters Institute

Reuters Institute

TRANSPARENCY IN EVERY INDUSTRY AND IN GOVERNMENT IS AT THE FOREFRONT OF OUR POLITICAL AND SOCIAL PRECEDENTS. ACCORDING TO A REPORT FROM REUTERS INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF JOURNALISM, “INCREASINGLY, GOVERNMENTS AROUND THE WORLD ARE EXPERIMENTING WITH INITIATIVES IN TRANSPARENCY OR ‘OPEN GOVERNMENT’ AND HOW IT AFFECTS THE ACCOUNTABILITY OF THE PRESS.”  OPENNESS, ACCOUNTABILITY AND INTEGRITY DEFINE TRANSPARENCY IN GOVERNMENT AND BUSINESS.  IN INDUSTRIES THAT ARE FAIRLY UNREGULATED, SUCH AS THE MORE CREATIVE WORLDS OF ART GALLERIES, DEALERS, ARCHITECT/DESIGNERS OR, FOR THAT MATTER, INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY,TRANSPARENCY IS SANCTIONED BUT NOT ENFORCED BY  CODES OF ETHICS THAT FILL IN THE GAPS IN LAWS AND REGULATIONS WHEN THEY  CAN NOT BE APPLIED.

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IN ITS MISSION STATEMENT, THE ART DEALERS ASSOCIATION OF AMERICA, FOR EXAMPLE, NOTES:

 In order to qualify for membership, a dealer must have an established reputation for honesty, integrity and professionalism among their peers, and must make a substantial contribution to the cultural life of the community by offering works of high aesthetic quality, presenting worthwhile exhibitions and publishing scholarly catalogues.

http://www.artdealers.org/about/mission

THE SUCCESS OF THE CLARION LIST, ESTABLISHED ONLY TWO YEARS AGO, CONFIRMS THE ART COLLECTOR’S INTEREST IN AN EASILY ACCESSIBLE BUT VETTED  DATABASE FOR ART RELATED SERVICES INDUSTRIES https://www.clarionlist.com/k2-items-cache-9f6d22dec5a20bcdd01cd84e98637764_lnsp_276

LONDON-BASED PAIAM (PROFESSIONAL ADVISORS TO THE INTERNATIONAL ART MARKET), AN INTERNATIONAL NET WORKING PLATFORM FOR PROFESSIONALS ADVISING THE ART MARKET WHOSE MEMBERS “KNOW ABOUT SOMETHING THAT IS USEFUL TO THOSE WHO KNOW ABOUT ART, e.g. INSURANCE, LOGISTICS, LAW, ACCOUNTANCY, TAX, HAS RECENTLY EXPANDED ITS PRESENCE INTERNATIONALLY OPENING ITS MEMBERSHIP TO OVERSEAS PROFESSIONALS. http://www.paiam.org/

 

WHEN MEREDITH HARPER LAUNCHED HARPER FINE ARTS IN 2008, SHE WAS WELL-VERSED IN THE STANDARDS SET BY THE ART INDUSTRY FROM HER DIVERSE PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN THE GALLERY AND AUCTION WORLDS. THE LRFA BLOG IS DELIGHTED TO SHARE MEREDITH’S HISTORY AND PERSPECTIVE ON THIS ASPECT OF THE ART WORLD.

MEREDITH, WELCOME BACK!

Meredith Harper

Meredith Harper

YOU DECIDED TO JOIN THE RANKS OF THE SELF-EMPLOYED ALMOST A DECADE AGO. WHAT PROMPTED THE DECISION?

After having worked in every part of the art world — museum, auction house, and gallery— it really felt naturally like the next logical step.  I was being asked by collectors for my opinion on works of art that they were interested in that we weren’t selling at the gallery, or if I could help them find certain things that we didn’t have.  Being on my own allowed me complete freedom to do this, including from conflicts of interest of working with a gallery inventory. 

