THE ART MARKET EMBRACES MANY WAYS OF DOING BUSINESS. PRIVATE DEALERS AND GALLERIES OFTEN CONCENTRATE ON A PARTICULAR MEDIUM, SUCH AS PRINTS OR PHOTOGRAPHY, A SPECIFIC PERIOD RANGING FROM OLD MASTERS TO CUTTING-EDGE CONTEMPORARY ART, OR A DISTINCT GENRE SUCH AS REPRESENTATIONAL OR ABSTRACT. AN ESSENTIAL DECISION FOR A GALLERIST OR DEALER IS WHETHER TO REPRESENT WORKS FROM THE PRIMARY OR SECONDARY MARKET AS A DIFFERENT SET OF CONSIDERATIONS FACTOR INTO THAT DEFINING CHOICE.
THE FIRST SALE OF A WORK OF ART EITHER FROM AN ARTIST’S STUDIO OR FROM A GALLERY DEFINES THE TERM “PRIMARY MARKET”. THE “SECONDARY MARKET” REPRESENTS WORKS THAT HAVE ALREADY BEEN SOLD AT LEAST ONCE AND FIND THEIR WAY BACK ONTO THE MARKET. THERE ARE MANY REASONS COLLECTORS CHOOSE TO DEACCESSION A WORK APART FROM THE OBVIOUS LIQUIDATION OF AN ASSET, AMONG THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO UPGRADE TO A MORE SIGNIFICANT WORK BY THAT ARTIST, TO PROFIT FROM A SIGNIFICANT SURGE IN THE VALUE OF THE WORK SINCE ITS INITIAL PURCHASE OR TO DIVERSIFY THE HOLDINGS IN THEIR COLLECTION. SOME GALLERIES DEPEND ON SECONDARY MARKET SALES OF ESTABLISHED ARTISTS OR ARTISTS’ ESTATES TO SUPPORT EXHIBITIONS OF WORKS BY THE EMERGING OR CUTTING-EDGE ARTISTS THEY REPRESENT.
THE ULTIMATE CRITERIA FOR WORKS IN THE SECONDARY MARKET IS QUALITY : THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE WORK IN THE CONTEXT OF THE ARTIST’S OEUVRE, PROVENANCE, ITS EXHIBITION HISTORY, CONDITION, AND RARITY IN THE MARKET.
AS A DEALER AND GALLERIST, SINCE ITS OPENING IN 2000, VAN DE WEGHE FINE ART HAS FOCUSED ON SECONDARY MARKET WORKS OF ART, SETTING THE HIGHEST STANDARD OF WORKS OF IMPECCABLE QUALITY BY ESTABLISHED MODERN AND CONTEMPORARY MASTERS IN THE CONTEXT OF EXHIBITIONS THAT DEEPEN OUR UNDERSTANDING OF THESE ARTISTS.
THE LRFA BLOG IS VERY PLEASED TO WELCOME CHRISTOPHE VAN DE WEGHE BACK.
CHRISTOPHE, IN 2001 YOU OPENED A BEAUTIFUL, EXTENSIVE SPACE ON 23rd STREET IN CHELSEA WITH AN INAUGURAL EXHIBITION OF MONUMENTAL SCULPTURE BY FRANK STELLA, RICHARD SERRA AND ALEXANDER CALDER.
HOW DID THE MOVE FROM YOUR FIRST GALLERY ON EAST 76th TO MUCH LARGER QUARTERS AFFECT YOUR EXHIBITION PROGRAM?
I decided to buy the space in Chelsea, and closed on September 13, 2001. I was crazy to do it then but I made the deal with the broker, Howard Reed, shook his hand, and did it!
I have kept my concentration on the secondary market, specializing in work by modern, post-war and contemporary European and American artists. The gallery offers historically focused exhibitions, all accompanied by publications, that impact art historically as well as on the secondary market. It is my intent to promote works of quality, offer scholarship and value to our collectors.
WHAT WERE SOME OF THE EXHIBITIONS IN THE 23rd STREET GALLERY THAT RESONATE THE MOST STRONGLY WITH YOU?
In February 2002, the gallery presented Richard Serra’s Prop sculptures. The exhibition was the first to focus on this dimension of his work, one of the most important series in his oeuvre. These sculptures are formed as metal plates, bars and falls of lead or steel. As a young man, Serra first encountered the material, lead antimony, used in commercial sheet metal, pipes and castings when working as a young man at steel mills and shipyards to help send himself to school.
I wanted to deal with the volume, weight, mass, and directionality of the space … to make the volume of the space tangible, so that it is understood immediately, physically, by your body; not so that the sculpture is a body in relation to your body, but that the volume, through the placement of the sculptural elements, becomes manifest in a way that you experience it as a whole.–Richard Serra, 1992, Art of Our Time: 1950 to the Present, Walker Art Center.
The exhibition was an incredible monumentally scaled installation involving a whole crew and engineering specialists. Our gallery walls needed to be reinforced to sustain the weight of the sculpture.
Another exhibit I was very pleased to organize was a historical exhibition of the works of Bruce Nauman. Nauman’s contribution to the aesthetic practice at the turn of the 21st Century has been nothing short of astounding. He has really been a sort of father figure for contemporary artists in the same way that Picasso was for his generation. He was a pioneer of new media such as video in the 60s and installation in the 70s and the exhibit included a wax version of Nauman’s iconic Henry Moore Bound to Fall, two early resin and fiberglass works from 1965 and a wonderful array of over twenty works on paper including a seminal group of drawings from the 60s based on the artist’s body as well as large-scale works that relate to his neons and sculptures.
An exhibition of which I am particularly proud is Warhol Self-Portraits: 1963 – 1986, that we held in April/May 2005. It was the first New York show devoted to Warhol’s images of himself and included more than thirty-five paintings, with examples of almost all of the self-portrait images that Warhol made throughout his career.
I very much liked how many different variations exist. We would not be able to put together this exhibition today as the insurance would be prohibitive and I’m happy to have been able to do it when I did.
IN OUR NEXT POST, CHRISTOPHE WILL CONTINUE TO TRACK THE HISTORY OF GALLERY EXHIBITIONS.
CHRISTOPHE HAS A PARTICULARLY ASTUTE KNOWLEDGE OF MASTER ARTISTS AND THE MARKET. DO TAKE THIS OPPORTUNITY TO POSE ANY QUESTIONS YOU MIGHT HAVE.
THANK YOU ALL FOR FOLLOWING THE LRFA BLOG!