Meredith Ward speaks about the nature of collecting and goals of building an art collection
Knowledge of a period of work is, of course, a crucial asset when building an art collection with clients. It is always necessary to have a perception of the nature of the client, the goals and concerns that the collector has, his purpose and his flexibility.
Meredith is not only a very knowledgeable expert in the field of modernism and has introduced both established and lesser known artists in her beautiful townhouse gallery on East 74th Street but is also a kind and intuitive advisor to both the emerging and established collector. We are lucky to have her share with us her insights about the nature and art of collecting .
DO YOU FIND SIGNIFICANT DIFFERENCES IN THE WAY IN WHICH COLLECTORS ACQUIRE WORKS, IN THEIR AMBITIONS AND THEIR GOALS?
Yes, it depends on what they want from the experience. A lot of people want to have fun. they enjoy the experience of going to galleries frequently, visiting art fairs, and attending auctions. They look at a great many things and buy intelligently, but broadly, works that appeal to them.
On the other hand, there are collectors who set strict limits for themselves. They can be extremely focused, let’s say, on a particular decade or on a specific style and will not allow themselves to collect outside of their self-imposed parameters.
HOW WOULD YOU CHARACTERIZE THE QUALITY OF THE COLLECTION THAT EVOLVES?
As long as you buy the best work you can afford at a level of quality that is consistent, the way in which a collection is amassed is not the issue – it will always be a highly personal choice. If you visit collections in four different homes, the singularity of each collection is very apparent. It can be exactly the same artists, same styles and periods, but each collection has its own personality. The choice of a specific painting from an artist’s oeuvre in comparison to a work that another person has selected reflects a unique personal taste and associations.
I KNOW WE HAVE SHARED THE SAME EXPERIENCE WHEN WE ARE LOOKING FOR A WORK TO OFFER A CLIENT. I’D LOVE YOU TO DESCRIBE IT.
Dealers and advisors who are truly in tune with the nuances of their clients’ sensibility can see someone’s name “flashing in front of the work”. I will think “that is a great painting but so-and-so will never like it”.
There is a subtle but crucial balance between connoisseurship and personal taste one does not equal the other. Great collections are a marriage between these two elements. The third component is a dedication to developing one’s eye over time.
AND LASTLY, WHAT DO YOU FEEL IS THE FUTURE OF THE MODERNIST ART MARKET? HOW DO YOU AND OTHER DEALERS IN THIS PERIOD PLAN TO KEEP IT VITAL AND CURRENT? IS THERE ACTUALLY A SENSE OF COLLABORATION AMONGST THE DEALERS OF THIS PERIOD?
Modernism and mid-20th century American art is still a growing area. There are still new discoveries to be made, new scholarship coming out, fascinating exhibitions being done by galleries and museums. The interest in this area reflects a shift in taste among collectors from the 19th century pictures to works with a more modern feel. Indeed many collectors of contemporary art have examples of modernist works in their collections, things that have some relation to works being done today. My colleagues and I are very excited about what is happening in the field both in terms of collecting and museum exhibitions.
MEREDITH, THANK YOU SO MUCH. YOUR PERSPECTIVE AND INSIGHT IS AN INVALUABLE CONTRIBUTION TO THE FIELD AND I APPRECIATE SO MUCH YOUR SHARING IT WITH ME.
Collectors not only consider frames that are appropriate in period and style to enhance existing works of art but also collect frames as beautiful objects in and of themselves. In the next series of blogs, it is my pleasure to introduce the knowledgeable and personable Brad Shar, who heads Julius Lowy Framing and Restoration on East 80th with his dad, Larry Shar. Julius Lowy is an extraordinary venue for both original and reproduction frames that span centuries and I welcome your questions and inquiries about the art of framing. Until then!