Meredith Harper Fine Art Chelsea, New York

Meredith Harper Fine Art
Chelsea, New York

WHAT IS THE BASIC ROLE OF A PRIVATE DEALER? IN WHAT WAYS DOES A PRIVATE DEALER OFFER A SCOPE OF SERVICES THAT IS UNIQUE AND DIFFERS FROM THE ROLE OF THE GALLERIST AND THE SPECIALIST AT AUCTION?

Being a private dealer really is a culmination of all of the skills and experience that I’ve attained through the years at university, galleries and at auction.  The collectors with whom I work range from very knowledgable and experienced, to just starting out.  The most important part is helping them buy and sell works of art, which involves discussions around the intersection of many variables such as the significance of a work of art within that artist’s oeuvre, condition and authenticity, and determining value within a particular market.  I also handle all of the logistical concerns that go along with that, like shipping, installation, etc. I work with them on everything from defining and expanding their interests, creating and maintaining collection databases, building libraries, framing, preparing insurance appraisals — it really depends on the particular client’s interests and needs.  I also realize that for many collectors, the “art world” seems a fascinating but also often an opaque and sometimes trepidatious place … I can understand that and I enjoy being able to walk them through and demystify a lot of it.  They have the benefit of almost three decades of my knowledge to draw from, and the fact that I’m constantly immersed in this world.

Meredith Harper Fine Art

Meredith Harper Fine Art

HOW DO YOU FIND WORKS THAT COLLECTORS GIVE TO YOU TO SELL?

It’s all about trust, communication and knowledge. These are relationships that I’ve had, in many cases, for decades, or with people who were referred to me by my clients or by colleagues in the business.  At the end of the day, the collectors with whom I work and who entrust me to sell things for them know that I’m giving them honest and impartial advice, and that I’m working in their best interests.  They also know that I’m extraordinarily discrete and ethical.  I’m very thoughtful and careful about how I go about selling things, and that can make all the difference.

Glenn Ligon

Glenn Ligon

WHAT ARE THE VARIOUS WAYS YOU SEEK OUT WORKS THAT A COLLECTOR WISHES TO ACQUIRE?

I love doing detective work and tracking down exactly the work that a collector is looking to add to their collection.  It’s not about reacting to what becomes available in the market so much as really choosing precisely what fits the client’s interests and the dialogue that may be happening in a collection.  And again, this is about relationships and knowing who to talk to and where to look to find great things … It’s not just about “shopping” at an art fair or auction.  Sometimes we can get lucky and this happens immediately, but often it takes months and sometimes even years.  I once had a wonderful project that I loved doing with a client, which involved putting together a very specific group of works by an artist.  It took three years of constant and very involved research to track these down (and then to convince their owners to sell them), in one case from a collector who purchased his work out of the artist’s studio 40 years earlier.  It was incredibly rewarding to see these works slowly come together over that time. I love the “detective” aspect of it, and I love being able to put my knowledge to use to help my clients form stronger collections. 

MEREDITH’S PROFESSIONAL RANGE EXTENDS INTO THE CURATORIAL WORLD AND IN THE NEXT LRFA BLOG, WE ARE PLEASED TO SHARE THIS ASPECT OF WORKING IN THE ART BUSINESS WITH YOU.

UNTIL THEN!

Meredith Harper, from gallery to auction house, developing skill sets along the way

 

Meredith Harper Harper Fine Art

Meredith Harper
Harper Fine Art

WORKING AT AN AUCTION HOUSE OFFERS A WONDERFUL OPPORTUNITY FOR THOSE WHO LOVE OF ART AND WANT TO COMBINE THAT PASSION WITH BUSINESS MANAGEMENT AND EXPERTISE. IT IS PREFERABLE TO HAVE AN ART HISTORY DEGREE  OR AT LEAST A MINOR IN THE FIELD. IDEALLY, A DOUBLE MAJOR IN BUSINESS AND ART ESTABLISHES A SOLID PLATFORM ON WHICH TO COMBINE AN LOVE OF ART WITH THE DEVELOPMENT OF BUSINESS AND LEADERSHIP SKILLS.

Joan Miró Portrait de Mme K. Charcoal and Crayonw/pastel, sanguine and chalk on canvas Christie's New York: Tuesday, November 2001 Sold For12,656,000 USD Premium

Joan Miró
Portrait de Mme K.
Charcoal and Crayonw/pastel, sanguine and chalk on canvas
Christie’s New York: Tuesday, November 2001
Sold For 12,656,000 USD Premium

GROUNDED IN TRADITION AND CULTURE, THE AUCTION MARKET IS AN AGGRESSIVE FIELD, INTERNATIONAL IN SCOPE AND TECHNICAL INNOVATION. COLLECTORS ARE PREDOMINANTLY SUCCESSFUL AND UNIQUE INDIVIDUALS AND THE DAY TO DAY EXPERIENCE IS AS EXCITING AND EVER-CHANGING AS NEW MATERIAL, NEW SALES AND NEW BUYERS AND SELLERS EMERGE ON THE SCENE.   THE ONE CAVEAT, OF COURSE, WITH ALL THESE PERKS, IS THAT IT IS A HIGHLY DEMANDING, COMPETITIVE 24/7 KIND OF JOB!

MEREDITH HARPER, AFTER HER POSITION AS ASSISTANT TO THE BRILLIANT FRANCES BEATTY AT RICHARD FEIGEN, TOOK THE NEXT NATURAL STEP TO EXPAND HER PROFESSIONAL EXPERTISE IN THE BUSINESS OF ART AND JOINED CHRISTIE’S AUCTION HOUSE. TODAY, THE LRFA BLOG IS PLEASED TO POST MEREDITH’S EXPERIENCE IN THIS INTEGRAL PART OF THE ART MARKET.

http://www.harperfineart.com/MHFA1/Home.html

Jasper Johns 0 through 9 Oil on Canvas Christie's New York: Wednesday, November 2002 Sold For9,909,500 USD Premium

Jasper Johns
0 through 9
Oil on Canvas
Christie’s New York: Wednesday, November 2002
Sold For 9,909,500 USD Premium

WELCOME BACK, MEREDITH. YOUR NEXT APPOINTMENT WAS AT CHRISTIE’S. WHAT PROMPTED YOUR DECISION TO ENTER THE AUCTION WORLD? IN WHICH DEPARTMENTS DID YOU WORK AND WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

The auction world seemed like the next logical step.  I worked in the Impressionist, Modern and Contemporary departments specializing in works on paper, and became a VP and ran those sales for several years  before I moved to Private Sales.  On a daily basis you’re exposed to an incredible amount of art work, literally “the good, the bad and the ugly”, i.e. extraordinary museum quality art, a lot of generally wonderful works of mid-range art, some mediocre and/or kitschy things with less art historical value, and plenty of reproductions and fakes (that don’t make it into the sales, of course!).  I literally saw it ALL, and it was an incredible education in the real world to follow my two academic degrees.

WHICH DEPARTMENTS WERE THE MOST INTERESTING AND WHAT MATERIAL DID YOU ENJOY HANDLING THE MOST? HOW DOES AN AUCTION DEPARTMENT DECIDE WHAT WORKS ARE BEST SUITED FOR THE AUCTION PLATFORM OR FOR PRIVATE SALES?

Auctions get so much publicity, and they’re really about the competition that’s created to occur in a single moment.  So many variables can affect that, many of which have nothing to do with the aesthetic quality of a work of art.  So some artworks are better suited for this kind of public competition, whereas others works may be more subtle, or might be important but get overshadowed in an packed catalogue and viewing and simply show better in a quieter environment.  Also many collectors prefer the the anonymity of the world not knowing that they’re selling an artwork, or taking the risk of what might happen in that passing moment in the auction room. 

C & M Gallery Yves Klein exhibition

C & M Gallery
Yves Klein exhibition

ONE OF THE MOST RESPECTED LONG TERM COLLECTORS AND DEALERS IS ROBERT MNUCHIN, HIS GALLERY LOCATED IN AN ELEGANT TOWNHOUSE ON EAST 78TH STREET.

AS THE DIRECTOR OF C&M ARTS, WHAT WERE YOUR RESPONSIBILITIES?

Working for Robert was an incredible experience.  I was one of three directors at the time, including Jennifer Vorbach (who was also a partner) and Robert Pincus-Witten.  We did everything — organized exhibitions, brought in and sold artworks, planned the art fairs.  I was also responsible for working with the Estate of Joseph Cornell.  And at that time Robert had a “trading floor” mentality about our working together (himself included), from his past at Goldman Sachs, and we all shared an office so that everyone knew what was going on at any given time. We were very much a team.  

picasso_classical_period0

THE GALLERY HAS REMARKABLE MATERIAL AND OFTEN CURATES EXHIBITIONS OF MUSEUM QUALITY.  WHICH ARTISTS AND EXHIBITIONS AT C&M (NOW MNUCHIN GALLERY) WERE PARTICULARLY MEANINGFUL TO YOU DURING THE TIME YOU WERE DIRECTOR?

That was an amazing time. We didn’t feel the need to do huge blockbusters in which you were just overwhelmed by the sheer quantity of artworks … while the shows were certainly comprehensive we still wanted visitors to have the space to be drawn in and spend time with the individual works of art. Our shows were tightly curated and I always said I felt like the they were “small and perfectly formed”.  I’m so proud that we did an an incredible survey of neo-Classical Picasso well before the market picked back up on this period in his work; several late de Kooning exhibitions, David Hammons’ first New York gallery exhibition in years, and Jeff Koons’ first ever retrospective.  

C & M Gallery David Hammons exhibition

C & M Gallery
David Hammons exhibition

HAVING DEVELOPED PROFESSIONAL EXPERIENCE IN BOTH THE GALLERY AND AUCTION WORLDS, AT TOP-LEVEL VENUES, MEREDITH DECIDED TO TAKE A BRAVE STEP, THAT OF SOLE PROPRIETOR AND ENTREPRENEUR OF MEREDITH HARPER FINE ART. CREATING, MANAGING AND EXPANDING ONE’S OWN BUSINESS DEMANDS PERSEVERANCE, FORTITUDE AND A SPECIFIC CHARACTER.

THE  LRFA BLOG LOOKS FORWARD TO SHARING MEREDITH’S ACCOMPLISHMENTS AS ADVISOR AND CURATOR IN THE NEXT POST. THANK YOU FOR FOLLOWING!

Stronger for Life, a documentary on Ilaria Montagnani’s battle with breast cancer, a Kickstarter Project ending October 22nd

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THE LRFA BLOG WOULD LIKE TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO CONTRIBUTE TO THE KICKSTARTER PROJECT STRONGER FOR LIFE, A DOCUMENTARY IN THE MAKING ON ILARIA MONTAGNANI’S BATTLE WITH BREAST CANCER.

ILARIA MONTAGNANI, INTERNATIONAL FITNESS EXPERT AND CREATOR OF THE POWERSTRIKE WORKOUT PROGRAMS, HAS DEDICATED HER LIFE TO THE MISSION OF IMBUING PHYSICAL AND MENTAL STRENGTH AND COURAGE THROUGH THE FITNESS CLASSES, INSTRUCTOR TRAINING, VIDEOS, INTERVIEWS, CONFERENCES AND GENEROUS ENCOURAGEMENT SHE GIVES SO MANY OTHERS.

DIAGNOSED AND OPERATED FOR BREAST CANCER IN SEPTEMBER OF THIS YEAR, SHE HAS SELFLESSLY ELECTED TO DOCUMENT HER BATTLE IN A DOCUMENTARY, STRONGER FOR LIFE, TO INCREASE BREAST CANCER AWARENESS IN EVERYONE AND INSPIRE  FORTITUDE IN THOSE WHO FACE THIS CHALLENGE AND THEIR LOVED ONES.

ADDITIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS WILL MAKE THIS FILM THE BEST IT CAN BE – ALWAYS ILARIA’S GOAL.

PLEASE READ HER STATEMENT, VISIT THE  KICKSTARTER LINK AND DONATE WHAT YOU CAN.

THE FUNDING ENDS ON OCTOBER 22nd.

THANK YOU!

https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/765642935/stronger-for-life-ilaria-montagnani-film-project

 

Ilaria Montagnani Photo credit: Michael Brian

Ilaria Montagnani
Photo credit: Michael Brian

UPDATE

Your generous donations have allowed us to meet 100% of our goal! YOU helped us to purchase additional supplies and secure the resources to continue production. We want to take this time to thank you again and celebrate your kindness in support of this documentary.

The pledge period will officially close on October 22,2016. If your friends, family or anyone in your network may like to donate we would be grateful if you shared this request. Any additional donations will allow us to maintain equipment and allow for more production hours to make this the best quality possible.

I look forward to sharing my story and inspiring even one person to stay strong in the face of even the most surprising or overwhelming challenges in life.

– Ilaria Montagnani 

THE STORY

As many of you know by now, I was recently diagnosed with breast cancer. By the time you see this video; I will have just completed my surgery. Over the past couple of months, my producing partner and I have been working on a documentary film which I hope will resonate with people. While the documentary continues to evolve and take shape, it is truly a passion project of mine. The fabric of the story is about strength, courage, inspiration and empowerment. I hope my voice and the spirit of the film will come through and in the end make us all – stronger for life.

As you can imagine, my diagnosis was highly unexpected. I have dedicated my personal and professional life to health and fitness for years. I would be doing a great disservice to this film if we didn’t document these next several months. With your help, the funds we raise will allow us to continue shooting.

I am eternally grateful for your continued love and support. I look forward to sharing my journey.

OUR GOAL

From Ilaria’s initial diagnosis, we have documented events leading up to her surgery, and we will continue to follow her post-surgery. Since this past spring, we began documenting a day in the life of Ilaria, and we have approximately 10-15 hours of footage. We will need to document at least 150 hours to complete this film over the course of the next 1-2 years.

WOMEN IN FILM

We are extremely proud that many of us involved in this project are female. One of the goals in making this film is to celebrate and empower women. Women will not only be featured in front of the camera, but behind the lens and in the editing room.

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Meredith Harper, the first job: gallery assistant. Step One!

Ray Johnson Untitled (Campbell's Soup with Cut-out Circles) 1973-1988

Ray Johnson
Untitled (Campbell’s Soup with Cut-out Circles)
1973-1988

STEVE MARTIN, A BRILLIANT COMEDIAN AND ACTOR, IS ALSO A PASSIONATE AND KNOWLEDGEABLE COLLECTOR OF MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART. RECENTLY, HE DONNED A CURATORIAL HAT AND ORGANIZED A SURVEY OF THE WORK OF CANADIAN LANDSCAPE ARTIST, LAWREN HARRIS, AT THE HAMMER MUSEUM IN LOS ANGELES. ONE OF THE MOST DIVERSIFIED PERFORMERS TODAY, STEVE MARTIN HAS AUTHORED SEVERAL NOVELLAS, ONE A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK EXPOSE OF THE WORLD OF CONTEMPORARY ART, AN OBJECT OF BEAUTY: A NOVEL, THE  CHARACTERS  IN THE NOVEL THINLY VEILED ART WORLD POWER DEALERS AND COLLECTORS.

Lacey Yeager is young, captivating, and ambitious enough to take the NYC art world by storm. Groomed at Sotheby’s and hungry to keep climbing the social and career ladders put before her, Lacey charms men and women, old and young, rich and even richer with her magnetic charisma and liveliness. Her ascension to the highest tiers of the city parallel the soaring heights–and, at times, the dark lows–of the art world and the country from the late 1990s through today.

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HIGHLY ENTERTAINING, THE NOVEL IS A WORK OF FICTION. A POSITION IN THE ART WORLD, IN REALITY, REQUIRES ACADEMIC STUDY, SCHOLARSHIP, DEDICATION, AN INSATIABLE CURIOSITY ABOUT ART,  AND MORE OFTEN THAN NOT, IMMENSE TACT AND SOCIAL SAVVY.

MEREDITH HARPER, FOUNDER AND PRINCIPAL OF HARPER FINE ART, CERTAINLY HAS THESE TRAITS AND MANY MORE THAT ACCOUNT FOR HER PROFESSIONAL PROGRESSION FROM GALLERY ASSISTANT TO CURATOR AND PRIVATE DEALER.

http://www.harperfineart.com/MHFA1/About.html

MEREDITH, THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR SHARING YOUR PROFESSIONAL HISTORY AND EXPERTISE WITH THE LRFA BLOG.

Richard Feigen Gallery

Richard Feigen Gallery

YOUR FIRST AFFILIATION WAS WITH RICHARD L. FEIGEN & CO., AN OUTSTANDING GALLERY THAT REPRESENTS WORKS OF ART RANGING FROM FIRST-TIER OLD MASTER PAINTINGS TO POP.  FEIGEN INAUGURATED HIS FIRST GALLERY IN CHICAGO IN 1957, EXHIBITING 20th CENTURY MASTERWORKS BY GERMAN EXPRESSIONIST AND SURREALIST ARTISTS. HE WAS ALSO AN EARLY CHAMPION OF SUCH ARTISTS AS FRANCIS BACON, JEAN DUBUFFET, JOSEPH CORNELL, AND POP MASTERS ROSENQUIST AND OLDENBURG, IN 1962 HE OPENED IN NY AND FOR OVER 50 YEARS, THE GALLERY HAS SOLD WORKS OF ART SPANNING SIX CENTUREIS TO OVER 110 MUSEUMS WORLDWIDE.

Ray Johnson Cupid with Tender Button 1976

Ray Johnson
Cupid with Tender Button
1976

WHAT A WONDERFUL ENTREE INTO THE GALLERY WORLD. WHAT WERE YOUR AREAS OF FOCUS AT THE GALLERY?

This was my first job in the New York art world, and I was Frances Beatty’s assistant.  We dealt with major, museum quality works of art and we were a very small staff, so I helped with absolutely everything from showing paintings, documenting condition, to the research for pricing works of art based on our knowledge of private and auction sales.  I’d sit with her at the auctions and learned who everyone was, and what their roles and motivations were.  I remember her taking me aside one day and telling me “You’ve got what it takes to be a great art dealer.  I’m going to teach  you everything I know.”  She was an amazing mentor to me then, and has continued to be over the years.

Ray Johnson Anonymous "Phillip Guston's Bat Tub" mailing ca. 1987-89

Ray Johnson
Anonymous “Phillip Guston’s Bat Tub” mailing
ca. 1987-89

HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE CRITERIA FOR WORKING WITH AN ARTIST’S ESTATE?  WHAT ARE THE PARTICULAR GOALS AND RESPONSIBILITIES?

Frances and I were the first two people to walk into Ray Johnson’s home several weeks after his suicide.  They removed the police tape and we entered this strange and incredible puzzle with rooms and rooms of collages, objects, ephemera and other art that Ray had purposefully left behind in a very manipulated way as his last overarching work of art. We had to slowly work through to decipher and catalogue all of Ray’s work, and it was so complex that there was an art history student from Columbia on our team brought in to specifically oversee the day-to-day organization of it, which took years in his case.  Richard and Frances had known and dedicatedly worked with Ray for a very long time, so working with the Estate and getting him the attention he deserved was and still is a passion and a labor of love for them, and something with which they’ve been very successful.  If you haven’t yet seen the movie How to Draw a Bunny, which they produced after his death and which is about the whole “mystery” that was Ray, it is fascinating and absolutely a must-see.  

Ray Johnson Green Hornet with Arman and Andy Collage on illustration board

Ray Johnson
Green Hornet with Arman and Andy
Collage on illustration board

RAY JOHNSON’S WORK IS VERY DIFFICULT FOR ME TO CATEGORIZE. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE IT AND IN WHAT WAYS DOES IT IMPACT THE WORK OF ARTISTS TODAY?

There really is no way to categorize Ray’s work, which is one of the most wonderful things about it I think.  Ray had a brilliant semiological sense and was fascinated with the intersection of the worlds of ideas, language, aesthetics and, very early on, with celebrity/personality.  And he knew that either you were the type of person who “got” this too, or you didn’t.  But he was never comfortable being fully IN the world — he wanted to be at arms length to it, watching it, commenting on it, and inciting beautiful things within it. It always seemed to me that he had difficulty making intimate personal connections with all but a very few people (much like Cornell, who he also greatly admired), but he actually KNEW so many people in the worlds of art, music, dance and literature, as well as business.

Ray Johnson Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson 1954-1994

Ray Johnson
Not Nothing: Selected Writings by Ray Johnson
1954-1994

But these relationships were often much more superficial simply because it was difficult for Ray to connect, so he connected with people through his art and also by connecting them to each other, both literally in real life via his Mail art and in a more traditional sense via aesthetic connections in his collages.  He also had a brilliant, and sometimes biting, sense of humor.  Both his mail art and his collages were very sophisticated vehicles for verbal and visual punning, with the mail art as well as a form of art that he could “release” into the world and which would then take on a life of it’s own. He lived very much under the radar, but he was hugely influential to and admired by many great artists and writers, including Cage, Rauschenberg, and Johns.  

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, MEREDITH WILL MOVE TO CHRISTIE’S AND SHARE HER EXPERIENCE OF WORKING FOR AN INTERNATIONAL AUCTION HOUSE.

UNTIL THEN!

Meredith Harper: the art of business in the arts

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IN 2011, THE NATIONAL ENDOWMENT FOR THE ARTS, WORKING WITH DATA FROM THE BUREAU OF LABOR STATISTICS, ANALYZED THE FINANCIAL FUTURE OF AMERICA’S “CREATIVE TYPES”. MUCH TO EVERYONE’S SURPRISE, THESE STUDIES ANTICIPATED THAT JOB GROWTH IN THE ARTS WOULD EXCEED JOB GROWTH IN GENERAL.

HARRY BRADFORD, OF HUFFPOST BUSINESS, REPORTED:

With the country in the middle of a jobs crisis, finding any form of employment is tough, let alone jobs in the arts…Over the next seven years, job growth in the arts will exceed job growth as a whole, the report states. In fact, according to the report, artistic careers for painters, architects and photographers are expected to increase by 11 percent by 2018, compared to the projected 10 percent total increase in the American labor force.

Art research

Art research

Certain arts industries are expected to see especially significant jobs growth. Jobs associated with museums, such as curators, archivists and technicians, are expected to rise 20 percent, or “much faster than average employment growth.” According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the public’s continued interest in arts, sciences, and history, when coupled with growing amounts of content and material to manage, will create demand for such jobs.

Art conservation

Art conservation

MEREDITH HARPER, A NEW YORK BASED CURATOR, ADVISOR AND DEALER IN MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART, HAS EARNED HER STERLING REPUTATION, WORKING IN A VARIETY OF AREAS OF EXPERTISE IN ART WORLD, RANGING FROM A SPECIALIST AT A LEADING AUCTION HOUSE TO DIRECTORSHIPS AT SEVERAL OF NEW YORK’S MOST RESPECTED GALLERIES; FROM WORKING WITH MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY ART AS A PRIVATE DEALER AND REPRESENTING AN ARTIST’S ESTATE.

http://www.harperfineart.com/MHFA1/About.html

I AM SO PLEASED TO WELCOME MY GOOD FRIEND AND RESPECTED COLLEAGUE TO THE LRFA BLOG.

William Harper Artist/Jeweler

William Harper
Artist/Jeweler

MEREDITH, THANK YOU FOR CONTRIBUTING.

I KNOW THAT YOUR FATHER IS AN ARTIST WHO HAS GAINED INTERNATIONAL RECOGNITION IN HIS FIELD. WHAT IS THE NATURE OF HIS WORK AND WHAT WAS IT LIKE TO GROW UP WITH A FATHER WHO IS AN ARTIST?

My father, William Harper, makes one-of-a-kind wearable sculpture as jewelry, and is widely considered one of the most important contemporary enamelists in the world, an “heir”, he’s been described, to Faberge and Lalique.  He’s not only extraordinarily talented but incredibly curious and generous with that curiosity.  My parents shared their personal interests with my brother and I — they considered travel, including going to museums, galleries and studying architecture together, an important way to learn about the world.  And we were always included, even as young children, at his openings and dinners.  It was a very stimulating way to grow up.  

 

Rene Jules Lalique Wasp stickpin

Rene Jules Lalique
Wasp stickpin

DID YOU IDENTIFY WITH THE WORK THAT HE MADE WHILE YOU WERE GROWING UP AND HAS IT INFLUENCED YOUR AESTHETIC AND THE ARTISTS THAT RESONATE WITH YOU?

Absolutely.  He is definitely a “maximalist” in his tastes in art, and also collects very raw African fetish sculpture as well as contemporary “craft” art — people like Peter Voulkos, Lenore Tawney, and Francoise Grossen, many of whom were also friends.  So I grew up loving that, as well as artists like Cornell, Samaras, late Picasso, and the expressionist Germanic and Flemish artists from the middle ages onwards.  But as I got older, I also grew to appreciate and fall in love with other, very different types of art — Minimalism, Conceptual art, some photography.  I would say that probably the strongest thread that runs through the work that personally resonates with me is that it’s tough and intellectually rigorous on multiple levels.  I just don’t have much time for art that reads like a one-liner. 

Fabergé from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection Metropolitan Museum

Fabergé from the Matilda Geddings Gray Foundation Collection
Metropolitan Museum

DID YOU START, AS SO MANY DEALERS HAVE, BY WANTING TO BE AN ARTIST?

I definitely inherited some creative genes, and being around that much creativity as a child it’s hard not to want to be an artist … I was always doing very elaborate projects as a child.  But funnily enough I also aways had a really strong interest in science and math, and I interned in a university science lab for a couple of years when I was in high school.  I think that the biggest deterrent for me in not becoming an artist was seeing first hand that spark of creative genius that my father has, and realizing that I simply didn’t have that.

Zentrum Paul Klee Bern, Switzerland

Zentrum Paul Klee
Bern, Switzerland

WHAT INITIAL STEPS DID YOU TAKE ONCE YOU DECIDED ON A PROFESSION IN THE ART WORLD?

After giving up on a career in science because I found lab-life to be too lonely, I wanted to become a writer.  My first art history teacher encouraged me, after I’d written a term paper on Paul Klee, by telling me that he thought I had a particular knack for both understanding as well as explaining art.  I loved art, so for the first time it occurred to me that this could be a path for me to take. I have two degrees in art history, from the University of Virginia and Case Western Reserve University, and I was a curatorial assistant at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Back then I thought I wanted to be a museum curator.  It wasn’t until I started working for Richard Feigen that I realized there was another possibility — that you could do scholarly exhibitions and interact with important art in a gallery setting.

RICHARD L. FEIGEN & CO. IS A REMARKABLE FIRST STOP IN A CAREER IN THE ARTS. WHILE MOST DEALERS FOCUS ON ONE PERIOD OF ART, FEIGEN CONCENTRATES ON WORKS OF MANY PERIODS, RANGING FROM OLD MASTER TO CONTEMPORARY, UNITED BY A LEVEL OF TASTE AND CONNOISSEURSHIP. WHAT A WONDERFUL START!

IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG, MEREDITH WILL SHARE HER FIRST EXPERIENCES IN THE GALLERY WORLD. SHE IS THOUGHTFUL AND INFORMED. WE WELCOME ANY AND ALLQUESTIONS AND COMMENTS YOU MIGHT HAVE.

UNTIL THEN!